1879 Tea Gown: More Progress, and Bustling Up on the Deadline!

I haven’t been working *flat out* on this dress, but I have been making steady progress each day. I’m thankful to have not hit any huge snags (yet).

I’m not finished with the skirt and apron completely, but I wanted to get the bodice mostly there, one so I could at least have a top to wear to the tea on Saturday, and two because the bodice has priority on my limited about of trim, and if I do run out, I would rather the apron lose out than the bodice.

The interior of the bodice – it’s lined in twill, and the seam allowances are trimmed, notched, and catch-stitched down to the lining, to keep them flat. No boning yet.

So far I haven’t added boning, but I have fit the bodice on my own body, which is why it doesn’t look like it fits so well on FrankenLilly.  I have a longer waist.

I compiled one whole sleeve earlier today, and realized when it was all finished that I sewed the false cuff on backwards.  Since this post, I bucked up and ripped the whole thing off to put it on the right way, then did the second sleeve. I feel so much better about the cuffs now.  I can’t let something that blatantly wrong stay that way, even if I’m short on time!

Front view of the bodice, with the fur trim just draped on to get an idea how it will look. I haven’t decided on any additional bodice trim yet – I do like it kindof clean-looking through the body.

Onward! I have a lot of finishing to do!


  • Tenshi

    December 10, 2013 at 12:00 AM

    I think the clean look wit jsut the fur trim is great! It gives room to shine to the unusual cut of the bodice and to the trim and fabric.

  • Anonymous

    December 10, 2013 at 12:05 AM

    So if you are working flat out, and have no other dresses to work on, how quickly can you finish a large dress like this one? (opposed to one from the 20th century)

    • Lauren Stowell

      December 10, 2013 at 12:57 AM

      That's a good question. The fastest I've ever put something complicated together was 4 days – that's if I'm starting from a working pattern, and already have the materials.

    • Anonymous

      December 10, 2013 at 10:27 PM

      I'm going to attempt insanity and make a Manteau starting after Christmas for a social in January. Since it's my first ever historical piece, I'm going to be using a sewing machine instead of attempting historical sewing as well. Honestly, I'm more nervous about making the stays than I am for the dress itself.

  • Allison

    December 10, 2013 at 4:35 AM

    I really like the bodice and agree that the simplicity of trim accents the asymmetrical front. It is going to beautiful and you will undoubtedly be beautiful wearing it.

  • AuntieNan

    December 10, 2013 at 12:57 PM

    I have to admit when I saw the original I almost tried to sway you toward another direction, which just goes to prove that I should always keep my mouth shut! This is sooooo much mor beautiful than that original! The asymmetrical closing is GORGEOUS, and I love the trim, and the sleek very feminine lines!
    Go for it!!

    • Lauren Stowell

      December 12, 2013 at 5:18 AM

      Auntie, do you meant the ivory and brown one I posted before, with all the fluffy trims on it? Yeah, all that fluff…I don't even know what kind of fabric was used to make that fluff!

  • fixitfaerie

    December 11, 2013 at 2:17 AM

    The lines of the top looks beautiful. I'm sure you could use the fur or not, you just get more oomph with it. I take it you are a procrastinator too? Love the outfit, just gorgeous.

    • Lauren Stowell

      December 12, 2013 at 5:19 AM

      Thanks! I was really happy with the pattern – I made some big changes to the hem shapes, but overall the pattern went together really well and was easy to fit.

  • Caroline

    December 11, 2013 at 5:04 AM

    I love the asymmetrical front! It always amazes me what one can do on a deadline. Like some of the best work! And cheers to doing all the inside work so nicely. I love a lovely lining 🙂

  • Kelly

    December 12, 2013 at 5:15 AM

    It looks beautiful. You make me feel like a slug. I'm suppose to be making a bustle ballgown to wear to a party on January 3 but I've really been dragging my feet. Thanks to you and your stunning gown I'm going to come home and put my nose to the grindstone tomorrow after work.

    • Lauren Stowell

      December 12, 2013 at 5:20 AM

      Don't feel like I slug! (but I know how you feel; I usually feel quite lazy when I see everyone else blazing through projects and I can't be bothered to even lift a pair of scissors, lol). Now get to work!! (haha, j/k!)

  • Mistress of Disguise

    December 13, 2013 at 2:25 AM

    Ooo! I'm such a sucker for an asymmetrical bodice, and this one is fabulous! I love the trim the way it is, too, very clean and sharp looking. ^^

  • The Hazelnut Girl

    December 22, 2013 at 9:50 PM

    Such a beautiful dress! Yet another of your gowns to put on my list of "maybe in 50 years I be able to do something as nice" 😉
    This may be silly, but what I really want to know is where you got your dress form. I am a bit new to clothes making, but it is turning out to be very hard to fit things properly!

    • Lauren Stowell

      December 23, 2013 at 4:01 AM

      Hi Hazelnut – thanks so much! To answer your question, here's a post about my dress form: http://americanduchess.blogspot.com/2011/05/making-workable-dress-form-or-violent.html

      Some time after this post I actually chopped some more off of her, and added the Bean-Boobs (lentils in knee-high stockings), which work really well to simulate the chest when you're corseting the form.

      She's always being squeezed or padded with batting, or quilted pillowcases, or whatever's laying around. I try to get her as close as possible to my shape, though she's still shorter in the waist than I am. Might have to take the knife to her again!


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