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!
As part of my adventures in Natural Form foundations garments I also made a new corset. This is something I’d wanted to do for a while anyway. My previous Victorian corset was fine, but I wasn’t getting quite the curve in my figure or roundness in my bust profile I wanted. It also makes my hips sore because – and this was a big revelation for me! – there wasn’t enough fullness at the hips built into the corset. Duh! One of those things that seems so obvious once you realize it. The adjustability gained from having a lacing gap at the back will get you only so far!
Enter this beauty from Jill Salen’s book, Corsets: Historical Patterns & Techniques
For the last couple of years I’ve become increasingly interested in the Natural Form period of fashion. If you’re unfamiliar with this transitional style of Victorian fashion you can check out my hodge-podge pinterest board on it to get an idea. I’ve been getting more interested in various transitional fashions, really, such 1790s and 1820s. With Natural Form I feel really drawn to the sumptuous use and cleverness of the fabric trims, the svelte contours of the figure, the sweeping trains. The more I’ve looked into it, the more I’ve noticed that Natural Form can actually be divided into two phases of approx. 1876-1879 and 1880-1882/3.
Just for fun, here’s an example of 1876 Natural Form: