HSF Challenge #20: Outerwear, 1880s Dolman Part Deux

Hopefully I can get the rest of what I have to say and show about my new Dolman into this second post (it would seem a bit silly to have 3 posts just about a seemingly simple-ish cape/jacket thing).  It’s probably going to be just a bit long and image-heavy, though.  If you’re just joining me now, this project is for Challenge #20 of the Historical Sew Fortnightly, which is Outerwear.  You can check out Part One of my Dolman adventure here

I’ll start this post off with the required specs for the HSF Challenge:

  • Challenge: #20 – Outerwear
  • Year: 1888
  • Pattern: Ageless Patterns #1271 1888 Plush Wrap
  • Fabric: Cotton Velvet/Velveteen, Silk Charmeuse, woven interfacing
  • Notions: 7 buttons (plus one extra), upholstery braid approx. 7m, bead fringe trim approx. 7m, velvet ribbon approx. 3.5m
  • Historical Accuracy: Ummm……..let’s say 75% – ish?  I used a pattern lifted directly from an original (or supposed to be), a combination of machine & hand sewing, fairly period appropriate or at least plausible fabrics.  However, the trimming isn’t quite right and the fabrics aren’t likely 100% right.
  • Hours to complete: lots over the course of 2 weeks
  • Total cost: I’m going to guess approx. $100 overall, over the course of some years.  The velvet has been in the stash several years, the silk only a few months, the trim was bought for the project.
  • First worn: last weekend – keep reading or scrolling down to see!

So, where did I leave off…..oh yeah, the sleeve construction.  I decided probably the easiest way to explain how the sleeves get sewn into the body of the Dolman is to draw a little diagram.  This is an outline tracing of the pattern image, the dotted lines in black and red are my additions.  The dotted black line is the Dolman armhole (probably pretty obvious) and the red dotted line represents how the sleeve is attached to the body of the Dolman.  The space towards the back of the armhole is intentionally not dotted red because the sleeve is not sewn all the way around the armhole.  I hope this makes sense, along with a couple of photos towards the bottom of this post.  If it seems like I’m over-explaining this, it’s really just because of how long it took me to realize how this works, lol.

Now, as usual, I had to shorten the Dolman through the waist.  Because of the way the sleeves are sewn in, they needed to be altered as well.  So I shortened the pattern pieces a little below the shoulder and along the bottom edges of the pattern pieces correspondingly.  After finding there was more fullness over the sleeve head than I wanted at the muslin stage I shortened the pattern pieces a little more.  However, when I sewed them in on the real version, there was still a little too much fullness/length and the bend in the sleeve felt too high.  Fortunately I knew this was going to be iffy so I only basted the sleeve in.  I was leary about taking more from the bottom edge seam as I didn’t want the sleeves to get narrow; so to counteract the effect I was getting I sewed in the other sleeve farther up the inside of the armhole and to a lower point of the side back seam.  I left the first sleeve in so I could compare them – and you can too:

That made quite a difference!  I was relieved the issues I was having were so easily resolved.  The back nape to waist length is still a little too long, but workable.  I’m hoping that if I can remember to try to wear my bustle a little lower if I know I’m going to be wearing the Dolman that that will be enough, lol.

Once I got the sleeves figured out I actually took both of them off again and lined them before sewing them back into the Dolman.  Because of the way they go in, you can’t do a fully bagged out lining on this type of garment.

Next it was time to do the trimming!  I did this before sewing in the rest of the lining so the insides would look as clean as possible.  I also figured it would just be easier this way.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to trim my Dolman just how I’d have wanted to.  Firstly, if you looked through the first Dolman post you’ll see that the extant examples have trimming that is all one colour.  I was hoping to do this, or get close in all rust shades, but no such luck.  I had NOTHING in my stash for this (an unusual and disturbing situation!) and was at the mercy of the Fabricland Home Dec trimming section.  Usually this isn’t too bad, they get some nice stuff periodically and I’m sure I’ve seen rust braid there, but not this time.  I spent an age fussing over what they did have and finally came up with this combination (the buttons did come from the stash):

And after lots of fussing with it at home, this is the arrangement I finally came up with:

Initially, I had intended to overlap the beaded fringe 3 times so there would be no spaces between the beads, but when I got as far as doubling it like this when I was trying it out I really liked the pairs this created.  It somehow seemed like a more…sophisticated effect.

