Thursday, November 17, 2011

1830's sewing projects

So, lacking anything between the 1810′s and the 1840′s naturally, I have become obsessed with the 1830′s!! So of course, when I found this perfect fabric on discount at a high-end quilt shop, it just spoke to me about being 1830′s. Yes, that’s right, the huge sleeves, the low necklines, the pleats, the piping on every seam, the box pleated skirts, and (UGH) back-closing bodices. Yes. It’s the decade of ridiculousness and we’re not even to the bonnets, yet…

Well, I already had a corset that would work, so the first thing to start on was the corded petticoat that would support the skirts and provide loft. Well, 3 hours into sewing tiny cords in between layers of muslin with no added stiffness apparent, I was a bit discouraged. But, 12 hours and good starching later, I was much pleased!! Though, I think I will try to convince a weaver to make some on a loom next time!

Next was the bonnet. One of those awful Poke Bonnets. Using pattern paper and some scissors, turns out the first try was the best, so we went with that. I didn’t want it to be TOO big and awkward. Just enough to be the early ’30′s. The MET’s collection also helped a great deal. I ordered a beige china silk to cover it. I had envisioned lots of flowers, ribbon and even a feather or two, but a simple spray of orange ribbon flowers is all that’s there for now. I’m still looking for the right feathers. It had to go with the green veil of course.

The next thing to do was the dress. It took several mock-ups to get the sleeves just right, and since I had such limited fabric (only about 5 1/2 yards) it was crucial to get it right. The skirt was two and a half fabric widths (probably about 105 inches full) but that seems to be in keeping with primary sources. The hard part was fitting a bodice on yourself that closes in the back! The trick was to finish the back, then drape the front on a lining piece. Sew the side and shoulder seams together and then use the center front seam to do the fitting with. I was lucky, all my pleating lined up really well. I also was puzzled by the lack of darts on originals, so I put the front pieces on the bias and that works great! There’s piping on EVERY seam, so I was forever at that. But I think it came out well. A very flattering neckline, and I don’t think the sleeves need supports underneath (one yard in each sleeve!)

I then made a little chemisette and cap by hand while watching the Jane Austin marathon that was on during the Superbowl.

The next 30′s project is a whitework pelerine to go over the low neckline. It’s debut will be at the MAALHFAM conference at GCVM in March.

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