This past Tuesday I was in a mad rush to finish the day version of my 1860s purple gown, just in time for the tree lighting ceremony downtown.
|This was about 2:00 pm on Tuesday … the event started at 4:30!|
I was stitching right up to the last minute, but I wanted to do things right. That’s always a tedious combination when you’re trying new techniques for the first time!
This is the first time I have cut a gored skirt for the 1860s. I was familiar with the magic of gored panels for bustle and late Victorian, but I’d never “needed” to do it for Civil War. This is what happens when you don’t have enough fabric for your skirt…
I got my purple silk in China, and bought 7 yards of it, which turned out to be too little for a day bodice, evening bodice, and the enormous, tightly-pleated, bell-shaped skirt of the first half of the 1860s. I had only 132″ hem with the rectangular panels…uh oh.
I quickly opened Period Costume for Stage & Screen: Patterns for Women’s Dress, 1800-1909 to see about gored skirt patterns. Hunnisett notes several with varying numbers of panels and layouts for each. Encouraged, I scribbled out a plan to achieve the right waist measurement and increase the hem circumference as much as possible.
Success! From three rectangular panels, I squeeked out a 195″ hem! MAGIC!
Of course, this added complexity where I didn’t expect. My ginormous crinoline+petticoats now was too big and bell-shaped. I removed one of the petticoats and switched one of the bum rolls holding the hoop back in a more elliptical shape, but after wearing this ensemble the first time, I can see I need an even flatter front, and smaller diameter cage underneath, and a full-length, flounced petticoat.
|While out in the cold I wore a fur collar and gloves, which made a lot more sense with the enormous fur hat|
However, this is what it’s all about, right? Learning by doing! I’m very happy with this first wear, with plans to fiddle and fuss…when I don’t have a killer deadline! My pics from the evening aren’t that great, but I promise to get out (probably in the snow) to take some proper photos soon.
|I quite like the back – next time I’ll let the back of the skirt drag just a bit, and also a flounced petticoat will help hold the skirt out.|
|I wore a pair of “Tissot” Civil War Slippers dyed purple to match my dress. Tissots look ace with shoe clips, but I didn’t have time to make any ribbony puffs, so I clipped on some vintage “Cromwell” style buckles, to add just enough interest.|
Now to the ballgown bodice for next weekend…!