Thursday, 29 January 2015

An 1858 Walking Dress

Photograph by Jenny Edmiston

My second ever costume was this 1850s walking dress. It's was all very well having a beautiful ballgown, but it's of little use during daylight hours! So, as the festival I was attending lasted over a week with lots of outdoor events during the day, I wanted to be able to make the most of these opportunities to dress in costume.

I would have liked to have a few more changes in my wardrobe, but I only had very limited time to get my dresses finished and by the time the ballgown was complete I only had a few days to come up with some suitable daytime attire.

I went for the quickest and simplest option with the skirt by cutting three rectangles from the full width of my fabric and pleating them directly onto my dress form as per Truly Victorian's instructions on the ballgown pattern. This method is rather prickly as it involves a lot of pins but I have used it since and find it works quickly and effectively every time.

Then for the jacket I used Simplicity's Civil War Pattern (3727).
Simplicity 3727
Image from sew'n'sew patterns on ebay

I absolutely loved the pagoda sleeves on this pattern and also based my trimming on the fringe you can see in the picture. I flat-lined the jacket (but not the sleeves) with stiff cream cotton curtain lining and hand-stitched steel boning from Vena Cava Design to the seams. The collar and the engageantes were made separately, trimmed with a broderie anglais edging and tacked to the sleeves and neckline.

I found that the jacket went together really quickly and I enjoyed working with the flat-lined pieces which are very easy to handle. The hard work was the trim which I sewed on by hand - I think this probably took longer than the rest of the sewing put together! Not helped by the fact that I baulked at the price of velvet ribbon and economised by buying cotton velvet fabric instead and cutting it into strips myself.

But I think the result was worth it:

I accessorised the dress with a black lace parasol and fan from Vena Cava Design, white cotton gloves and a bonnet that I made by cutting a small section out of the back of an ordinary cheap straw sunhat and decorating with ribbon and artificial flowers.

I love wearing this dress because the fabric is actually very light and it moves beautifully. It also makes my laugh because my brothers call it the "cowgirl jacket" on account of all the fringe!

Unfortunately I don't have a good picture of the sides or the back but the peplum is shaped into lovely points like the ones at the front.

Photograph by Jenny Edmiston

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