I love studying histories from around the world, and have always been interested in making things from the past. My inspiration for this particular project came while I was watching the movie Romeo and Juliet at school. I thought "Hey, wouldn't it be so cool to make a dress like that?!".
This dress is not meant to be a historical replica, and it also not meant to conform to any specific fashion from any particular time period. Although it is definitely similar to fashion during the 1800's. My dad has always told me fashion is what everyone else wears to fit in, but style is something you create for yourself that defines you. This is my first time making something this big without a pattern.
A final word before I begin; costumes.org has thousands of great pages and links for sewer's of every variety. I found many wonderful websites and patterns, both historical and modern, through costumes.org that inspired me and helped me on my way towards becoming a better sewer.
Step 1: Materials
I generally wear a corset with this dress. There several great corset making tutorials on instructables, and the internet in general, if you want to make one.
You can use just about any fabric that suits you fancy, but I used 100% cotton calico.
This project is quite challenging. I would only recommend it to someone who is really familiar with sewing, especially if your not using a pattern. Because I wanted to create something totally unique and am too cheap to buy an expensive pattern on the internet, I had no pattern. This was extremely challenging.
So, you will need...
- fabric (3 yards and 7 yards)
- lace ribbon (for edging)
- ribbon (for lacing)
- small eyelets
- a bustle
- sewing machine (optional)
- a corset (optional)
- determination and patience
Step 2: The Idea
Overview of the Structure
I have heard the Victorian woman likened to a cake, all layers. Closest to the skin were the drawers, chemise, and stockings (in modern language that underwear, undershirt, and socks). Following this was the corset and camisole (shirt covering the corset). Next came a petty coat (an underskirt). Then, the bustle or crinoline (a system of hoops to support skirt and give the full appearance). That was followed by another underskirt, then, finally, the main skirt, and finished with the bodice (the top shirt part).
Step 3: The Plan
Step 4: The Petticoat (Skirt)
I made the back and the front in two pieces then joined them and added the lowest section. The back is basically a panel of fabric with the with ruffled strips sewn on. The front is simply gathered at the waist. The very bottom is sewn on last, and it gave me some flexibility with the length.
The fastening is just a drawstring.
Step 5: The Upper Petticoat (Skirt)
To gather, simply set your sewing machine to the longest stitch and pull one of the threads after sewing. then, stitch over it normally to secure the gathers. Again, the fastening is a drawstring.
To finish the skirt, I sewed on a strip of dark brown fabric to the bottom edge.
Step 6: The Bodice
Step 7: Camisole
Basically, it is a rectangle of fabric joined into a cicle with straps sewn on; a very basic shirt.