Victorian seaside adventure!

Some things start unexpectedly…. last January I picked some lovely silk that just screamed Victorian Seaside Bustle frock… And so for the summer I put a few days aside to make it – and to nip somewhere on the coast for … Continue reading

Prior Attire Victorian Ball, Bath , 7th May 2016

  Well, I  thought our previous event at the venue was a blast – but  this year it was even better! After a year of preparations, marketing, meetings, sales, dealing with emergencies and unplanned changes, sewing and general organisational madness, … Continue reading

A queen on a budget, please…..

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‘I need an Anne  Boleyn dress… my budget is £300.  Can you provide the fabrics? ‘

‘I need a complete posh 15th century outfit ( hose, doublet, gown, hat),  historically accurate, silk and linen, hose in wool.  I can spend £250.’

‘Can you do a posh Victorian for £320? can add another £40 if you make a corset too.’

‘ I want a duchess gown, stays and underpinnings for a ball – how much would it be? I have about £280 to spend on the project’

‘ I found this steampunk coat on ebay,  I want one just like that, but in different wool, with silk lining, and made bespoke – can pay £100. ( the picture of the coat was attached – and I found it online too…. it was a Karen Miller , offered for £200.

The newest one: ‘I cannot afford this gown in silk, because I have sick relatives and the medicines cost a lot, plus I have a lowly paid job and my car needs repairs – but since it is my birthday soon, maybe you can sell it to me at half a price?’

These quotes  are direct lines from many of the inquires  I get – and many similar ones abound too, and I suspect there are a lot of other costumiers who get them. And it doesn’t really matter that the price guide is on my website and facebook page, plainly visible to anyone,  stating plainly how much labour is for a specific item. And if you look, you will see that the labour for, let us say, doublet, gown and hose will amount to more that £250 and that’s not even including the fabrics. People look, add, decide it is too much and go and find a hire service or make things themselves. And that is fine – if you need a fancy dress for a night, you wouldn’t be spending hundreds on it –  but get something cheap  on ebay, make stuff for yourself and have some fun with it, or ask a sewing friend a favour ( backed by gin and chocolate, usually… :-))

But some people, knowing the labour prices still email me asking if I can make the same things  at a quarter ( or less) of their usual value… why? I had no idea, until 2 ‘prospective clients’ answered that question  for me.

‘ I know it is much less that you usually charge, but at least you will have some work from me’

Well…. at least it was straightforward… Needless to say that sometimes their offer would not even cover the cost of the materials – and so I would be actually spending time working at a loss.   Also, needless to say, it assumes I am sitting here twiddling my thumbs, desperate for anything to do, whereas I am usually booked for 9-12months in advance….

It would be an equivalent to me saying to a baker: ‘Here are 3 eggs and some icing sugar, you provide the rest and I want you to make me a 3 tier wedding cake, please’. Nobody does that, so why people assume costumiers ( or jewellers,  corsetieres or generally small businesses) are any different?

I had a good think and I  think there are a few reasons for it….

1. People simply apply the ‘fancy dress’ label  to all unusual clothing, and think the prices are the same as the Chinese mass produced medieval/victorian/edwardian/lotr  garb. Very often it is not badly meant –  nowadays very few of us have things made bespoke as we can get good quality clothing  from the local store.  Occasion wear items are exceptions  (wedding dresses etc), but otherwise, we are no longer used to  commissioning gear to be made for us.

2. Also, cheap, easily available clothing leads us into the illusion that all clothing is cheap.  The wool coat in M&S is £50 –  but if I am to make it, the £50 will cover maybe the fabrics. The time used to research, communicate with the client,  measuring and fitting sessions, patterning and making the garment would be all on top of that… But we are simply used to mass produced items ready to wear and have no idea ow much individual raw materials cost. May also have no knowledge of how much work, expertise, research and experience actually go into the item.   Not really surprising since we are no longer taught specific crafts at school. Also, we don’t know how much quality fabrics cost…

3. People forget that  they are also paying for the years of research, training, experience – and the uniqueness of the item. There are thousands of costumiers – but only very few specializing in historical  items. To boot, the garments will be one of a kind –  so a rarity value should also be considered.

4. For some reason people are convinced that small businesses are forever tittering on the verge of collapse and are desperate for any work at all. And although running a small business successfully means a lot of work and commitment, and it is not all plain sailing,  I don’t think I know of any quality artisans ( and I do know quite a few) who would not be busy. Yes, sometimes the business gets slack, but that’s when many guys work on the basic stock –  things that will sell at some point, whether at markets or on etsy, ebay or self hosted online shop. Those who do take commissions that don’t cover the materials, in hope of a bit of cash usually learn that in most cases, it is much more profitable to decline – and spend the time on a stock items or a showpiece that will be far more beneficial to the business in the long term. And if  cash is desperately needed, well, then we do flashsales:-)

5.  Small businesses are ‘more personal’ – so people  ask for, sometimes outrageous’ discounts because they know the person running the business is responsible for the pricing – and have no doubt put a huge margin on the product.  And so the ‘ pity me’ emails from complete strangers. The fact that  a lot of us do not put much ‘on top’, but charge exactly what the product is worth is so unusual in the corporate world many people do not get it. You do not go to the BMW salon asking them to give you a 20% discount on the new model because  your father is sick ( what on earth are you doing buying luxury products instead of medication and specialist care for the daddy then? ), husband unemployed and your salary is low – you go and buy a 10 year old Ford instead ( mine is 15 year old now and  works great!). But the salesperson in a salon may not have the power to amend the pricing – whereas the individual might just be persuaded to do just that if they pity our situation.

