Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Saga of 1840's Part Two: Outer Garments

I felt incredibly accomplished when finally I finished all of my underthings – It really was something I had never attempted before, so I counted myself proud.

I think they say, though, pride cometh before the fall..or some such nonsense, so with great gusto and excitement I plowed into getting the bodice and bonnet tackled.  The skirt really wasn’t an issue – a big rectangle pleated into a waistband which I had the foresight after many bad experiences to make quite wide and faced with some extra buckram.  That was done, aside from hemming, in a day.  I planned to wait to hem it until I had arrived in California, to throw myself on the mercy of Chrissy or Curtis, her boyfriend, to hem it for me when it was ON me, petticoats included.  

As I knew I could not drape an 1840’s coat bodice to save my life I needed to decide on a pattern and with great haste – I had no way of ordering anything online.  I perused Simplicity’s catalogue and decided finally on this gem. 

There was no description of the front of the bodice on the fashion plate so I felt myself at full liberty to do just what I pleased in that corner.  I had many inspiration images, but the one I found the most delightful and really to my simplistic, masculine driven military inspired tasted of the Regency was this beautiful painting in which I could zoom super close in.  I love you, Met Museum.

Aside from the lovely hint of military frogging or buttons on the side of the bodice terminating at the armsceye, the lovely slender plain sleeve and white cuff made my mouth water in delight.  Yes, that is a thing.  I made up my mind finally on that decision when I saw my boss wearing a sweet black sweater with white cuff and collar, and when I told her that her particularly favorite garment inspired my 1840’s bodice she was giddy.  

I loved the peplum on the fashion plate I used as inspiration, and had no fear altering the original pattern to add it in – my spencer pattern for 1812 has no peplum and I am frequently adding one in to hide the distance between my spencer and waistband of gown.  

Everything seemed to go well – It took me maybe three mock-ups and I felt like I had finally gotten it PERFECT. 

Once again I cannot get them to be vertical no matter what I do. IRRITATION.

In the end I shortened the peplum just a bit more and seemed satisfied.  But something was…Wrong.  I don’t know WHY it is, but when I cut and began to assemble the final garment everything seemed so much BIGGER! I was furious and panicky – my time was running very low. I said to myself “Oh hell, I will just take it in here, here, and here.”  Don’t do that, people.  Just don’t.  It RUINED my garment.  I must have assumed that after moving to the south and gaining some weight I changed a WHOLE GARMENT SIZE up; which was not at all the case.  Ooops. I had no more fabric in which to make an entire other bodice with the peplum included, so in a fit of rage, panic, and heartbreak, I had to forgo my favorite part of the garment and stick with the pattern entirely with a point in the back.  It came out right well, I suppose, so no harm no foul. I also decided after some deliberation to make it close edge to edge with hooks and eyes since my buttonholer was broken.

At least I can say that making a new, curved, two part sleeve pattern from a straight one piece sleeve pattern went relatively painlessly.  Thanks to my lovely friend Lauren at Am. Duch. I did it with only two mock ups – the first being a little wonky.  It did some out rather tight and I had trouble bending my arms up all the way whilst in costume but I think I can chalk that up to the velvet being thick.  I loved the look of how tight they were, though.  

It is very hard to tie ones own boot while corseted. Taken by the lovely Lauren

I accessorized with a muff, cur collar, and plaid reticule and matching light blue gloves found at an antique mall. Photo Taken  by Lauren.

Not to mention my ever present and beloved miniature of my Doctor. Photo taken by Lauren.

This guy was RAD.   He let me hold it, hehe.  Also I spent a lot of the weekend looking like I had a robot canon hand.

Aside from how absurd this picture is it shows that under the bonnet ties and insanity I opted for a traveling look ala Young Victoria with the jacket and cravat.  I thought it looked sharp as hell. Also I piped my  neck edge and bottom edge and armsceyes, because I could.  I also made my own tassels..I'll do a tutorial on that some other time.

Tune in next time, for the raucous tale of my first buckram bonnet EVER! 


  1. The sleeves look great!

    I think that last picture of the two of you is cute.


    1. I have had that problem with sideways pictures before.
      Apparently Blogger decides how to orient the photos based on the little thumbnail images. If you open up the images in Photoshop and save them then the thumbnails will turn right side up and Blogger will post them that way. I hope this helps.
      Also, you look fabulous!

    2. Oops. I didn't mean for that to be a reply.