Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Saga of 1840's, Part One: Underoos

Yes, yes. I understand - I have been so terrible about updating that it is downright laughable.  You can forgive me right?  Well you will have to once I post amusing pictures. 

Lately there has been too much of a dry spell in regards to sewing to really update..I made the Doctor a new Regency shirt..that is about it, I suppose.  I have a pile of UFO's and bursts of inspiration but very little motivation, unfortunately.

I did however create an outfit for the San Francisco Dickens Christmas Fair which unfortunately I did not document well...But I can talk about it to the best of my abilities.

My trip to Dickens was a surprise for the amazing Christina at The Laced Angel from her sweet boyfriend who thought she might like my harassing presence as a gift for their anniversary.  I think he was right, anyhow.  I knew since August that I would need something so I started the fun of researching.  All my images can be seen here.  I decided almost immediately on this fashion plate:

I chose the garment on the far left.

I knew I already had some lighter weight cotton velvet in a dark blue hanging around in the form of a pelisse which I unfortunately never really enjoyed wearing - it was always too small and uncomfortable.  There was plenty of yardage there for the little coat. Before I could get any of that out of the way, I needed underwear.

First things I made were my chemise and drawers - each going together in a day from beginning to end, flat felled seams included.  They were a really good start because they were easy and gave me confidence.  I should learn that easy beginnings never signify easing endings.  Christina showed me a sweet pair of pin-tucked drawers that were originals she bought at an antique store that I fell in love with so they served as an inspiration for my drawers.  I edged and detailed my underthings in a simple cotton scalloped lace.

My first experiment with tucks, a pen, and a ruler.

Once they started going it was a good rhythm.

As an after thought I decided to put some lace under the tucks instead of the flounce you see on a lot of Drawers.

The finished product!

The lace at the edge of my Chemise cuff.

Both of them in action the Sunday before Dickens.  They are not exactly FLATTERING but very comfortable.

After I got all of that done, I had to knuckle down and start on the corded petticoat which I expected to be much worse than it really was.  It was absolutely time consuming, don't get me wrong, but I was happy I could figure it out MOSTLY unaided.  I used a very wide cotton macrame cord because A) I was impatient and wanted to do as little work to get as much effect as I could, and B) it was available the cheapest for the most amount. I spaced my cords about an inch, maybe a little less, apart and did my first grouping of 8, a second grouping four inches up of 6, a third grouping four inches up of 4, then a fourth and fifth grouping of two.  I was worried I would not have enough of a bell when finished but after I starched it I was completely SHOCKED to see how puffy it was! I was delighted! I pranced around the house in it to see how, if at all, it would get tangled in my legs.  It did not ONCE. I was gleeful, nothing irritates me more than having a multitude of petticoats trapping my  legs when I walk.

This counts as prancing.

I don't know why the hell this picture is sideways, It isn't on my desktop but here is.  Stupid technology.

After that was all finished I made a secondary petticoat to add EVEN MORE FLOOF because thats what I do.  I wanted a bell that seemed as if I was wearing a hoop, yet still being period correct. I had just enough muslin after buying the bolt to make a two teired petticoat to wear over the corded one.  I've made them before, so two did not seem like any difficulty, and it wasn't.  It went together rather quickly as well. I used the tried-and-true method of cord gathering the teirs and I am happy I did - each teir was roughly 7 yards.  I did not starch it until I was in California and WOW it was incredible.  I used StaFlo which is a dippable starch you can get at walmart, and it works VERY well! All you 'Bethan nobs with ruffs, look into it.

Pre starched for everything.  Still has some floof, though!

Sewing Ruffles on is so tedious.

After I assembled all of these things, a bum pad, and the chemisette I was going to wear under my jacket, it was time to start on the actual clothing AND the bonnet.  Stay tuned for more exciting adventures in the 1840s! I promise I wont wait months to post again. Really, I wont.


  1. You've just inspired me to get my butt in gear and improve my late '40s wardrobe. Thanks!

  2. There's something fascinating about Victorian underwear :) I love seeing all the layers go together!

    I've got a question: I've never heard of a corded petticoat before. How are they different from other petticoats? I assume the cords help stiffen the petticoat somehow?


    1. Hi Adi! A corded petticoat was used to help get the proper bell shape before the Cage Crinoline was invented in I believe 1855 (but dont quote me on that). It helped to distribute some of the weight and keep the legs free and cut down the number of petticoats needed to make the proper shape!

  3. I could not have been more excited to have you visit!!!!! You were gorgeous as usual, and you have started me on a terrible spree of dip starching ALL THE THINGS!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. ALLLL THEEEE THIIIINGS!!! I noticed after re starching here at home that starching is cumulative - the more you do it the stiffer it gets.

    2. ...that's what she said?