The Bum Shop

Before I could start patterning my new 1780s gown, I needed a new and improved skirt support.

"The Bum Shop",1785. Lewis Walpole Library.

With my previous attempt at this style, I wasn’t entirely happy with shape of the back of the skirt. I used my standard bumroll, which works for some outfits, but doesn’t give the dramatic hip flare or accentuate the bottom bodice point like you see so often in portraits and fashion plates of the mid to late 1780s. When I saw the divided bumroll that the Colonial Williamsburg milliners made to go under the Italian gown worn during the March conference, it was like a light bulb went off in my head. A complete ah hah moment! That is how you get that shape!  Using "The Bum Shop" print, as well as the CW milliner’s version as inspiration, I decided to try my hand at this style of skirt support.

My new rump is made from pale pink striped linen (to match my petticoat and other undies, because I’m cool like that). It is two separate pillows attached to a half petticoat. Each piece was assembled separately and then the pillows were whipstitched to the petticoat waistband. I have no idea if this is how it was constructed in the period, but it seemed logical to me.

 I’ve never made a skirt support with an attached petticoat, but I was pleasantly surprised at the extra fullness it added to the skirt, as well as the way it actually supported the pillows, keeping the close against my back instead of slipping down like my others always do. I also made it with a wide waistband instead of ties to help keep it snug against my waist/hips and keep the pressure off my lower back.  Both features really helped make this the most comfortable 18th century skirt support I’ve ever worn. I can’t wait to experiment with more styles and see if this theory holds true!

Posted: 9/5/2014 3:20:43 PM by Aubry | with comments
Filed under: 1780s

Moving On – The Italian Nightgown

With Costume College over, it’s time to start prepping for my next event.

In October I will be attending an 18th century weekend party. Because it’s a multipart event, I will need a full wardrobe – a breakfast/lounging outfit, something to wear for an outdoor picnic, and an evening dress. I have plenty of ideas for new dresses for each change, but I’m trying to stay practical and realistic so I will only be making one new outfit (unless I magically end up with a lot of extra free time in the coming months). I’ll wear my brocade banyan for breakfast, maybe with a new pair of jumps so I don’t have to wear a corset first thing in the morning, and for the picnic my blue-green riding habit will be just right. That just leaves me with something new and shiny to make for the evening party.

The dress code for the party is 1780s, meaning it’s the perfect opportunity to try an idea that has been floating around in my head for months. I have some blue pinstripe silk taffeta in my stash that will make a lovely late 1780s evening gown with curved back seams, a long center back point, and a dramatically dived false rump. I made a Pinterest board (because that’s what I do), but one of my biggest inspirations is the green striped dress in this portrait.  I love the three-quarter length sleeves and the overall silhouette.

I plan to accessorize the dress with a peridot parure (from Dames a la Mode), some green bows, and a new sheer poufy cap thing ™. I even found navy and gold dot silk organza that will make a wonderful accent for the cap! 
Posted: 8/15/2014 9:03:28 PM by Aubry | with comments
Filed under: 1780s

The Navy Figured Spencer and Green Bonnet

My original plan for the Costume College Ice Cream Social was to join in on the Game of Thrones fun. I had a Margaery Tyrell inspired costume planned and even started when I ran into trouble. My perfectly fitted pattern didn’t translate into a perfectly fitted bodice, and while the costume isn’t a total loss, it needs work. More work and mental energy than I had time for with a deadline looming.

Photo courtesy of Sara at Gilded Garb

Obviously, I needed a quick and easy new outfit to wear. Thank goodness for base patterns that fit! Inspired by this spencer at the MET, I modified pattern from my cross-front dress, scooping the front neckline and changing the back seamlines to make a more dramatic diamond shape. The back could be a lot narrower (as you see in so many originals), but that would have required redrafting the sleeve and I did not have the time or the patience for that. For more of my spencer inspiration, you can check out my Pinterest board.

