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

My photo
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.


Monday, January 6, 2014

The 1830s Project Part 2

The Pattern:
I was going to include this in Part I but it was getting a little long and this part could get a bit boring since it was more “technical”.  But breathe easy, it won’t be very long.  I’m not the technical type person so it will be in my layman’s terms, ie, understandable to those of us who have trouble understanding patterns. This was my answer to lessen my confusion with it.
If you’re not familiar with the term “flatlining” this is a period method of giving support to the main fashion fabric bodice by cutting and sewing a heavier fabric, such as a cotton or twill, to the main piece along its edges, and now you treat it as a single piece. Then if you want to line it later you can, or just doing facings on the edges to finish it. My first TV gown was missing this because I didn’t understand it, and Heather McNaughton tried very hard to convince me it was really needed. And she was right. It does keep it from looking wrinkly. If you think your fashion fabric is too limp, this is your solution to give it body. 

As previously mentioned, this was the pattern I’m using, Truly Victorian’s #455.

IMPORTANT: PATTERN PIECES FRONT LINING A & BACK LINING C ARE WHAT SHOULD BE FITTED TO YOU. Then the corresponding D & E sizes should be matched to them.
This was the pattern layout. Because of the width of the pattern pieces it was placed on a single layer of fabric so the shaded pieces indicate that they were cut twice. This is what confused me when I saw the pieces labeled A & D and C & E, when they were actually just representative of those particular pieces being used twice. So ignored that and you will be happier. 
These are the individual pattern pieces. You can see on both sets the pattern pieces are similar but one is a bit smaller. The larger one D on the left is the main fashion fabric, while the smaller copy A on the right is used for lining and flatlining/interlining on D.
                                                                                          Fronts D & A:     

This section of the front D (where my felt marker is) has to be gathered or pleated down at the center front and shoulder so it matches the size of front A.

                                                                     Backs C & E:
The same thing is done on the back piece E. (Where my felt marker is pointing to the center back and shoulder). These sections on E need to be gathered/pleated down in those areas to match the size of C.

***I almost forgot this- the backs have additional instructions that the Right side is a little wider than the Left so it has an overlap for the closure. So I cut a Right and a Left out, just to make it easier when cutting. ***

Confused yet? I was. Back in 2009, when I first made this, I cut the patterns out and you can see how ratty they’ve gotten. This time I traced them onto pattern paper to save the originals. My solution to my confusion this time was to trace the pattern out and have one group in a baggie for the Lining/flatlining and another for the Fabric, which is basically what the originals are but having the pieces in separate baggies is helping. Because while I was working with them I was often getting them mixed up. ** And an idea just occurred to me while I was typing this: I’m going to re-do the lettering on my lining pieces in red felt marker so I can see which ones they are right away.** And here’s another point: the Lining pieces A & E are the ones that should be fitted to you, not the Fabric pieces.

Since I only just use flatlining and not a lining, I had to put my hook and eye tape in between those two layers before actually sewing the flatlining to my fabric. So my first step is gathering or pleating the front D and back E & topstitch that down so it fits the size of A & C.
I would recommend if you ever get a chance to take Shelley Peters’ class for doing hook & eye tape either in one of her sewing workshops, or at Costume College, do it. This is something many of us need to be shown hands-on. 


  1. thank you for all your wonderful informative articles Val!

  2. I find flatlining to be a lifesaver. It seems like it might be more work in the beginning, but that investment of time really pays off in the end with the quality of the finished garment. I also am a firm believer in 'false hems.'

    They were pretty much standard and while a tad more work, do result in a better hang and weight, and since most of them were done in a different, scrap fabric, there are times when depending on the skirts 'swish', adds a bit of unexpected flair.

    1. I totally agree with you, Robin. A couple times the fabric I wanted to use was a bit limp but with that added flatlining, sometimes a nice firm one, my outside fabric was perfect.


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