It was suggested that a bright yellow or butter yellow would not look good on me but to look for a golden harvest-y yellow. On my last trip to the Garment District I found this poly-blend curtain fabric that looked good held up to my skin and hair. After searching the rest of the GD for a similar color, and no luck, I decided to use it. And it was on sale for $3.99. It has a bit of a shine but it’s a dull shine so not like a poly-satin-shiny fabric.
I found a couple photos that showed different ways to do the type of bodice I wanted to try with the lapels.
On my pattern review group, I asked for suggestions from anyone of what pattern I could use for the bodice. Most suggestions were the Folkwear #220 “Garden Party” dress, but with some alterations to the square neckline opening to make it V-shape. The pattern is a bit small for me because unfortunately they don’t make them above a size 16. The sleeves seem to be about the right shape, and it was suggested to extend the length of cuffs to match the dress and I’ll need lace for it.
I remembered another bodice I'd made using Laughing Moon’s #104 evening dress pattern where I used it as a base and then layered fabric on it to create the V-shape. This will probably be about the same technique.
The skirt was an easy choice, Truly Victorian TVE 21 Trumpet skirt, which I haven’t made before, but looks just like the one in the fashion print.
While I was out of town for two weeks visiting my mother, I brought the fabric with me and spent some time doing the basic cutting and sewing but couldn’t go any further without having my dress form to start building the bodice trims on it. So it had to wait till I got home.
The skirt has an underskirt, a lining that’s separate from the skirt that has a ruffle on the bottom to help hold out the bottom of the skirt. Because of it being on the bias, it was truly a pain and the hem not very pretty. But it’s hidden so that’s all that matters. The instructions tell you to make it 2” shorter than the skirt itself but since I couldn’t mark that hem yet, I wasn’t able to go any further with it. So that had to be done at home too.
While I was out and about there, shopping in thrift stores and antique malls, I found a cotton lace tablecloth I decided to use on my dress for the V-neck insert and sleeve cuffs; and a straw hat that looked so much like the ones in 1905-08, I knew it could work.
Once I was back home I began building the bodice. I sewed two lengths of the fabric to make my lapels that I draped over the shoulders, crossed in front and back, and then the tails would be tucked into the waist. These were just tacked in place. I basted a square of the lace tablecloth fabric onto the front of the neckline and it was covered by the lapels.
I didn’t think the bodice was *quite* long enough to be tucked into my waist so I added a 6-inch peplum around the bottom.
I had a lot of problems with my lace collar I planned to use with this. It’s a reproduction I purchased from a seller in China on ebay. I hated to cut it in half since this bodice closes in the back, and tried to just tack it in the front and would have tiny clear snaps on the back to hold it down. But each time I tried putting it over my head, right in the center back the lace began to tear. To avert a disaster, I made the command decision to cut it in half. And all was well. Except the next morning I saw the photo I’d taken and the collar was longer on one side in the front than the other. That’s what happens when the back of your bodice overlaps and takes up an extra inch or so. Out came the seam ripper but was an easy fix to replace the tacking stitches.
The black tie was fairly simple to make. Sew a long length of black taffeta in half, hand-sew it just below where the lace collar ends, and tie it in a bow. I tacked that down too.
I used the sleeve that came with the Folkwear pattern since it was the right shape, and used some photos of sleeves from a 1907 ad as my inspiration.
I cut rectangles from the lace tablecloth to sew to the bottom of the sleeves, and then discovered a problem that would eventually not work as well as I’d hoped. The fabric is loosely woven and stretches. To sew the seam, I had to turn the edges under twice and sew it like a finished edge, THEN sew the two edges together which kept it from unraveling. But it still wanted to stretch. I sewed the lace to the bottom of the gathered cuff first, and then sewed a band around the top. Then discovered I had pulled the gathering stitches in and now it was too tight. So out came all the stitches. We’re all familiar with the “sleeves from hell” so this will be no surprise but after I sewed it all together again, it was still too tight. So I ripped again, made sure it fitted over my elbow, and sewed it again. This time they both went over my elbow. *Wait for it…….* The next day when I put it on, one of them was again too tight so by the end of the day I had a welt around my arm. One end of the cuff seems to have stretched out a bit so it flares at the bottom. Back to the drawing board. I think when I get time I’ll start looking for a different kind of lace fabric to replace those and the insert with.