I think the above are the most  common reasons why we get so many request  for the ‘royalty on budget’. People see The Tudors or White Queen and want a dress for their Halloween party –  not realizing I am not the person who caters for such items.

It is slightly better in the established re-enactment ( though  even there  it seems there is an alarming number of wannabe queens, duchesses, princes and kings wanting  royal kit for a few quid… ) as people realise that  if you want to re-enact nobility, there will be a suitable price tag  attached. In the past, a good quality, showy outfit to impress your peers at court would often cost several months of middle class salary, and although  times changed, they haven’t changed that much – silk and cloth of gold may be more accessible and cheaper – but still beyond the means of most people.  And to be honest, you can make a good quality kit middle class  in decent wool and linen or cotton – it will look lovely and though it is not the cheapest thing ever, it will serve its purpose while you save up for the brocaded cloth…..

There are a lot of arguments floating about, how a polyester silk will look quite as good – and they cannot afford silk/handmade etc, so it will have to suffice.   Well, it may be harsh – but if you cannot afford the king’s outfit ( with all the trappings it needs, jewelry, fur etc), than maybe  start with a simple soldier’s kit instead and climb the social ladder – many people do exactly that and  it takes years of saving to get higher class kit – but many stay at the middle class too, for a variety of reasons – and, to be honest, portraying a medieval farrier or an Elizabethan gardener is just as interesting and complex as a queen…

Obviously, lots depends on the purpose of the garment – if you need it for living history, educational displays and events, it simply needs to be correct fabrics, cut, finish etc, no matter what class you re-enact.  If you participate in battles and nobody is likely poking at the seams of your doublet and fingering your collar, you may be able to get some money saving short cuts. And if you  need a gown for a fancy ball, a social gathering, a photoshoot  – simply an item you’ll love to wear  – well, you can use whatever is suitable and you can afford – and produce stunning results with minimal costs:-)

There are a few shortcuts if you need/want a flashy outfit though, even if you want it made correctly and in correct fabrics:

*Save up! obvious, really, but there it is…. designate one  source of savings a month or a week and it will happen –  go our to dinner once less,   buy less modern stuff you don’t actually need all that badly – or even simpler – set up a separate saving account and put an deposit there every month, deducted from your salary straight away – you won’t notice this much, and whether it is a £20 a month, £10 a week or £100 a fortnight, it will soon amount to a neat little sum.

*take small steps…   you can often add on things to enrich your stature ( and clothing) in time.   Opt for a woolen doublet and gown, add handmade braid on it or embroidered cuffs a few months later…. Also – buy bodice, but apply lace, braid decoration yourself

* Sell the items you don’t use any more….

* sell your products – and have one sale a month that goes straight into the new kit fund…

*barter – either skills or products. You make wooden pattens but a doublet is beyond you – talk to the costumiers who re-enact, many are happy to barter  things like that.  Your shoemaker needs driving tuition? a plumber? you’d be surprised how many  things can be arranged this way….

*pay in installments – most businesses welcome the solution.

*learn to sew….. yes, may take time and investment in machinery or courses – but will pay off in the long run.  Even if your skills won’t go beyond a simple chemise or a cap – you are already saving some money

* buy ready made items – stock items are cheaper,  often quite a lot cheaper than bespoke items. If you find an item at a market or in an online shop that you know is of good quality and it fits you – grab it, will  be much cheaper  than ordering the same items bespoke ( then you pay for the time, fittings, individual patterning etc too ). Our stock items in the shop are often about half the price of  bespoke ones – especially if i happen on a sale silk in a local silk mill…

* Hunt bargains! go to markets to look out for bargain  quality fabrics – you can often save up to 50%  on the fabric – and usually this is the factor that drives the price of the costume up.

And as  I was often asked at how much different outfits cost – let us have a little display of different pieces and their prices…. more info on how much to charge can be read in the blog on running a costuming business

*please note that I do not subscribe to the idea of charging the retail price of fabrics if I get them cheaper at trader’s rates. If   the silk from James Hare costs me £40 per metre, the client will pay  exactly that, and not the inflated retail price.

