Unusual color combinations are one of my favorite things to stumble upon, and the 1890s are fabulous for finding them. Deep olive green velvet, black and yellow satin, and floral sprays combine with leg of mutton sleeves and ruffles, ruffles, ruffles!
This dress dates from 1895 and is French, but was imported to the US.
By the time the 1890s hit, we lose the density of the bustle era and opt instead for massive flounces and the rebirth of voluminous sleeves. This dress isn't listed as a mourning gown, but it's got a lot of the elements one looks for in that sort of fashion, including jet beads which were generally reserved for mourning wear.
This gown would definitely be at home in Crimson Peak!
From the Maryland Center for History and Culture.
Daisy Bell feat. Eleanor Forte AI Lite and ANRI Lite
here it is!! half a year in the making, and it's finally up. i'm really proud that i finally put this together after a long couple months of not being able to work on it.
I also wrote some notes on the costume design of the daisy belles on my ko-fi! because i put a good bit of thought in including elements of both their official character designs and 1890s western women's fashion.
image descriptions in the alt text and under the cut.
ID: two digital collages with yellow backgrounds and brown borders.
(1) eleanor forte as she appears in the daisy bell video, next to an image of her official synthesizer v studio character art and a cropped image of a woman in a shirtwaist, a slim skirt, and a jacket with gigot sleeves. eleanor has long white hair done up in two buns with long pigtails. she is wearing a jacket closed with a ribbon brooch over a pleated blouse, long white gloves, and a slim, cone-shaped skirt, all trimmed with red ribbon. she has a small daisy button pinned to her jacket.
(2) anri as she appears in the daisy bell video, next to an image of her official character art and a cropped image of a woman in a bicycle suit. anri has short brown hair with a fringe. she is wearing a wide red hat and a cycling suit with a full skirt, wide lapels, and daisy buttons. she has a small red ribbon around the collar of her blouse.
I suppose I must be in a purple mood. But then again, when I see a description that includes both satin and ciselé velvet, I do get a little excited. Throw in some leg of mutton sleeves, and I'm there! This dress is from 1895 via Augusta Auctions.
This gown has all the quintessential elements of an 1890s gown, maintaining the very covered up feel of the previous decade by enhancing it with new, exaggerated body shapes. That waist looks so tiny in comparison to the flared skirt and mile-high sleeves.
The velvet here is silk velvet, not the kind you'd find on grandma's sofa. Ciselé velvet is actually cut down to created a pattern after it's been woven, so you get a very damask-like result that adds extra texture and movement. Velvet swallows up light and is particularly gorgeous when paired with satin, IMO.
Sewing a Victorian Wrapper Dress
When I got this little book full of Victorian sewing patterns, I decided to go or sew through this book chronologically, starting with a Wrapper Dress for a young woman. I have heard these being described as the Victorian equivalent to sweatpants, which I thought was a great idea for those early morning meetings on zoom where you really just want to throw something on and look somewhat put together.
Working with Victorian Diagram Patterns
I started by reading the introductory instructions, which described what the symbols meant, how to measure yourself and how to adjust the pattern. The pattern I am using is meant for a Miss, which meant I had to size it up considerably.
To draft this particular pattern, you have to use the scale corresponding with your bust measure. The original bust measure I calculated from the pattern pieces was 23 inches (ca. 58.5 centimeters). In order to get the amount of additional width per piece, you have to use this formula:
( Your bust measure – original bust measure ) / number of pattern pieces (excluding sleeves)
so for my cm measurements it would be
105 cm – 58.5 cm = 46.5 cm
46.5 cm / 5 = 9.3 cm
So I rounded that up and added another 9.5 cm to the pattern pieces.
I excluded the sleeves from this, as the sleeve lining turned out to be far too big, and I had to redo the pieces separately. Instead of an additional 9.5 cm, I added 5 cm to each sleeve piece. I also had to tighten the sleeve around the wrist.
It’s quite hard to visualize the pattern in action, so I do recommend doing a mock-up, even if it's just a scaled down version.
The pattern pieces and fabric choice
The pattern is given to you in diagram form, so I used squared pattern paper to make it easier. You start on the dot market with A on the upper right side of each pattern piece and move downwards the amount of inches described on the pattern, then from that point on move horizontally to the left. Remember to add your additional width or height to each pattern piece.
