Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Completed Wedding

I know that I have posted all about the outfits previously, but when they are put together and in the context of the wedding itself they come alive. The day was amazing and all that we could have hoped for. The state sunday newpaper also featured a half page colour article on our wedding including 4 photographs. Many people have mentioned it in the week since.

The Ceremony in an 1869 church that Nic's parents were also married in.

Me and my new husband Nic and one of the page boys.

The Noarlunga Rifles provided a guard of honour.

Nic was a real gentleman when it came to helping me into the carriage.

 My bridesmaids Mandi and Wendy looked stunning as always in new silk dresses.

Many of our guests also came in period, most even made new outfits for the occassion.

Sunday Mail, October 17th, 2010. South Australia.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wedding Bonnet

I will be the first to tell you that I have a lot to learn. One of my greatest weaknesses is artistic flair. It is because of this that I find bonnets to be a great challenge for me. I used a friends 3 piece bonnet pattern to create the wire and buckram frame. I covered the frame in 100% cotton wadding. The bonnet was then covered in a silk stain of an ivory colour and then covered in sillk organza from my wedding dress. I ruched and ruffled the organza in the inside of the brim. The decorations are waxed orange blossoms and ribbons.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Page Boy Suits

Well it is now 2 weeks till my wedding and with the full use of my elbow back I had to turn my sewing attention to dressing our two page boys. They live in Perth, so I have had to make their suits using their measurements and leave the hems until they arrive next week. I used Nic's South Australian Volunteer Rifles uniform as the inspiration as well as looking at multiple photos of children from the times.

Jacket Lining and Front of Pants

Back of Pants

 Sleeve with Austrian knot

The Full Suit

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Godey's 1861 Wedding Dress

For my wedding I have chosen to sew a version of a wedding dress that I fell in love with from the Godey's 1861 Wedding Fashion Plate. I plan to make the middle dress with the model that is sitting down.

I sourced the silk called Romance from a friend who is a seamstress and corset maker. It is a pink shot with blue so it has a lovely brown shadow.

The lace is 100% cotton embroidered English netting from

21 cm (8 1/4") wide lace for the flounce

1.5 cm (5/8") wide lace for sleeves and ruffles

Skirt Construction

The skirt is made of 3 drops of the 1.4m (4.6 ft) wide fabric cut at 1.4m (4.6 ft) long. I sewed the panels together at the selvage. The waist band was double box pleated. The waist band is 2.5cm (1") completed. The inside of the waistband was hand sewn.

 Box Pleated Waist

 Opening of Skirt and Placket

Skirt Ruffles 

To construct the skirt, Wendy (as my arm was still broken) cut 25 panels 24cms (9 1/2") deep and the fabric size of 1.4m (4.6 ft) wide at the selvage. These were sewn into 5 ruffles of 5 panels at the selvage. The lace was attached by machine and then the hems were hand sewn by folding under 6mm (1/4").


The ruffles were then narrow hemmed on piping cord. The piping cord was gathered in the hem, to fit the circumference of the skirt. The layer was then pinned into place and hand sewn.

The second of 5 ruffles to be attached.

Over-Skirt Construction

To construct the overskirt I cut 3 drops of fabric 76cms (30") long. I placed two together and sketched out a curve and cut off the fabric. I attached these two curves to the uncut piece on their longest sides. I gathered the long lace and then machine sewed it to the overskirt. I then pressed the hem under 1/2cm (1/8") twice and hand sewed the hem the same as with the ruffles. For the waistband I gathered the fabric and machine sewed it to a 5cm (2") waist band with horsehair on the inside of the front piece of the waistband to stiffen it. I machine sewed the front and back waist band pieces together and then hand sewed the waistband closed.

Gahtered waistband attached to the horsehair and front waistband piece.

Hand sewing to close the inside of the waistband.

Completed Over-Skirt


The bodice was created using Heidi Marsh's Blouse with Fancy Sleeves. The pattern pieces went together well with only a few slight alterations to the fitting and waistline during the fabric pattern stage. I must confess that the instructions to this pattern are minimal, however I rarely found the need to refer to them thanks to my prior experience and advice from historical seamstress friends. The only piece I had to make was the front facing, which is probably due to the way the pattern is long and flat cut allowing room for creating a flat waist or pointed as required.

