Halloween is coming up! (yes, it’s a month away. Yes, it takes me that long for even relatively simple costumes).
I was deciding between Rey (of Star Wars Episode 7) and Melisandre (of Game of Thrones) and ended up deciding on Melisandre mostly because I already have some red figured silk taffeta in my stash to use. (Of course, I’m pretty sure I don’t have enough of it given that I need giant drapey sleeves. This was bought over 3 years ago so I hope it’s the same color…).
I don’t plan on making any specific Melisandre dress, just something recognizable. So, I went studying Game of Thrones dresses. Annoying, since Melisandre is all spooky and witchy, I swear most of the screenshots of her are in dim lighting.
Wrap-front dresses with dangly sleeves are by far the most common:
I’ve noticed that Melisandre has at least two dresses where it looks like the sleeve is tacked up around her wrist. Hooray, this makes it easy for me to not care too much about the length of the sleeve, and take up any extra length here!
WARNING WARNING THE NEXT VIDEO IS NOT SAFE FOR WORK. AHEAD THERE IS NUDITY.
So Melisandre gets undressed in this scene. Forget any prurient implications or plot implications shown here. The most important part is you can see how the closures on this dress work! First she unties the wrap dress at the waist, then clearly does a move to unhook the dress at the top, showing there is some kind of hook-and-eye or hook-and-thread-loop holding it together. Woo!
I’m not entirely sure what to do about undergarments. Other characters are shown wearing chemises and stays which look a lot like 18th century examples. Melisandre, as has been demonstrated above, gets naked a lot in this show. It’s pretty clear she isn’t wearing anything under her (extremely low cut) dresses. That is probably some combination of artistic license, plus her being prepared for *ahem* encounters? Or as a Red Priestess who doesn’t get cold, she doesn’t need the extra layers for warmth? (Although historically, layers aren’t just for warmth. They also keep your body oils off the outer dress which is hard to clean, and make it so you only have to clean an easy-to-wash linen or cotton chemise). I’m probably just going to wear some kind of slip and super low cut bra, and attempt to convince my brain that historical accuracy doesn’t matter when you are making a fantasy costume sheesh.
I’ve already spent 2 weeks-ish working on a pattern on and off and I’m still not done, because I am slowwww. Hopefully it will be fast to put together once I decide on one (although I kinda want to hand sew the thing, which isn’t really how fast goes…)
I did in fact finish my dress for Costume College!
Thank you to Rebecca for taking all the photos here!
And for some details:
What the item is: An Edwardian afternoon dress.
Fabric/Materials: ~4 yards of this bizarre silk. It looks like linen, but is very drapey and frays like whoa. Plus 2ish yards of ivory silk taffeta for trim, and the entire back of a lacey shrug for the lace cutouts.
Pattern: Edwardian Rose, 1912 Lady’s Fancy Afternoon Gown. The patterns sell under the name The Fashion Archaeologist, which is how you can find them on etsy or ebay.
Notions: 24 ivory buttons. The waist tape inside is supposed to be twill tape or petersham, but I used the one yard I had left over of corset boning tape from the corset I wore underneath (I really need to get some photos of that…)
How historically accurate is it? The pattern is from an original fashion plate (and possibly original pattern?) so that note is very accurate. I’m not so sure about the bizarre drapey silk, although drapey and silk were both correct. The biggest issue here is a fitting issue, which I believe is more due to my height than any issues with the pattern. You’ll notice there is quite a bit of blousing/overhang at the waist. While this was very fashionable in pigeon-bust dresses of the earlier 1900s, from my research this look is not correct by 1912 (compare to these dresses in the 1913 Eatons catalogue). Gathers and looseness are fine in front, but not the amount of overhang that I had. The bodice pattern is kimono-style and is actually a single piece for the front/back/sleeves (except for the lace gussets on the shoulders). I couldn’t figure out how to alter it to get rid of the overhang (plus I was on a deadline for costume college), so I just left it in. We’ll have to call me old-fashioned.
First worn: Saturday at Costume College 2016!
Total cost: For me free, since everything here was stash fabric, and I got the buttons with an etsy gift card! However, if you were purchasing this today, it would be something like $40 for silk (it was $8/yard and I bought 5 yards), $44 for 2 yards of silk taffeta from Renaissance fabrics (you do end up with about half of it leftover, cut in oddly shaped pieces, since all the trim is long and cut on the bias), $10 for lace, and $24 for buttons.