12/13 century gown, middle class:

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Gown in  wool, lined with linen, all handstitched and hand embroidered – value £500

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gown for a queen – in silk, with silk bands and girdle, lined in silk –  with a kirtle in silk too. Labour (machine and hand finish) and materials  £600 – £700. Together with   the accessories – shoes, jewellery, crown etc, = well over £2000

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Middle class kirtle and gown in wool – £300

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Wealthy merchnat’s wife kit – kirtle and gown in wool, gown lined in linen with fur trim – £400

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Lady/high status gown in brocade, lined with silk, all handstitched – the brocade itself  ( needed 8 metres is now retailing at £140 per metre… the dress value is  around  £2000, plus the kirtle, shoes,  pattens, jewellery – another £400

reversible burgundian gown in silk, with silk lining –  – stock item – £350

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early 15th gown in wool, with linen – commission – value – £300

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robe and chaperon in silk brocade, commission – £ 400. the same items in wool would cost £260

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silk brocade robe, lined with silk – stock item – £220. Normally just the fabric would be that much, plus another £200 for labour – but this particular silk was hunted down at a silk sales, hence the affordable  price!

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Royal Tudor gown – over £3400 ( detailed pricing here );  high born lady gown in silk velvet, lined with silk – £550. same gown in wool would cost £350;

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Upper class Tudor set in wool, silk and fur – around £1000.  same outfit in quality, royal silks would probably double the price

off the peg  high quality Tudor gown and kirtle form the shop –  £400 and £240 respectively

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High status lady outfit, in silk satin, with silver lace – with  2 petticoats – £850

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middle class outfit in wool – £450

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Courtier  outfit in silk, lined with silk, silver lace, wrapped buttons – £800

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Middle class kit in wool  – £400

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18th century set in wool and linen, with lots of handfinish –  £ 600

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similar set but in silk, though machine finish  and blend fibre waistcoat lowers the price – £700

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Day dress in cotton, £300 ( including petticoat and bonnet)

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day dress in wool, stock item – £ 400

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Visiting dress in silk, heavily decorated – £ 1000

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WWI dress in silk with lace, £ 350

Edwardian Outfits July 2014-17

WWI dress in cotton, with a silk sash – £ 270

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Victorian corset, stock item, part of our Bare basic range  – £125

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Victorian corset, bespoke work, with exterior channels and extensive flossing – from £300

 

replicas of 1885 riding habit in quality wool, with handmade ( the blue habit) and hand applied braiding,  made bespoke, with a safety tailored skirt and riding trousers – coat  around £1000

Also replicas ( but not exact) made as stock items, generic sizing, machine finish – pricing from £350 (these ones are actually in our shop equestrian section, here)

 

As you can see, it is often the price of fabric that makes the outfit expensive – or the fact that it is  a commission and not a stock item.

Having said all that – I must stress that  despite a few of the messages like that, the majority of people do appreciate the fact that their items are unique, made lovingly, and  individually fitted. And it is those lovely people that  make businesses like mine thrive – I used to teach in a college before, and the job, though rewarding, was nowhere near as rewarding ( both in hard cash and job satisfaction). I  may be working longer hours, but I love my job, and would not be doing it if i didn’t – or if it didn’t pay my keep:-) 🙂

More on running a costuming business can be read about here: https://adamselindisdress.wordpress.com/2014/11/17/running-a-costuming-business/

Hope the post has been useful to you, if you are new to costuming.  For those of you who are running businesses – have you come across similar experiences? if yes, do you have any other theories  that would explain them? Feedback welcome!

1860 gown

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I have never done a proper  day 1860 kit before –  yes, did ballgowns and bridal versions, but not day dresses – and not for me!  I didn’t actually need one either, but when I saw that wool it just screamed late 50ties, early 60ties to me – and my will power failed me. I got the wool and put it in the fabric shed…

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Over the next few months I  acquired a crinoline cage and experimented with the corsetry for the era too….

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Still, I was too busy dealing with commissions and stock items, so the project, and the fabric was still waiting. Then we decided to go to St. Audries Park  ball –  and I was kicked into a whirl of activity The venue is amazing ( indeed it is our wedding venue, and we held a short bridal shoot there too), and since we could all arrive early in the afternoon, we decided it would be a perfect place to shoot some Victorian frockage – the 1860 one included:-)

No time to rework the corsets, and since we would be shooting other eras,  I decided to save time needed to swap corsetry and stay in my 1880 corset – it did provide the right shape, as it turned out.

What I did need was a proper petticoat…. 6m of cotton and tedious pink tucks sewing, the petticoat was ready 🙂

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detail of the pintucks and lace – and the inevitable moggy under the crinoline….

I was happy with that -time for the skirts….

Not too difficult a job, though it needed a lot of seams – the fabric I had was vintage and narrow….

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80cm wide…

lots of hemming and pleating was done, and the hem was decorated with a wide velvet ribbon  in deep olive …

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Bodice next – I didn’t have a pattern, and so based mine on original items found online ( my pinterest board is here), cross – referenced with pattern diagrams from Jean Hunnisett.

