Sunday, July 17, 2011

Already planning and scheming

Here I haven't even technically finished the 1852 summer day dress and I'm off to the races planning more outfits.  I had a rude awakening at work when I discovered I would have to wear at least one of those icky work dresses a couple of a days a week still.  Mostly this was out of the need to not be so poofy on delivery day and restock day.  I did it last week, and with the hem about an inch longer than I needed, and survived fine, but I fear for my dress.  Plus, I do not want to wear either of the two work dresses I claimed.

So to avoid further discomfort, I have decided to make another more "practical" outfit.  Naturally this can't be something frumpy since I have set a new standard.  Even before I started the day dress I thought it would be nice to do a two pieced outfit.  I've found two different bodices that I quite like and will eventually be recreating both of them, but in more simplified manner.  I'll be making a skirt to go with the bodice, but during winter I might take the route of a quilted petticoat in stead to mix it up.  I'm not sure that quilted petties were worn out and about for public display, but I can't see why a woman would go to such lengths to make a beautiful garment like that and not show it off.  More research perhaps.

But yes, the jacket...I like both of these a great deal:
1853-55 fringed bodice from
c.1850 blue taffeta bodice from
Sadly because of the nature of my job, I will not be able to do the wider sleeves.  However, since the jacket I'm making first will be for summer wear, I can make it short sleeved with sheer or muslin undersleeves to go with the chemisette that will be required.  Tit for tat I suppose.  This will also give me a chance to make a nice apron.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Some nearly complete stuff

Well I finished the pink and poofy 1852 day dress enough to wear to work on Wednesday.  I was really happy with the fit and overall result.  I do need to raise the hem on the bottom flounce though to prevent it getting too dirty from all the dust in Columbia.  I also managed to spill down the front, which unfortunately for me did not wash out.  I guess I'll be tacking some of the bodice pleats down to cover it up.  It's not too noticeable though.

I gave up on the lace trim idea.  I'm going to go with white muslin ruching instead.  It's simple, clean, and would be reasonable for a woman working a job such as mine.  The dress definitely needs trim though to look complete and break up the monotony of all the pink.  I'll also be doing some smocking decoration on the bodice pleats.
sitting down to show some of the poof

Mark told me to hold my arms out...not like this though.  Good shot of the flounces here

almost profile shot

pretty in pink.  I'm so happy with the silhouette

farmer or shop girl?

a full length shot

So, I suppose I should get to doing the trimming now.  I've come up with a few other little projects to do already.  I want to make a corded/quilted corset that could possibly be worn at work.  I've also found a delightful gown that I'll be recreating for winter time.  Obviously mine won't be green silk, but I'm thinking a solid green of some type that has nothing to do with printed cottons.

A dress from Augusta Auctions

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Works Cited for 1852 Fan Front bodice

Primary Sources
"1840s Printed Challis Day Dress." Contentment Farm: Antique Textiles and Vintage Clothing. Web. 10 Jul 2011.

"1850s Hand Sewn Cotton Print Dress." Contentment Farm: Antique Textiles and Vintage Clothing. Web. 10 Jul 2011.

"Blue Shot Silk Afternoon Dress, circa 1849." The Museum at FIT. Web. 10 Jul 2011.  

"BLUE & BROWN WOOL DRESS & PELERINE, 1840s ." Augusta Auctions. Web. 10 Jul 2011.

"Brown Silk Taffeta Day Dress, circa 1844." The Museum at FIT. Web. 10 Jul 2011.

c. 1852-56 Day Dress.  Victoria and Albert Museum from Patterns of Fashion: Englishwomen's Dresses & Their Construction by Janet Arnold. 1977.

"CHAMPAGNE SATIN WEDDING DRESS, 1844 ." Augusta Auctions. Web. 10 Jul 2011.

"Dress, 1845-1850." The Henry Ford Costume Collection. Web. 10 Jul 2011.

"Dress, 1845-1850."  Victoria and Albert Museum.  Web.  10 Jul 2011.

"Dress, 1849-1852." The Henry Ford Costume Collection. Web. 10 Jul 2011.

"Dress, 1850-1855." The Henry Ford Costume Collection. Web. 10 Jul 2011.

"Dress, 1853-1856." The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Web. 10 Jul 2011.

"Dress, 1858-60."  Victoria and Albert Museum.  Web.  10 Jul 2011.

"MADRAS DAY DRESS, 1840s ." Augusta Auctions. Web. 10 Jul 2011.

"PRINTED FLORAL WOOL DRESS & PELERINE, 1848-1852 ." Augusta Auctions. Web. 10 Jul 2011.

"SILK DAY DRESS, c. 1845." Augusta Auctions. Web. 10 Jul 2011.