I also ended up posting an absurdly long review of the pattern on the Historical Pattern Review Facebook group, some of which copied here for your convenience:
This is a solid intermediate pattern. Nothing about the pattern is overly difficult, but you need to be precise and meticulous to get the trim to lay correctly, to press a placket on a bias cut, etc. I found I needed to baste all my seams and lace by hand. The trim should also be sewn by hand if you don’t want seams to show.
Here are the good things about this pattern:
The instructions are good. They don’t include any pictures (except for pattern layout), but I was mostly able to understand all the text clearly (exceptions below). Even things like the ingenious placket which finishes all the raw ends, yet has a hidden under-placket for hooks and eyes was totally doable.
The pattern maker Patricia is very responsive. In the mockup stage I wasn’t really sure what things were supposed to look like, and she responded to my questions posted on the facebook page within a day or two!
It’s a fun and unique pattern. You don’t see too many patterns that include all the pattern pieces for all the trim.
Here are some problems I encountered:
Not all the instructions were clear or correct. There was a pattern piece which said to cut two, when you only needed one (note, Patricia has already said she will correct this). It was extremely unclear whether the neck was a bias facing or a bias binding. I had to look at photos on the pattern facebook page to figure out it was a facing.
BUY MORE BUTTONS. The pattern called for 24 3/8″ buttons. I had 24 5/8″ buttons, and I had to leave off the very bottom button and the one that would be hidden under the waistband because I didn’t have enough. And note that I am only 4’11”, so a taller person would absolutely need more, especially if your buttons are smaller or you want to space them closer together the way they are in the original fashion plate.
Another issue that I really think comes down to my height. You’ll notice there is quite a bit of blousing/overhang at the waist. While this was very fashionable in pigeon-bust dresses of the earlier 1900s, from my research this look is not correct by 1912. Gathers and looseness are fine in front, but not the amount of overhang that I had. However, I don’t think a taller person would have this problem. The bodice pattern is kimono-style and is therefore a single piece for the front/back/sleeves (except for the lace gussets on the shoulders) so I really couldn’t figure out how to alter it to get rid of the overhang (plus I was on a deadline for costume college). But, even being a few inches taller than me would avoid this problem, so it’s not really the fault of the pattern.
There are no pictures at all in the instructions. Given that this is a digital pattern, and the fact that the pattern maker has pictures of the finished dress on her website, it seems like a no-brainer to take full sized color photos of the construction process and include them in either the pattern instructions or on her website. I really think this will be the future of digital patterns.
Baste everything, especially if your fabric is loose and drapey like mine, or you will get puckers.
Most of the sleeve lace ends up being covered by the trim. If you wanted to save on lace, you could use a single piece of insertion lace between the two bands (and it would not have the extra lace triangle by the wrist), instead of a large piece underneath the whole thing
The pattern had an additional piece of fabric beneath the lace/trim of the sleeves, but since I wanted the pink to show through anyways, I left this off and attached the trim to the sleeves directly.
I found it very effective to thread-trace where I would be pressing the front placket over, especially on the top where the placket is on the bias, and it would be very difficult to press a straight line otherwise.
I really did like this pattern and definitely plan to try more Edwardian Rose patterns in the future.
A retrospective post! I did finish the dress in time for costume college (2 days before even! Not the day before!), but here are some photos of the muslin.
The first one I made was super pouchy and blouse-y. Like a lot. This isn’t really a flattering look, but I kept telling myself that this is meant to be a relaxed afternoon sort of gown, and is not meant to be form fitting.
The top is a very interesting style – it’s a kimono style top, being one single piece of fabric all the way around. There is a gusset above each shoulder which will be made of lace in the final version.
However, this is not how the dress is meant to be worn. The waist should be at the natural waistline, or even an inch or two above. There is meant to be some loose fabric above it, which means you need to use a tie to see what this dress is meant to look like, as otherwise it will just hang as far as the fabric allows.
At this point I posted these pictures on the pattern maker’s Facebook page asking for advice, since I wasn’t sure how to alter this. They are very responsive! All my questions were answered within a day or two. She pointed out that this is meant to be a very blouse-y top, and thought it looked fine. I did end up taking an inch off the top (from the bottom), since I thought the blousing was still a bit excessive. That’s really the only way you can alter this pattern, since the whole top is one piece.
Then it was fabric cutting time! Which the main dress was only 3 pieces, all the trim on the dress was something like another 15 pattern pieces, so this was rather tedious.
So I’m going to Costume College for the first time this year!
So of course that means I want shiny new outfits (even though it’s not like people have seen my current stuff, since I don’t go to many events). In particular I wanted toned-down daywear, since most of my stuff is more formal.
