Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Blue Dress Progress

Well, it is just a simple day dress but I am excited about it. It is coming along quite nicely and as of now is all done except for the white collar and cuffs. I wanted to trim the sleeves with self fabric ruching between the upper and lower sleeve but I have absolutely no fabric left over so I think I will just leave it plain. Ruching of a contrast color or even cotton lace just looked like a big thoughtless mistake slapped on when I pinned different options to the dress.

So we will go with plain. I have a big orangey-brown silk bow that I think would look nice pinned at the neck. I love how accessories can dress up a gown. I am not happy with my hoop shape however. It seems to have become very distorted over time (I HAVE been using the same steels for about 8 years now!) and it just looks too big. Even though it is only 108" around at the bottom, the proportions seem off. One side juts out farther than the other one and the front doesn't lie as flat as I want. I need to make a new one over the winter, I think.

I tried it on this morning to make sure of the fit. I am pretty happy with how it fits although, as always, there are a few little things that bug me. Like a bit of wrinkling at the armscye at the back. And the tucks in the bodice at the waist just don't lie perfectly flat. But, that is how things go it seems.

I love the sleeves on this dress. I had only five and a half yards of fabric to make this dress and I knew I'd have to piece the sleeves. I cut a tight fitting upper sleeve and then added a gathered portion below that, so the piecing would look intentional. The sleeves were still a little short, so I had to add yet another piece to the very bottom of the sleeves to extend the length. Then the smallest scraps left were used to make cuffs. All in all though, I think they came out well, despite the piecing !

And yes, of course, the cap. I am really loving this cap. I hadn't even combed my hair yet this morning and I didn't feel like doing my hair in an 1860s style just to take some pics to critique the fit. The cap came in perfectly handy for hiding Abominable Hair. Excuse the fact I have on no petticoats, no shoes, etc. etc. And no bum pad, either, so the skirts droop in the back.



  1. It's beautiful, and I love the colour. :)

  2. Oh, my, it looks beautiful!! I love simple dresses, to be honest, especially with a little bit of accessories and collars and cuffs.

  3. Sarah,
    What pattern did you use for the cap? If you made your own pattern, would you mind sharing. I've never owned a cap, but I love how yours looks. It looks simple but elegant and I love that you can throw it on before doing your hair! Thanks!

  4. Jess, the cap was ridiculously simple! I measured from ear to ear and made a band that long, and edged it with a narrow ruffle all around. That is the brim. The crown is a U shaped piece of fabric, the straight edge at the top of the U fitting onto the head band. The curved part of the U was gathered to fit my neck and bound. I was going to a drawstring but figured I wouldn't ever really need to adjust the fit, so I just bound it. :) The lappet type things are seperate hemmed rectangles that are pleated at the top and whip stitched to the cap at the bottom of the head band. I don't know if the pattern shapes are period correct but I could not find a diagram of a period cap and the finished cap I made looks a lot like the ones I wanted to copy, so, to me, it's good enough. :)

  5. Sarah I love your dress, and piecing is totally PC. :) Are you going to trim your cap or leave it plain? I was thinking about adding little bows by my ears to mine.

  6. Yes I too love being able to accessorize my dresses instead of making them too fancy. I have two simple work/day dresses and a nice puff sleeve wool that is pretty fancy. Yours is wonderful Sarah because you can dress if up and down as you said! I also love the cap! My favorite color is light blue and I have yet to make a civil war light blue gown. Now I will have to find some fabric! I also love the sleeve detail! even though you did it because of lack of fabric, its really pretty detail!

    love this post!

    In Christ,

  7. I love the simplicity of it...and the color looks gorgeous on you.

  8. Thank you Rebecca and Jenni! Simple dresses are definitely my favorite. It's fun to dress up once in a while, but a simple dress can be so *lived* in, you know?

    Laura, yes, I do plan on trimming mine. I have the strips cut and pressed and just need to hem them. I MAY get around to it before Galesburg. I hope so. :) I love your ideas of bows at the ears. I saw another cap from this period that had 3 rosette/bow type things positioned to the side at the top of the head. I think I may try something like that. If all else fails, I'll just leave it plain! :)

  9. Lovely! I like the simple design, and you know me, I love caps :D You look so sweet and wifely in that outfit.

  10. Very beautiful, the shape and the color.


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!