This is a photo diary of my costuming "travels"; where I've learned and struggled to make historical costumes for myself. They're not always pretty, but always fun, most of the time. And I want to share with others what I learn along the way. **You can find me on Facebook, or have my posts delivered to your email by signing up at the lower part of the right column.**

About Me

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HI, my name is Val. I'm a member of Costumer's Guild West in Los Angeles, Dean Emeritus of 2018 Costume College; Past President of the San Diego Costume Guild, member of Orange County Costume Guild, and a representative of the San Diego History Center. I make my own historical costumes but don't sell any unless I get tired of one.The eras I've made so far are 1770 up to 1918. My favorite is the 1880s bustle.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

The 1830s Project: Midnight Mourning’s Awakening- Part 5

I’m stalled on Persimmon’s sleeves since the inspiration photo has different sleeves than what I’ve been doing and are much fancier. Since I have an antique lace collar on it, if I’m going to put lace on the sleeves, it needs to be something similar to it. So instead of just sitting here staring at it, I went to work on Midnight Mourning. I finished up the sleeves on it, and spent oodles of hours trying to pleat the skirt into the bodice. The skirt has three panels, all the same size, one in front and two in back. The instructions say to pin the center fronts of skirt and bodice together, and the center backs, then pleat or gather. My first logical thought was to match the side seams also, which put all that fabric in the back. This is kind of a round gown evenly pleated/gathered all around. So I questioned Heather McNaughton about matching the side seams, and she said to just gather/pleat between the front and the back, and ignore the side seams. So I did.
While sitting and watching a marathon of recorded programs, I pinned in the knife pleats- first wide ones but ran out before I got to the back, then narrow ones, same problem. Unpinned. Tried working from the back to the front but still couldn’t get them even. Unpinned. Tried working from the front and pleating around to the back. Better, but ended up not enough fabric in the center back. I want a bit of fullness there to cover the placket. In the end, I pleated tighter starting in the back, doubling them, and then once I reached the side seams I went to a single pleat. I was also trying to have an area at the center front with a bit wider pleat so it didn’t poof out. Can’t have any poofing out. Not very desirable.

Three hours later, it’s all sewn in, and only included having to rip out part of the front once.

Instead of just putting It on my dress form for a photo, I added my long chain w/ watch; a simulated belt of black taffeta & pinned the belt buckle on, and added a little pin at the neckline to get an idea of how it was coming along. I’m VERY HAPPY. I just ordered some black velvet ribbon from ebay to trim along the neckline and down the center front. Probably do the sleeve cuffs too.
Now my brain wants to keep going with this and thinks I need a sheer white chemisette like artist John S. Blunt does on all his models. And my belt buckle needs to be pinned on the opposite way. It’s not a real buckle but a pin. 

I just purchased a straw bonnet form for my bonnet to go with this from
I’ve used Eliza model before and really like the shape. I plan to cover it with black taffeta and big fluffy ostrich feathers. Finally have a use for all those I’ve been hoarding whenever I found any.
But then of course The Squirrel had to be involved and saw this lace day cap. I want to look as regal as she does. Now where can I find some nice crisp sheer lace like this? Anybody?!! Does anybody want to make one for me??
And aren’t I glad I didn’t see it first with that fine detailed corded trim on the front bodice. If you can see that tiny little brooch she has, I have one of those. It was given to me years ago by a fellow costumer as a gift at one of my tea parties. Might be perfect for this.
Now I have more programs lined up for more marathon TV watching and will start pleating Persimmon’s skirt next.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Val,

    It's so, so, so pretty. I just love dresses from this era: I find the ones with the wide boat necks really handsome. As for crisp lace, oh boy. I'd go not-very-vintage net lace, and starch it. Would hate to starch truly old lace for fear of hurting it.

    Very best,



I would love to hear if this was any help to you. Pretty please!