1880 walking suit in bluebells

 1880 walking suit in bluebells As a part of my incoming book, The Victorian Dressmaker,  I have been making a lot of new frocks. This one is one of the 5 or so different frocks representing the Natural form – … Continue reading

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

The Buttercup Ball and the 1895 evening gown

  A long overdue post on a rather splendid ball we attended in London, in December. The Buttercup Ball was organized by Stuart Marsden ( the dance master for our  Victorian ball  last year – and this year’s edition too!) … Continue reading

Making a Mid Victorian Ball Gown

In the previous tutorial we dealt with undergarments (drawers, chemise and a petticoat), and the crinoline cage is explained here). So, it is now time to tackle the gown itself! Again, since this series is mostly dedicated to the guests of … Continue reading

Mid Victorian Undergarments: chemise, drawers and a petticoat

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Since  our next Victorian Ball has a Crinoline theme, I have promised a few tutorials and pattern reviews for the folks who are making their own kit. Sew Curvy joined the fun and now offers very attractively priced patterns and crinoline kits from the era ( just a few left in stock…), so I took advantage of the offer and grabbed a few patterns too.

Normally I don’t bother with commercial patterns much, underwear included as I draft my own, and for Victorian Era the patterns in Francis Grimble’s books are of a great help – so this was a bit of an adventure, trying to actually follow instructions. Which I did, to some extent… 😉  And so, below, a short tutorial on making a set of mid-victorian open drawers, a chemise and a petticoat.

The pattern:

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Fabrics: cotton lawn (but any lightweight cotton or linen will do) and cotton lace, 3 buttons.

Finish –  I went for modern finish as was squeezing the project in between commissions and stock-making, but it doesnt mean that you have to follow me and use the same techniques – if you have time, do go for a hand finish 🙂

Drawers.

1. find your size on the chart, trace the  pattern. I traced it onto paper once, so that I dont have to cut the pattern itself.

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2. trace the pattern onto the fabric – fold the lawn in half and you will only have to cut once!

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3.  once cut, I overlocked the side seams and the facing for the size. I decided to save time and forego front and back facings – not really needed, though they would give a nicer finish! Instead of a self ruffle I used cotton broderie anglaise lace.

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4. Follow the directions for working the side openings/facings – they are explained fairly clrealy.

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Pin and stitch as indicated on the pattern

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Cut between the stitching

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Flip the facing onto the left side. Press. I usually run a stitch just next to the edge too.

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Fold the edges ( if overloced they dont actually need to be folded!) , pn and handstitch ( or machine stitch) around

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Ready! Repeat on the other side

5. Fold the overlocked edges of the crotch opening (or follow instructions for facings there)

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6. Gather the legs and top – I gathered mine using a ruffle attachment, but you can pleat or gather on a string, too (lower the thread tension, use the long stitch setting and sew – then just pull the thread to gather)

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7. Gather the ruffle – again, several methods are possible, I gathered mine on an overlocker

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8. Sew each leg

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One leg done – not the gathered bits!

9. Prepare the leg bands and attach lace to them – the instructions are quite clear about how to do it.

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Leg band ready

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Lace attached

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Sandwich the gathered drawer-leg between the band and the lining of the band

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Attached!

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Fold and pin the inside band; hand stitch in place. Repeat for the other leg!

10. Attach the waistbands – again, the instructions are clear!

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Both waistbands ready

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Pinning the waistbands to the gathered edge

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Sewn!

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Fold the inside bit, pin and stitch in place

11. Make buttonholes and attach buttons. Fot this project I used buttons from my secret stash of antique buttons 🙂

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Buttonhole made on a machine

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Ready! it took me just over 2 hours to complete the project – it would be about 3 – 4 if I wasn’t using an overlocker.

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I found them just a bit too big at the waist – if I make them again, I will choose the waistband one size smaller. Apart from that tiny detail, the pattern worked well!

Chemise

  1. Trace and cut the pattern according to your size (again, I found it runs a tad too big for my liking – but it is not a huge issue at all – and it is always easier to end up with a chemise an inch or two too big rather than one too small!)