Mock up being more or less shaped – just getting the seam placements here, I did the detailed shaping on myself wearing a corset…

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Once that was done, it was time to cut the fabric and lining….

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and stitch the thing up.

The seams are boned, turned to the side and secured. the edges are faced with the same fabric

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The sleeves were a modest pagoda style, trimmed with the olive velvet ribbon and a pleated satin ribbon on the inside of the cuffs.   Buttons were a nice eBay find – a velvet covered metal buttons, vintage 🙂

Chemisette with a plain collar and undersleeves with lawn and lace were next…

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close up on the sleeves – work in progress

and then, there was the bonnet – a spoon straw bonnet from Dressing History, trimmed with the following:

1 inside – a lawn lining and a cotton lace ruffle, paper and silk flowers

2. outside – combination of velvet ribbon, satin ribbon and pleated satin ribbon…. edges and bavolet in silk taffeta

The stockings and shoes from American Duchess  :-),  chemise in cotton and split drawers in cotton too –  and am wearing my corset in silk taffeta

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oops!

The result – well, I was amazed at how fetching the style was – I looked positively sweet, a perfect disguise for my somewhat grumpy personality ( and a grumpy mood on the day as I was suffering from a nasty cold) – must the be hat;-)

It was a fun style to wear and something tells me I am not done with the 1860ties yet! 🙂

The photos by Pitcheresque Imagery, and the dress etc by Prior Attire

hope you like it!

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Halloween, Goth and Victoriana fun

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As Halloween was approaching and I noticed a few bits of non historical fabrics in my store room, an idea was hatched – we will do some Halloween photography! We mentioned the idea to a friend at one of the markets, and she volunteered lending us some of her corsets for it. we mentioned it on facebook and withing minutes we had more contributors and models agreed on, and time set asid e for some Halloween/Goth/Victoriana fun.

We started with an organic look for a pumpkin queen – my Spring Petal Dress  had a remake ( a brief encounter with spray paint), and after an afternoon of drilling and carving the pumpkins ( the jigsaw power tool was perfect for it!) we were ready…

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petal dress before spraying…

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and after…

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pumpkin carving!

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the first one done….

 

and on the day we prepared the set for the Pumpkin Queen in the nearby woods… the results below:-)

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Next day was the big day! our make up artist, Sammm Agnew arrived just after noon, and the models, Gem and Hannah followed shortly after.

My workroom was transformed into a make up and hair styling centre…

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preparations..

and we  shot several different looks around the house…  the results below – wherever possible I provided inks directly to the products featured as many of the items are actually available to purchase straight away 🙂

Meet  The Broken Doll…. Hannah looked fantastic with  the blue hair! She is wearing a silk skirt by Prior Attire, and a lovely underbust corset by Wyte Phantom..

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Innocence Tainted –  Gem is wearing a silk  skirt and a corset by Prior Attire… Head by Samm Agnew!

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Victoriana – the ladies of the night;-)

The girls are sporting Victorian attires – the purple one  has sold already, but the chocolate pumpkin one is still available here  

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Pumpkin corset – Hanna had a quick transformation and here is sporing a silk corset with black lace decoration from Prior Attire matched with a black skirt

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Demon Bride – Gem had a go at the wedding dress that got damaged in the fire – with a festive spray of blood….

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and then got quickly  into this stunning piece by Wyte Phantom

 

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Even our MUA  vamped out her make up , donned a lovely corset ( again, Wyte Phantom) and a skirt ( Prior Attire) and jumped in front of the camera

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and after having my face and hair transform to fit with Vampish Gothic criteria, I joined her:-) The overskirt, corset and posture collar by Wyte Phantom, flouncy skirt  ( sold already, sorry….) and the fascinator by Prior Attire

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and that was it for one long day – but it was not all! 2 days later lovely Miss Lilian Love joined us for a classy corsetry shoot –  and in one evening we shot  some more Halloween stuff and some elegant vintage inspired stuff with superb corsets from Clessidra ( there will be a separate post on that, here’s a teaser)

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and the Halloween stuff –

 

again, we put Lilian in the Wyte Phantom  corset and a Prior Attire skirt

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and another plunge corset by Wyte Phantom, matching fascinator by Prior Attire

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As you can see, it was a lot of fun ( tiring, but fun!) and that was not the end of it –   the following weekend saw us at a Halloween ball from which I had a very special creation – but that  a topic for another post! 🙂

Credits:

Make up and hair – Sammm Agnew

Clothes –  Wyte Phantom, Clessidra, Prior Attire

models – Gem and Hanna Bow, Miss Lilian Love,

photography – Pitcheresque Imagery

 

Stock Photography Fun

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So we have got a new website – and it comes with a shop! Online shoo for some essentials has been on my to do list for quite some time,  and so I decided to go ahead with it. And your products need to be photographed, right? Well,  since we were moving house, we decided to get as many pictures sorted before we do so – and 2 long sessions have been set aside and done!

