Showing posts from June, 2017

Before Victoria: the White Wedding Dress in the 18th and Early 19th Centuries (Part I)

The history of white wedding dresses is a popular topic, and a few related narratives have built up in both popular and academic writing: Queen Victoria was the first to wear a white gown for her wedding in 1840, and women began to copy her, creating a tradition. Queen Victoria was not the first to wear a white wedding dress, but it experienced a boom in popularity as a result of her marriage. Queen Victoria was not the first to wear a white wedding dress, but it was only with her marriage that it took on the connotations of purity and innocence. I could digress to talk about the perils of "Great Man" history, but that's  better for a discussion on Chanel (hey-o!), so instead let's just look at why these narratives are all incorrect, and why Victoria was not really a turning point at all. (For the use of white, that is - Cele Otnes and Elizabeth Pleck make a very convincing argument in Cinderella Dreams: The Allure of the Lavish Wedding  that Victoria's wedd

The Clarissa Dress (Part III)

This one has a lot of progress images! When I cut out the sleeves, I figured that because the pattern ( Regency Women's Dress , p.98) appeared to fit me at the wrist, I could just cut out the sleeve exactly as drawn. Not so! I sewed the seam on one and it was far too tight in the forearm, so I pieced in a tapered strip under the arm, which I did not bother to match as it cannot be seen. The next step after that was to hem the part of the seam left open near the wrist and pin the trim into place - note that the trim pieces are not symmetrical and must be matched with the proper sleeve. The cuffs were then piped all the way around, and sewn down on one long and two short sides. The remaining side was put right-side-to-right-side over the trim and end of the sleeve and sewn down through all layers. The corners were snipped to allow the allowances to be turned in. Then I turned to the armscyes. These needed to be cut into, mostly in front, to be big enough

What are you doing, girl?

A few days ago, I introduced you to my new Patreon page , but I wanted to give you more background about why I decided to do this and so on. With this blog, I try to bridge the gap between costuming/reenactment and academia. I do post about sewing projects, when I do them (unless I'm just following the directions from a pattern packet, there's not much scope for research there), but what I really like to do is read primary and secondary sources, take something fresh from them, and share it with everyone else. This is the kind of research you normally do for publication or a conference paper, but I don't really want to write for journals or conferences - I want to write for you , the public. It's not pure theory that I find intriguing, but the mixture of academic research with practical application, which leads to posts on  fashions in petticoats and stomachers , or early nineteenth-century corsets . Or even more esoteric topics that might not be relevant to your s

The Clarissa Dress (Part Two)

So, after getting the bodice mostly ready to go, I turned to the skirt. The pieces were easy enough to cut out: if you look at the pattern ( Regency Women's Dress , p.98), you can see that there are mostly rectangles, plus one gore on each side. It was fairly simple - I used the same proportional method that I did on the bodice. If the front panel on the original was (for example) 150% of the waist before pleating, I made mine 150% of my waist; if the pleated width was 50% of the waist, I pleated it down to 50%. For the gore, I increased the top this way and then ran the slanted seam down at the same angle as in the original. The back panels ended up at about 26", so I just used the full width of the fabric (60") and cut a slit in it for the opening, which I turned and sewed with underhand hem stitch (more frequently known by its French name, point à rabattre sous le main ), whipping over the unturnable bit at the bottom. All of the seams were sewn with a small run