Monday, May 30, 2011

18 Century Stays Progress

I'm working on a commission (also an 18th century pair of stays...I'll post photos when I'm done), so progress on my own half-boned stays has been slightly slower than normal. However, I got all the boning channels sewn in... ...added the boning (I'm using German Plastic boning), tacked down the inner seams... ...and assembled the lining. All that remains is to hand bind the eyelets raw edges (this is most time and labor intense part of 18th century stays for me).

Don't you love the lining I picked out?! Burnley & Trowbridge had a lovely gingham/checked blue linen. I couldn't stick with plain white both inside and out (boring!), and since plaid linings are period, I decided to go for it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Late 18th Century Stays

So, like much of my costume wardrobe, my 18th century stays aren't fitting so well these days, so I decided to make a new pair. I've never tried making a later 18th century pair of stays, so I thought I'd try out JP Ryan's new half-boned stays' pattern (pictured above).

Unlike her fully boned stays, I've experienced some fitting issues with this pattern. I usually really like JP Ryan's patterns, but I've had some frustrations with this pattern. It might have actually been the same amount of work to scale up a pattern from one of my costume books. I had to redraft the pattern, shortening it by 2.5 inches, adding 4 inches in the bust, and shrinking the waist by 2 inches. I had to make two mock-ups - my edits made the pattern the correct proportions, but it was too large. Here's my first mock-up (clearly too big)
I forget sometimes that I'm very squishy. Here's the second mock-up...apparently still too big, even if my dress dummy fooled me:Luckily, I didn't want to make these stays meet in the back as the pattern is designed to do, so I just took the excess out of the final back pattern piece and was back in business.
Now I have to redraw all of the boning lines. This was painstaking work that took over an hour to get right, so I'm slightly frustrated. I'm also thinking the straps might be too short, but that's an easy fix and I have enough left-over fabric. You can barely make out the penciled in boning lines in the photo below:

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Civil War Cage Crinoline

While I already own a hoopskirt, it's made as a petticoat with sewn-in channels. It's very similar to this cage crinoline at the MET. All the fabric (in addition to the steel) is surprisingly heavy. It's from the popular Simplicity pattern, but it's too long and is constantly scraping the ground. I could fix that, but it's also very large and not really designed for day-wear. I decided I'd like a new set of hoops, and wanted to try making a cage crinoline, like this one at the Victoria & Albert museum:
I purchased a fairly straight forward kit from Originals By Kay, and was able to put it together in an afternoon with my husband's help (I really don't like having to use the bolt cutters to cut the hoop wire). My dress dummy was a lot of help. It seems like period crinolines had many more hoops than modern reproductions, but our hoop steel is very different than what they had available during the civil war.The hoops are 108 inches in circumference, and are not an exact bell shape since they are ever-so-slightly larger in the back. That way my skirts will be more voluminous in the back. I would definitely recommend Kay's kit for convenience and ease of construction. There wasn't enough tape in the kit for me to make my waistband, but I have enough ribbon/tape lying around that it wasn't a problem. I admit I'm curious about the Truly Victorian hoop pattern since it includes a bag hem (you're less likely to put a foot through a hoop). Has anyone tried out the two different hoop styles?

I have a petticoat that will work with these hoops, though I know I should really make a new pair that:

A) Fits better
B) Has a flounce
C) Is neither too short nor too long

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Completed Civil War Corset

Here's a finished shot of me in my new Civil War corset. It'll do the job so I can move forward with my Gettysburg dress, but it's a bit too small...I can't even post the back shot because I'm a bit embarrassed by the fit. In hindsight, I definitely should size up Simplicity 7215. It was my favorite corset, and I hope to fit back into it someday.