The first was a fun session with Miss Lilian Love – featuring our modern corsets – the elegant sheer…

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and a cyberpunk/sci fy underbust – in a few looks!

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Lady Darth Vader….

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then a week later we had Anett, and Adrianne..

preparations…

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and a few outtakes from the shoot…

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after the shoot the girls went to bed…. 😉

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The  next day  Helen joined us for more fun..

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and then Lizzie  got to model some more stuff too 🙂

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even I got to model one of our stock items!

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and after all the shooting was done, it was editing time – photos, of course, by Pitcheresque Imagery

All the items here ( and many more) are  already available in the shop – but will get a proper post on the shop at some point too!

Many thanks to all our models  for their hard work, creativity and simply being great company!

 

 

How to make a Victorian flounced Petticoat

44. petticoat on the steel boned bustle, closed side


In this article we willcover the construction of a typical late Victorian petticoat with back flounces. We will also discuss the steampunk version of the traditional petticoat – and how to get 3 styles out of one skirt in seconds!

 

The flounced petticoat by Prior Attire

 Inspiration: Harper’s Bazaar, page 135, figure m, Foulard petticoat

Materials

4m of cotton twill; for steampunk version any non stretch fabric can be used, here 5m of embroidered silk

10 – 15 m of decoration – broderie anglaise lace etc

Buttons; for the steampunk version, 05m of elastic

Also, for the steampunk version you will need 5m of ribbon or a string; here Russia braid was used

 Pattern

 Adapted from Norah Waugh, The Cut of Women’s Clothes, p. 206, 208

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Method

  1.  Cut the base for your petticoat: front and back pieces.
  1. Cut the flounces – the front can be decorated with one, and the back will have a few – aim for about 5 – 8 flounces. The length of the flounces varies, depending on your gathering/pleating method, but aim for a minimum twice the length of the finished row. So if your bottom hem at the back is 1, you will need min.2 metres of fabric to gather.

Step 1: making the flounces

  1. Work on your front flounce first. You can skim this step if you plan to have one bottom flounce going around the whole petticoat, like the one in the steampunk version.

Different styles were possible, you can gather the flounce loosely, box pleat it or use a combination of the methods.  Here I wanted to replicate the one in Harper’s Bazaar, and used the combination of trimming and pin tucks.

Divide the flounce into equal parts and work out how deep your pin tucks have to be to pleat to the desired width.

Deciding on the size and amount of the pin tucks

26. deciding on the size on the pin tucks for the front flounce.

Hem the edges and sew on the trim, and then work on the pin tucks. You can use a pin tuck foot for that – though I realised that the tucks on mine will be far too shallow to my liking, so I simply stitched it with a normal foot.

Front decoration with pin tucks and lace – all ready for pressing and starching

27. front founce ready for statchign and pressing

 Press – if you have spray-on starch, use it. Sew the flounce to the bottom of the front petticoat piece.

Flounce pressed, ready to be sewn on

28. front founce ready to be sewn on

  1. Prepare the back flounces. Hem them, by hand or using your machine – I find the rolled hem foot works great on both silk and cotton. It still takes a very long time, but much faster than by hand!

Hemming the flounces of the steampunk petticoat

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  1.  Sew on the decoration on the flounces

Pin first,

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Sew, fold over and press.

If you want, you can add a row or two of pin tucks running horizontally – particularly effective on either front flounces or back bottom ones – or for the sleek Natural Form petticoats!

32. back flounce ready, 2 pin tucks in place

 

Flounce with 2 rows of horizontal pin tucks

  1.  You can pleat the flounce using the ruffler on the machine or simply pleat them with knife of box pleats.

The ruffler

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Knife pleated ruffle – warning, takes ages!

33. flounce - knife pleating option

  1. You can also use a gathering foot (note – does not gather enough, in my opinion!).  Or simply run a basting seam through the top (by hand on machine) and gather the fabric on the thread.
  2.  All of the techniques work, however, having made 4 other petticoats I realised that, barring the machine ruffler, the method described below works best for me.
  • Lay the back piece on a table or the floor.   Mark the lines along which the flounces will be attached (use with any of the method). For the steampunk version, leave a very generous seam allowance – 2”

34. pinning the second flounce

  • Take the bottom flounce and pin it at both sides, within an inch of the side edges of the piece (for seam allowance – leave more for the steampunk version).
  • Mark the centre point of the petticoat piece and find the centre of the flounce. Pin these two together. You now have half the flounce on both sides. Repeat the step on both sides: mark the centre of the petticoat line (the quarter of the entire length) on one half and find the half of the flounce on that side. Pin the m together and repeat on the other side. You now have the flounce pinned into quarters.  Continue dividing the parts into smaller and smaller halves, until you have the entire flounce evenly distributed along the bottom of the petticoat.

 

Pinning the flounce, dividing it into smaller and smaller parts

35. pinning the flounce by dividing it into smaller and smaller halves

Flounce pinned

36. flounce pinned

Sew it on, gathering the extra fabric.

