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Eeep.  over 700 people signed up to read?  I'm humbled.  And intimidated.  Hi, new people!  Welcome to the party!

I have a list of projects I'm still working on for Costume Con, and even on pain days (it seems silly to call them "sick days", since I'm not actually sick, just hurty) home from work, I don't really have much choice, but to sew.  So yesterday, I got the late Victorian (1880s or so) blouse done.

It's amazing how much faster work goes when you're using a machine, and cotton.  I managed to get it done in two days of work, even with the delay when my iron (which I now realize is cracked, and the reservoir is probably leaking into a non-essential part of the body) blorped rusty water all over one of the arms.

(I'm going to claim it's blood if anyone points it out.)

(Y'all will also excuse me if I'm a bit vague on the dates of my Victorian outfits; I realize the era covers about 60 years, but it's not my main era, and I'm just a dabbler.  When I say "Victorian", read it as anywhere between 1875 and 1890.  I like the silhouettes and styles from then.)

I'm actually quite please with how I'm doing on the Victorian stuff, considering how little I really know about advanced machine sewing techniques.  I managed to make a reasonably well-fitted coat with turned back lapels, and the blouse looks almost real (i.e., barely costume-ey at all), which is better than I expected, to tell you the truth.

So not my period.

All of my stuff so far (except for the jabot for the blouse) has been made from stash materials, and I think I'm pleased-est (not a word, for those of you playing along at home) with that.  Even the buttons for the garments are vintage/antique ones from my button collection, and the blouse is trimmed with lace that I got in a jar of vintage sewing bits from an antique store years ago.  The lace seems to have been destined for this project, since I got to trim all the bits I intended to trim, without cutting corners, and had a bare 1/4 yard of lace left over at the end.

I'm rarely that close on my estimates when I buy the darned stuff.

Deciding on the buttons has been great fun - I have a real penchant for buying those (sometimes ridiculously overpriced) jars of buttons that everyone seems to sell these days.  I've got a pretty good eye for the difference between the jars of cheap plastic buttons, and a jar of vintage/mother of pearl buttons, and I've rarely been disappointed in a haul.  There's a particular kind of button I collect, so I've been known to spend a little bit more for a jar that has one or two of those, but I've also got some really fine carved MoP buttons, some awesome 1950s/'60s plastic and celluloid buttons, and some enchanting Victorian jet, glass, and steel-cut ones.

...and a ton of jars all over the house.  Bob is terribly patient.

It pays off when I have projects like this, though.  I have gorgeous large MoP buttons for the coat, perfect grooved MoP buttons for the back of the blouse, and the teeniest little buttons for the camisole.

Making Victorian outfits is a little like making a trousseau - there's a ton of small bits, and they're all covered with lace.

I may be cheating on the corsets and using the cheesy Frederick's corsets I already have, just because I'm running out of time (that whole being unable to work for a good month or so did not help).  I refuse to feel too ashamed, since it's not a period I do that often.  But I may break down and actually make one.

Once the rest of the list is done.

It's a long list.



( 12 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )
Apr. 16th, 2009 12:27 pm (UTC)
I think of Victorian as being first so distinctively recognizable, and then so recognizably not-our-life-time modern or even our grandparents' lifetimes for a lot of us, it's very hard for some part of the modern mind *not* to shout silently, "Costume! Costume!"
And it seems one needs an interest in and an appreciation for historic clothing to be able to say, "Looks right, looks good, and avoids 'costumey' as if it were made from a Simplicity pattern."
Apr. 16th, 2009 12:38 pm (UTC)
Fit is one of the biggest things - and not just around the waist, but the way the shoulders and the neck sit.

*blush* My coat is adapted from one of the more sophisticated "western style" coat patterns Simplicity makes, but it's not intended as a costume, but a riding coat. I changed it up and made it double-breasted, and it fits rather nicely. I'm under no illusion that I'd pass a discerning eye, though - I cheated far too much with the machine sewing.
Apr. 16th, 2009 01:12 pm (UTC)
For the years you're talking about, especially the 1880s blouse, home sewing machines were not rare. And as we are by then in the post-Industrial Revolution period, quite a lot was being done by machine---especially dressmaking.
According to one source, professional dressmakers, by then, could crank out an evening gown for tomorrow night if they'd taken your measurements yesterday afternoon and could begin sewing today. Some things got farmed out; a lot of the fancy "embroidered" trim was just that: trim, made by snazzy belt-driven machines in big 'manufactories' and sewn on by machine.
Obviously, "bespoke" tailoring involves acres of hand-work---and is worth every bit of it, then and now. I'd bet you a dozen Dunkin' Donuts that there *were* ladies riding 'aside' whose coats had been made by dressmakers, and not tailors. Maybe not a lot, although it might depend on how formal the riding situation was going to be and how moneyed the equestrienne (or her father or husband.)

My statement would have been better phrased, "...Looks right, looks good and doesn't look costumey."

Anyway, I hope you're going to share pictures of your coat. It sounds lovely and I'm keen to see it.

Apr. 16th, 2009 02:47 pm (UTC)
:) No worries. I'll be posting pictures of everything after costume con.
Apr. 16th, 2009 01:00 pm (UTC)
So, are you going to be changing outfits throughout the day? Or are you just going Victorian the whole time?
Apr. 16th, 2009 02:47 pm (UTC)
I have multiple changes of clothing. :) I'm there for three (two and a half) days, so I'm making the most of it.
Apr. 16th, 2009 01:21 pm (UTC)
I just saw today's Bunny comic and I thought you'd be amused.
Apr. 16th, 2009 02:49 pm (UTC)
I saw that - funny. When I started my web site, if I googled "attack laurel", I got articles on Stan Laurel's death by heart attack.
Apr. 16th, 2009 04:42 pm (UTC)
You're saying all this, & I know I'm going to see the outfit & it'll look better than 90% of the 'accurate' Victorian costumes I've ever seen. I'd bet money (or at least a cocktail) on it.
Apr. 16th, 2009 05:02 pm (UTC)
You're on. Mmmmmm, drinks. :)

BTW, I was reading a book about style and the pleasure of objects, and the author mentioned your Gothic Martha Stewart site. I can't pull the name out of my brainmeats this second, but it was fun going "hey!" . :)
Apr. 16th, 2009 07:15 pm (UTC)
NO intimidation intended. :)

I find your site a good inspiration for my own projects. Hoping to start posting my own dress diaries soon, but I am still a little afraid to actually do it.
Apr. 17th, 2009 03:52 pm (UTC)
Don't be afraid! One of the really great things about blogs and dress diaries is that you can show off your work with no pressure. I love dress diaries, and I rely on the intarwebs to really see what's out there - it wasn't until people really started putting stuff out that we could all see how huge the costuming/re-enactor community was. :)

And thank you for finding me an inspiration. :) I never think my stuff is that special, but then, I think no-one appreciates their own work, because they're too familiar with it. I bet your costuming is lovely.
( 12 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )

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