1871 Yellow Gown…à la transformation

I’m back! Corona-ennui has done a number on me, but I recovered my sewing motivation upon seeing the Mimic of Modes announcement asking for pattern testers. Cassidy is working on a pattern taken from an extant 1870 bodice, and I loved the shapes; fortunately, she said yes to me testing it!

2E9E6C0F-0264-4B05-A713-E8900C95F978If you’ll recall, I created a yellow satin evening gown with black velvet accents (read about it here) inspired by an 1871 fashion plate for Costume College 2019. I had some satin left over afterwards, and fantasized about creating a day bodice for the ensemble, effectively making it into a multi-use robe à la transformation. I’m proud of myself for feeling comfortable showing that much skin, but I’d rest easier (and be able to take it to more events) if I had a conservative day bodice. This pattern testing opportunity was just the thing!

Disclaimer: I did not make a toile for this – recall; corona ennui, very little motivation, needed to just get right into it or risk losing it all – so there are a few places that could have been adjusted for better fit in the end. Whoops!

I’m not going to elaborate on construction since I used similar techniques on the original bodice. I used a different cotton for lining (but it had a similar weight and body) and the same black & gold poly for tail lining that I did for the fancy bits on the back of the original gown. The primary difference with this bodice is that I didn’t include any boning – or padding, come to think of it, which I thought I’d need!

The bodice ended up being rather tight (I had to let out the side seams all the way at the bust) and with the way my corset pushes my bust up, it successfully mitigated any side creasing that would otherwise have happened. And for the boning – I suppose my satin and cotton had enough structure that the darts stayed stiff enough on their own; this fabric isn’t prone to creasing. (The bodice is also an inch too short at the waist, which has the benefit of not causing the usual bust-to-waist horizontal wrinkles we see on longer bodices.) I waited to put boning in until I’d gotten the buttons all done, and when trying it on afterwards I realized that it simply didn’t need any.

39AC00EA-3D25-4282-9B3F-0D31D2D79E7EI tried everything on before the trimming was complete in order to test fit & buttoning and realized that it exposed the blue cotton waistband of the skirt, so in the final photos you’ll see a placeholder strip of satin (that is hemmed, I swear, but not stiffened) covering the gap. It’s awkward, sorry!

During the same fitting, I took the chance to use a different crinolette underneath to see what it looked like. Left is the ensemble worn over the crinolette from Prior Attire’s book (again, discussed here). That crin goes down past my knees. At right, I’m wearing my much shorter crin, which only goes past my butt (discussed in this post). As you can see, the skirt collapses inward around the knees and the hem with the shorter one! This led to some huffing and finally pulling out the longer crin from the closet to wear. (That one annoys me because it doesn’t actually work very well. The bustle portion doesn’t stay out, and as you’ll see, it’s not really rounded in the right way through the upper side areas. It’s fine when I have the apron overskirt, but without it the skirt isn’t the right 1870s shape.)

Final photos below – overall, I’m quite happy with the look.

I diverged from the extant bodice in a few ways (some sleeve shenanigans went on), but the primary difference is in the trimming. I’m very pleased with my little sleeve bows!

I chose not to wear the apron overskirt with the day version, as I suspect the side pieces would clash with the tail of the bodice. I also conspired with my mother, who likes millinery, to make a coordinating hat. I styled my hair using the same pieces I’d used for evening last year and just plopped the hat atop. I’d like to re-do the bows to be less flat, but otherwise I think it completes the picture nicely.

The entire set – two bodices, skirt, overskirt, and basque belt, took nine yards of fabric with only the tiniest scraps left over. All of the flatlining, trims & buttonholes were hand-stitched.

A huge thank-you to Cassidy Percoco / Mimic of Modes for allowing me to test her pattern.

For all curious, the yellow satin is not silk, but a polyester/spandex peau de soie that looks and feels lovely and cost ⅛ the price of an equivalent silk satin. (Flatlining mitigated any stretch caused by the small percentage of spandex.) You do not need to splurge to look good!

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