38. sewing on the flounce

  1. Repeat for the next rows. The technique takes some time and patience, not to mention the amount of pins, but it results in evenly distributed gathers that look natural.

37. third floounce pinned

  1. For the steampunk version pleated the flounces with the ruffler and then decorated the whole length of the bottom flounce and the top back flounce with a sequined braid, before stitching them on.

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  1. Pin your back ruffles alongside the lines, and sewn on, starting from the top.  The bottom ruffle, decorated with both broderie lace and braid will go all around the finished petticoat – put it aside for the time being.

39. back piece ready.

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So far the instructions for both types of petticoats have been almost identical, but at this stage I am going to split the rest of the instructions in two.

Assembling the Traditional Victorian petticoat:

You should now have two separate pieces, the flounced back and the front with one flounce. Joining them will hugely depend on how you want your petticoat to close – you can join the pieces on both sides, leaving only small opening at the side, and button it there. Or, you can leave one seam open completely at the side and use buttons all the way through.

I chose the latter, since I knew that then I would be able to open the petticoat at the bottom, if I need more space for riding or dancing, and it would also allow for faster changes if needs be.

  1.   For the petticoat opening at the side, just sew the two parts together at one side.
  1.  Cut out the waistband.
  1. Mark the darts in the front part and pleat the back part. Secure the pleats with pins and try the petticoat on the corset and the bustle. Adjust the pleats/darts as necessary.
  2.  Take the petticoat off and sew on the waistband – sew right sides together first, then flip it over, fold the hem and either hand stitch down, or run a seam, encasing the  seam allowance

The waistband and the darts in the front part

40. darts in the front part

Pleats and waistband at the back

 41. pleated back of the petticoat, waistband attached.

  1.  Hem the petticoat, by hand or using a hemming foot. Hem the open sides as well.
  2.  Mark and sew the buttonholes.
  3.  Add the buttons.

 42. side opening wioth buttons

  1. The petticoat is now ready – can be worn on its own, with a bustle pad or with a long bustle cage!

 

Here worn over a long bustle cage

45. petticoat on the steel boned bustle, buttoned side

If you plan to wear your undergarments for more robust activities, like riding, dancing, tennis playing of skating, do try them on before you start making the garments going on top, as some alternations may be necessary.

I discovered that I needed to leave the two bottom buttons in the petticoat undone for dancing (to keep pace with my partner in the Viennese waltz I needed bigger steps!   The video of the dress rehearsal can be seen here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5XqLbyuDHXY&feature=youtu.be

As far as riding was concerned, I needed to leave the petticoat open (3 buttons here), but when worn on the bustle pad  it turned out to be rather comfortable – I was able to perform all kind of tricks on horseback.

Note the unbuttoned petticoat

48. back view - note the unbuttoned petticoat

and another flounced petti, this one wit 4 flounces…

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Assembling the Steampunk version

  1. You now have your petticoat in 3 parts – the front, the back with the flounces, and the long bottom flounce.
  1. First, sew the darts on the front part
  1. Place the front part on the back part, right sides together. Pin the edges, but remember to leave a wide seam allowance – it will be made into the channels for hitching the skirt up. Alternatively, create the channels by stitching long tape over the seam – much less fussy!
  1. Sew together, remembering to leave about an inch between the seam and the line at which the ruffles start – and do not sew over any stray ruffles either!
  2.  Press the seam open, and fold the seam allowance under – and stitch, creating a channel wide enough for your ties to pass through.  Repeat on the other seam allowance.

Forming the channels – inside

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And outside view

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  1. Repeat the steps for the other side seam.
  2.  Hem the  skirt
  3. Pin and sew on the long bottom flounce
  4.  Prepare openings in the channels, just over the bottom flounce. You can use just one on each side or, for a greater control, make one set of eyelets onto the left side and then openings on the channels only on the inside – the ties will pass from the inside to the outside. Thread in your ties, from the top to the bottom openings and back.

Outside view: small eyelets go all the way through all the layers of the fabric

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Inside view showing a second pair of eyelets – opening to the channel, stitched over one layer.

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  1. Cut and attach the waistband : sew right sides together first, then flip it over, fold the hem and either hand stitch down, or run a seam, encasing the  seam allowance., leaving  a small opening for the elastic to thread through.

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  1.   Attach the elastic to a safety pin, and thread through the waistband. Sew both ends together and then close the opening in the waistband. It is also possible to attach the elastic only to the back, if you want to keep the front fitted.

Your Steampunk petticoat is now ready! – a few examples below

Front view

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Back view

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You can shorten the skirts on the sides by pulling the ties at the bottom and knotting them into a bow. Here only one side hitched a little bit:

 

Side view

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And the skirt hitched upon both sides, for a sexy ’saloon girl‘ look

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and fee more….

