When I first started making historic costumes, I swore I'd never want to do 1830s. I just thought, who would ever want to make that? The crazy hair! The odd waist placement! The sleeves! But somewhere along the line, I just developed a huge fascination and love for it, and finally, there came along an event that gave me an excuse to make an 1830s something. As it turns out, this is probably one of my favorite things I've yet made! It's a very silly era, and it definitely brought out my silly side. . .
I found a printed cotton fabric that I thought looked the part, with its serpentine and floral pattern, and a silk that brought out the pink flowers to use as a sash at the waist. I had a rake around in my stash and found this antique mother of pearl buckle/slide that was just the thing. For a pattern, I picked out Past Patterns 003 (the "Full High Gown") because I felt like it would pair nicely with my fabric.
I agonized a bit over when to start this project. It seems like it would make sense to start as early as possible, but because I was actively losing weight, I was afraid to get the fitting done and then have it be baggy by the time the event rolled around. So I procrastinated until late August, when I decided I simply couldn't wait any longer. Unfortunately, I didn't quite fit into my old stays yet, so I had to squeeze in the making of new stays before moving on to the dress! (I used the Laughing Moon stays pattern, which is a fantastic pattern that I'll be posting about as soon as I finish binding them so they are presentable!) So that ate a chunk of my time, and then there was drama when it came around to fitting the PP003 bodice, which burned even more of my time.
The really long story short is that the day was saved by my friend reminding me that there are 1830s bodices in Hunnisett's reliable Period Costume for Stage & Screen. Of course! I quickly scaled up the "B" bodice from the 1830s section, and made a test of it. With just a few pins, I had a fitted bodice lining! Hooray! However, I was still totally married to the idea of the PP003 design. So what I ended up doing is using my fitted Hunnisett bodice pattern for the lining, and then altering the very same pattern pieces to be just like PP003, using the PP003 pattern pieces as a guide. For the sleeves, I used the PP003 sleeves as is. By some miracle, I pulled this off!
So this was all very good news, except for one thing: The above picture was taken the evening of 9/29, and the event was to be on 10/1. Oh yes, you read that right! And, I had to work on 9/30! Yikes! But after all, I'd once sewn an entire 18th century jacket - lined and everything - by hand - in only a day. So I thought, if I do this one by machine (except for any visible stitching), I should totally be able to do it in a day!
I got everything cut out and marked between the evening of 9/29 and my lunch break on 9/30. Also, I worked from home on 9/30, which was great, not only because I was able to put the lunch break to good use, but also because it meant I didn't have to waste three hours of the day commuting as I usually do, so I was done with work and ready to start sewing at 4:00!
4:18 pm. Under the watchful eyes of two of my cats, the sewing begins. . . And carries on until my friend Taylor arrives (my houseguest for the weekend!) and we take a dinner break, which involved going out to one of our favorite restaurants because even when there are things needing sewing, there is sometimes also a need for good queso. Ha ha ha!!!
11:19 pm. Taylor puts finishing touches on her dress. Of course, her kitties had to stay home, but Woody was all too happy to step in as kitty supervisor for her.
11:58 pm. This was my stopping point, because I knew if I stayed up all night, I'd be too exhausted to enjoy the event. So I decided to roll the dice and get a good night's sleep and hope I could finish the bodice and add skirts/waistband in the morning!
7:12 am. The tea kettle is warming up, and I'm getting under way again. Taffy is unsure of my ability to pull this one off, and keeps a watchful eye. . .
7:56 am. When I realized that you could see blue washable marker everywhere on the bodice! So into the sink it went, and then on to the dryer, while I switched gears and made the waistband and skirts. . .
10:08 am. The skirts are ready and set aside, the bodice is out of the dryer, and I'm sewing some piping on the neckline. Because a dress on this tight of a time crunch is the perfect time to do things like pipe the neckline and the armholes, right? HAHAHAHAHA. . .
11:51 am. A wearable dress!!!!! After this picture, there was a lot of scrambling to climb into undergarments, deal with hair, and somehow I made the pink belt as well. Then it was into the car and on our way to the pre-dinner tea and hanging out part of the day, where I multi-tasked and hand-sewed the hem of the skirts and sleeves. While wearing the dress. It is no easy thing to hem sleeves while you are wearing them, but now I know I'm capable of that!
And, I made it! This is actually the first of the Popeye-esque pictures I posed for, and I swiped it from Taylor (also known as Dames a la Mode, who incidentally made the necklace I am wearing with the dress!) I don't know. The dress is very silly, and also, I'd tippled a wee glass of champagne. ;)
I absolutely love this dress!!! The only thing that was disappointing was that I didn't have time to do big 1830s hair. Another time, I suppose! In attempt to not be completely boring, I pulled some pink flowers out of my stash of vintage millinery trims and arranged them in a fan shape sticking off my head. Because really, when else in life is it totally sensible to have all kinds of flowers sticking out of your head, right?
And now, here are a handful of pictures I took at the event, followed by a group shot that I swiped from Carrie (who organized this event and did an incredible job of it!)
And a bonus picture of Woody's new 1830s tent. . . ;)