Monday, July 12, 2010

A civil war dress complete!

Hello everyone!
I recently finished my first civil war dress that I sewed on my own. My purple dress was my first dress, but I had loads of sewing help. Bethany my sister who has the blog Diary of a seam stress did assist me in telling me the steps and how to sew this new dress, but I did the actual sewing, etc. on my own. Do go and read her blog! It has loads of info on civil war clothing and sewing. Praise God for Lord willing being able to sew on my own. My goal is to someday be able to sew my clothing without her assistance. I am so thankful for her help and the Lord giving me a friend and sister to help me learn this wonderful skill.

I am sorry the dress is not on me or the dress form. My dresses are actually too small to fit on our dress form. My figure is a lot smaller and differently shaped with a corset and even lots of my modern clothing is too small for the dress form. So pictures of it hanging up will have to do for now.

I would have put it on, but I was in a time crunch. When I wear it Lord willing at our next event in October I will try and get pictures of it on me, but for now this will have to suffice.
The matching buttons on the cuffs. I was blessed to find rose buttons to match the blue roses.

The sleeves are called Bishop sleeves and they were one of the most common sleeves on ladies dresses in the american civil war.

The gauging as it is called above that was the longest part of the process of sewing the dress. Most dresses during the civil war had gauging instead of pleating for the technique of sewing the skirt to the bodice. In silk or wool dresses it was more typical to pleat the skirt to the bodice. Now this does not mean that I do not have a pleated cotten dress. I do! and that is ok too as that was before my sister and I found out that it was more common to gauge. We are learning constantly!

The bodice was the best part in my opinion! I loved putting the matching buttons on and Bethany helped me iron and steam the bodice gathers well.

If you are wondering my sister and I did not use store bought patterns for this dress or any other dresses you have seen in pictures from the civil war era that we wear at events. A good friend of ours draped the patterns for us for our bodices. But my sister and I have drafted our own sleeves and skirts. I beleive the bodice is the hardest part to draft/drape properly. We are so grateful for our friend stiring us in the right direction for period correct bodices and helping us out!

I found these buttons after finding the fabric in two different places. I found the buttons at Abrahams Lady in Gettysburg, PA. You may say well I can't just go to PA! Well they also have a website here. They do not sell everything you need for sewing, but they do sell some great notions and accessories as well as some clothing. I would recommend highly sewing your own clothing, as some of their apparel is not exactly period correct. If you buy clothing from any seller it will most definately not fit you well or be exactly the right shape. So I recommend sewing or getting a friend to custom sew you a gown.

And lastly here is the lining or as they called it in the civil war the kick plate. This fabric helps your dress to not get so worn or stained. You can hand wash that instead of the hem of the dress. on the bottom that helps the fabric from getting worn very fast. Also I put hem tape, which helps to have your dress last longer and not wear as quickly.
The one thing this dress is lacking would be a collar. Most civil war dresses had a collar that was removable on the dress when worn. If not, they would put a hankerchief around their neck to prevent sweat stains getting on the dress fabric.
That way the stains could be bleached out of the collar with an item called blueing. It did not bleach the white fabric like our modern bleach, it made the white look bluer, tricking the eye that the garment was pure white. This is my little
knowledge of period laundry techniques I had read about in books on laundry and at the sewing academy.

Well God bless! If you have any questions about civil living history and sewing please do ask. I may not have an answer, but my sister or other friends might.

In Christ,



Ashley Nicole said...

Your dress is so pretty, Rebecca! I really should start sewing my 1860s dress sometime (my fabric has roses on it too). But, other projects keep coming up, and right now I have no event to wear a civil war dress.

Mrs. G said...

Rebecca, your gown is lovely. Congratulations to you on a job well done!
Mrs. G

Hannah Rebekah said...

Very cool! It's very pretty. I was in a play last year and my mom had to make me a dress like that.

-Hannah Rebekah

Ileigh Jean said...

Lovley just lovley.
I like the fabric.


Stephanie Ann said...

It looks great! The sewing is lovely and the lining is nice too. You did such a great job. My first dress was pleated too. Gauging just helps the skirt part stick out more. I have grown to like it. That is so great that you have a bodice pattern that is perfectly tailored to you. The other parts of dresses are much simpler to draft yourself. I can't wait to see the dress on you!

Miss Virginia said...

Becca, that is GORGEOUS and you have improved so rapidly! That is amazing!


SinginginHisName said...

thank you everyone!!! As I said I am so blessed to be able to learn to sew from my sister and I still can't believe I made a dress! I can't wait to wear it in October at our next civil war event!!!

silent_librarian said...

I forgot to mention! Those buttons are the best! I am pretty much obsessed with roses in designs and stuff, and those buttons look very romantic and old-fashioned!