Run Down of Neo-Victorian Outfit

March 16, 2011

I did indeed manage to get my Neo-Victorian outfit finished (or mostly, anyway) in time for the picnic.  Then, about a week later, I ran off to Europe for 6 months so I never really got around to writing about what I did.  So here’s the summary, finally.

Tweed Skirt

I made the skirt from a beautiful Italian wool, in a black and white herringbone sort of pattern.  I adapted a pattern from a basic 6-gore pattern that I have.  Basically, it turned out beautifully.  The only downside is that I wish the fabric had a bit of stretch in it, which would make it more comfortable to wear.

Underbust Corset

Having used Laughing Moon’s Silverado corset pattern before, I basically just did a toile of that and then traced a line I liked and cut it off there.  I decided to make it come to a point in the front because I think it looks nicer, and less like it’s just been cut off.  Playing with my previous corset, I worked out that I would be able to do it up inside out, and thus make it double sided (which was exciting, it meant I basically got 2 corsets in one).  So on one side I used black satin and on the other I used red satin – one was silk satin and one felt like silk satin even though it wasn’t. I can’t remember which was which.  I lined the satin layers to make them more substantial and stop the fabric from fraying everywhere, and I put a later of cotton canvas in the middle. I used spiral steel boning again.  I bound it with black satin bias binding, so the black side looks totally black and the red side has black edging.  I used a metal busk in the front and metal eyelets in the back.  I’m really happy with it, I think it fits well and looks good with lots of things.  Plus, it can double for pirate outfits! My only complaint is that I didn’t get the boning channels as neat as I would have liked because I was in a hurry.

Completing the Outfit

I wore skirt and corset with a blouse I’d bought (white with black details, ruffles, bow at the neck and so on), a green corduroy blazer, blue curly scarf, grey stocking and black shoes.  I found a straw boater in the cupboard, which my mother kindly put a new black ribbon on for me.  It wasn’t as cool as the top hat I planned, but I still rather liked it, and it was a lot quicker to put together.

Future Developments

I still plan to make a mini top hat, one day… I did manage to pick up a small one, which I’d like to do up.  I just need to work out if it’s the right shape.  And I’m sure I’ll think of other accessories I’d like to do. I must get my hands on a parasol.

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Corset & Fishtail Skirt going well

July 2, 2010

Well, I made a toile for the fishtail skirt out of some dodgy green fabric, working from a basic 6-gore A-line skirt.  It took quite a lot of fiddling, and from a pattern with 2 basic pieces I ended up with 4: centre front, centre back, side front and side back.  I basically worked out where I wanted it to flare out (a bit above the knee- I tried pretty much on the knee and it looked really weird) and then ruled a line from the top of the piece to that point, then curved out to the bottom corners of the skirt.  After some adjustments, I also took the flare in quite a lot of the front, so it’s reasonably straight there, compared to at the back.  The toile didn’t look great because the fabric was a bit stiff and I put a huge hem on it and then pinned it up, which made it sit awkwardly.  Anyway, I went ahead and cut it out of the wool.  I made the centre back piece about 10cm wider at the bottom on both sides and took some length off so it won’t have too big a hem.

Now I’ve sewn together the wool and it looks great!  I’ve overlocked all the pieces too, so it looks nice and neat.  Now I need to make a lining, put on a waistband and do the hem. I’ve tried on some scrap fabric and I think hemming tape will work wonderfully.  Hurrah! I love iron-on hemming tape.

The corset it also going well.  It’s up to sewing the boning channels and doing the binding, so I think that’s pretty good! I should do more descriptions of what I’ve done so far, but I think I’ll leave that for now and go back to doing some actual sewing…


The Spat-Hat

June 23, 2010

So my first accessory shall be a top hat – inspired by spats! And also by this:

It’s from this site here.   So I can’t really take credit for the idea, but I shall make some differences.

The plan is to cover the top with leftover fabric from the skirt and the brim with something black – maybe satin leftovers from the corset.  I’ll self-cover some buttons in black.  At this stage I don’t think I’ll bother with much decoration, but I’ll make it up and see how it looks/how much time I have.

As for the construction… I could easily get a full-size top hat or a base for a tiny one, but I want to make it somewhere in between, so it looks like I’ll be improvising.  Buckram and millinery wire would be the logical choice but also kinda fiddly, so my current plan is the use a yoghurt container. It’s circular, which isn’t ideal, but OK, and it’s wider at the top than the bottom so there’s still some shape in it.  My main worry is getting the fabric to stick to it, since it’s quite shiny & I’m not sure if the glue will take.  I’ll also have to attach it to whatever I use for the brim, which will probably be buckram and wire, so that I can make it bendy.  Anyway, some experimentation will be needed, but it sounds like a good plan!