Right after finishing the Kaylee dress, my plan was for 3 new things, and I would finish one in May, one in June, and one in July. I was thinking maybe something 1780s (to match the fichu I am hand-sewing, which is STILL NOT DONE after 3 months), something 1920s because it would be fast, and maybe something 1930s daywear?
Except I was also working on that Edwardian corset (which I still don’t have pictures of) and it seemed silly to make that and not have anything to wear over it, so maybe I should make something 1910s?
And then the corset took me until the end of June to finish, so I don’t know what I was thinking with 3 outfits.
I decided to make one new Edwardian outfit, since I could hopefully finish that in a month. I also threw money at the 1920s problem and bought a dress on ebay, which is a 1970s imitation of 1920s (although it needs to be shortened since it is hitting ankle length. And who knows how I’m going to manage a hat).
Instead of doing something sane like a nice 1910s skirt and blouse, I found this pattern for an afternoon gown, and decided I would make that instead.
I even had all the fabrics I needed in my stash woohoo!
The trim is ivory taffeta from Renaissance Fabrics.
Instead of spending $$$ on guipuire lace, I am cutting the pieces out of a lace shrug my mother in law gave me. It looks a lot like pieces of insertion lace sewn together, which definitely feels Edwardian-lingerie-dress like. It was fairly yellowed but after a bath in oxy-clean it is much brighter.
The pink fabric is weird. It’s a silk (suiting?) that according to the receipt I found I bought back in 2011. I’m pretty sure I bought it immediately after seeing Jenny Rose’s pink Italian Renaissance dress and going OOOHH WANT.
Except this is a weird fabric. It’s 100% silk, but it *looks* like linen. I think my thought process went something like:
- silk is period
- linen is period
- So silk that looks like linen is fine?
Yeah I don’t know what I was thinking.
It is fairly drapey, which is good for this dress. Alas it gets the drape from being pretty loosely woven, which means it frays a ton (bad). A lot of Edwardian seams were left unfinished or overcast, but I think this would fall apart if I did that.
I considered flat fell or french seams which is my usual go-to, but according to a A Manual of Homemaking from 1919, those were not used on silk dresses. Drat! I’m assuming “plain seam bound” means a bias bound seam, so I’m going with that.
It’s also really hard to write on, because a pen just ends up falling through the threads instead of writing on them. I’m finding myself doing a lot of more couture-ish techniques than usual – tailors tacks, thread tracing, hand-basting seams, etc.
I think I will finish, but I’m definitely on a strict sewing schedule between now and Costume College.
So pretty much every single corset of the 1910s had garters attached. Observe:
However, unlike in the 1910s, you can’t just buy wide ruffled elastic is multiple colors today. Even my attempts on etsy to find some totally failed.
This pattern didn’t come with garter instructions, so I had to make something up. I was somewhat inspired by the garter tutorial from Bridges on the Body, but I couldn’t find any garter hardware sold in pieces, only entire garters, so I made some changes.
Most garters these days have a hook at the top to make the garters removable from the final article. Remove the stitching to take off the hook from the top. (Seam removed here, the pin is where the stitching was.
The garter in pieces:
Sew a tube of fabric and turn it inside out. The length should be twice the length of the garter. The width should be 2 x garter width + 1/8″ + seam allowance. My garter was 3/4″. So, I cut a 2″ wide strip and I sewed the seam allowance at around 3/16″ (the first garter I sewed the seam allowance at exactly 1/4″, and it was So Difficult to pull the tube onto the elastic later. Leave yourself the bit of wiggle room.
Use a safety pin on the end of the elastic to help feed it through.
Elastic is partway through here.
Once the fabric tube is all the way on, pull it down so the free end is sticking out. LEAVE THE PIN ON. If the elastic gets sucked up back inside the fabric without a pin you will never get it out again.
On the clasp end, use a pin or something to turn the raw edge under.
Pull the fabric all the way up to the edge of the clasp and do a running stitch across.
Turn the end of the fabric under on the other side of the garter, then pull it to the edge. Be very careful not to let it go past the edge.
Whipstitch around the end making sure you go through the elastic. This end will be hidden under the corset so it doesn’t need to be super pretty.
What happens when I accidentally pulled the fabric too far over the elastic and couldn’t get the elastic out. I did the row of diagonal stitches so the elastic didn’t go further in.
Put the garter grip back on and thread the garter back through the clasp. You will need to stretch the garter out to get an even amount of fabric on both of the clasp instead of bunching up on one side.
Admire all your garters!
Whipstitch the garter to the inside of the corset. Alternately, if you want them removable, sew the hook back on, and add a bit of elastic or ribbon here for the hook to attach to.
Admire your corset with matching garters!