Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Victorian Bodice From The Inside Out

So here is my Victorian bodice that I scored for a song in Albuquerque - turned inside out! And Im showing this inside out, so that you can see how this was made. We take for granted our sewing machines and clothing made for pennies in China. This woman didnt even have a sewing machine. She made her outfit by hand. One stitch at a time. Or she was a costumer over 50 years ago and was striving for historical accuracy. Somehow I doubt that though.

Ive looked extensively for examples of vintage garment construction online and it is either treated as some kind of guarded secret, or Im just not looking in the right places. There are tons of books out there now on this subject, but I still find that actually looking at the garment tells you loads more. Im sure most old dresses are just too delicate to be turned inside out like this, but I did it anyway and the dress is fine. It really does look like it was just pulled out of the closet. The sales tag said it was from the 1860's. It could be a bit earlier. It could be a costume that someone made, but the fabric is so old, that I think its the real deal. I can tell by the lining. Someone chime in here if I'm wrong!!!!

I just love the old hooks and eyes!
There are 5- 4.5" bones in the front of the bodice. One is placed at the very front, over the "eyes" at the waist. The very front bone is encased in the same polished cotton as the lining. The remaining 4 bones are encased in the front darts. Whenever possible, the selvedge was turned over onto the inner lining as a facing. All seams are hand sewn. There are little almost invisible basting stitches in the seams. and some of the darts were stitched so that they would lie flat.

I'm sorry for my poor quality photos - a new camera is much needed! 

The cobalt blue silk facing was flat lined with the polished cotton. Ive seen this cotton used as lining many times, I just dont recall seeing things faced this nicely. But this is obviously just me being ignorant. As my friend Monique Motil say's........."if they coulda, they woulda". 
This facing is stitched down so nicely - I had to double check and make sure that it hadnt really been done by machine. Nope. All. By. Hand. And it was pieced as to use the fabric wisely and not extravegantly.

The seams are all whip-stitched to cut down on fraying. And at first I thought that this was just a simple little costume. But the pagoda sleeves are inset with a teeny tiny piping - as is the neckline! This is such a lovely finish and adds body and dimension to the overall effect. 

Also, I thought the buttons were made from the same cloth, but they are not. Nice match!

I'll post the inside of the skirt next. Im sure most of us have seen petticoats up close and personal, but I'll show that too, for fun! 

1 comment:

Donna McKanders said...

Thanks for sharing. I really would love to find such a beautiful piece of fashion history. The hand sewn details are so intricate. I t must have taken many hours to make this garment.