Most people interpreted this challenge to be underwear. But this is what I was working on this month in order to submit it to this year’s Costume Society of America symposium. I’m not really a great writer, and I don’t foresee myself writing and presenting many great papers, so I’m very glad for an opportunity to share this kind of work in a professional/academic environment. I’ve never done anything like this before, so I’m sort of considering this the foundation of my career. My abstract and photos are all submitted, so wish me luck!
The Challenge: Foundations
Fabric: The dress is flocked velvet, and the jacket is wool. Both the jacket and the bodice have cotton broadcloth linings. The collar and cuffs are linen.
Pattern: The bodice started off as the Truly Victorian Darted Bodice (TV446), but I made significant alterations to it. The jacket is the Truly Victorian Spanish Jacket (TV444). The skirt was draped and patterned by me. The cuffs are from an 1864 Godey’s Lady’s Book.
Notions: Giant pompom fringe, wool braid, thread-wrapped-look buttons, cotton and linen thread, velvet ribbon
How historically accurate is it? I’d say the jacket is pretty good, it’s machine sewn but I applied all the trim by hand, and I’m very happy with the quality of the wool. The flocked velvet that the dress is made out of is weird and probably not period at all, and I mostly used theatrical finishing techniques on the dress. But it looks darn good!!!
Hours to complete: The skirt took about two days, the bodice took about three or four with all the fittings and alterations, and the jacket took about four.
First worn: For these photos!
Total cost: The velvet came out to about $6 a yard, for a total of $40 for about 6.6 yards. The wool was $50. The pompom fringe was $9.90 for five yards, and the wool braid was $10 for five yards. The linen and the cotton linings came out of my stash. The buttons were collected over months of sales at Jo-Anns so it’s impossible to know how much I ended up paying for them.
Mom very kindly lent me her antique cameo for the photos, I don’t think it’s 1860s-old but it’s beautiful. I have a little fakey cameo from Michaels for future wearing.
Bonus: this is a cute apron from Godey’s August 1863 that I made for my textile history class and hadn’t had a chance to wear over the right clothes yet. It’s made of silk taffeta with flocked velvet trim, completely hand sewn with linen thread and embroidered in silk.
I’m trying to think of good spots to do a proper photo shoot. My first choice would be the green bedchamber at the Wythe House in Williamsburg, but I really don’t want to lug this whole outfit all the way down there if I don’t have to. Options that I’ve found in NYC are the Aaron Burr Bedchamber at the Morris-Jumel Mansion and the rear bedroom at the Merchant’s House Museum. If anyone can think of anything else, I would love to hear about it!