I made the bodice from the silk with a medium weight quilters homespun cotton for the lining. The piping was made using the silk cut into bias strips and size 0 cording. I piped ever seam except the shoulder seam as I find that piping that seam looks a little strange. The bodice was fitted with 11 metal stays, which were fitted into the front facing in the front, seams in the darts and placed into cotton bias tape covers on the sides and back seams.

Front of the Bodice

Back of the Bodice

Back Lining

Front Lining

Sleeve Construction

The sleeves were made using the same pattern as the bodice. I made a cotton fabric pattern of the sleeve first to ensure the fitting and construction. The ruffles were made using the same construction technique as the skirt ruffles. The bottom of each ruffle had the lace attached and then was pressed and hand sewn into a narrow hem. The top of each ruffle was hemmed over piping cord and then gathered at the top and pinned to a cotton lined base sleeve. There are 5 ruffles, but only 4 are gathered on cord the top ruffle and sleeve jockey are gathered and tacked to the top of the sleeve base. The sleeve was then gathered and fitted into the piped sleeve hole in the bodice.

Ruffle pinned to the base sleeve

Completed sleeve with ruffles attached to the base sleeve

Sleeves attached to the bodice, 
the sleeve is actually very heavy and pulls on the manequin.

Bodice Decorative Trim

To decorate the bodice I did not want to use as much lace as in the illustration as this dress has the ablitiy to become over done. Therefore I cut strips of silk 4cms (1.5") wide plus seam allowance. I gathered it on both sides and sewed it to piping that I had made. I then gathered some of the thin lace I had left over and sewed it to the bottom of the gathered piping. I then hand sewed the trim to the bodice. I had the buttons covered with the silk on metal shanks. I hand sewed eyelet holes and pushed the buttons through and used satin ribbon to hold the buttons in place. This is copied from original bodices in a friends collection.

Eyelet hole for the false buttons.

The back of the eyelet holes showing where the metal shanks are held in place with satin ribbon.

The front of the bodice showing the trim and false buttons

Back of the completed bodice with trim.

I constructed the undersleeves using a matching silk organza, which was cut to my arm measurements. I make ribbons using the organza to tie up the cuffs. The undersleeves have a satin ribbon drawstring at the top, which hooks onto buttons under the sleeves.

Completed and attached undersleeves.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Nic's Wedding Pants

The pants are made in the same wool and use the same braid as the jacket. It is also a simple pant pattern with button up fly.

The completed inside lining and pockets.

Front of the pants

Back of the pants.

Hem of Pants

 Finished Suit


Saturday, July 24, 2010

1860 Evening Bodice is Finally Complete

Tonight was the Victoriana Society's Christmas in July Dinner. As normal I had yet to finish my 1860s evening bodice that I had started 24 hours before the last evening event. This time I was a little more prepared in ordering the silk organza for the sleeves and allowing myself more time to actually attempt to complete it. At the last event I had to be sewn into the bodice in the carpark... not the best of first impressions.

I was also able to get the black cotton lace embroidered on nylon net delivered 24 hours before the event. Completing the bodice was a struggle as I have broken my elbow. Thanks to the help of my friend Wendy who sewed on the sleeves and replaced the plastic boning with steel and my wonderful partner Nic who learnt how to whip stitch and sew on hooks, I was able to complete the bodice in time.

The half completed bodice after the last event.

Silk organza sleeve with lace trim.

Hooks and hand sewn eyelet holes in modersty pannel on the back.

Inside cotton lining and padding.

The completed bodice as of tonight. Fitted to within an inch of its life.

My gorgeous partner Nic who was a wonderful help (and yes I know he is in Regency).

I am also horribly vain so I managed to rig my arm for every photo to avoid showing my sling. I was well behaved and did have it in a sling in between photos.
Nic, Me, Wendy and Mandi

Mel, Me, Wendy, Mandi

Group photo of the Victoriana Society.