Last Friday I drove up to Nuevo, CA, to one of Shelley Peters’ workshops from the Kansas Mercantile. I wanted to make a couple pairs of combination underwear both in late 1800s style and some ‘teens styles, and with something as complicated as this, I wanted to have Shelley there to help if I got stuck. Guaranteed I’ll get stuck trying a new pattern. Shelley regularly puts on these workshops at different locations wherever someone wants to host one in their home or a meeting room. I heard her say she’s traveled to Nevada, Arizona, and Washington to do one of her corset workshops. She told us a local newspaper from Riverside, Press Enterprise http://www.pe.com/ was coming to interview her during the workshop on Friday for a human interest story for the newspaper and she wanted her students to help her put on a “show”. So we brought our dress forms with dresses we had made in her classes, or underpinnings if we wanted to show those. Because it was on a Friday the number of students were small but we certainly made up for it.
Cindy S. had brought two dresses to display; a navy blue 1850s dress, and an 1870s red plaid polonaise over black skirt. *I have to admit that Cindy’s plaid has inspired me to repurpose a green & black plaid bustle dress I made into one of these now. I wasn’t happy with my bustle due to the weight of the fabric pulling it down, but a polonaise would work. So thank you Cindy!* Jennifer K. who recently became interested in historical dress brought her black and grey ball dress that she put together from thrift store finds. Of course it set her off to create more now. Amanda M. was also new to costuming and she came to make her first corset and had a wrapper she had been working on so we had a lot of good conversations over both our experiences with them. I brought my 1830s jewel toned plaid dress I had started in a workshop last year. I also brought a couple pairs of antique split drawers, partly for myself to have a visual while I was sewing my combinations, and also for showing to the reporter if needed. And we did.
Article in Enterprise Press
My good intentions of having two of my combination patterns all cut out in time for this workshop and sew on my assembly line fell through during the week before. So all I had to sew was one pair of the Truly Victorian ones that I had cut out. I decided I would try one first and see if it fit, since we had some fitting issues with it earlier, then go on to the others. The first time I tried a pair of these on, it wasn’t long enough for the split drawers to be comfortable and enough fabric to open easily. I’m high-waisted so I added an inch at the waist to make the bottom half longer. And the legs were too tight at my knees. So if you make them and you have knock-knees or large thighs/calves, check your measurement first before cutting. Most likely the legs themselves will be fine because it has lots of fabric that you gather into a cuff. But the cuff is where you’ll need to do some altering if needed. If you don't have a flat tummy or butt, most likely you will need to add some extra length for that too.
These are my two patterns. I’m using a lightweight cotton because I don’t want any bulk although they may not be as absorbent as a thicker cotton. I’d like to try some linen sometime too.
Truly Victorian 105 Wearing History 1917
I cut the fabric out the day before the workshop. The main pattern piece, the front, is large. Very large. It’s the entire side of the combinations with the leg, minus a small square piece that is the back. All in one; that’s it. You have to unfold your fabric to have enough width and then fold it lengthwise to cut the two sides. The remainder you use for the square back piece and the facings.
That main pattern piece is really weird shaped. So weird, it’s hard to tell what is what. After I had sewn my facings onto the neckline and the crotch, then I was to sew the back piece onto it.
I stared at it and kept laying the two sides down to figure out what end was up and where it would go. At that point I realized there was no sure way to tell what went where. After a couple attempts I finally had it laid out so it looked like the drawing on the bottom of the pattern picture. It’s just a partial drawing so it wasn’t really clear immediately where to sew but I finally got it. That long thing on the left of the pattern appears to be a leg but it’s not. That’s the back half of your drawers. But until you’ve sewn one of these, it isn’t clear right away. What I am taking from this is, for my next one I’m going to make tiny dots with pencil, or water soluble pen, and mark where the legs are on the piece of fabric. Or maybe I’ll remember what I learned and whip right through it.
I wasn’t going to make this one too fancy other than the eyelet around the legs. I finished it last night at home and put it up on my dress form for a photo. It looked sad, like a sack. It had no defined waist, but it’s just underwear. And once my corset is on top of it there would magically appear a waist. So as I’m prone to do, I went on Pinterest and did a search for Edwardian and Victorian combinations. I found one pair from 1890s and realized I forgot to put my darts in. Oops. I guess I’m not quite done yet.
I found quite a few Edwardian ones but very few Victorians. And those are 1890s. So I’m not sure how they would have looked. But one thing I noticed on some of them, they had ribbon drawstrings on the waists. And all kinds of pretty trims. I think making the Wearing History ones are going to be fun.
While searching for these photos, I came across someone else’s blog where she made the Wearing History ones. Perfect timing! The Dreamstress~~Val~~