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Rate the Dress: 1870s figure illusions

I missed Rate the Dress last week due to my brain switching into complete holiday mode, but at least I left you on a high note!  Peter de Kempeneers 16th century Italian noblewoman in blue-green was almost universally popular – but only almost, because there is always one or two who don’t like something!  Because of the only almost, our noblewoman came in at 8.3 out of 10.

I’m feeling quite grey this week, so picked a dress to match:

This circa 1880 evening dress from Czechia an unusual grey, and tonally, reminds me of the last Rate the Dress.  It features the (relatively) figure hugging natural form silhouette of the late 1870s and early 1880s.  The body conscious silhouette is emphasized by a curvaceous cream panel, beating 2011’s illusion dress trend by over a 130 years!

Curve conscious it may be, but the curves are definitely Victorian: with full hips, and back emphasis that would have been supported by a small bustle.

What do you think? Can grey be good?

Rate the Dress on a scale of 1 to 10

Corset reproduction, circa 1905,

A 1900s touch of blue corset

If you’re a longtime reader of my blog, you’ll remember Theresa: she’s a former Wellingtonian, and every time she comes back for a visit, we dress up and do a photoshoot together.

We’ve done ca. 1880 (one and two), 17th & 18thc yellow (one, two and three), hoopskirts (one, two, and three), and Regency (one, two & hair), but Theresa has been asking for a 1900s photoshoot for ages.

To do 1900s properly, first I had to finish the two S-bend corsets I’ve been working on for well over a year.

Corset circa 1905,

This is the second TV1901 corset that I’ve started, but they were both finished at the same time.  The first one got abandoned for a long, long time due to frustration when I realised how much the sizing was off.  I’ll be covering that in more detail when I blog about my original attempt, but basically, the sizing doesn’t work in smaller waist/bust measures unless you also have a very small ribcage as well.  This particular corset is 3 sizes larger than Theresa’s recommended measurements, and while it could be a size smaller (it laces fully closed), it’s still nicely snug.  And Theresa has an average ribcage!

Corset reproduction, circa 1905,

Despite the headaches with fit, I’m very pleased with the end result.  There is still no space for hip padding, and only the tiniest space for bust padding, and overall I’d like a more exaggerated shape, but it was very comfortable to wear.

Corset reproduction, circa 1905,

Before the main photoshoot, we got these images of the new unders, along with my new-old 1923 Singer sewing machine.

Corset reproduction, circa 1905,

Felicity naturally showed up to investigate the excitement, so I picked her up for Theresa to pose with.  Felicity was not impressed.  She behaved very well, but she clearly doesn’t trust that Theresa isn’t going to drop her!

Corset reproduction, circa 1905,

This was finished the day of the photoshoot – 22 December, so it’s perfect for a very-slightly-early start to the 2017 Historical Sew Monthly

What the item is: a 1901-8 corset

The Challenge: #1 Firsts & Lasts – this is the first piece of a really fabulously frilly 1900s outfit that I want to make.

Fabric/Materials: 1m of ribbed cotton, op-shop find ($2)

Pattern: Truly Victorian TVE01- 1903 S-Curve Corset

Year: 1901-8

Notions: cotton thread, a busk ($30), grommets ($5), synthetic whalebone ($20).

How historically accurate is it?  I chose to do flat felled seams, rather than leaving them open, and while I think I’ve seen this done in-period, I can’t find my references on it, and I may be mis-remembering.  My fabric is close, but not a perfect match to any fabric I can find used in a corset of this period.  I used a weird mix of threads, because I kept finding myself away from home, with only this to work on, and not exactly the right white cotton thread, so it’s a bit of a mish-mash if you look very closely.  I’m going to say 70%

Hours to complete: Oh dear….  30+

First worn: For a photoshoot, 22 December.

Corset reproduction, circa 1905,