Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Patterns and Fabric

I thought I knew something of Victorian dress until I actually started to research a dress to make; at which point the different eras and variety of styles available felt like a bit of a minefield.  Of the various eras, what I would say are the "classic" Victorian styles Pre-Hoop (1840-1855) and Hoop (1856-1869), I ruled out pretty quickly; I can admire the dresses but they're not for me.  I focused on Early and Late Bustle (1869-1876 and 1883-1889 respectively) as I still wanted to feel as "Victorian" as possible and I chose my patterns; a Late Bustle skirt/bustle pattern and evening top. 

However, having started on the corset, I decided to rethink the bustle.  As the costume is meant for Halloween, and I will be cooking and hosting and having a dance or two, I decided that I could cope with constraint, but perhaps not the greater mobility issues that a bustle could cause in my tiny kitchen... one pattern I looked at was greater in circumference at the base than the available floor space in front of my oven!

So, before I went to NY I did a little more research and, rather belatedly, stumbled across's history pages - I say belatedly because I was instantly drawn to the Natural Form (1877-1882) reference images and could have saved myself a lot of time had I seen them earlier!  They are the perfect mix of victoriana, elegance and flamboyance for me; which could also be interpreted in an understated way.  Of the Victorian costumes I have seen, I am always drawn to the more understated ones, as the quieter fabrics and trimmings let the detail and craftsmanship truly stand out; in particular Karolina's and Anneli Granath's stunning dresses at  They are flamboyant in detail, not trimmings!

I chose three patterns (TV225, 328 and 422), noted the yardage, and bought them before I could change my mind!  The hope is that the full fantail skirt with the overskirt will give me a sense of evening elegance and the jacket top will not be too fussy but still dressy.  I also love the walking skirt and will make that one day I'm certain.

So, fabric.  At Mood there was too much to choose from and as we couldn't fix on a colour palette I started to look at textures and patterns and was instantly drawn to the shelves of shirting cotton (crisp and clean and within budget!) and a selection of striped fabrics leaning against the end of the unit.  Thanks to boyf, I have a beautifully full and lightly textured, ruched stripe Italian cotton for the skirt.  It's heavy, and creamy to the touch, and looks as beautiful on the reverse as the front; a detail I may play with. 

And for the jacket and overskirt, I chose a pale silvery blue shirt cotton, pale gray with a a blue metallic thread though it.  It does not photograph as well but is very pretty and has a subtle shimmer.  I think that it will be a lovely contrast to the heavier stripe and should give me the day-to-evening look I'm after; plus, although it's not my usual Gothic, it should work well for my character for Halloween (no spills on it though please!!)

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