Friday, September 23, 2016

New Civil War Dress

Hobbit Day passed, sadly, without much fanfare. We had a nice hobbit dinner, composed mostly of bacon-and-mushroom tart and pie but we didn't dress up for it (we will have opportunity to wear our hobbit clothes at the Faire later this fall). My own hobbit clothes are still, well, non progressive.

Instead, this week I dove right into working on a new 1860's dress for our last reenactment of the season. The pink striped one could have worked for another event. But. New dress. Yeah. I just had to make a new one. It was time.

I had 4 days in which to make it so I broke up the project into what I considered manageable portions. And well, I didn't get done nearly as much as I wanted to each day. Tonight, as I write this, my dress still needs hook and eyes and a white collar but in essence the dress is done! I will be able to wear it tomorrow if I stay up a little bit later than usual after the kids go to bed.

Earlier this year I bought 6 yards of this fabric at an antique shop. I didn't know til I got it home that it was 60" wide, so the length was plenty for an 1860's style dress. I didn't plan to use it right away but I got a sudden desire for a plaid dress and this fabric was there on my shelf so I used it and am so happy that I did. It's a heavier weight so will be nice for fall.

The bad thing is that the plaid is not an even plaid. There's a definite up and down so I had to be careful to make sure the plaid was going the same direction for all the pieces. I messed up while working on the sleeves so one lower sleeve is cut going the opposite direction of the other. And yes, it is really annoying but I don't have time to fix it before tomorrow. Thankfully the plaid aligned just fine with all the other pieces.

To fit with my new corset I had to take in my basic bodice pattern by 3" at the waistline. 3"! I didn't realize the new corset reduced so much. But I won't complain! I also had to shorten it to make the waistline fall at the lower ribs. Those were the only alterations needed and once the bodice was fitted the construction went along pretty well.

Until I got to the skirt. I had my heart set on a cartridge pleated skirt. The fabric is springy and thick and would show off cartridge pleats so well! So I carefully measured and balanced the skirt at the waist and ran my lines of cartridge pleats and whipped them one by one to the bodice edge. And. . .it was off. The skirt was NOT balanced. I had to pick out every little stitch and re balance the thing and by that time I no longer felt like another 2 hours of cartridge pleating. So I did regular knife pleats (so boring) but did manage to do a little section of cartridge pleats at the back waist. It's my favorite part of the dress.

The sleeves are bishop sleeves with a double puff at the top. The puffs are cut on the bias and sewn to a fitted short sleeve lining. I really liked the short sleeves. I wished I could keep them short! But, at 30 and with 6 little ones my days of short sleeve day dresses are long past! So the lower sleeves were sewn on, much to my sighing resignation.

The skirt is finished with a 1 foot wide facing. I got to sew it on while listening to several episodes of Dora the Explorer courtesy of Anne. I have discovered that I do not like Dora the Explorer. Anne does not understand this. "Mommy, but it's so EXCITING!"

I can't wait to wear this and am so happy to have a new dress to wear! I can't believe its already been a year since I made my last one.



  1. I can't wait to see it on! It looks lovely.

  2. Please post try on pictures. I am curious to see what this looks like! I love the fabric. It reminds me of a dress my mom wore during reenactments when I was a kid.

  3. I will post some in the next couple of days - it was fun to be able to wear it today although I definitely need a new hoop. My old one is so small and pitiful, especially under the heavy dress. :/

  4. How did you attach the lower bishop sleeve to the puffs? I have some ideas, but I'm on a time crunch with no time to suss it out myself lol!

    1. Simplest way possible - the upper edge of the bishop sleeve is gathered and sewn to the edge of the lower puff, right sides together. Thats it!

    2. Thanks! That's what I was thinking, but one never knows lol!


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!