This is a new era for me, and I'm having to build quite a few costume pieces in order to make it come to life, so I thought I'd break this project down into a few different blog posts so I can talk about each garment in more depth. Actually, the true beginning for this series was with my Atelier Sylphe Edwardian corset, which I posted about two months ago. After making the corset, I moved on to three additional garments that I could make from commercial patterns. I'll start by sharing some more pattern reviews and give you a few sneak peeks at what I've finished so far.
Truly Victorian 1905 Circle Skirt. I'm a pretty huge cheapskate, so at first I thought about drafting this pattern myself to save some money. After all, it's just a big half circle, so how hard could that be? But then I came to my senses and remembered what a colossal pain it is to draft and fit large curved pattern pieces. I am SO glad that I decided to buy this pattern in the end! It saved a huge amount of time and aggravation for me. Yes, it's a really simple pattern shape, but the massive size makes it tricky to work with. I think it took longer to clear out a large enough section of floor and smooth out the fabric for cutting than it took me to cut out and assemble the entire skirt. I was very pleased with the way the waist and hips fit (looks better on me than my non-curvy manikin), and it has a lovely sweep to the back. Definitely a good pattern to own.
I made a bit of a theatrical choice with the plaid that I chose for my skirt because I fell in love with some black and white boucle of unknown fiber content and authenticity. I was worried at first that plaid boucle wouldn't be documentable for the Edwardian period, but a Google Books search came to the rescue, and I found over a dozen references to plaid boucle fabrics from the late Victorian period and the early decades of the 20th c., such as this reference in a 1903 Dry Goods Reporter stating:
So even though I haven't found any examples of plaid boucle fabric exactly like this one in Edwardian photos or surviving garments, at least I know that the concept was something that they were familiar with. Unfortunately, that still doesn't solve the fiber content issue, but "shhhhh"... I won't tell if you won't. ;)
Because the skirt was so fast and easy to assemble, I decided to also make a new petticoat to wear under it using the same circular skirt pattern. This time, I cut off the bottom 14" from the pattern and added a ruffle of eyelet fabric that came from a bedskirt that I picked up at an estate sale. This made assembly even easier because the flounce was pre-gathered, and the whole thing only took me about an hour to make from start to finish. Nice! It's not the fanciest thing in the world, but I think the extra layer will help hold the demi-train out, and combined with a few other petticoats, it should give the skirt a pretty nice shape. Once again, this circular skirt pattern really paid off.
The other pattern that I tried out for this project was the Folkwear Gibson Girl Blouse, which I used to make a guimpe to wear under my jacket. This pattern only cost me $1 at a recent antique show, so I was super excited to give it a try. I used some antique eyelet for the bib part of the blouse, and I changed the bib slightly so that it was V-shaped instead of rounded in the front. I also made the top of the collar higher and left off the sleeves because Edwardian guimpes often left off sections like the sleeves or the back to conserve fabric when they were intended to be worn under other garments. This pattern was a joy to work with too, and everything went together easily and fit well right off the bat. It definitely made my task easier, and I would love to try making another version with sleeves at some point in the future.
So now that the easy parts are finished, I'm working on the jacket, which has proven to be much more of a challenge. I'll be back soon to show you how that project turns out!