After trimming I sewed in the lining.  I did it by machine around the neckline and down the front edges and handsewed the hem and around the armhole/sleeve edges.  Oh, and around the back pleats as well, which took some fiddling.

I managed to fold the lining pleats around the outer fabric pleats so that it looks flat-lined.  I whip stitched the top of the pleats, lining and velvet together, then whipped them to the underlining of the Dolman body to hold them in place.  I hope that makes sense since I didn’t think to take a picture before I added the waist stay so as to cover it all up and make it look clean & pretty.  Oops.

I did try my best to take photos showing how the underside of the sleeves work, I hope they help:

That’s all I’ve got in the way of construction photos, so here are a few of the Dolman finished – and in action!

No gloves!  So shameful!

I didn’t get a good shot of the back while wearing it, so here’s a ‘studio’ one instead

Overall I’m really pleased with how this turned out and I enjoyed wearing it.  I think it’s going to prove quite a useful piece when the weather gets colder.  The ensemble this goes with is fairly warm, so with the Dolman I think I can do ok into the winter!

11 thoughts on “HSF Challenge #20: Outerwear, 1880s Dolman Part Deux

  1. This is lovely. I’ve seen dolmans in the V&A and in various books, and wondered how they were actually constructed – now I know. It took me a couple of goes to understand how the sleeve is joined to the body, but that was just because it is so unlike anything I’ve seen before. Your description is perfectly clear, and the diagram really helps.


    • Thanks so much for the feedback, I’m glad to hear it came across alright! And it took me a few hours to wrap my head around during construction. I had a similar experience of seeing them mounted, but never how they actually worked. It’s a small sort of thing, but just so different it really fascinated me.


  2. I still struggle to wrap my mind around that sleeve. I guess my mind would work better if I saw the pattern pieces, though…
    I love the whole ensemble – it just all goes together, ties together, and it looks so lovely with the bustle, on the side view photo.


    • Ah, I should probably have included pictures of the pattern pieces – noted for next time, thank you! If you scroll to near the bottom of the first Dolman post (which is linked to at the beginning of this post) I posted a photo of one of the sleeves inside out and from the underside. You can see from this that the armhole is not typical (to say the least, lol). I don’t know if looking at that as a reference helps any. I would try to explain more, but fear making it all just more confusing instead. Thanks very much for stopping by and for the feedback!


    • Oops, my initial response to this was with my latest post in mind. I didn’t realize you were commenting on the Dolman. I don’t/won’t get very many chances to wear this but I currently live in a small city that prides itself on its history/heritage. So there are periodically historically themed events around town.


  3. Is your bustle just like a single panier? I have never thought about making a bustle this way, but yours looks extremely effective and I might give it a go!


    • For quite some time I did just use one half a set of 18th century-style pocket hoops for a bustle. It worked a treat until I made a proper one. So, in the last photo, yes that’s a pocket hoop. In the photos of me wearing the whole shebang, I’ve got my actual bustle petticoat on. It was just a lot easier to put the pocket hoop on the dress form for a quick photo than the bustle petticoat.


  4. Pingback: 1885 Mantle (HSM #5) & Accessories – The Quintessential Clothes Pen

  5. Thank you so much for sharing.
    I am planning to make one, drawn out my pattern pieces and got totally lost on the sleeve. I made a mock-up and put the whole sleeve in the armcyt and it was quite difficult to get in and out and I thought.. these kind of wraps should have been easier to put on and off. I went on the internet to look at the actual garments instead of the drawn piece and stumbled across this blog. This makes perfect sense now, even the indication on the pattern itself which I discarded.. oops. Haha..

    Anyway I love your version, very elegant. (Love your dress underneath it as well.. the color scheme is lovely)


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