Neo-Victorian Picnic

June 23, 2010

I’ve organised a Neo-Victorian/Steampunk picnic, coming up in a couple of weeks.  It seemed to me that even though we’ve just had a steampunk-themed ball, it’s hard to go all out with hats and accessories and stuff when you have to make sure you can still dance, so I felt a day event was in order.  Being me, of course, costume-making has been left to the last minute, although I have it all planned out in my head!

I’m going for a more Neo-Victorian look rather than steampunk, myself.  I haven’t found that much strictly steampunk stuff for women that I like, mainly because I don’t really like wearing brown, which there seems to be a lot of.  Basically I prefer a more elegant look rather than a utilitarian one – style over substance, hurrah! No one ever accused me of being practical.

Anyway this is the plan:

  • a ruffly shirt (I have a black one and a white one with black trimmings, I’m not sure which I’ll use yet),
  • a black underbust corset (have to make that… yeah that’s really practical and achievable),
  • a black and white tweed skirt (I have the fabric, which is BEAUTIFUL.  I was thinking of using a pattern I have that would make it kind of bell-shaped but I think I’ll adjust another one so that it’s tight to the knees with lots of flare)
  • a top hat (not tiny, but not full-size, I’ll have to make it myself)
  • plus some other stuff – I already have shoes and some jackets I can choose from.  I’ll have to look around to see what else I have by way of accessories and warm things.

This is a picture I love that is vaguely close to what I’m doing.  Too lazy to do my own sketch, sadly.

It’s by Vecona, obviously.  Isn’t it gorgeous?


Some photos of the 1840s ball gown

May 25, 2010

The photos didn’t work that well because it was dark at the hall and by the time we got home I looked really tired… But anyway, here they are.  I think I might dress up one day soon and get some decent photos : )



1840s Ball Gown finished!

May 17, 2010

Well, I finished it in time!  It was actually pretty much finished, which I think is pretty amazing.   Here’s all the other stuff I did:

  • Sewed skirt hooks onto the skirt
  • Made piping from a bias strip and sewed it to the waist
  • sewed on hooks and eyes at the back – I machined the tape onto the fold-back at the centre-back, then attempted to use hemming tape to hold the fold-back down, but also hand sewed it to the lining (the fabric was too thick to be able to get the tape to stick properly
  • Trimmed and top-sewed the neckline down
  • Found some lace, gathered and sewed it onto the sleeves, 2 flounces per sleeve
  • Made a bertha from some stiff netting, then sewing bias strips on top.  I caught it onto the bodice by hand at the centre front, centre back and at the shoulders.

Some more info on the bertha, since I couldn’t find that much information on how to do one…

First we used paper to work out the size and shape of the bertha.  Then I cut strips 2.5 inches wide on the bias and ironed them in half.

I folded the first strip over the netting, so that there wouldn’t be a scratchy edge from the net.  Then I just laid the other strips on top of the net and machined them on, making sure that each strip covered the stitching from the strip above.  I measured the side of the bertha so I could work out how far apart to put them – closer at the sides, further apart at the centres, so that they kind of fan out.

On the bottom edge, instead of ironing the strip in half, I folded the edges into the centre, like bias tape.  Then I folded one side under the net, again covering the edge, sewing through one layer of fabric and one layer of net.  Then I hand-sewed the top edge down.  I used 5 strips on the back pieces and 6 on the front.

Then I put it on a mannequin, over the bodice and worked out the angle that I should sew the pieces to each other. Then I sewed the pieces together at the front and sides and attached it to the bodice by catching it by hand at the seams.  This was just about the only bit that I wasn’t really happy with – the stitching pulled the edges down so it didn’t sit as neatly as I’d hoped.  I’m thinking about how I can fix that, but it’s not a major problem.

I didn’t get around putting boning in the bodice – I’d run out of time and I figured it would be OK.  After wearing it, I would say that it really does need it to make the front sit smoothly, but that’s OK, I’ll add it before next time I wear it.


2 days to the Young Victoria Ball

May 13, 2010

Not long to go now… Luckily the assignment is almost out of the way, so I should have time for finishing off the 1840s ball gown.  Sewing the skirt onto the waistband DID take ages and gave me horrible hand cramps but it’s done now.  My lovely mother helped me hem it – we usually use hemming tape because it’s so quick and looks so neat.  Obviously not period correct, but I figure that since the idea of hemming then would have been to make any stitches invisible, the end result is the same… right?

I’ve cut the bodice lining out of some white cotton and then cut the pieces out of interfacing and ironed them on to the silk.  The sleeves won’t be lined but I thought it would make the bodice sit smoothly and stop it fraying everywhere.  I, for the first time, managed to get a waterstain on one of the pieces, but I think I’ve managed to fix it now.  Stupid iron…

Now I need to sew the bodice together, work out  how to do the hook and eye closure, make some piping and sew hooks onto the waistband.  Then I need to work out what to do with the neckline – I’m still hoping I’ll have time to do a bertha with bias strips.  We’ll see!