Thursday, August 8, 2013

Julia Tyler in Night Vale

I suppose my interest in accurate sewing has reached a point where if something was made before 1855 or so I feel the deep, burning need to sew it by hand.  Remind me never to do that for a ballgown again, though.
So last year on a spring break college tour I found a fabric store in Providence, RI, and I found some 60" silk duchess satin for $10 a yard, so I snatched up the last of the bolt because it screamed '1840s' to me.  And now I have finally done something with it!  Hurrah for stash taming!
 I used several different inspiration pictures.  I meant for this dress to be exceedingly spartan, but I ended up with lots of lace and ribbons and a bertha.

Yaaaay summertime in Chicago!
"I swear, even though Senator Douglas was only THIS tall, he was still cute as a button!"

The back didn't fit me so well, and the whole thing could stand to be taken in an inch or so and it doesn't make my waist look very small at all (oh well.)  Despite that, I feel really rad in it!  The light really makes it shimmer and glow.

Obligatory harp picture
My preeeeciousssss
This was the dress of many design flaws... It was originally supposed to have intricate pleating at the front but I wussed out and made it up as a plain bodice.  I should have made a center front seam so I could have boned the point and taken care of some of the front wrinkles.  The armscythe fits really strangely, but the bertha covers it up wonderfully!  Also, one side of the skirt is fuller than the other because I tied off my gathering stitch too quickly.  My bad..

 The skirt was cartridge pleated and both the neck and waist piped (I tried to doble pipe the waist and failed amusingly)
Boning in the dart

 The bertha was only attached at the shoulders and pinned to the center front for easy future removal.
The bertha was made by stitching bias strips to a plain cotton base.

(About the name - I did most of the work on this dress while listening to Welcome to Night Vale, a really weird and excellent podcast.  Go listen!  All hail the glow cloud!)


  1. Oh! BEAUTIFUL BEAUTIFUL BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I LOVE THAT DRESS!! Seriously, you did a wonderful job, Frieda, I'm jealous, and most of my dresses have hidden flaws. I'm trying to fix that on the wool I'm (STILL?!) working on! lol

    That material makes you look like an angel! xD


    P.S. Are you really THAT crazy over Douglas? xD lol

    1. Thank you so much! I believe that f you can't fix something, you can always throw lace at it until it cooperates. I'm sure your wool will turn out right lovely!
      P.S. Stevvie D is my homeboy from my home state!

  2. Oh my goodness that is stunning! And I absolutely love the picture of you with the harp, it reminds me of a painting I copied once. (Except the painting was regency). I really love the inside shots too, I'm just as interested in the "hidden" parts of a dress as the showy ones, which is probably why I have to write blog posts about half a mile long. :P But oh it is darling, and you look lovely in it.
    Oh, what underpinnings are you wearing with it? Also, your waist, though it doesn't look as small as your 1860's waist, still looks small!

    1. I like inside shots too, I try to include a couple ones in every 'finished' post. I'm wearing an 1860's corset (the Bosom Wrangler) that gives me a rather 'flat' look, a corded petticoat and another petticoat with the bejeezus starched out of them. I don't have very pretty undergarments so I tend not to show them, mrr.
      Thank you! I am very vain about my little waist.