Oh hi! I guess I disappeared for longer than I expected. Mostly we’ve been busy with a staycation, a family reunion, and a new job for my husband, but yesterday I spent my afternoon volunteering so here I am to talk about a dress I actually made last summer.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I volunteer at Heritage Square, a museum in Los Angeles that resembles a Victorian neighborhood. I’ve been there for nearly 6 years and I have to say I really enjoy it. Once a month I give tours and at first I felt like such an impostor, but then I realized how good it has been for my public speaking skills and how much it has become like a second home.
The pretty costumes don’t hurt either.
So here is my summer tour dress!
Like I mentioned I actually made this last summer. I spent months obsessing over which pattern and fabric to use only to finish the dress right before the weather turned cool. Whoops!
That’s the hard part of making historical garments…the self doubt. I am far from an expert. When I first started volunteering I had no clue. Polyester everything because it was what I could afford. Then I went and had 2 babies and nothing fit anymore.
So a year ago I decided to make something simple, summery, and easy that I could wear in the long hot summer season. Also a dress that didn’t use dozens of yards of fabric so I could afford to make it.
I also opted for something nursing friendly.
Enter the 1912 kimono dress pattern from Sense & Sensibility Patterns. It was everything I was looking for. Simple to sew, easy to wear, and with easy nursing access.
And after sweating, stressing, and asking a few people for help I settled on using Robert Kaufman lawn as the main fabric.
One year later I am happy with those choices. It took me so long to make that I skipped the nursing option. Otherwise there are a few fit issues, like it’s a little big through the upper back and the sleeves are an awkward length, but it is so easy to wear.
As you can see I added yards of insertion lace to make the pattern more like the lingerie dresses that were so popular through the 1910s.
I also used 2 colors of fabric, an ivory and a soft peach. Both were common colors to wear 100 years ago.
And confession…I don’t wear Edwardian underwear underneath my dress. I’m sure historical clothing experts notice. I should wear a corset underneath. I know I know. I just don’t own one for the right time period so for now I skip it and only wear a chemise (and modern underwear). Eventually I’ll buy one because having a few different corsets would be helpful, but they are also costly to purchase with custom measurements. Oh yeah…I guess I should maybe make one? I’ll mull it over for next summer.
And here is my dress last summer with a much younger Charlie! You might notice the hat looks different. That’s because this spring I tried my hand at millinery. I took this same hat and redecorated it to match the dress. Many new skills in this outfit!!! I also received some new shoes for Christmas that coordinate perfectly.
So now I ponder what I’d like to make next. I should probably make something a mourning dress. We do an event every Halloween that explores the mourning customs of the Victorian era and my old outfit is super tight. At least for that one I have the underwear!