When I decided to make a 1900s tea gown I also decided that I didn’t have the budget to go buy fabric for it. Whatever I made was going to have to be stash-based.
I kept what I had in-stash in mind as I looked at designs. My primary inspiration is this satin and lace extravaganza from 1899:
I bought almost 15 metres of a really amazing poly-cotton sateen with a little metal woven through it in ivory last year.
I know you are all gasping in horror and thinking “poly-cotton!?! Ewwww!!!”, but really, this fabric is fabulous. I’ve had dozens of fabric snobs inspect it, and not one has guessed that it has a synthetic content. Most guess silk, or a silk-cotton or silk-linen blend. I looks rich and sumptuous and not at all synthetic-y, and it acts rich and sumptuous and natural and not at all synthetic-y.
When I bought it I first bought 3 metres, and took it home and ran it through a number of tests, determined that it fits my exacting standards, and I could even dye it – granted only pastel tones, but I’m happy with that! So I raced back to the shop and bought the rest of the roll at $10 a metre.
The only thing I don’t love about the fabric is the metal content. Because of it, the fabric never properly smooths out. It doesn’t really wrinkle or crease (thanks to the poly-cotton), but it doesn’t press smooth.
I’m calling it a sateen for now, but you could call it a satin, because of the polyester. What do you think? Sateen because of the cotton, or satin because of the polyester?
Right. So that sorts the over-robe. I’ve been criticised in the past for sewing with too many whites and barely-there tones, so I wanted the front of the gown to be an actual colour, even if only a pastel.
I bought an amazing robins egg blue silk razimir at a 40% off sale at Global Fabrics a few years back. I only bought 2 metres (they gave me an extra 20 centimeters, because they are wonderful) because it was so expensive, even on sale. I’ve regretted that I didn’t buy more so many times since. It would have been the perfect fabric for Emily’s dress, and a dozen other projects. But I thought that I could just squeeze the front of a petticoat and a bodice out of the fabric, and it would be perfect for the front of my tea gown.
It’s gorgeous fabric. Soft and buttery with a slight rib and a delicious sheen.
My decision to go with it was made easy by the discovery of a few metres of vintage kimono silk in the same shade of blue. There wasn’t a lot of it, and it wasn’t in perfect condition, but I thought I could get a lining for the robe out of it, so that you would get delicious glimpses of blue when the robe fluttered open.
I like the faint stripes and brocaded patterns in the kimono silk: just another bit of interest to the lining. And Japonisme is so very appropriate for 1900s and tea gowns!
Finally, I needed some truly gorgeous lace to finish the tea gown. Darn. I do have some fabulous vintage spider-web patterned lace, but it is far more 1930s than 1900s. It didn’t seem right for this, and I love it too much to commit it to something it isn’t right for.
Then, on a trip to the Fabric Warehouse I found the perfect lace. Darn. I was not supposed to buy fabric for this project! But it was so perfect, and I found everything else in the stash, and it was very reasonably priced (for lace).
Isn’t it perfect?
Yum! I love it! And it has a border on both edges, which makes laying out the pattern pieces much easier.
So, that’s my fabric. It’s good to have a design come together!