Late 1780s Cutaway Front Anglaise + Hat of Unusual Size (H.O.U.S)

This dress is the first off the list of 2017 historical sewing projects. Hooray for crossing items off lists, I love that feeling! (if you’d like to, you can check out the full-ish list here)

This is something I had planned/wanted to make for some time – basically ever since I bought the fabric a few years ago. It’s a scrummy silk taffeta in irregular micro-stripes of light robins egg blue and ivory and I the moment I saw I had late 18th century visions. In fact, I loved it so much that after first buying 6m of it I went back to the store (it was on sale at Fabricland) and bought the rest of the bolt for a total of about 12m!

After making my quarter-back Italian gown in the fall I really wanted to make an Anglaise with an en fourreau back. Initially I thought I would do the regular kind, just with the late 18th century quite narrow en fourreau. But then I saw this and I was instantly won over:

Robe à la Polonaise Date: ca. 1775 Culture: British Medium: silk, cotton:

I had actually seen one (or two) other such dresses in-person in the UK as part of my research so I knew it wasn’t a complete one-off-outlier and I think it’s just such a neat twist on the en fourreau style I had to have it!

I was also keen to try a cutaway front bodice (often referred to as a “Zone front” but as that’s a modern term I try to stay away from using it) and so put all of these elements together in one dress.

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c. 1780 Italian Gown – Sleeve Cuffs & False Rumps

I’ve finally gotten around to doing a sort-of how-to post on the ruched sleeve cuffs of my rust 1780s Italian Gown. This is very far from an authoritative description or tutorial as it was entirely trial and error, my own cuffs are far from perfect and I didn’t have a full tutorial in mind when doing it. But, hopefully it can somewhat helpful to people and it would be awesome if it was a starting point for someone to come up with a much better and more comprehensive how-to!

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2017 Sewing Plans

I’ve never done a sewing plans post before but with the year ahead already starting to fill-up event-wise I thought it might be useful for me to have it all laid out in one post. This is going to be (primarily) historical sewing plans because they (usually, though not always) involve more planning and lead-up time. Modern makes are often more spontaneous.

So here’s what’s on the docket for this year in (roughly) order of making: Continue reading

2016 Sewing Year In Review

Hello! Happy (Belated) New Year! I’m a little late to the 2016 review/ring in 2017 party but better late than never, right? I hope you all had a wonderful and as unstressful as possible holiday!

I’ve only done one sewing year in review before (for 2014) – I only started this blog in 2013. Last year I just could not get my act together for it, there was WAY too much going on – namely, frantically preparing to teach (for the very first time) 2 courses at a local university for which I’d been hired only just before the holidays. This year I’m teaching again, but it’s not quite so insane…..yet, lol. And man, has this been a bumper year for me in terms of sewing! It didn’t seem like so very much while I was in the middle of it all but looking back it’s surprising even to me how much I got done! Going through this list I’m counting 31 distinct projects – several of them made up of multiple garments. Holy Doodle! I guess this is what happens in a year when I’m engaged in neither all-consuming-research/thesis writing or working a normal-people-hours job! And somehow my fabric stash is only slightly smaller than it was this time last year………………………….oh well.

I’ve decided to break down this review into the three main categories of Historical, Non-Historical, Home Sewing with sub-categories of “blogged” and “not blogged.” I think I did manage to blog most things but there are a few that got missed so I’m using this post to play some catch-up – I hope you won’t mind!

I think 2016 was probably unprecedented for me in terms of the number of historical makes, never before have I had so many reasons/occasions/events to do historical sewing for. I’m getting totally spoiled here in DC and already don’t know what I’m going to do without this kind of vibrant historical dressing community when I go back to Canada in a little over a year and a half.

I did a little calculating and discovered that I sewed 101 metres (approx. 110 yds)) of fabric over 2016! Although my net reduction of the fabric stash was only 23m…….. Anyway, I’d like to say that this year’s goal is to beat that figure but I’m not sure if that will even be feasible, I guess we’ll see! Continue reading

Victorian Christmas Tea

This is the event for which I busted my butt making my recent Natural Form gown – a Victorian Christmas Tea I hosted at our historic Capitol Hill house (built in 1908).

As hostess I didn’t really have a chance to take photos, but a couple of my guests, Gloria of In the Long Run designs (all her photos have her watermark) and Maggie (sans watermark) appear to have well taken care of that for me!

The theme for attire was Victorian but open to any part of the period to make it as easy as possible for people in a heavily 18th century/Regency-oriented region to attend.

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Natural Form in Plum and Chartreuse

My latest – very frantic – make, is an 1876/77 Natural Form day or reception dress in striped silk taffeta and plum cotton sateen.

It was made to wear at a Victorian Christmas tea I hosted at our house last Saturday. A big part of the reason for the tea’s Victorian theme is that I’d started missing Victorian sewing over the past few months, nearly all the historical events and activities around here have been either 18th century or regency. I know, I know, life is so rough, huh? I swear I’m not complaining but I have wanted a little change of pace. I’m also still deeply into a Natural Form phase and had started planning out this dress at least two years ago so I was delighted to have a reason and opportunity to finally make it a reality!

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c.1780 Italian Gown – In Action – literally!

Now I can finally show you the whole look of my new 1780s ensemble all put together!

(In case you’re just tuning in and/or would like to revisit the construction posts I wrote about this here are links to the bodice, petticoat, and skirt + finishing)

(and I will still be doing a post about the sleeve cuffs, some of the underpinnings, and the wig, which I will link to here when it’s done and up)

Taylor (aka Dames a la Mode) graciously volunteered to do a photoshoot for me last Friday. The location is St James church + yard just up 8th street from my house here on Capitol Hill that’s done in an atmospheric faux-gothic-Jacobean mash-up style. I kinda love it!

And now on to the show!

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Italian Gown – The Gown Skirt & Putting it All Together!

A quick re-cap of the original dress/pattern in Patterns of Fashion and how I modified it:

the original dress has a box-pleated skirt but I wanted the tight, narrow knife pleats so common for this period.

(Also, here are links to my posts on making the bodice and petticoat)

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So I used the skirt pattern from another dress in Patterns of Fashion as a rough guide.

Although I still did things a little differently from either. I cut my skirt as two full-width panels of my fabric with a little bit of a train at the back but completely straight along the top. Instead of cutting the waist edge with a curve I just sewed it with one – you’ll see what I mean in a moment.

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c. 1780 Italian Gown – The Petticoat

The style of the petticoat is based off the original one that goes with my primary dress inspiration/pattern in Patterns of Fashion:

p59 JA 40. Petticoat - 4.5 widths. Flat pleated towards sides. Top edge bound linen tape, ties both sides. Deep self flounce all round hem:  petti-pattern

Although to make it I simply cut 2 panels of my fabric, with the back slightly longer than the front to help accommodate the false rump that’s going under there. I also pleated mine differently from the original since it appears to have been done according to an older style where the pleats all face towards the side/pocket openings – another clue that the ensemble *may* have been an earlier one altered in the late 1770s/early 1780s. During the later period petticoat pleats tend to all face towards the centre back similarly to dress skirts, although the pleats themselves tend to be larger than on dress skirts.

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Red + Aqua Spring/Autumn Dress

This dress post is even more belated than the summer ones from this year as I made it back in the spring. However, since I’ve also been wearing it over fall I thought I could get away with still posting about it.

It’s actually one of my overall favourite dresses right now because it’s both so pretty and super comfortable!

It’s made of lovely soft, swishy rayon challis in an aqua/pink/red print, with solid red rayon for the accenting bands.

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