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2. Overlock the sides and sew together; (or sew the sides together and finish the seam by hand if you prefer.)

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3. Add the shouler strap reinforcement bits. I admit the instructions here were not too clear so I did it my way…  I supose as long as the edges are strong enough for a button, etc, that is all that matters

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4.Overlock the sleeve (or hand finish) and attach to the armhole. You will need to gather a bit; I did it as I sewed.

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Sleeve ready

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Sewing sleeve onto the body of the chemise

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Sleeve ready, but the edges of the seam need to be secured

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…and the seam gets overlocked !

5. Prepare the neckline and hem edge (overlock and fold, or hand stitch – up to you)

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Neckline edge finish

6. Add lace – I used a narrow broderie anglaise, as I had enough to use on the sleeves, neck and hem!

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7. Add buttons and work buttonholes

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The chemise is now ready!

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I have also made another version of the chemise, too – the same pattern, just with no sleeves, and no buttoned-up staps – I simply sewed the straps together instead. The neckline is finished with an eyelet lace with the ribbon, which controls the neckline as it can be pulled tighter, if needs be.

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Next stage was to put one of my corsets on (a suitable corset kit can be bought here: corset kit – the pattern is later but the style works for mid-victorian silhouette and is much easier to make – I have made a mid-victorian corset using a commercial pattern and it wasn’t exactly a success – you can read about it here).

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lacing on!

Crinoline cage on – not made by me, but by a friend – and using this pattern –  crinoline kit. and the tutorial on how to make it – here

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All we need now is a petticoat.

Petticoats are very easy to make – so easy that there is little point in providing an actual pattern. Even ‘Truly Victorian’ provides a diagram and instructions for free – petticoat instructions

I basically used a length of cotton sheeting – a rectangular piece. The length was the circumference of the crinoline cage plus 1m, the lengh –  measured on the crinoline, from waist to the ground. If you do not plan flounces, pintucks etc, but a basic one, keep it a bit above the ground. If you want lots of pintucks, make it longer.

This particular one has been made with 5 rows of big pintucks

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a few tips:

  • dont wast time measuring and cutton your cotton. i usually just ,ark how long i want the piece to be , nicj the fabric  and simply tear it. it tears easily and along the grain, you you have a straight line with no hassle. disadvantage – you will get a few hanging thread to deal with. I use the same metod for cutting the flounce
  •  pintucks – for small, decorarice pintucks you see on chemises etc, I use a seam gauge and a pintuck foot etc – the detail is important. for the petticoats however, where i want my pintucks bigger, and where it doent matter too much if the pintuck is 2mm longer at one side, I save time by not marking them at all – i simply use my finger as a gauge.
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for the tucks on the flounce i used my firt knuckle as a measurement of the folded bit – – and the depth of the tuck is measured against the grid on the needle plate

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flouce ready and pressed

(A short video of how to make them fast using your finger as a gauge can be found on my instagram account. ( here)

I also opted for a flounce, also with pintucks and  lace 🙂

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Once the pintucks and the flounce were on, I simply gathered the wasit (there will be lots of fabric to gather – about 4.5-5m) using the ruffler attachment

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Then attach the waistband, buttons, etc, and you are done!

If you are wondering why pintucks and flounces instead of a simple petticoat, well, they do have a function! PIntucks were used a lot on children’s clothing – as they grew up, the tucks were released and garment lengthened, here however the tucks are not only a decorative feature, but a practical one – they  hide the shape of the cage and they stiffen the edge a bit more, hanging better; the flounce has  the same function – this fills in the empty space between the cage’s end and the ground, preventing the ‘lampshade effect 🙂

There are a few beautiful petticoats still surving – you can fing some on my pinterest page

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Now you are ready for a skirt and a bodice – or a gown. I have already written a post on a day dress – here.

I hope you found this little tutorial useful, the tutorial on how to make a gow bodice and skirt is here

 

Oh, and if you dont sew, dont worry,:-) chemises, petticoats, corsets and whole outfirs are now  available  in our online shop !  There are already a couple of  nice dresses and a few petticoats there, more undergarments will be added shortly

 

And a few outtakes:-) i knew the chamber put would come in useful!