Where do I start with the hem? The Trumpet skirt is flared at the bottom, which means the part of the hem I turn up is wider than where it’s hemmed to. Which means there’s going to be excess fabric to be taken in. I know how to hem. But I’ve again realized I’ve never been taught how to hem other than short narrow hems. I turned up 3 inches and in my brain I figured out I could pull in that excess by doing a gathering stitch. Except this fabric is kind of thick and the thread kept breaking when I tried to gather it. So I folded tiny bits in, and held my head in shame. And yes, I lifted my skirt and brazenly showed it to anyone around me.
But by doing so, I received a bit of advice to drop the hem by 2 inches, because it ended up too short and my lining skirt ruffle was peeking out the bottom. Shameful! And then I should cut off some excess and only have about 2 inches turned up. Which is pretty much what I usually do but fortunately some instinct kept me from cutting off that excess which wouldn’t have given me enough left to hem. Some hidden intuition must have been at work there.
So I finally got the bodice all put together and finished off the edges of the lapels and peplum that will be tucked inside the skirt. I had plans for a nice belt and was going to track down a buckle I could take off one of my other dresses but since I was still hemming the blasted skirt at 10pm the night before the event I was wearing it to, that didn’t happen. So I made a quick band with the two remaining buttons I had left from the back bodice closure, and added a snap in the middle.
I can truly say I loved my hat. I traced a circle from the full size of the hat out of black taffeta, did a gathering stitch about 2 inches in from the edge (checking first that it would entirely cover the crown), turned that under and lightly tacked it to the hat. I had two lengths left over from the tie I’d made, so I used one around the base of the crown and another to make a bow for the back. These are just tacked on also.
I thought that looked a bit bland so added a long black ostrich feather around the crown, tacking this down more since they have a tendency to fly away on their own. And then I made a quick run to Michael’s for a lemony yellow rose. I had to carry a swatch of my fabric with me since not all yellows looked well with it.
Accessorizing this was easy since I have a lot of things from the time period already. So my long Edwardian parasol that was given to me came along as a walking stick, as did my antique black reticule I found in Florida a few years ago.
This is the second time in my costuming career that I didn’t have a chance to try on my dress before wearing it, and this is the reason why you really need to do that. My lining skirt was longer on one side than my skirt. Or what really happened is, my skirt wasn’t long enough. I marked my hems level with the floor then turn it up 2 inches. But somewhere in the process it shrunk. And then the tablecloth lace stretched. So it was a bit of a hot mess. It was more visible to me than others but we all know about that.
Overall I was very happy with my outfit. I think it just needs a few tweaks and I will be entirely happy with it. I wore it to the afternoon tea on the Queen Mary ship yesterday. We all wore dresses from close to the time period of 1910, had a very nice tea, and later toured the Princess Diana exhibit on the ship. It was more than just about Diana, but also the lineage and history of the royal family, starting with Edward, Prince of Wales (aka King George V) and King George VI, who became King when Edward abdicated to marry Wallis Simpson. It was a really nice exhibition. But sadly we weren’t allowed to take photos.
As mentioned, one of the things I’ll be changing is the lace insert and cuffs. I looked through the photos of my lace trims I have and came across two that just might work. I also want to make the cuffs a bit longer. I’ll have to see how they look next to my collar.
Since a lot of the front trims on the bodice are hand sewn on, they’re going to be easy to remove and replace afterwards. And at least I won’t be in a rush to try and get that done. Don’t they say costumes are always a work in progress?
At least Chloe approved my skirt. She managed to take a short nap on it while I was typing away here.