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steampunk petticoat skirt

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Happy sewing! and, if you are in a hurry, you can always buy one of ours – basic stock  petties  can be found in our shop!

 

And if you prefer crinoline styles – you might find this post useful too!

Bibliography

Jean Hunnisett, Period Costume for Stage and Screen, Patterns for Women’s Dress 1800-1909, Players Press, Inc, 1991

Norah Waugh,  The Cut of Women’s Clothes 1600- 1930; Faber and Faber, London, 1994

Norah Waugh, Corsets and Crinolines, Routledge/Theatre Arts Books, New York, 2000

Stella Blum, Victorian Fashions and Costumes from Harper’s Bazar 1867-1898, Dover Publications, Inc. New York, 1974

The Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute; Fashion, a History from the 18th to the 20th century,  Taschen, 2002

1885 day gown – stock item

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Since after the WWI corsetry shoot  we still had the set living in the garage, I decide to use the opportunity to snap a few atmospheric shots of a  circa 1885 day dress in cotton from our stock.-a skirt with an asymmetric drapery and a bodice, both lined in cotton. It was about 2 sizes too big for me, but clever pinning and padding worked, to some extent . Would suit a corsetted size 14-16, with bodice closing at 34 inches, chest 40. sleeve 23 “, skirt length 41inches. here worn on a corset ( unlaced) and a bustle cage and a petticoat. It  will be available to purchase from our online store soon:-)

And in the meantime – enjoy the pictures – really happy how they turned out,  Lucas is really getting the hang of it now!

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 credits – Clothing: Prior Attire

photography: Pitcheresque Imagery

 shoes: American Duchess

hair ( well, the fringe)- Wonderland wigs

Embers – 1876 Visiting Gown

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This particular frock has long been on my ‘to do ‘list. One of the ‘love at the first sight’ thingd – the moment I opened Harper’s Bazar on that page, I fell in love in the elegant lines of the frock, beautifully accentuated by the trim. I simply had to do it…

 The original fashion plate and the description:

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  Getting the colours and trims right was always going to be tricky – and indeed, the gown was finished much later than I had planned as I couldn’t get the trims to play with the fabric. I wanted to keep the original colouring of the gown – grey, black and crimson/red, and if possible to get the trim patterned as well.

 The fabric was easy – looking through my James Hare swatches I stumbled upon the booklet with Connaught silk ( wool and silk  blend) and their graphite was just perfect.

 Trims – well, that was tricky indeed!

 Well, after buying  a few lots online, i realized that it didn’t  work – the trims that looked perfect on the screen turned out to be too gold, or too orange or too brown. In the end I went with a ‘back up’ plan – I had 4m or silk velvet in almost the right colour ( with a bit more raspberry sheen than i would wish, but the best match so far), and just needed a secondary trim – and since Lucas was in London one day, he was sent on a trim finding mission in the caverns of Lawson and Barnett Trimmings. Armed with fabric swatches, hubby was able to hunt down a few possibilities and after reaching approval additional trim was finally bought.

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 altogether the following materials were used:

 Silk – 6m,

lining ( cotton, black and red – 6m),  red silk for the sleeves – 1m

 silk velvet -3m

trim – 37m ( yes, 37!!!!)

 black cord – 16m

 black chenille cord – 15m

 metal buttons for baleyeuse – 20

cotton broderie anglaise lace for baleyeuse – 12m

 silk and cotton thread, black lacing, bones for boning the bodice etc

velvet covered buttons – 40

tassels – 4 pairs from Gina B  ( need to get one more pair)

 Now I had the components I could at last start work….

 The garments per se were not too tricky – the skirt was simple ( similar in shape to the skirt for my 1877 polonaise), and the overskirt was  pretty basic too – though the draping wasn’t!

 Bodice – I drew the pieces up first in spare cotton fabrics, made a mock up and only after making sure it worked well, I cut the proper fabric.

 Here skirt and bodice half way through – awaiting trimming… looking very demure, but already liking the shape

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 then it was cutting the velvet bias bands to go over the skirt… with the usual helper of course…

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 In the hindsight, I should have cut the bands in exactly the shape i needed them – that would take up a bit more fabric, but would make the trim lie flatter…

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skirt is bound in black cotton, chenille cord applied, and now the fancy trim is being sewn on

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pinning up the velvet strips

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stitching the thing… hate sewing velvet…..

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and the other side being done…

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most of the trim on!

Then the overskirt received the trim treatments and it was time to start draping the thing…

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hindsight – should have bought 1 more meter and made the overskirt just a tad more voluminous at the back…

the side was pleated..

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bustle part bustled and secured by the inside tapes…

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side pleats were set and then the cords were attached – they all come together, secured in a bit of fabric – the cords with tassels will be added here too. that bit simply pins under the bustle once the overskirt is on.

