Started Feb 2011/ Finished July 2011
This will be a short version about my Bloomer gown for now since I'll be presenting two mini workshops on it in the coming months for my two costume guilds. I've also been asked to do a class for next year's Costume College.
I started making this gown after "inheriting" an incomplete pattern from a friend. It had been copied off an 1851 extant gown in the San Diego History Museum. I contacted both the museum, and the pattern company, Past Patterns, about it. The museum gave me an appointment to come in and take photos of the gown which had been in storage. The museum requested I not publish those photos on the internet but can use them in slide shows for my classes. I emailed back and forth with Saundra Altman of Past Patterns, & telling her I wanted to recreate the gown. She got excited about finishing the pattern to put on the market. I spent months emailing back and forth with museums and historical societies in New York about the dress reform movement, and about Amelia Bloomer and the other ladies involved in the women's movement. Bloomers were not originally designed by Amelia, but by Elizabeth Smith Miller, who Amelia credits them with. But Amelia earned the name from the newspapers, and it stuck.
I made mine in an avocado green silk taffeta, lined with cotton. I enjoyed learning how to do piping and a different technique for gathered ruching on it.
The skirt was about 4 inches below my knee, and the Bloomers are made of silk taffeta until about midway up my thighs, a period technique to save on the silk. The Bloomers are pleated around my ankles with a cuff that has more of the gathered ruching on it.
In the meantime Saundra Altman was slowly getting the pattern completed, hopefully in time for me to bring them to Costume College. She didn't make the cutoff date but did send me one so I could show it around, and let people sign up to buy one as soon as they're available before they go on the market. We're hoping for it in the next month or so. And I really hope to have them in time for my workshops. I'm even mentioned in the acknowledgements for helping her get this pattern done.
I had nine ladies sign up to purchase the pattern when it's available, and one literally squealed when she saw it and is really anxious to get the pattern to make her own.
Now that I have this one under my belt, I have all kinds of ideas for a new one but made out of cotton for a day dress version, as this one was kind of dressy.