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:

18th Century Fichu

This will probably be the first thing I make since I need it for a workshop I’m presenting at and attending on February 11. I’m going to use a piece ivory silk/cotton voile that’s already in my stash. I’m probably fudging on the HA of the fabric but for the moment I don’t care. It’s close enough, it’s from stash and it needs to be done soon.

I guess I should maybe include the pieces I’ll be making at the workshop, too. It’s a “Mitts, Muffs and Hoods” workshop to make 18th century winter accessories. I’m pretty excited – I’ve been wanting to make a pair of 18thc mitts for ages! And the other pieces will be incredibly useful (and hopefully pretty) as well!

Early 1790s cutaway front Anglaise

This will be the first large historical project of the year and it has a deadline of early April – so I better get my butt in gear soon! I’m making it to attend an event called the “Big-Ass Hat Tea”(!!!) I’m still trying to decide what style of Big-Ass Hat I want to make, but here are the plans for the dress I’ll make to go with it.

It’s going to be a cutaway front robe a l’Anglaise in a pale robin’s egg micro-stripe silk taffeta with a thin, semi-sheer ivory silk for the front inset/false waistcoat and petticoat.

Here is a quick little bit of fabric draping that gives an idea of the fabrics/colours and how I’ll use them:


I’m not sure how HA or plausible this particular style of stripe may be but the colour and overall feel of it has made me think of a late Georgian dress ever since I first saw it in the store. I initially bought only 6 metres of it, figuring that would be plenty for a late 18th century dress – which it probably will be. But I was so obsessed with it I went back to the store a couple days later and bought the rest – a little under another 6m, lol!

And some of my inspiration images for overall design/style:

Journal de Luxus, 1787:  Self portrait with Harp, 1790 by Rose-Adélaïde Ducreux (French, 1761–1802:

A couple examples of blue striped gowns with white bodice front and pettis. I’m thinking of styling my petti off of Vigee-Lebrun’s on the right.

Journal des Luxus und der Moden: December, 1789.:

I quite like the black sash and button-up front on this dress

Robe a l’anglaise ca. 1790 From Christie’s |Pinned from PinTo for iPad|: Robe a l’anglaise ca. 1780’s:

And I’ll be going for the deep-V bodice back you can see in these two images but as a true late Anglaise with a narrow en fourreau back.

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

And this is the style of pleated back I want to do.

I’m going to try to use one of the later Anglaise patterns in Patterns of Fashion as a starting point and then alter and fiddle with it to get what I want.

Mint stripe 1880s Bustle Dress

This project was started back in the summer on a whim but became a UFO as I wasn’t able to finish it before I started having deadline sewing come up in the fall. However, there is a Victorian tea happening in May that I hope to attend, not least because it gives me a reason to finish this off – and who doesn’t love getting a UFO off their plate, amiright?!

This one is also inspired by the fabric – a narrow mint and white stripe cotton I found at a great price online so bought 10 yards of. Going through my swatch book I happened upon some raspberry-coloured cotton sateen already in the stash that I really like paired with the mint stripe.

Here’s what I’ve got so far (I have process photos for this that I’ll share when time comes for a devoted blog post of this dress):


The overskirt is Truly Victorian TV362 1884 Wash Overskirt

The hem trimming was partially inspired by the dress below, though I am now wondering how I might have liked it with larger…….what would you call those? Just appliques?

I saw a picture of a stacked box pleat hem ruffle in one my Victorian fashion plate books and decided to try it out. In case you can’t see it, there’s also a small knife pleated hem ruffle below it in the raspberry sateen.

Wedding dress About 1884, 19th century:

I actually haven’t finally settled on a bodice style, but looking at one of my other sort-of inspiration images (the dress on the right) I’m leaning towards its bodice:

Le Salon de la Mode 1884:

I actually found this image after I’d started this project but it gave me the idea for the raspberry bows on the overskirt and bottom hem ruffle – although mine is obviously as separate one rather than a hem binding.

One thing I’m wondering about this bodice – do you think it actually opens up at centre front and the lace is poking through or is the lace simply applied to the centre front? It would seem a bit odd to have it open with buttons already at the sides of the front inset, one side of which could easily be functional (and of which there are surviving examples – such as one in Patterns of Fashion 2). What do you think? What would you do?

