Monday, March 12, 2018

Blue & White Stripes, Part III: 1905 Shirtwaist & Skirt

Welcome to part three of the Blue and White Stripes historical costume series! This final garment is inspired by a summer skirt and bodice set which is housed at the Kent State Museum of Fashion. During a visit there in 2012 to view their Day at the Beach exhibit, this ensemble was on display (pictured to the left) and quite unusual compared to the other garments. Made around 1905, the original garment is constructed from a heavy blue and white striped cotton with cotton lace inserts. Because the ensemble sat so close to the back wall, I could not see certain design aspects to the gown. Did the dressmaker use eyes and hooks or buttons to close the bodice back? Does the bodice even close in the back or discretely on the side front? Was the skirt back pleated or plain? Where is the skirt closure and how does it close (back, side, buttons, hooks, both)? The dressmaker in me wanted to know all the fine details of its construction - I do wish I could have captured closer, more detailed photographs. 

The striped blue and white cotton I used to construct both the bodice and skirt to this beach dress is the same striped cotton used to construct the 1940s utility dress and the 1912 Ladies Home Journal summer dress. If you'll notice, right at the waistband of the original garment, the pleated peplum is split, as if the bodice opens center front. In fact, I sure it doesn't. Again, this is one of the few garments I could not get close enough to to discern many of the fine design details. For my rendition of this dress, I chose to have the bodice and skirt accessible from the back using buttons; the buttons on the front of the bodice serve only for decoration. Rather than use lace inserts for the collar, cuffs, and yoke, I used white cotton eyelet. I also chose for the skirt back to have one large inverted pleat just below the placket. For the vest insert and the wave pattern at the bottom of the skirt, I used the same medium blue cotton that I used to construct the greater part of the skirt in the 1912 summer dress. If you'll remember, the medium blue cotton was quite thin, flimsy, and very difficult to manipulate without significant fraying. This particular fabric was the greatest challenge to project overall. I was determined to use it whether it wanted me to or not! 

Here is my completed shirtwaist and skirt, inspired by the beautiful original at Kent State...

I very much enjoyed this project, using the same textiles to create three unique garments over three different decades in fashion history. In fashion, what comes around, goes around... 

Blessings and happy sewing, my friends! Spring is near!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Blue & White Stripes, Part II: A Summer Dress From LHJ (June 1912)

When searching for fashion plates and prints from the early 1910s, I discovered this gem (left) on Fashion A Hundred Years Ago and quickly added it to my visual collection for future reference and inspiration. This summer dress was published in The Ladies Home Journal June 1912 subscription and has become the second garment featured in the Blue & White Stripes series. Because so little information is available about this dress (no pattern number, no pattern block schematics, no descriptions, no nothing), this was a wonderful opportunity for me to use my fancy imagination and my love for draping to create a rendition of this dress all of my own. 

I constructed the dress as a one-piece wrap with Dolman sleeves. The solid darker blue cotton fabric that I used to make the bottom portion of the skirt and sailor's collar on the bodice was so thin and woven so loosely that I had to fuse it to the light blue medium weight cotton fabric I used to make the first garment in this series, the Advance utility dress. I did not add elastic banding around the upper sleeves, but left them as they are for my comfort. I made a noble effort to recreate the decorative closures on the bodice and skirt front, but again, the darker blue fabric was too delicate and kept shredding, even when fused. You have to let the fabric tell you what it wants to do, and it told me to make covered buttons instead. In the following photographs, you'll see that the bodice and striped portion of the skirt is lined in white cotton batiste and the collar is backed in the same darker blue cotton its constructed from (a magical feat of fabric manipulation). 

~A noble beginning - the start of decorative closures~

~The darker blue cotton - so thin, so delicate~

The Dickey

Yes, there is a dickey that goes with this dress! I didn't have any fabric in my stash that I felt complimented the dress. If you notice in the fashion print, the model is wearing a white dickey with what could be blue flowers, printed or embroidered. I couldn't find flowers, but I found a yard of white cotton printed with tiny ship anchors - too cute to be true! Here's the dickey...

The Dress

Moi, portant la robe rayée...

Stay cozy and warm, my beautiful friends! Blessings and happy sewing!