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3 piece Victorian suit, completed

1861WoolSuit

Another beautiful outfit is finished.  This suit is charcoal grey wool.

VictorianWoolTrousers

The trousers are high waisted, designed to go across his belly button.  While they are closely fitted, there is still room for his back brace.

1861Waistcoat

I based the waistcoat on photos dated 1863, and it shows off his slim physique.

1861CoatBack

Here is the back of the coat, showing the long straight lines and lack of waist seam. While I could have deduced the shape from period photos, I was glad to find this pattern drawn in one of my books: The Cut of Men’s Clothes, by Norah Waugh.

1861TweedsideJacketPattern

Photos of the construction process for this project can be seen in the adjacent post.

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3-piece Victorian suit, in progress

I was recently commissioned to build a gentleman’s suit circa 1861.  In my usual bespoke fashion, I measured the actor and drafted the pattern by hand to fit him.  The construction process was long and detailed, but here are some glimpses to give you an idea.

CutOutSleeve

Cutting out a sleeve, by tracing around my pattern pieces

HairCanvasRight

Hair canvas I pad stitched into the chest front. The reinforced area is often as wide as it is tall, but this particular gentleman is quite thin.

PinningWelt

Placing the welt, to begin making a pocket

SettingSleeve

Setting the sleeve.  The loosely woven wool I was provided with frayed easily, requiring extra caution during most steps of construction.

TrouserHem

Pressing the trouser hem on a roll.  The hem has a gentle curve to it, so the trouser leg is longer in back than in front, as often seen in Victorian pants.

PressingCollar

Pressing the coat collar over a ham.  Traditional tailoring brings out many pressing tools that a non-sewist may never have heard of.

Crinoline

Crinoline of cotton fabric and nylon netting

To make your costume the right shape requires some structure, usually on the inside. This is a crinoline, a petticoat made with several tiers of stiff ruffles so it holds your skirt out. I made this one with a base layer of twilled cotton, so it will be comfortable and give some “swish” as you walk.  I have used the same cotton for the large ruffles in previous crinolines, but used nylon netting for this one so it can be lighter weight.  I designed this crinoline so that it gives the skirt the shape of the 1840s.

cotton skirt over Fitting and Proper crinoline

To compare how foundation garments shape the costume, see my previous post where I had this same skirt over a hooped petticoat.

Steampunk Corset, part 3

Gold cotton corset

The finished corset is curvy and supple.  It is all cotton so it breathes well. My lovely model lost some weight since the corset was made (kudos to her) so it is a tad loose, but you still see how it hugs the right places and supports the right places.

back of gold cotton corset

sitting in a Victorian corset and chemise

side view of corset with bust gussets

This last photo is a good example of how a corset should fit.  Rather than squashing the bust, the corset should lift and support it.  When drafting corset patterns for women above a D cup, I create a different shape of gusset, and different boning placement, than I do for a petite bust.

The making of this corset was illustrated here: Part 1, Part 2

1851 Day Dress in Cotton

1850s Day Dress with Ruching

This costume was a commission for Dickens Fair.  It is a 3 piece outfit that the peformer can put on herself without assistance, as the bodice hooks up center front.  To make the ruching trim I cut several yards of navy blue cotton into strips, joined them into several longer strips, hemmed both sides, then ran them through a ruffler machine.

Johnson ruffle machine

I had plenty more of this navy cotton, so I made it into a skirt to mix and match with the bodice.

The underblouse was gathered in rows across the front, in imitation of smocking.

Cotton Blouse for 1851 day dress

Here is one of my references, showing most of the historical fashion elements I used in this project.  The 1851 fashion plate shows the deep V neckline, the smocked-front underblouse, and sleeve shape on the left dress; and the right dress has 3 rows of vertical trim down the skirt (rather than having 2 rows like the bodice).

1851 fashion plate day dresses