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the rosette and tassels were added… the centre of the rosette is decorated with a button – the same silk covered buttons with chenille braid embellishment were then put on the folds, over the braid attachment

 and then I could actually try the thing on…

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 Once I was happy, I added closures to the skirts, added  the cords and buttons, and started on the bodice – and I must admit that was one of the most complex thing I have ever done! the shape and construction were easy, it was the closure and the trim placement that was a bit of a logistic nightmare!

 The trim itself was very tricky – here it had to be cut in exactly the shape it needed to appear on the bodice, bias strips did not work well 😦

 The description says the bodice is laced – but you see buttons on the illustration. I originally planned to go just with the buttons – but once I started playing with the trim placement, I realized that buttons, will only work, if they have loops, so that the pieces don’t overlap ( lines of the trim were upset by this). loops may put too much strain on the bodice/button – so maybe the original was right after all…

 In the and  I added lacing strips inside the bodice, so that the bodice laces up, and the buttons and lops secure the very edges providing a neat, flat finish and bot bearing too much strain.

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inside lacing, outside buttons and loops

  the sleeves were a handful too – I did each of them separately, so it was completely finished, trim and all, when it was set in.

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cuff detail, with the cord and tassels

 The whole thing was first worn on a set of a Sugar Skull photo shoot – I was providing costume for one of the models and we decided to shoot Embers in between the other stuff ( a whole new post on that once the photos go public! very usuasual and magical stuff:-).

 The gown was worn on the usual underpinnings:

  A new lawn and lace chemise ( we now stock a few of them for sale:-), drawers, stockings, basic corset ( again, testing our  stock item here – worked very well!), Tavistock boots ( American Duchess), small bustle pad.

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close up

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considering the corset was a generic size 12 and not made for me at all – it was surprisingly comfortable!

And the frock itself

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 After the shoot, and before the first event, I added a baleyeuse ( dust ruffle) to protect the trained skirts from the dirt.  the Ruffle simply unbuttons and is chucked into the washer when it is dirty – then is pinned up again.

 Here’s the baleyeuse after a whole day of walking around the market – not too bad!

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 It also peaks just a bit from the skirts – and the weight of it makes the train lie better and not bunch up when walking:-)

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at the market

  Altogether -pretty pleased with it.  yes, should have ordered a tad more fabric, and still need to add the collar, but  so far I am rather pleased how it turned out, even despite all the bad language that occurred while making it….:-)

  Now hopefully we can have some more Victorian booking to wear the thing!

 photography : Pitcheresque Imagery

 frock –  Prior Attire – obviously 🙂

Victorian Christmas in Stoke Rochford

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 Last weekend of November and the first day of December last yer saw us, rather unexpectedly in Stoke Rochford  Hall, attending a Victorian themed Christmas market.  A bit unplanned event, but Black Knight Historical lured us there with one single word – ice rink…

 So the rooms in the hotel were booked  and we were  looking forward to doing some trading and meeting friends – but also, skating!and taking lots of photos of course:-)

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the hall

 The hotel was lavish – fantastic surroundings to work with. And work I did – since the skating issue triggered a sudden need for a skating gown – a rendition of the 1876 February frock from the Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine, and i jut had enough time to do as much as i could on the machine and finish the dress by hand on Saturday at the event, ready for the skating on Sunday.

 Alas, the ice rink proved to be a bit disappointing – a small affair with plastic ice. I brought my own skates, and they did slide a tiny bit, but the ones available to hire were hopeless – not able to glide at all! Maybe safer for children, but disappointing for others, still, we had a go – and Lizzie (  or, if you prefer her professional name, Miss Lillian Love) came along to join the fun n one of our Victorian inspired frocks. a few pictures below….

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pretending to be gliding… standing still in fact!

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almost!

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don’t worry, I am also pretending to to have fallen…

After fun on the ‘ice’ we had some fun strolling in the gardens:

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bustles!!!!

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  Then it was time to go back to the stall and do some work – Lucas in the meantime  took some nice photos of Eleanor, sporting her new silk velvet dolman jacket

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cozy!

The stall was busy, but I managed to find intervals to work on the new outfit…

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finishing touches….

Eleanor was also busy – shopping for Christmas prezzies!

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while Lucas manned the stall….

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  The evening saw us sneaking out to Grantham for a nice quiet dinner – and we found a lovely Italian restaurant with excellent food!

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the starters looking good, and tasting even better — was trying not to think about wearing a corset the next day….

Sunday started with fittings for Eleanor’s Christmas gown, then back to the stall  to work on the frock. by the midday the frock was done and Lucas went snapping….

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the wool and fur were nice and warm!

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 The dress diary, and indeed the instructions on how to make the dress,  step by step, are published in an article on Your Wardrobe Unlock’d – enjoy!

 Other people occasionally got in from of the camera too – here’s one of Ian, who apparently does not approve of  advertising one of my handmade Christmas wreaths on his hat…

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he is not amused…. 🙂 or is he?

 

All together, a  splendid little weekend with friends, spent in exciting environment – good times!

 

photography- Pitcheresque Imagery,

dresses –Prior Attire  

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