Sesquicentennial Dress

2017 is Canada’s Sesquicentennial (say that 10x fast) or 150th birthday. So a friend and I are planning to make 1867-era dresses in red and white for the occasion. So this also has a deadline, of July 1 (or a little before). Now, I’ll be honest, the 1860s is among my least favourite periods in fashion history. In fact, I find the whole 1840s through 60s mostly a snooze-fest; I’m perfectly happy to skip from 1830s glorious ridiculousness straight to bustles. However, I cannot change the date of confederation. What I can do is fudge the date of my dress ever-so-slightly.

This dress at the Met is my primary inspiration for my project:

Dress Date: 1865–70 Culture: probably French Medium: silk:  Dress:

Reason one is – check out the back of that skirt!!!!!!

Reason two is that the Met dates it 1865-70. I think it really is probably more like 1868-70 but I’m gonna use their dating as my defense!

I’m not totally in love with how much satin trimming there is on the front of that skirt; I think I’ll leave most if not all of it off, though I do like the big rosette-bow-thing on there towards the hem.

I’m also thinking of a different hem treatment, partially due to my fabric choice.

I’m going to use white cotton organdy for the dress itself and accent it with red cotton sateen.

Cotton Organdie Fabric100% Cotton 44 Wide Stiff Finish Superior Quality £5.49/m:

With the organdy being semi-sheer I’m not sure how doing that dagged ruffle bit with the satin ruffle peeking from underneath would work and I’m not sure I want to mess about with adding opaque fabric to the dress with how tricky it can be to match whites, etc, etc.

So I’m thinking of going with an all-applied hem decoration a la this dress:

Dress 1867-69:

Only I think I’ll leave off most of those bows. Really, it’s just too many bows and too twee for me. (So. many. bows.)

This is going to be a pretty large-scale project since it’s a new period for me but it looks like Truly Victorian has all the patterns I need for it. I’m going to use the pink silk Victorian corset I already have but I’ll need a new cage/bustle:

TV108 - Grand Bustle

Truly Victorian TV108 – Grand Bustle – it has hoops in the hem so it should work quite well for that transitional shape from elliptical crinoline to 1870s bustle.

TV202 - 1869 Grand Parlor Skirt

Truly Victorian TV202 – Grand Parlour Skirt – it even looks like the gores are in the right place for adding that flange (?) of fabric to help pull in the back of the skirt

TV400 - 1871 Day Bodice

Truly Victorian TV400 – 1871 Day Bodice – this has both the long front ends and back peplum that I need. I’ll just leave buttons off the lower portion of the front and cut it with the higher neckline – OR – cut the higher neckline part as a separate, removable piece so I can make it a day-to-night bodice!


c. 1880 Teal Duchess Satin Evening Gown

I still have 11m of this fabric:

2016-05-10 11.40.13

I saw this painting:

The Accomplice by Auguste Maurice Cabuzel. Dress fashion is early to mid-1880s:

The Accomplice by Auguste Maurice Cabuzel, 1880

Not much more to say, really ;o)

There’s an evening bodice pattern in one of my Fashions of the Gilded Age books that’s nearly a dead ringer for this one and the skirt pieces should be pretty straightforward – even if I come out of this hating ruching, lol. The train looks to be just a long rectangular piece of fabric either gathered or pleated at the top. I’m thinking of making the train fully removable because I also happen to have a plaid silk taffeta that matches the teal silk satin quite nicely and just enough of it to make a Natural Form polonaise (I think) at a later date. So I may try to make the skirt of this such that it can go from night to day!

I’m bent and determined to get to Costume College this year and I’d love to make this for my Gala gown; but I do have other things I could wear for that if need be, so this one isn’t a top priority.  Although, of course, now that I’m looking at it again I’m drooling over it and want to make it right now! I do already have all the foundation garments and I’d have nearly a month between the Sesquicentennial and CoCo………

Ivory, Rust, Green plaid 1875 Bustle Dress 

I’ve got a big birthday coming up this year in a little over 8 months. To celebrate I’ve decided I want to throw myself a Big Bustle Birthday Part: Big Party + Big Bustles!

For myself, I’m thinking of going 1875 (I’m looking at all the ladies on the left)

1875 June fashion plate - nice Autumn plaid w/ bias cut plaid for ruffles, hats tilted back:

Le Follet 1875:

Journal des Demoiselles 1875:

It’s right on the cusp of Natural Form and I know these dresses, themselves, don’t have the hugest bustles but the big ones weren’t entirely gone by 1875:


1875 La Beau Monde Covent Garden:

So I’m thinking of styles like the first three but with bustle fullness of the latter two.

