I have done a lot of earlier Victorian (1876-86), but i have not really ventured into the 90ties ( though I did make a 1895 Ripple jacket for my Christmas outfit last year), so the Belle Epoche ideas had been brewing awhile here…
and then, a few moths ago, I saw this on Pinterest
I mean – huge skirt ridiculous lapels, mega-sleeves, a very ugly hat – how can you not love it!? I immediately pinned it onto my 1890ties board and started planning…
It was a longer project i planned to do more or less over the Christmas break here – I don’t celebrate it, but many of my clients do, so there is a bit of a free time to carve for my own projects there:-) I wanted to make as many bits as I could in the gaps before the commissions and hopefully shoot it with a wintry landscape, should we be so lucky as to get any snow here.
starting ith the foundations..
I already had a corset cut to a Symingotn pattern ( patterned by Cathy Hay) – I made it for my wedding 3 years ago, when I was just starting my corsetry adventure, and so it doesn’t fit particularly well ( the back laces form () at the back, never a good sign.. ) Still, it survived 3 years of extensive use, and it looks nice and is very , very comfy…
my old ‘wedding’ corset in coutil and silk
Since I now had an excuse to make a new one, i set down to work. I redrafted the same patter to fit me better, and this time made it a one layer affair in a lovely mink coutil from Sew Curvy. I also decided on external bone channels – and you can see the details on construction in the little video I put together – Here.
The blue flossing and external tape worked well with the mink colour and I put some antique lace at the top too.
It fits nicely and is comfy, and once it is properly seasoned ( worn for a bit, so that it adjusts to my body) i bet it will close in the back. Both corsets are 27″ waist.
The petticoat was easy – I used my old antique one:-)
To get the proper width of the hem, an underskirt was often worn too – there are a few existing ones , and whereas some are made in cotton, there are a few made in silks, with rather nice lace – a very elegant affairs!
I hunted out some nice lace on etsy and used leftover silk from my Regency gown
I used up 12 metres of that lace… all gathered and sewed in two tiers – to the hem and to the flounce
The skirt was next. I used a Truly Victorian Pattern for the Ripple skirt and it worked a treat! I made mine in boucle wool, with stiff cotton lining.
The blouse – well, in this instance i ran out of time a bit and used a blouse I found on ebay, from Cotton Lane. Thy make pretty neat shirtwaists, that are not too different in construction from the proper stuff – and as I dislike sewing shirts etc, I simply plan to alter this one – I will remove the sleeves, cut out the pin tucked panel and the cuffs and sew them onto a proper, leg of mutton style sleeves in the same cotton. I will need to re-insert the collar too, to fit my neck better, but altogether I think it should pass muster – will update this post once it is done ( february, as want to wear it for the next market! )
And then it was time to think about the coat….
I wanted to make it in green wool and line with cotton. When I went wool shopping i was irrevocably drawn to the wool I used for mu 1876 February dress – lovely , napped fabric, soft and warm. I couldn’t say no…
The lining was a rather pricey cotton flanelett – light, but soft, with a slight nap, to keep me war,
Other ingredients included rabbit fur, linen interlining for the lapels and collar, tape for channels and lovely buttons made by Gina B.
Looking at many original coats and patterns from the era, it is easy to notice that the coats dould me made either with bodice and skirts cut separately or together. I decided on the former – and adapted a pattern for the skirts from one of the coats shown in this book – 59 Authentic turn of the century patterns
The bodice getting ready… I adapted a pattern of my old Victorian bodice and played with a mock up untill I had the correct shape of the lapels… took a few goes…
The ‘sleeves of doom’ were quite a challenge. I found a pattern for the sleeves in the same book and played with them – they consisted of a normal sleeve, lined, and a puff . the sleeves are cut on the bias, to achieve the fitted forearm, and the puff is interlined and stiffened with layers of net…
the puff with net being attached
But the net and pleating wasn’t enough to achieve the desired look. shoulder supports were needed.
I found a few pictures of them, and in the end settled on the wire and tape ones. they go inside the puff, and are tapes are sewn onto the undersleeve.
I must admit that try as I might, the pleated effect seen on the original escaped me ( I almost got there with cartridge pleating but realised in the end that i would have to have more fabric – and a different shoulder support, possibly with the wired running in the other direction, so that the pleats fill in between… just a theory.
Still the sleeves did work out quite well…
time to attach the skirt to the bodice… the bodice was boned on every seam and has a waiststay as well.
planning the waistsay
Thebuttons were next – they are decorative items, as the coat closed with hooks and eyes under the fur trim:-)
The hat was simply an adapted hat from my 1876 frock – i simply drew the line at making an ugly hat and decided to temporarily re-arrange an existing one – and since the brim was wired, it was easy to shape it differently, add feathers and a bow:-)
On the day we used a new backdrop for some of the pictures ( no snow here, alas) for a cheesy Victorian postcard look, with the props being a few things we picked up on ebay – antique sledge and skates 🙂
it was time to get dressed – and I realised a bit of a mistake as soon as i put the coat on – the skirts were voluminous and heavy, squashing the shape of the Ripple skirt, and dragging on the floor 😦 so that’s another thing I will need to sort out before a proper outing – cutting the hem short and probably adding a bit more stiffening to it too, to help it flare out.
Apart from that I am very happy how it all turned out – and hope we will see some proper snow at some point to take better pictures!
as it is – the results below:-)
The cost.. ouch…
corset – materials and labour – approximately £300,
underskirt – lace – £90, silk £30, labour £90 – £210
ripple skirt – fabrics – £50, labour – £150 – £200
coat – fabrics and notions – £100, labour £300
cheap blouse – £35 😉
total – approx £1000….. plus the hat…
Altogether it was not the most expensive but not the cheapest set either – but it is comfortable, stylish and more or less practical ( once you get used to the enormous sleeves) so I will be wearing it quite a lot for the markets etc, I think:-)
And yes, I do love the sleeves… Power dressing!!!! 🙂 hope you like it too 🙂
usual credits – Dressmaking – Prior Attire
photography – Pitcheresque Imagery
corsetry supplies – Sew Curvy
Buttons – Gina B Silkworks,
Wool – Bernie the Bolt
cotton lining, notions – Tudor Rose Patchwork
Fur – GH Leathers