I’ve been doing a bit more dress sewing lately. Mostly it’s been dresses for Marian, but I did actually finish one for myself (it’s only been in progress since last summer….sigh.) This is another experimental pattern in my ongoing study of house dresses adapted for modern use. (see the last one here)
This pattern is an authentic 1860’s bodice pattern, but instead of fitting it snugly over a corset as I normally would, I adapted it to fit more loosely to accommodate early pregnancy and post pregnancy bumps. 1860s bodices are well suited for this as they sit ever so slightly higher than the natural waistline. The buttons down the front also make the dress nursing friendly. At my current time of life I want to make all these things a consideration, because anything I make and like, I definitely want to be able to wear as frequently as possible! I’ve been so frustrated with much of my pre-marriage wardrobe being useless since pregnancy and nursing have happened, I certainly don’t want my handmade things to hang in the closet unused!
Since this was an experiment I used some scrap fabric I had – a piece of blue and white check fabric – and I actually didn’t have enough so I had to use another small scrap of similar blue and white check (you can see the subtle color difference) for the wide hem and the binding on the neck and sleeves. I also added a bit of lace to the hem to ease the visual transition. The dress has a ‘low lining’ (another handy technique learned from the super smart 19th century seamstresses) which means the lining has a lower neckline than the dress. You can see the faint line of the lining in the above picture. This means there is less fabric around the neck and shoulders, thus making the dress quite a bit more cool and breathable for warm weather. The skirt is a simple rectangular gathered skirt, quite full, but not nearly as full as a true 1860s skirt would be, and shorter.
I really love wearing this dress! It’s very comfortable for all sorts of housework, and it’s perfect for aprons! Marian’s dresses lately have been all upcycled thrifted pieces. Mostly men’s shirts turned into button front dresses. The one she is wearing in these pictures was an xlarge men’s shirt which appeared to be brand new in a beautiful indigo linen! She always checks to make sure her dresses go ’round and round’, and this one seems to pass the test. I hope to do a post soon showing more of her upcycled shirt dresses.
I ran out of the blue linen shirt material just short of finishing the neckline, so it’s finished with a tiny piece of my left over blue check dress fabric. Which doesn’t bother her – she loves for us to ‘match’!
I have so many more ideas about practical everyday house dress that I want to experiment with – modern smock patterns to 1940s reproductions, and more Victorian inspired ones…. but it is very slow progress right now. Alan is walking now, and in the process of potty training so I spend most of my time chasing kids instead of sewing….which is as it should be!