Tuesday, January 25, 2011

1838 Knitted Garters

 I followed the directions in The Workwoman's Guide (1838):

Figure 23, upper right corner
Ta da!
I made them out of Lamb's Pride wool, though looking back I should have used something finer, but they get the job done.  I thought orange would be a fun color to go with my navy and white striped stockings made from the Kannik's Korner Pattern KK-6001.

Finer stripped stockings were more common than the thick striped stockings most Civil War vendors sell.  I bought this 100% cotton knit from eBay.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

1840s Sheer Dress

In the depths of winter people either start one of two projects: a wool garment or a summer dress.  The first tries to address the issue of cold of events here and now, while the other vainly tries to usher in spring just a little earlier than it can ever possibly begin.  I am definitely in the later category.  

Before my wedding in Summer 2008 I wanted to work on another mid-19th century dress to get into the groove of things and not mess up horribly on my Duchess silk satin.  I saw the image  below and fell in love with it. Sheers were all the rage on The Sewing Academy forum, though I'm not one for jumping on the ol' bandwagon, but who doesn't love a new summer dress?!

English daguerreotype from eBay, note the half lining
I used the Truly Victorian 454 pattern but drafted my own modified-bell sleeves.  The bodice is lined with white polished cotton and cotton lacing at the top edge of the half-lining around my shoulders and just covers my chemise underneath.  I picked up the sheer cotton plaid at my local Jo-Anns on clearance for $1.50 a yard.  In total I think the whole dress cost less than $10 to make.

Note the longer waistline than 1860s fashions
Detail view of gathered fan front, the lining is boned

You can see the half-lining better in this photo

When I wear this dress I have accessorize it with a pair of sheer cotton undersleeves, a ladies pink silk cravat, paste brooch, seed-pearl Georgian style earrings and a white silk bonnet.  I feel like Easter on parade but it is lovely to wear in the heat of the summer!

Friday, January 21, 2011

1840s Corded Petticoat

Before the crinoline came into fashion in 1856, multiple petticoats were used to achieve the bell shape under women's skirts.  Here's an original from the Corsets and Crinoline website that was part of my inspiration:

The base layer I use is a corded petticoat made from plain weave cotton and Sugar and Cream cotton yarn.  There are 90 rows total. 
Sewing in cords
Here's a useful step by step guide from Elizabeth Stewart Clark's revamped website:

Yes, this took awhile even on the machine!

The 1840s waistline is longer than the natural waistline, so to reduce bulk at the waist I made a yoked waistband for the petticoat. 

1840s Clothing

With the Civil War hobby dying off these days, there seems to be a growing interest in other decades of the 19th century, including the 1840s.  Here in California late 1840s - early 1850s living history makes perfect sense with the 1848 discovery of gold at Sutter's sawmill in Coloma. 

I've decided to post about my 1840s clothing projects that I've worked on over the years and include my inspiration images.   I started another blog in 2007 to chronicle the creation of my 1840s clothing for my wedding.  You can see those posts as well as my other ramblings here: http://chandra-miller.livejournal.com/. My goal has always been to recreate historic clothing as closely to the original as possible and not create fantasy clothing.  I am obsessed with researching history (I have a bachelors degree in history, a certificate in Historic Preservation, and a master's degree in Public History), so historical accuracy is my number one goal. 

I hope you enjoy my projects as much I love working on them.

Our 1840s theme wedding (08/02/2008)