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hmm, what do we have in here….

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eughrr! Wish I hadnt looked!

Dressing Queen Victoria

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This one was a very exciting commission – a friend who often works as Queen Vic needed a new corset.. and a  new bodice and a train to go with the skirt she already had.

After a session of looking at different portraits and photographs of the Queen, with Eve pointing out which features she’d like to include in her bodice or train, we got some sketching done…

Fabric was next – and here we were lucky as got a length of beautiful silk brocade from Quartermasterie – all that i need to grab was silk taffeta for lining and pleats and some lace and buttons….

The corsets was made first –  and it is a rather jazzy affair,  so wont be shown here to preserve the dignity of the monarch, but i bet now a few people who’d meet Eve at work would be wondering what  lingerie secrets her clothes hide ;-0

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Bodice was a lovely blend of the 1880ties and earlier fashions – sporting a version of pagoda sleeves, apparently quite a favourite of the queen. we also added detachable under sleeves, for colder days .

The lace was simply lush, though applying it took some time, and the underside of the pagoda sleeves was also trimmed with lace, a  more modest version.

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The train was just fun.  The construction was simple – a slightly shaped rectangular fabric, plasted and with tapes and buttons to allow the wearer to bustle to up if needs be. But it was  recreatingthe pleated trim from one of the original photos that was interesting….

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The train has a baleyeuse ( the dust ruffle) made of black cotton lace  buttoned up  – they were  a truly delightful frilly affairs that made life so much easier –  you wash only the ruffle as your skirts are protected.

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The pick up day was also a shoot day as we offered Eve a mini session –  the results below! Hope you like the final result:-)

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train bustled up, no undersleeves

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Train flowing loosely, under sleeves attached

Eve’s  page is here – enjoy browsing!  Queen Victoria

Bath Victorian Ball 2015 – and what a ball it was!

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 Amazing memories from the evening – and not only evening, the whole weekend was  a whirl of activities, pretty frocks and splendid food, all in even more splendid company!

 We started on Saturday afternoon arriving in Bath a tad later than expected ( the traffic on the slip road was very bad and many of us were stuck there – in fact, so many that we were considering a picnic on the roadside….), but unpacked, changed and  walked over to the Crescent for  a few relaxing hours of picnicking…. The weather was perfect, food lovely, and  as a perk we got to witness the balloon take off…. and  of course we took photos….

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lovely original napkins were used..

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I wore my reversible Ripple Jacket and Ripple skirt:-) perfect for the picnic!

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 The next day saw us making last minute preparations, strolling around the town and slowly getting ready,,,

 The workshop started at 3 –  and we  practiced our quadrilles, lancers and waltzes for good 90 minutes – the practice was fun, but also cane in handy at the ball –  you not only know the basics of the dances, but you recognize the people, so you are able to relax in a more familiar environment.  our Dance master, Stuart Marsden,  kindly provided Carnet de Ball tickets – beautifully made, and very practical – at the end of the practice people were   making arrangements which dances they were to dance with who – really cuts on the chaos on finding a partner in the evening!

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 We will be using them next year as well, an excellent idea!.

 After the practice there was time to go and have a cuppa and a rest ( and for us organizers to get the photographers, musicians etc set up and ready), and then time to change into the evening’s finery….

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Steaming my frock. Alas, I didn’t manage to get a new gown sorted due to an avalanche of orders, so had to make do with my old on – more on its creation here