"SILK TAFFETA DAY DRESS, 1840s ." Augusta Auctions. Web. 10 Jul 2011.

Williams, Carrie.  "No persuits in common between us any more" from So Much to Be Done: Women Settlers on the Mining and Ranching Frontier ed. by Ruth B. Moynhan, Susan Armitage, and Christiane Fischer Dichamp.  2nd ed.  University of Nebraska Press, 1990.
Secondary Sources
"Women's Clothing." (accessed July 10, 2011).

Arnold,Janet. Patterns of Fashion: Englishwomen's Dresses & Their Construction [Paperback]. 1977.

Heileen. "1848's Revolution Flounced Day Dress." 2011. (accessed July 10, 2011). 

McNaughton, Heather. "Pre-Hoop Era, 1840-1855." (accessed July 10, 2011).

Oakes , Leimomi . "Portfolio: 1850s Raspberry Swirl Gown." November 29, 2009. (accessed July 10, 2011). 

Old Sacramento Business Association. "Women in Old Sacramento - A Solitary Life." 2008. (accessed July 10, 2011). 

Reeves-Brown, Jessamyn. "A Romantic-Era Summer Dress, circa 1840." Mar 28, 2005. (accessed July 10, 2011).

Sederquist, Betty. "Gold Rush Women." (accessed July 10, 2011).

Souter, Stormi. "Mid 19th Century Women's Clothing Guidelines." March 31, 2011.Mid19thCenturyWomensClothingGuidelines (accessed July 10, 2011).

Friday, July 8, 2011

a detailed view (if slightly blurry) of the pleating for the fan front.  I'm super happy with the results.

front view of hte bodice without trim

laundry day at my house hehehe
Apologies for the blurry progress pictures, but I had to share and had no photographer around when I was working on it.  All I have left now is to stitch the skirt to the bodice, do the center front seam of the skirt and add a ton of lace trim.  I'm so excited to wear this dress to work.

Monday, July 4, 2011

More bad history please...?

It really kills me and I hope I can be the change I hope to see.

Yes, I'm guilty of it, a lot lately.  I wear tennis shoes with my 1850s work attire so that I can get through the shift without having my feet amputated.  I'm eventually planning to get a pair of nice reproduction shoes that are more appropriate.  I even roll up my sleeves when I'm working and expose my bare arms (gasp!).  Small sacrifice to be made for the sake of doing one's job, however there are exceptions to every rule.

I discovered the source of the problems I have with the women's dresses in Columbia State Park.  They're all based off one example (of which there seems to be some discrepancy as to the age of the garment itself).  Something like this does not help to create a glimpse of how Gold Rush Columbia looked, it creates a town where every woman wears the exact same dress, but in different colors and with the same fitting problems.

The dress pattern is printed by a company called Chile n Cracker's.  It's not necessarily a bad pattern, it's simple, but for what it's supposed to be it does the job.  The pattern is based on a late 1850s work dress in the private collection of the company's owner.  It appears that the owner attempted to pull a Janet Arnold and make a pattern based off of the existing garment (which is great!).

However, this is not the problem I have with the dresses.  The problem I have is with the woman who makes them.  From what people tell me she's very "into" what she does and supposedly understands sewing and women's clothing from the 19th century.  I don't agree with this completely.  If she really did understand what she was doing, she wouldn't use the same unflattering work dress pattern for every dress she's ever made.  It's a bit like looking at a Ren Faire when you wander through the shops; every woman has the same frumpy calico dress that's too short with a bodice that doesn't fit.  What wasn't taken into account when the park decided to make everyone dress up was the pattern for this dress.  Would a woman really want to be seen in a dress that looked like that?  Would she want customers of her shop to see her dressed like that?  I don't think so.  That's where the bad history comes in.

What is not known about the dress that the whole mess is based off of, is who owned it.  What did that woman do for a living?  Was this the equivalent of her house dress or lounge pants?  Sure we all have frumpy clothes in our closet that we wear for comfort when we're home, but very rarely do we want people to see them.  If the pattern was created accurately from this dress and reflects the geometry of the original bodice, it seems that these work dresses all fit into this category.

As a friend of mine said when she saw me sewing on my new dress, I hope this will inspire people to dress better when they see the finished result.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sneak Peek

Pink and Poofy!  There's a lot of a fabric in this dress
Appologies for the poor quality of these next photos, but I really wantd to share.  This is the 1852 fan front dress I've been working on for my new work attire.  I still need to do the actual pleating and attach the skirt to the bodice, add some buttons, and trim the hell out of it.  I'm really happy with the results so far.  Oh yeah, and I should probably make the skirt close in front

The gathering for the fan front needs to be redone also, but this is a rough approximation of the final result.

Really blurry, but a profile view.