Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Historical Sew Fortnightly 2016 Challenge #1 - Procrastination

Challenge #1 - January - Procrastination - finish a garment you've been putting off or make something you've been avoiding starting.

It seems perfect that I should write this post even before I've finished my photos for the last two Challenges of 2015.  And it's also perfect that this should be posted and shared several days beyond the deadline.  But then it is all about procrastinating and I've been procrastinating on this project since July 2015.  I'm not sure why.  It's a simple project and means so much to the impression of the gown and now that it's finished I'm almost embarrassed that it took me so long.  And I love it!!!

It started with my Gala gown for Costume College 2015.  My inspiration was a court gown and I wanted to honor my paternal grandmother's heritage with a Royal Order presentation.


My Gala gown Costume College 2015
During my research I couldn't help but notice the waist to hip ratio on the inspiration photo and eventually I came to this American Duchess blog post from January 13, 2013 where she compares standard pattern measurements from 1905 and 2013.


In summary, she found in a book called Authentic Victorian Dressmaking Techniques from 1905 that the measurements for a lady in her underpinnings would have a high bust to waist measurement difference of 10", and a waist to hip measurement difference of 17-23.5".  Compare that to the same Butterick measurements in 2013 with a high bust to waist difference of 6" and a waist to hip difference of 10".

I know what magic a corset can do to create the hourglass figure but in my case the magic is lost.  I've had my corset for almost 8 years and it is comfortable and really helps my back when I'm on my feet all day at a costume event.  My measurements without a corset are 38-28-38.  When I wear my corset my measurements are 38-29-38 as the bulk of the corset adds to my waistline.  I love bustle gowns and the bustle creates a beautiful hourglass silhouette, but that is not going to help for this gown.

So how will I achieve those beautiful hips and flared skirt?

A little more research leads me to this blog and my question is answered!

http://www.quite-contrary.org/extant-clothing-1880-1889.php  Scroll to Three-Piece Hip Pad 1880s.

Hip pads!  Who knew!?! 

The Met - 1900
As luck would have it, a dear friend has created a pattern for a hip and bum pad which will work perfectly!  I have all good intentions of creating it before Costume College but I procrastinate beyond the deadline and the hip pad/bum pad never gets started.

In April I have another event and this gown will be perfect for a dinner all dressed up in the tartan sash and clan badge of my husband.  It is time to pack on those hips and bum and create the perfect silhouette!

My dear friend's instructions and photos.  Not too much detail as she may want to make this available to all of us deserving costumers!
Pattern tracing cloth to make my pattern.

A scrap of quilted satin from a previous project, satin blanket binding, and grosgrain ribbon for a waist tie.

Horsehair would probably have been more period correct, but this will do nicely.
The pattern is recreated on my tracing cloth.

The pieces cut from my scrap satin and a coordinating piece of scrap silk.

Ready for sewing and reversible should I need a different silhouette.
Pattern transferred to the foam.

An initial cut with a single-edge razor blade.

A finish cut with scissors to protect my tabletop.

The foam pieces are ready for assembly.
I tried several techniques to hold the fabric and foam together.  In the end I just caught the fabric into the foam on both sides with pins and then compressed with my fingers as I sewed.
There is some foam escaping in my initial sewing and I trimmed that off.

The satin blanket binding to trim the edge.

Two additional rows of stitching to taper the edge.

The finished bum piece.
Binding hand stitched on the reverse side.
All steps repeated for the hip section.

Sewing this V into the center of the hip section helps the hip portions fall down onto the hips nicely.

Some more satin blanket binding to create a waist casing and the grosgrain ribbon threaded through.

The reverse side.  The pad could be worn this way if desired to create a different silhouette.

Almost too pretty to hide!
 The transformation is beautiful!  The hip/bum pad adds 6" giving me a waist to hip ratio of 15" difference using 1" foam.  Imagine what 1-1/2" foam could do.  And most importantly, look at what it does to the waistline and the flow of the skirt.

Left - without hip/bum pad.                        Right - with hip/bum pad.

Left - without hip/bum pad.                      Right - with hip/bum pad.

As all fashion seems to go in cycles, here is another hip pad from a later era - yes, the 1950s!

The Met - 1950

Historical Sew Fortnightly

What It Is:  Hip and Bum Pad
The Challenge:  Procrastination
Fabric:  Quilted satin, silk, foam
Pattern:  Made by a friend
Year:  1905
Notions:  Satin blanket binding, grosgrain ribbon
How historically accurate is it?  Research shows that these were used but would have been stuffed with something available at the time.
Hours to complete?  4 hours
First Worn:  April 2016 Biltmore Estate Costume Weekend
Total Cost:  If all items purchased, probably under $15.00

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