Monday, January 18, 2010

Passionate About Petticoats

One of my biggest pet peeves about admiring reproduction historical clothing is being able to tell where there is a shocking lack of petticoats. A woman may have the most beautiful gown, the correct silhouette, and fabulous accessories - but it can all fall flat if she doesn't have enough (and I do mean that) petticoats. One petticoat usually doesn't cut it.

The worst offense is when a hoop skirt is worn. Have you ever seen a Civil War or 1860s skirt where a distinct wire row is visible about 6" to 12" above the hem? (yikes) Sometimes the row is seen even with a petticoat. Sometimes that one petticoat is not enough. Obviously.

It really IS ok to wear multiple petticoats!

They won't hurt and will make your costume that much better. If you don't want several waistbands under your skirt, set the petticoat panels onto a yoke or set them all together onto one waistband.

The two early-1850s skirts below would not have that gentle bell shape without the use of multiple petticoats supporting them underneath.

I just cringe when I see a fantastically made 1890s gown only to notice the skirt falling limp against the wearer's legs. Even if the skirt has all the proper panels and hem width. And simply adding horsehair or other stiffener in the hem won't cut it. The problem is NOT ENOUGH PETTICOATS.

Our ancestors knew the secret to a fashionable silhouette. They knew that you won't look the same with just a skirt about you, over your chemise and drawers. They knew the extra foundation skirts, cut just so, would show the world your fashionable eye.

So many problems can be solved by adding an extra petticoat - that airy ball gown skirt will stay put; the bell shape you desire will form; the cold air you feel will be dispelled; that train will lay flat.

Plain, corded, ruffled, trained, gored, tucked, paneled, shaped, tied - you name it. That extra petticoat or two could be the missing element of your costume.
Give it a try!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Sewing Has Been Done!

After a much longer break than expected, the sewing bug bit last weekend and I actually accomplished something! Although it's not anything historical in style, it does add to my closet. :-)

Way back in high school (20 years ago!) I made most of my own clothes. I LOVED doing it. When I discovered how to make Victorian clothing my world changed. I've only done the occasional modern top or skirt or window drapes since then.

This fall I stocked up on some beautiful suiting fabrics in royal blue, bright rose pink and a navy/teal paisley. I was determined that if no costume project called to me I would add to my current work wardrobe.

The patterns have been altered since November and the fabric washed. Finally I got going on cutting out the blue blouse and skirt. I'd made both patterns before but altered the skirt ruffle slightly this time.

I love it! It fits nice and looks like a suit (even though the top is unlined). Just wish it wouldn't attract so much static! argh

And it showed me what happens when you don't sew modern stuff for a while. My historical skills took over and I sewed the collar perfectly around the whole thing leaving the space open between the center back notches. Trimmed the SA's down to a scant 1/16" to 1/8" turned and pressed.

Well, I sewed it on the bodice then stitched down the facing. Whoops! I had the two ends of the collar flapping loose from the top. Yikes - what happened? Seems it works better when you sew only the outer edge of the collar, turn and baste to the bodice. The neckline edge of the collar is then sandwiched between the bodice and facing. Duh.

Maybe I'll hurry and get the pink suit made before I forget how to sew modern clothes. For now I'll leave the "sewing around the whole thing" for my historical skirt waistbands and belts.