Am I the only sewist who plans out her projects and goals for the year?
That’s a rhetorical question. I know I’m not.
That’s just what I’ve been doing for the past couple of weeks. I have compiled a big, ambitious list of items, not the least of which is expanding on my Time Capsule Wardrobe.
I am so in love with the 1870s patterns and silhouettes that a primary goal is to expand my bustle-era wardrobe with elements for Spring and Summer. One item I doubt I’ll get to this year is a seaside vacation wardrobe, complete with bathing attire. I’m afraid I’m going to have to content myself with a petticoat or two and a corset that fits properly. My weight is still fluctuating, so I’m never quite sure what size will fit me by the time I’m finished making whatever it is I’m working on!
Like so many of the Historical Costumers I follow, I’m jumping on the One Hour Dress bandwagon this January. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, back in the mid-1920s Mary Brooks Picken, Director of Instruction for the Women’s Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences, produced a booklet on a very simple, basic dress that a home sewist could draft and make in an hour. The booklet contains instructions on how to measure oneself for a personalized dress pattern, and then how to translate those measurements directly onto the fabric, resulting in a cunning dress. The detail work, like collars, sleeve trim, bows, belts, godets, ruffles, and the like were left entirely to the creativity of the lady crafting the garment.
This won’t be the first 1920s dress I’ve ever made without a pattern. The first was when I was a 17 year-old college student. The basic silhouette associated with the decade of decadence lends itself well to experimenting with drafting one’s own pattern. At the time, I copied a simple, asymmetrical party dress from a silent film.
Looking back, I made so many basic mistakes in my dress’s construction that I cannot believe I actually was able to wear it in public! It was basically a couple of yards of fabric sewn along the selvage edge. I sewed two points on a straight end for shoulder straps and left the angled hem alone. I ruched the sides from my underarms to my hips until the dress was as long as I wanted it, then I simply tacked a band of contrasting fabric at the dropped waist. It looked stunning, especially when paired with long strings of beads.
This time, though, I’ll be following the booklet, and hopefully, with more than 30 years more experience, I can make something a bit more polished.
The booklet is now in the public domain and is available for free. You can find it by clicking the link above and downloading the PDF file. Or, you can pay some enterprising entrepreneur who has the booklet posted for sale on Etsy or Amazon. Either way, it’s up to you.
As for me, the One Hour Dress is my first January Project. I’m trying to use up my fabric stash, and as much as I’d love to sew more bustle dresses, I really do need to add things to my wardrobe that I can wear to church on Sundays without raising eyebrows too high. At least the flapper fashions of the 1920s translate well into contemporary fashion. I’ve integrated 1920s style elements into my every day wardrobe for decades and no one has so much as batted an eye. As far as historical eras go, it’s easy to do some History Bounding with the 1920s.
For added fun, I’m going to make my first One Hour Dress out of black jersey in a nod to Coco Chanel’s groundbreaking black jersey dress of the 1920s. I’m sure my meager offering will hardly be as chic as hers, but it’s a wonderful way to pay homage to the grand dame of modern fashion.
If you decide to make a One Hour Dress, please send me pictures! I love to see how other sewists personalize a pattern like this.
Time Capsule Wardrobe
Not to worry, I’ll be back to my Time Capsule Wardobe soon. I have a gleam in my eye and great ideas for adding to my 1870s and 1880s ensembles. Though I think for the Time Capsule Wardrobe, I’ll be settling into the 1870s.
I have a polonaise on the drawing board, as well as the aforementioned corsets and petticoats. I’ll be working towards a travel wardrobe, complete with linen travel coat, Oxford cloth striped petticoat, (as mentioned in that wonderful book on Victorian Women and travel,) as well as nightwear, tea gown, and swimwear.
Have I mentioned that I’m simply mad for hats?
The French Bonnet I made to go with my Victorian Christmas ensemble turned out so well, and I had so much fun making it, that I’m completely obsessed with making hats and bonnets now. In fact, my long-suffering hubby was so impressed with my Victorian Christmas bonnet that he’s encouraging me to make more!
I suppose at some point, I’ll also need hatboxes for these confections, too!
I Want To Make All The Things!
As I’m sure many of you can relate, I want to make pretty much everything that captures my fancy. Unfortunately, time and family obligations often sideline my projects. Thankfully, now that I have some elements to show besides unmentionables, my family is completely supportive and clamoring for their own historical garb!
But first, I’ve promised to blog the steps of my Victorian Bustle dress adventures. I’m working on writing those now. Not to worry, I documented everything well. I get so excited, that things show up on my Instagram and Facebook pages long before they make it here.
I have NO impulse control.
Thank you for sticking with me as I, in my mercurial fashion, follow whatever historical fashion trend that captures my fancy at the moment!