Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge #9 - Historicism

This months challenge was historicism, which both excited me and dismayed me. Recreate a historic garment that is itself inspired by fashions from a previous era of history. My mind, of course, immediately flew to regency era fashion, which was heavily inspired by Grecian clothing. Then the 1910's saw a reinterpretation of both regency and grecian style clothing. It's kinda fun to look through the past 500 years and see the truth in the saying that everything comes full circle. It does! There are several silhouettes of fashion that you see repeat themselves time and again but that subject is far too large to even begin talking about right now.

Anyway, I needed to fit my already planned sewing projects into this category somehow. Since my sewing this month has mostly been fantasy costume I had to really think about  my new 1860's dress and figure out if the style could plausibly be inspired by any other historic era. So I began looking. 

The most defining feature of 1860's womens clothing is almost certainly the hoop skirt. This type of support structure was not something new, however. Other eras of historic fashion saw various interpretations of what sprang up as the late 15th century farthingale. I am not at all very studied in the fashions of the Elizabethan period but a basic article can be found here: History of the Spanish Farthingale. The 1860's was just another take on the basic concept of a petticoat with some kind of stiffening sewed into it to distend the skirts of the dress. 

The 1860's not only saw the popularity of the hoop but also of large, wide sleeves. Looking at the fashions of the time of the original farthingale you also see large sleeves that almost look as though they could be copied exactly from images of the 1860's! I was amazed at how closely some sleeve styles were replicated. Not only were there puff sleeves in both historical eras, but also the more slenderly cut coat sleeves, as well as open sleeves, slashed sleeves and many hybrids. 

It's possible to draw many more parallels between 1860's fashion and various other eras - hairstyles, accessories, etc - but the main silhouette of a tight waist and bodice, large skirts and large sleeves seem to be quite similar between the 1860's and late 15th/early 16th century. 
Despite wanting to appear ladylike and elegant, this is my usual look as an event progresses - the basic day dress has the skirts pinned up, the sleeves rolled up and an apron added so that physical labor is much easier to accomplish.
What the Item Is: 1860's Day Dress
The Challenge: Historicism
Fabric/Materials: Cotton for main fabric, cotton for lining and pocket
Pattern: My own
Year: Early to Mid 1860's
Notions: Hooks and eyes
Hours to Complete: About 12
First Worn: This past weekend at a small reenactment

Total Cost: Under $25, since the fabric was a bargain find and the lining, facing and pocket came from leftover scraps from other projects.


  1. I love your dress, it turned out beautifully, and the color blue looks so nice on you. I never thought about the similarities between the 1860's and more Tudor styles. Very cool. Thanks for sharing

  2. Such a nice look!
    Love to read your blog it is very interesting
    prairie underground hood drab


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!