Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Entering the Silly Season: An 1869 Madame Cobweb Dress

The silly season is upon us: time to design for Halloween! Having looked at so many sacques and polonaises these last weeks on Hallie Larkin's blog, I've conceived a sudden desire for floof and pouf, and bethought me of the First Bustle era, and my unfinished Dolly Varden project.

Since Christopher wants to be a cowboy again this year, I think I will accompany him as his mama, Madame Cobweb. Noah will be my black kitty cat -- he wants to be a kitty again this year, at least for the moment. They've grown so that I will need to make new outfits for them again, but those are easy and lots of fun. Madame Cobweb will actually make two appearances, since our tea society is having a Ghost Tea here at the end of October, too.

This dress will not be a Dolly Varden per se*, since those dresses were made up in eye-popping floral prints and date to 1872-1873. No, this will be a charcoal gray dress trimmed with black ruching. The design? The dress on the right in the image at the page top. You can read all about the pattern on page 77 of the January, 1869 issue of Peterson's, but I'll make some bodice changes, to be discussed in another post.

* Curious about the Dolly Varden phenomenon? See some research I did on it in the post A Brief History of the Dolly Varden Dress Craze.

Materials: All from the Stash, and Some Found Time

I have the bustle all ready, and a chemise, and a half-finished petticoat. I have the Truly Victorian patterns for the bodice and underskirt, and the pattern for the overskirt from Peterson's, and the fabric, a length of black cotton bought ages ago, and grey fabric, content unsure, purchased for a song long before the boys were even born. I even have black lace from my friend Curtis Grace and antique steel boning found in a grab bag I've been holding on to for some six years. It will be nice to thin the stash.

Better yet, the gift of time. The tots are getting their chickenpox booster shots in a few weeks, and since I have a chronic condition, have been told to be away from them for a week. Therefore, I'll be over at my mother's and make the costumes up in the evenings (the days are devoted to work, and if I am lucky and can get the fabric, to a curtain project).

Very little handsewing on this one, either...time to pull out the period handcrank to speed the construction, and time to use the pinking sheers to avoid having to finish interior seams. Plus, I've learned a great deal about seams and trims since 2009, and have a couple of damaged garments from the mid to late nineteenth century to refer to when -- it's not a matter of "should", but when :} -- I get stuck.

Anyhow, this will be the last project for this year, and a fun, quick one that results in a dress I can pull out annually for Halloween parties.

Stay tuned :}


The Dreamstress said...

Oooooh...sounds fun! I can't wait to see pics of the fabric and construction, and of course the finished dress!

I want an excuse to make a period Halloween costume (pout) but I have too much to do the next few months.

ZipZip said...

Dear Dreamstress,
Funny you should talk of the lack of time. When I got serious about the dress, and looked at everything else that needs doing, especially home decorating stuff, realized I hadn't the time and energy. Then too, the style started to look prettifed, a pale imitation of real 18th century dress. So the project is closed...but this winter's project is begun: an 18th century dress. I've been reading about the lovely, lovely, sack dress you made earlier this year.

Very best,