The spencer is made from navy figured silk from Burnley and Trowbridge. The fabric has a woven stripe alternating with little green dots and is just lovely! I lined it in navy taffeta, and with the exception of a few details, it is constructed almost entirely by machine. I planned to add self-trim like the extant spencer, but in the end I loved the elegant simplicity of the untrimmed neckline.

The bonnet was a happy accident. I was attempting to pattern a hat like this, but since I'm a indifferent milliner at the best of times I ended up with a bonnet. It was super cute so I just went with it. All my good hats are really just flukes.  The bonnet is a buckram base, wired for support, and mulled with cotton flannel. The outer layer is green silk taffeta, with a pleated crown for interest. I lined the brim with pleated white taffeta and decorated the hat with self-fabric bows and my favorite spray of pink flowers. The trimmings are just pinned on so I can swap them out later for a different look. I'm all about re-purposing accessories and trims, if you couldn't tell.

Photo courtesy of Sara at Gilded Garb

Posted: 8/10/2014 5:28:08 PM by Aubry | with comments
Filed under: 1790s, 1800s

Costume College 2014

I’m home from my annual pilgrimage to southern California. Not only did I spend a lovely weekend at Costume College, I also extended my vacation to explore some more around L.A. I have fun things to share from both the Getty Villa and the Getty Center, as well as the Huntington Library. Also, I may have bought more fabric. Oops. But first, Costume College!

On Friday, after Kendra’s demo class for her new book (review to come, it’s fantastic!), I wore my 1790s pink open robe. I almost didn’t bring it since I wore it last year, but I’m glad I changed my mind. It’s one of those costumes that is just a blast to wear. The obscene amount of taffeta I put into the skirt makes for a super dramatic look. I changed up the accessories, retrimming my poufy cap and wearing new satin slippers I dyed myself. In case you can’t tell by the expression on my face, I am absurdly proud of this fact.

For the Ice Cream Social later that evening, I kept my cross-front dress as a base, adding a new blue figured silk spencer and green taffeta bonnet, which I will discuss in detail later. It’s amazing how different the same dress can look by swapping out the accessories and changing the hair.


Saturday I wore modern clothes for class and my brocade francaise for the Gala. I completely forgot to get photos of my outfit, but I’ve worn it enough now that I’m not upset.

Sunday it was back to the 1790s with my new print gown. Again, I wore my ridiculous poufy cap with new ribbons (Have I mentioned this is the greatest accessory ever?) and carried my favorite reticule. I’m rather pleased with this dress in the end and I feel a very strong need to wear this to an 18th century picnic. Since I don’t have any in my near future, clearly, I need to plan one!
Posted: 8/9/2014 9:30:15 PM by Aubry | with comments

Constructing the Dress

Important note: I can't claim 100% accuracy with the construction of this dress. I havent done enough in-depth research to definitively say how this style would have been constructed. Since it is a transitional style, I felt comfortable enough to use my knowledge of 18th century techniques to experiment with the construction and make educated guesses as to what they might have done.

Starting with my basic 18th century bodice as a base, I made a fitted lining pattern. I shortened the waist (though not enough as it turns out), and draped the back pleats directly on to the linen. To help keep the back fitted, I kept the center back seam but left 1.5 inches above the waist to form the center pleat.

There are two stacked pleats on each side of the center back seam, and each pleat is sewn down with a spaced backstitch.

The front panel is one width of fabric with a slit at the center front. I used twill tape stitched down with a running stitch to create the drawstring channels at the waist and under the bust. I  I added two extra strips of fabric at the side to help the skirt drape more gracefully.

The fitted lining closes in front with pins, and the outer fabric closes with three drawstrings - one at the neckline, one under the bust,  and one at the waist. I added an inner tie at the back waist to help keep the dress tight against my back. Without a waist seam, there isnt enough tension at the waist to keep it defined, and the dress looked ill-fitting.


Posted: 6/9/2014 9:46:15 AM by Aubry | with comments
Filed under: 1790s
Displaying results 1-5 (of 142)
 |<  < 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10  >  >|