Then it was time! The doors opened at & and the  guests started to arrive, dazzling us with their lovely creations. Drinks, chatting and photos made for a relaxed atmosphere – and since almost all the ball participants had been at the practice, people relaxed and chatted with their old and new dance partners. Traditionally, we started with a polonaise… It was a bit crowded, once all the people filled the  Grand Ballroom, but  Stuart managed to direct the dance nicely ! 150524-iz-001 150524-iz-003   And from then on, it was all dancing….. Spanish waltz was great to  get everybody  relaxed as you change partners a lot and get to know people, and then it was the amazing Lancers,  Quadrilles and Waltzes galore…. My personal favourite was the Cotillion waltz – simple, yet amazingly romantic, danced the the sweet notes of the waltz from the Merry Widow. Dimmed lights, romantic music, swaying on the dance floor in flowing silky gown – breathtaking.   10403574_10205243045328810_8612198867552845143_n 10641181_964655256900145_6214035122686672646_n 10404446_964657950233209_4098195498982672898_n 11329879_964655373566800_1271788064380533355_n 11350509_964655706900100_8438738575796585017_n 11351265_10205243045928825_6327791906229480019_n   150524-iz-014   11329879_964655373566800_1271788064380533355_n The  buffet break arrived  just in time to rest our weary feet and  get some sustenance for more dancing. And food, provided by Searcy’s was glorious –  beautifully presented, abundant ( and there was lots left!) and yummy – I must admit loved the desserts particularly… Then more dancing followed –  with a few  spontaneous waltzing breaks when folks just kicked their shoes off and took to whirling Viennese waltz at a moment notice ( our own Sissy here was the main culprit – though quite a lot removed their shoes at that point, myself included…). The evening ended with a Flirtation finale – lots of fun! And all that fun was mostly due to the  utterly amazing musicians – Alexis Bennett and the Liberty Belles, and our talented Dance Master, Stuart Marsden ( yes, the same one who has worked with BBC on Poldark, and many other projects…). The event would not have been the success it was without theses guys – so a huge thank you! musicians 11168031_10155795156300643_4697889363761570401_n   And while all the dancing was taking place, our photographers, Mockford Photography, were busy taking photos…. 10828141_10152878200577592_7286730915004478194_o 150524-iz-018 150524-iz-017 150524-iz-015   And did I not mention that there were some spectacular frocks  and very dashing gentlemen around?

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Yes, we had Sissi too…

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And a Dark Sissi too…

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oh yes, and, rather surprisingly, a 4 month old baby. That slept ( like a baby) all the way through…

11145192_10152878091267592_8419642355183554815_n     150524-iz-006   11219086_10152878091177592_446625806833074319_n bath-15-0952   Needless to say, by the end of it I could hardly walk ( need better shoes for next year….). but somehow I made it to the hotel, and although exhausted, I was still buzzing with the excitement – the night  was so much better than I had hoped for! there was just enough time to have a mini after party for the staff ( amazing how many people you can squeeze into a single Travelodge bedroom) and then it was time for sleep. IMG_20150525_010756 IMG_20150525_010807 And about 4 hours later we were up again and getting ready for our breakfast at the Pump Rooms….. IMG_20150525_103357 Victorian Ball and Picnic-117 Victorian Ball and Picnic-122 Victorian Ball and Picnic-124 The yummy breakfast ( and live music too!) was followed bu a short wander around town and some photos…. Victorian Ball and Picnic-128 Victorian Ball and Picnic-130 Victorian Ball and Picnic-136   Then it was time to go home and  tend the very sore feet….   Altogether, I must say the event fr surpassed my expectations. Music was delightful, fool glorious, venue splendid and the people – well, let me just say that you were all such a friendly and polite bunch of folks!  Everybody was relaxed and yet on their best behaviour – and that makes such a difference! it was also a good call to go for historical rather than an eclectic affair like the previous one –  since most of the dances were called, the dance floor was always busy, only clearing  up a bit at the end, as the pure exhaustion took over (  it was quite an exercise , especially the few more energetic dances…).  So thank you all, staff and guests alike for making it such a wonderful occasion! Also, many thanks to all the people who sent their photos:-)   And, guess what – we are having another Ball next year! The venue and caterers have already been booked and the tickets are on sale ( early bird  prices valid till September), so put the date in your diary – 7th May. We have the same set of musicians and Stuart booked too – and next year  we have an optional  dress sub theme – Crinoline.  We are already working on different offers  for the ticket holders ( discounted rates from dressmakers and product suppliers, or, for those who make stuff themselves, special offers on corset, crinoline and Victorian patterns and kits from one of our providers too). You can follow the news  on the facebook pages:

The event per se – Victorian Ball 2016

Page : Prior Attire Victorian Ball 

 Tickets and more info here  – Victorian ball tickets

 and the previous ball  Spectacular!

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