The historical sewing has begun, officially! I even have my first finished project to share with all of you!
I've decided to work on a Natural Form era ball gown, a dress from the late 1870s to early 1880s. My strategy is to work from closest to the skin out, and that means my first project is Victorian underwear. How scandalous! Doesn't it look scandalous?
This piece is a chemise, and I drafted it from the Fashions of the Gilded Age Vol. 1 book, page 88. It's a really simple thing to draft, thankfully, because this was my first time using the ruler method outlined in the book. After forgetting to add seam allowances TWICE, I finally got it right and sewed up the chemise!
As far as this pattern goes, it all seems good to me except the armscye. It was quite small, and I cut about 1.5 inches further down the bottom of the armhole to have more room. Everything else seems alright to my slightly-trained historical eye. (Although, I don't think I attached the trim around the neckline like I should have. It should be more on the chemise fabric instead of above it, but I don't have the heart to tear it out and re-do it at the moment. I don't know about the sleeve trim either… doesn't look quite right. I need to get better trims.)
This is an easy one-day project, but I'm proud! It's a real historical garment! I've begun the journey! I'll get better as I go along, and even now I can see my French seams are awfully fat and the trim isn't done quite right. But that's what's nice about starting with a chemise… Nobody will see it under the dress! It's all good!
Also, I'm pleasantly surprised at how pretty it feels to wear. I thought I'd feel like I was wearing a giant sack, but with the slightly off-the-shoulder fit that will be required with a ball gown, it feels quite pretty! I think it's the lace and ribbon; feels very feminine and awesome, despite the tent shape of everything else. Obviously, with a corset over it, it should be even lovelier!
Here is a summary of the pattern details and things I changed:
Fabric: 100% cotton
Pattern: Fashions of the Gilded Age Vol. 1, pg. 88 Chemise
Notions: ribbon and trim
How historically accurate is it? I think it's pretty close! The trim isn't quite right, but I think it's a good first try.
Any tricky parts to the pattern? The combination of French seams and side gussets was a little difficult to wrap my mind around, but I think I got it!
Did you change anything? Yes, I lowered the armscyes about 1.5" on each side to make them bigger.
Time to complete: A day
First worn: August 31, 2015
Total cost: $8 fabric + $2 ribbon + $3 trim + cost of book (spread over several projects, though!) = let's say about $15
Notes: Easy to draft and adjust the size. It's basically a rectangle with ribbon at the top!