I´ve been wanting to make an 1830´s dress since I first saw “Wives and Daughters” some eight or nine years ago, and was even more inspired when I saw “Cranford” last year (where some of the dresses from “Wives and Daughters” are re-used) but so far never got round to it. There are so many other things to do; school (though that´s no longer a problem), work (or looking for one), other sewing-, knitting-, scrapbooking-projects (major problem…), books that want to be read (another major problem) and trying to have a social life… But a couple of days ago, while reading about corded petticoats on the Sewing Academy-forum I decided it was time to get started.
I´ll have to make a corset suitable for the period, a new chemise, and some petticoats (tucked, I think… tucks are beautiful). I will also make a corded petticoat, partly because I want to see firsthand what it does to the shape of my skirts, partly because they where in use in the period, but mostly because they can be so pretty, and I want to make one! So I will start with that, the corded petticoat.
Having made that decision, yesterday I went to the Red-Cross charity shop and bought two identical sheets (old ones, with lace-insertions and monograms), because they are of a far better quality than most cotton fabrics nowadays. They are also a lot cheaper and you don´t have to shrink them before you start, and I wanted to start right away. Well, to be honest I bought three sheets, the third had such a pretty lace insertion… I´ll use the rest of it for my new chemise.
I cut the sheets to the length I wanted, two pieces to be sewn together. As I plan to fold the fabric and sandwich the cords between the layers, I made the pieces a lot longer than the finished petticoat will be. I´m not sure yet how many rows of cording I will have, so I took a bit more fabric than I might actually use (1.5 meters), just in case. The sheets have very nice selvages, so I decided to just whipstich them together, to make as smooth a seam as possible. If you do it properly, you can´t even feel the seam with your fingertips. The hope is that will make it easier to sew the cords in, with no seam allowenses being in the way. The seams are left open some 17 centimeters at the top, to enable me to put the petticoat on. Perhaps a centre back opening is more common for the period, but I rather like side-openings… makes it easier to wear the petticoat, should your weight change one way or the other.
I´ve gone home to visit my family for a few days, and so I haven´t had so much time to sew as I would at home. But I get to sew a lot more often than I get to visit my family, so never mind that. I got a couple of hours of sewing done before I went though, and an other couple of hours while watching TV with my dad and brother. So before I went to bed I had almost finished sewing the two panels together. Hopefully I´ll finish that today, and start with the cording.