I'm still going to make an 1890's cycling costume though - but this time it will be a blouse and skirt. Once again, I made a Pinterest board of inspiration pics to get me started. There are some amazing outfits there, but I was most attracted to the look of a calf-length skirt and a plaid or striped blouse:
So now that I have a plan, the next step is to come up with a pattern. I pulled out my two Kristina Harris books on 1890's patterns, and I found a blouse from 1894 that I liked. I used my trusty apportioning scales from the Edwardian Modiste book to enlarge the pattern (technique previously blogged about here), and once again, it fit great with just a few tiny alterations. But I wasn't crazy about the huge sleeves in this pattern, so I decided to exchange them with a different style. Seven sleeves later, and I think we have a winner! LOL! But honestly, I was having a blast drawing up these patterns and testing them out, and I thought it would be useful for both me and others to see a variety of sleeve styles from these books in the flesh. By the way, I'm abbreviating the book titles to AVFP for Authentic Victorian Fashion Patterns and 59ATCFP for for 59 Authentic Turn-of-the-Century Fashion Patterns. So here are my options:
1. Small sleeve puff, 1893, AVFP p. 32Before I started making these patterns, I thought this would be my favorite. I still think the sleeve is cute, but it is smaller than I thought it would be, and I think it works better as a double puff like you see in the illustration. The puff could easily be altered to be larger if I wanted to do that, but I think I would prefer to stick closely to the original patterns for this project. In this picture, I'm wearing the puff part with a tight fitting sleeve lining that comes with a lot of the leg-o-mutton patterns.
2. Medium sleeve puff, 1893, AVFP p. 92After seeing that the first puff was too small, I thought that this one would be a perfect fit, but I was pretty unhappy with the way it made up. The sleeve puff seemed much more rounded in the illustration, and mine is annoyingly long and flat. Again, I could add more width on my own, but I thought I'd try the next size up and see how I liked that.
3. LARGE sleeve puff, 1894, AVFP p. 99OMG what a difference a year makes! These Belle Epoque ladies were not messing around when it came to sleeves! This is the pattern that I am using for my bodice, so I figured that I might as well try the larger sized puff while I was at it, but now I feel like I'm being eaten alive by my sleeve. And this is a little limp too - imagine what it would be like with stuffing and that extra ruffle on top. Madness!
Unfortunately, there is no in-between size to bridge the gap between the too-small medium puff and the gargantuan large puff in these books. There is one sleeve style with a double puff that might be less ostentatious, but I really didn't want a double puff for this particular outfit, so I didn't bother to make that one up.
4. Sleeve for a stout woman, 1893, 59ATCFP p. 79So now that I exhausted my straight-from-the-pattern puff sleeve options, I decide to try some leg-o-mutton styles. This one was disappointingly small compared to the illustration. It was slightly wider that the sleeve lining that I had been using with the puff sleeves, but there wasn't a lot of fullness at the top. It looked like a sleeve from the early 90's vs. the mid 90's, which probably makes sense since a lot of the stout patterns are intended for older women who are less likely to follow the latest trends. And BTW, this sleeve pattern was designed for women with a 36" bust or larger, so their definition of "stout" should be taken with a grain of salt.
5. Wrinkled muttonleg, 1893, 59ATCFP p. 66The illustration for this one looked like a hot mess, but I was pleasantly surprised by the way that it turned out in the flesh. The sleeve-head has obvious fullness without being ridiculously huge, and there is some gathering down the length of the arm which gives it some interesting horizontal wrinkles in addition to the fullness at the top. I really liked this one, but while I was on a roll, I thought that I would try two more mutton styles to see how they compare.
6. Balloon sleeve, 1893, 59ATCFP p. 54The illustration for this sleeve looked like it wasn't much bigger than the wrinkled muttonleg, but the real sleeve is actually quite large. It is just as wide as the mutton leg sleeve shown below, but it's even taller so it drapes more. This is a perfect example of how deceptive the fashion drawings can be. I don't hate this one, but it is so floppy that I'm afraid that I'd be constantly fussing with all that extra fabric to get it to flop in an attractive manner.
7. Mutton leg sleeve, 1894, AVFP p. 57
I wasn't planning on making this one up since the illustration makes it look MASSIVE, but after I realized that it was smaller than the balloon sleeve, I thought I'd give it a try. There's nothing wrong with this sleeve, and I think if I tightened up the forearm a little it would be pretty cute. Even though I don't think I'll use it for my blouse, I'm glad I tried it. I've never been a big fan of the huge 1890's sleeves, but this actually wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.
So now after seeing my 7 options, I think I like #5, the wrinkled muttonleg, the best, which was totally a surprise for me. But I think it strikes a nice balance between being too big and too small, and the unusual method of gathering gives it some nice visual interest. And as a bonus, I think it looks very similar to the charming blouse seen in this illustration. Now on to the real sewing!