The primary reason I’m looking to the first three fashion plates is because the main fabric I’m going to use is a pretty bold plaid and I wanted some idea of how plaids were used for more than an accent at this date:


It’s actually a dupioni but fairly low slub and from even not-far distance looks pretty much like taffeta. And I have something like 11 metres of it that have been sitting around for a few years, so it’s getting used!

Here it is with accent fabric options. I’m definitely using the solid rust silk satin and one of the ivory silks – I just haven’t decided which one yet. I’m not 100% sure about the velvet ribbon yet but it might be nice to add something that’s not as completely matchy-matchy as the rest of it. What do you think of the ribbon – yea or nay?


So these are most of my really big plans for the year – wish me luck!

Oh – apart from the Oscar de la Renta -inspired wedding gown I’m making for a good friend for the end of September!

Do you typically plan out your sewing year, or any part of it? What are you hoping to make in 2017?

20 thoughts on “2017 Sewing Plans

  1. Those are quite the sewing plans for this year! I can’t wait to see all of the completed outfits! And as for the ribbon, it does make a lovely contrast to the other fabric choices for this dress. Good luck and happy sewing! You are an awesome seamstress Carolyn.


    • Thank you for the velvet ribbon input, that helps! These are rather grand plans, but considering what I manage to churn out last year it seems do-able – I guess we’ll see!


  2. Yea to the velvet ribbon!

    I am also planning a sesquicentennial dress for events around YEG 😀 And also to use it as my gala gown for CoCo. I started a Grand Parlour skirt several years ago that was never finished, so this is a great opportunity to do it. But of course it needs a lot of work, and underpinnings. I have an elliptical cage started but am waffling on hooping options. I want to use plumbing tubing but am unsure of its suitability for being packed and flying (so do I make the cage able to have interchangeable hooping? Decisions…)


    • Haha, it does seem like a lot, doesn’t it? I’m hoping one of the advantages of this year over last year is that more of this year’s plans can be done on machine rather than needing to be hand sewn. Also, I have almost all the underpinnings for everything already. The skirt foundation for the late 1860s dress is the only one wanting.

      I’ll be looking forward to what this year brings for you too!


  3. So many exciting ideas! Drooling over the cerise bow on your striped 1880s bustle. Definitely loose that ugly-ass rosette on your sesquicentennial dress. And yay for the ribbon. Now I will sit back and let you do all the hard work while cheering from the sidelines! 😄


  4. It looks very promising! The skirt of that mint-striped bustle dress is gorgeous, I love the trim on the bottom. Looking forward to seeing more of that!
    I generally plan some of my sewing. I usually have some plans/in progress work anyway. Plans might get shaken up though, either by fabric finds or events, so the second half of the year is very vague still!


    • I totally hear you! I should probably have added the caveat that there could be an element of tentativeness to some of these depending on what the year actually brings. Many of my makes last year were responses to events that came up that I hadn’t anticipated sewing for. And I’ve never done a whole year plan like this before, so we’ll see how it actually goes!

      Is there anything you have planned for this year that you’re particularly excited about?


  5. What fun plans! I especially love the idea of doing an 1867 dress for the 150th! Makes me want to copy you, although I would have to make a set of hoops and I don’t really want to have to store those… 😂 Your inspiration dress is gorgeous! 😍


  6. These are all such incredible projects!! I was wondering if you have read The Paris Apartment. It is a fictionalized account of a portrait by one of the masters of the Belle Epoque, Giovanni Boldini. And then there are letters and journals written by the very woman in the painting, Marthe de Florian.
    A fun read mainly for the correspondence between the two.

    I brought this up because of the gorgeous and ethereal print you shared by Auguste Maurice Cabuzel.


  7. I am hoping to getting around to making one of the Buckaroo Bobbins patterns, the Romantic Era Blouse pattern- Etta Place. I bought the most perfect handkerchief linen from Farmhouse Fabrics and have a nice stash of vintage flat lace for the insertion portions from Lacis in Berkeley and the Lace Museum in Sunnyvale, CA. I must do a muslin of this patter first, before I get over my head in making it.

    These are all such incredible projects!! I was wondering if you have read The Paris Apartment. It is a fictionalized account of a portrait by one of the masters of the Belle Epoque, Giovanni Boldini. And then there are letters and journals written by the very woman in the painting, Marthe de Florian.
    A fun read mainly for the correspondence between the two.

    I brought this up because of the gorgeous and ethereal print you shared by Auguste Maurice Cabuzel.


  8. Pingback: Late 1780s Cutaway Front Anglaise + Hat of Unusual Size (H.O.U.S) | The Modern Mantua-Maker

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