Monday, April 21, 2014

Finished 1880's Gown!

Way back in February I had been planning for a completed 1880's ensemble. My ideas were vague and unsatisfying, and the month passed with no progress. Inspiration struck at the beginning of March and with the Bodice challenge looming I thought this would be the chance to get the project finished. Alas, inspiration was there but motivation was still lacking. I struggled through completing the bodice and then immediately had to abandon the project in favor of my fairytale dress. That brings us up to April and the UFO/PHD challenge, a perfect excuse to finally finish.

I had been planning on trying to set up a professional photoshoot once I had a couple of complete ensembles. The fairytale challenge provided me with the first one. In order to finish the 1880's ensemble I just had to bite the bullet and set the date, forcing myself to finish it by then. I find that I work a lot better with concrete deadlines, thus my love for the Historical Sew Fortnightly. I planned a photoshoot for Easter morning and we ended up with some lovely weather. I recruited a friend to wear the fairytale ensemble for me and we headed out to Lynch park which some of you might remember from my Ophelia photoshoot.

Some of my favorite photos from the day were candid shots of me walking around the park. The dress looks gorgeous in motion. I didn't realize the wind had knocked my hat sideways though!

Even just barely into spring Lynch park is gorgeous and green and just the absolute perfect setting for just about anything! My only complaint was that the bright sunlight left me with some harsh lighting in some of the photographs and that the brocade fabric continues to be irritatingly hard to capture on film.

Even more gorgeous than the green park with its Romanesque architecture was the ocean glittering in the sun! The dress itself seemed to capture the colors of the scenery.

It was super windy by the water but it helps show off the movement of the fabric so well! I wasn't so sure about the panel of brocade fabric in the train but I've come to love it more and more. It was a design idea based off of an historical example but put into practice due to necessity - I didn't have enough of the blue to make the train! An unfortunate risk of working from stash fabrics only, but I ended up loving the result.

My underskirt ended up a tad bit shorter than I would have liked but a ruffle will fix that right up and make it even more period accurate!

The hat was intended to be finished for the tops and toes challenge as a second entry, but since I finished it a few days late I just rolled it on over into the UFO challenge.

Since we took the photos on Easter Sunday I added a cute little pom-pom bunny to my hat! He's plausibly historically accurate at the very best, but too cute to resist.

I'm just absolutely in love with this dress! The day of the photoshoot was the first time I actually wore all of the pieces together, and I'm just so excited to finally have a full Victorian ensemble. I feel like I've been working my way up to this dress for years, dreaming and longing but always holding back for some reason whether lack of time or money or confidence in my own skill. Now that it's here and finished I finally feel like the historical seamstress I've been longing to be!

The Challenge: #8 UFO

(I'm including just the skirts and the hat in this information, the Bodice was for another challenge and it's details can be found there)

Fabric: Approximately 5 or 6 yards of blue cotton, 7 yards of brocade mystery upholstery fabric, and a 1/2 yard of buckram for the hat

Pattern: Truly Victorian TV261-R Four Gore Underskirt, TV361 Butterfly Train and TV550 Buckram Hat Frame

Year: 1885

Notions: Hooks and Eyes, Trim, Fabric Roses, Feathers, Wire, Thread

How Historically Accurate is it? The dress without the hat is maybe 85% accurate, I was running out of time with the hat and pulled out the hot glue gun so it's more like 50%, correct materials and shape but modern method of construction

Hours to Complete: Around 10

First Worn: Easter Sunday

Total Cost: The Brocade fabric has been in the stash for over three years so free! The blue cotton was $3 a yard purchased back in December so around $15 - $20 though I kind of count it as stash. The only materials I purchased specifically for this challenge were the buckram, trim, and feathers for the hat which cost me about $15.


  1. You look amazing in this dress!

  2. A truly beautiful ensemble (and I love the bunny!). Stunning.

  3. It looks lovely - the colours really do compliment the environment (or maybe the other way round), that panel in the train really was fortunate and - well, it may have been wind, but the hat knocked to the side looks very intentional and chic as well. ;-)

    1. Thank you! Glad the hat ended up working after all.

  4. What a gorgeous ensemble, and the color and pattern of the fabric is beautiful!