Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Holy hell I actually finished the Victorian project.

Alright! So, earlier this year I was hired to do some art for a card game, Moriarty's Machinations. Part of my involvement with the game was dressing up in character as Irene Adler to advertise at a couple conventions, including the Boston Festival of Indie Games. (We won the award for best indie tabletop game by the way, which was super exciting!)

It has been a long time since I posted about my Victorian costume. Check out the project's tag for all the related posts. I started it back in 2011, as an independent study course in college, and then didn't finish it after the class was done. There was only a couple things left to do by the time I got this job that required me to have a period costume, so it finally motivated me to finish.

Here's my original rendering. I think I got pretty close.

The fabric isn't authentic at all. I used a striped velveteen synthetic (it feels luxurious at least) and a heavy plum sateen (probably poly). I also didn't stick very closely to one part of the Victorian Era. The anachronisms aren't so strong that a casual observer would notice them.

Let's start with the hat. I used the Truly Victorian 1880s hat pattern. This was my first time making this type of hat so I've outlined it in more detail in this past post and this one. The majority of this is hand sewn. I love how the trim on the underside came out.

I had to wear a wig with the costume because my hair is currently pink and green. This was great because I could pin the hat on with a hat pin (obviously) directly through the wig and it stayed on amazingly well.

I drafted this bodice using a sloper. It has a shawl collar, faux button cuffs, two piece sleeves, a violin back, pleats... so many things.

It doesn't fit perfectly, partially because I've probably changed shape since I drafted and sewed it, and partially because damn this is hard. I'm going with "it's more authentic this way." If you've ever looked at pictures from the period, there's a lot of pulling and wrinkling in the clothing. 

Here's the cool technical stuff: The standing collar portion of the bodice is actually an insert that attaches with snaps. This means you can put different inserts in for different looks. On original bodices I saw, the insert went all the way to the side seams, but I had a lot of trouble getting this to work and opted to just make it look correct when worn. The bodice is boned and has a waist stay to keep those back pleats snug against the lower back.

Let's take a look at the skirts, starting with the outside. The overskirt is part drafting from a period pattern found in Patterns of Fashion 2 by Janet Arnold (the front bit) and part draping (the back).

All the back poofs are held in place by ties on the inside. This makes it somewhat adjustable and also easier to clean/iron.

The black underskirt is from another pattern in the book. It has a grosgrain waistband, side pocket, and cartridge pleats in the back. There's a lot more about it here.

I used almost the same pattern as above for the petticoat, except without back cartridge pleating and with all these ruffles added. There are ties on the inside of the petti to keep the volume towards the back. I also have a bustle pad under all of these skirts.

I had to wear this in the summer, on public transportation. It's more of a fall/winter weight gown, so it got pretty warm. On the plus side, I received some awesome comments. One lady walking by actually told someone she was talking to on the phone to hang on, then turned to me and asked why I was dressed like that. Once I told her, she said I looked fabulous and carried on with her conversation. I love when stuff like that happens!

Everyone looks better in blurry black and white

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