The pattern consists of a front, an upper front, a back, an upper back and a sideback, as well as a big sleeve and 2 sleeve lining pieces. It opens via a slit in the front, which is tied shut by a ribbon connecting to the upper back. The upper front is gathered (I used pleats) and sewn onto the front, where it’s marked with a dotted line on the page.
With all these gathers and pleats, your hot iron is going to become a steady companion, which reminds me to mention that I absolutely do not under any circumstances recommend doing this project in summer.
For the main garment I used a GOTS certified organic cotton poplin, which I found on sale, and for the sleeve I used this slightly stretchy poplin.
Cutting out the Pattern
Start by cutting out your pattern pieces. On some, it says “cut double” which means those are supposed to be cut on the fabric fold to make one big piece. Remember to cut the upper front open from the bust to where it’s marked with a star on the pattern. That’s your opening.
The pattern pieces are:
one upper back (cut on fold)
one upper front (cut on fold)
2 side backs
2 of each sleeve lining piece (upper and lower as illustrated below)
2 big sleeves
Sew the darts on the upper front and front, and sew the 2 back pieces together to make a single back piece. Overlock those seams and iron them to one side. You may also want to overlock the bottom of your front and back pattern pieces. I left mine raw because my fabric isn't prone to fraying, but if you’re unsure, just zigzag stitch over it.
Gather your upper front and upper back. I used pleats because I feel they’re easier to sew by hand, but I know Victorians were very fond of perfect little gathers, so just do whatever feels right to you. Iron and overlock your gathers. I also sewed my pleats in place with a few quick hand stitches for a neater look.
Attach the upper front to the front and the upper back to the back, making sure to adhere to the markings on the original pattern. Sew the shoulder parts of the pieces together. Now sew the side backs to the newly completed front. And yes, overlock and press those seams.
Then attach the side backs to the back, making sure to only attach them to the upper bodice part of the upper back, leaving the lil arms to dangle free. We’ll attach ribbons to those later to tie the garment shut. Those lil arms shouldn’t however, be so long that they reach around you. We want them at our sides, not in front of us, hiding the nice pleating we just spent hours on. Basically, if they seem too short, they’re exactly right, but if they do end up too long, pleat them.
It’s time for our first fitting. Slip into your dress and check the length, the size and see if the armholes fit. If they’re a little tight, make a little note and cut them bigger when you’re attaching the sleeves.
The next step is the sleeve. If you haven’t already, cut out the sleeve lining from your lining fabric. Pin both sleeve lining pieces together and try them on. You will have to adjust the sizing, there's no way around it. My cotton poplin was slightly stretchy, which made this easier but is definitely not historically accurate. Once you’re happy with the sizing, sew the pieces together and overlock those seams.
I also had to pleat the upper part of my lining to make it fit the armholes. Sew down the pleats with a quick whip stitch and mark which sleeve belongs to which arm. I cannot stress this enough. I didn't and had to unpin the sleeves several times.
Now gather your big sleeve in between the notches and iron those gathers. Sewing the sleeves was hell, and you do not want to suffer more than you already have to. Sew the sides of each sleeve right sides together and press open or overlock.
You’ll notice the sleeve is slightly shorter than the sleeve lining. That's because the sleeve lining also functions as your wrist cuff. If you’re bolder than me, you could also use a contrasting lining. Attach the ends of the sleeve to the sleeve lining where the pattern indicates. Don't forget to french seam the seams on the sleeve lining cuff.
Now pin and sew your sleeve lining and sleeve to the armhole. If you want to be on the safer side, quickly stitch your sleeve and sleeve lining together before this step. Trim and overlock the raw edges. Try it on. You may need to add a few additional stitches to make the sleeve fit just right.
In this next step, we’ll add a hem to the dress. To make this easier, I made some bias tape from my scrap fabric. This really made the front opening, skirt, neckline, and cuffs look nice and neat.
Once you’re done with the hems, add your ribbon. Find the middle of your ribbon and pin it to the center back and the arms of the back. Try it on and check the fit. I wasn't happy with my pleats in the back, so I ironed and handstitched them down. If you notice that your fabric is bunching up and looking wrinkly, it might be because you’re tying your garment too tightly. It’s not a corset, you don’t need to tight lace.
Finally, I used a running stitch to attach my ribbon.
And you’re done.
PS: here is the link to this lovely flower background I found and here's a link to my blog on livejournal