Last September I sewn a new civil war costume (ok, I'm two months late, as usual) 'cause my first outfit needs a complete restyling. Since I had a little bit of budget I decided to sew a quite historically accurate costume in cotton and you know, sometimes natural fibres are not so cheap. I took my inspiration from a very famous extant gown, displayed at MET museum:
|mmm red and black, my favourite!|
I started with the petticoat. The pattern includes the front skirt only, the rest of the garment has to be done by yourself cutting three rectangles of fabric and pleating them following the pattern directions. I marked the pleats with a disappearing marker. The skirt has been faced inwards and I added some interfacing to the waistband. Facing the skirt is a good way to keep the skirt in place and it helps to hide your hoops.
The chemisette and the neck wear have been really easy. The chemisette took a few hours to be done, I spent more time in looking for buttons but unfortunately I found plastic buttons only (don't tell anyone!). I put interfacing again in the collar and the neck band, trimming it with black bias tape. The beautiful cammeo you can see is by Red Rose Creation.
Then I started to work on the bodice. I started with the lining, adding all the necessary boning at centre back, sides and front. I did my boning channels using white bias tape. I had to reshape the centre back panel 'cause it was too wide for my back, so next time I'll use a size 6 instead of a 8. The front of the bodice fitted very well so I added the sleeves trimmed with white lace. I trimmed then the lapels with black trim and started to sew the buttonholes by hand. My boyfriend helped me making those lovely satin ribbons and the fabric buttons.
I didn't make any piping in my bodice. Wrong choice. Dresses of this era were piped. Piping is an accurate technique and is quite simple to do: all you need is a cord, bias tape and a sewing machine. You sew the cord into the bias tape, apply it on the right side of your garment and, if your garment is lined, you sandwich it between the main fabric and the garment. You sew everything in place, turn the garment inside out, and voilà, your piping is done! Piping is usually used on seams and hems of bodices but not in skirts. You can find a very good explanation at Historical Sewing.
Then the skirt. I did the same process of the petticoat, facing the hem inwards, cutting the rectangles and knife pleating them; I trimmed the hem with black bias tape and I hide the facing seam with a long black lace strip. The last step have been the under sleeves, made of the same cotton of the gown with interfaced wrist. Unfortunately the back of the bodice kept on being too large with wrinkles.
I did a bonnet as well from an old hat, trimmed with bias tape and lined in cotton.
And now some photos of the finished ensemble:
|Back-view of the dress. Look at the wrinkles.|
What do you think? I'm always happy to hear your impressions!