Psychedelic 1830’s Dress Completion and Debut

The fabric has arrived!  Time to begin cutting …

To get the period look with the fabric pattern cut on the diagonal for the fronts and backs, here is a picture of my favorite way to match patterns.  Cut out the first piece, then lay it upside down and match the pattern.  Then cut around it to get 2 pieces that are mirror images of each other:

Matching pattern on the diagonal
Matching pattern on the diagonal

Here is the front sewn together with the matching diagonal pattern:

Bodice Front
Bodice Front

The pattern piece for the fashion fabric front and back included extra for a gathered “bertha” type look – this fabric was too heavy for that design, and I did not feel like figuring out a pleating pattern.  So I cut the bodice the same as the lining.  To give it some character I finished the neckline with double piping (which is made the same way as single piping – just sew a second row of piping after the first.

Here is a great trick with piping – use a 1/2 inch metal stay as a guide to cut the piping strip so that it has exactly 1/2 seam allowance, making it easier to apply.  You do need a rotary cutter to do this:

Using a 1/2 inch metal stay to cut piping seam allowance.
Using a 1/2 inch metal stay to cut piping seam allowance.

Despite buying special piping feet for my machine, I still find it easier to apply piping with a zipper foot:

Sewing piping to waist with a zipper foot - the 1/2 seam allowance makes it easy to line up.
Sewing piping to waist with a zipper foot – the 1/2 seam allowance makes it easy to line up.

I cut interlining for the sleeves out of black cotton organdy, which is thin but stiff and should help the sleeves to poof nicely.

Black cotton organdy sleeve interlining.
Black cotton organdy is stiff, thin, and not scratchy when worn.

When I tried on the bodice I found one alteration – the sides of the neckline were sticking up a bit, so I took in the shoulder seams 1/2 inch on the outside edge.  The other issue I ran into was the sleeves, which I fully admit was my fault!  I did not measure the circumference of the narrow part of the sleeve to make sure it would fit my tree trunk arms.  When I tried it on I could not get them to close.  But it was close, so I will explain how I unfucked the sleeves.

There was length to spare, so I trimmed 1 1/2 inches off the bottom of each sleeve eliminating 1 1/2 inches of not-fitting sleeve.

I reduce the seam allowances to 1/4 inch for the lower part of the sleeve, gradually easing back to the normal 1/2 inch where the full part of the sleeve is.  This added 1/2 inch to the circumference and it just barely fit.

So to prevent gap-osis, I added a placket.  The top side of the sleeve opening is finished with the piping in the sleeve seam:

Piping on sleeve opening.
Piping on sleeve opening.

The under side of the opening would normally be turned under and hemmed.  But there was only 1/4 inch seam allowance there now.  So I cut a piece of fabric the length of the sleeve opening by about 2 inches, folded it in half, and sewed it to the right side of the other sleeve opening, using 1/4 inch seam allowance:

Adding sleeve placket
Adding sleeve placket

The placket is then pressed flat outwards, so that the piping side of the sleeve opening covers it:

Sleeve with placket.
Sleeve with placket.

When closed, you cannot see the placket but it is there, anchoring things and preventing gaps:

Sleeve with opening closed.
Sleeve with opening closed.

Then I finished the bottoms of the sleeves with piping.  1830’s is all about piping.  I piped the sleeve seams, the waistline, the neckline, and the armscye seams.  The bodice closes with hooks and eyes in the back.

The skirt was easy – just cut 2 panels long enough for the hem plus 1/2 seam allowance at the top.    The pattern also had a cutting guide for the top of the front skirt panel, to scoop it out and make the skirt slightly shorter in front.  I find skirts always look better that way, so I took advantage of the template.  I pleated the waist (using Clinton Pleat Maker) and sewed the skirt directly to the bodice, with piping in the seam, per the pattern instructions.

Here are some photos of the finished dress at our event, Christmas At the Village (Old Economy Village) on Dec 12, 2015.  I wore the lace pelerine with it and a large black velvet Romantic era bonnet that I made last year.  The weather was beautiful – it was almost too hot outside for the muff!  Thank you to Janet for the photos!

OEV Christmas At the Village, Pittsburgh Historical Costume Society Outing in the Grainery
OEV Christmas At the Village, Pittsburgh Historical Costume Society Outing in the Grainery
OEV Christmas At the Village, Pittsburgh Historical Costume Society Outing outside of Kitchen
OEV Christmas At the Village, Pittsburgh Historical Costume Society Outing outside of Kitchen