Tuesday, October 25, 2016

An early bustle petticoat AKA "fluffy!"

Do you lack undergarments for the eras you want to recreate? I do. It is completely scandalous but there you have it. I lack underpinnings to form the foundation of the lines I want to achieve.

I have been wanting to make a version of the dress worn by the character Irene Adler in the first Sherlock movie since about one second after it waltzed across the screen. That brilliant pop pf raspberry and navy color in a sea of brown suits. It was a breathtaking visual (there was much silent geeky cheering going on inside my head!) 

So with that imagery in mind can you just imagine my stunned over excitement when Kat of Madame Modiste offered me the perfect shade of raspberry moire fabric? She took it off her shelf after I complimented it and plopped it in my lap. "Here ya'go." she said to me. "Whaaaaaaa!?!" I said or something practically that eloquent. If you get to know me well enough you might notice that I can freeze when shocked. I think I tried to say no, I probably didn't try very hard (because inside I was already petting it and feeding it and calling it George) and ever since that day I have had the desire to make a Sherlock dress rolling around in the back of my brain and hopefully give Kat the joy of seeing that fabric become something at last! 

First I wanted to make a dress that would be clearly recognized as a Sherlock dress, but I had no desire to make a satin blah recreation of the movie dress which frankly fell short in absolutely every way except for the drool worthy color. 

seriously- could we get more boring? Still LOVING the color though.

Here are the fashion plates that over the years keep ending up on my short list for this project. 

This one (left) has the amount of contrast I want and the floral pop like the cape in the movie dress appealed to me. 
More than the dress the coat on this dress (left) had an edgy Steam feel to me. 
This dress (right) had a military bent to it which is just me wanting a military dress but I do like the contrast ratio of trim to dress. 
(right) I love the contrast, it's 1880's big ole' bustle which I was focused on and seemed to me like something a sassy Adler would wear. This was the dress I had been pretty well set on. 

But then the urge for early bustle and this fashion plate teamed up and beat me into real motivation to make this dress! 
(left) I love every little thing about this dress! The tabs- the buttons- the collar- the sleeves- all of it. 

Here is how it happened... Do you ever notice that the events you attend start dictating the dresses you make? That the authentic list of "I want this dress!" gets pushed aside, pushed back, and left to languish in the corner while you spend your time making "this dress will work for the event" dresses? It  happens to us all at times I think, but it seemed to me like this trend had become my costuming life and it was sucking some of the joy out of it for me. After the recent pink tea dresses (three of them- three!) in a shade of 1980 rose pink I would never choose in a million years- I snapped. 

"Sherlock is happening, all upcoming events not withstanding- I may be wearing it to Dickens instead of a fur trimmed Victorian but I don't care! I'm making it! No power in the verse can stop me! I can kill you with my brain!"

You get the idea. So after my super jolt of motivation and creative juice set in I realized I have none of the undergarments I want for this dress. So instead of waltzing to my closet and pulling out two petticoats, a beautiful satin corset, some cheeky cute drawers, an elegant chemise, and making my dress- I'm making a whole set of undies first. I REALLY need new underpinnings anyway so I'm excited about it and not feeling like it is a set back. 

Enter "Fluffy" I wanted to start with a petticoat. It needs to be early bustle and trained. I wanted it to have a pretty high degree of fluff because the moire' fabric for the dress is fairly heavy fabric and wimpy petti's just won't do. 
It's SO Fluffy! 
This petticoat is unusual in that it is made from a floral print Pima cotton (this fabric started life as a king sized sheet set from target.) I have found several extant and fashion plate images that clearly show floral cotton prints during the early bustle years but none of an actual petticoat. I still hope for validation of the fabric choice but until then - I made it with this fabric because It's pretty and I wanted to! 

I did find these great printed drawers from the MET and I will continue to look for an extant petticoat but this was enough validation for me! Moving on! 

I used the Truly Victorian 208 pattern for an early bustle skirt. I made no changes to the pattern for the petticoat as I typically need to lengthen TV skirt patterns by two inches in theory the pattern length as printed should be just right for a petticoat and slightly shorter than my skirt. 
I used this image as a guide for the placement of the ruffles and puffing. 
My puffing is much fluffier by intention. 
The ruffles took forever! Seriously, I remembered why I don't ruffle often. 

The circumference of the skirt os 160 inches and I ruffled at a 3:1 ratio for the three bottom rows. 
my machine being eaten by ruffles! 

adding the puffing. 
My puffing row is gathered at a 2:1 ratio. 

I drafted the waistband for the petticoat myself. I had the idea that it was a pointed waistband until I referred back to my inspiration image. So I corrected the front of the waistband to a curved shape. 

I still need to add the last bit of ruffle to the top row and the waistband but I am so pleased with this petticoat so far. Next I will be making some cutie floral drawers and a lavender corset. 
Lord Beckett stops by to inspect the studio. 

It feels really good to be making something just because I want to - I don't have an event in mind for this dress but I am so excited to be making it at last. Are you making something just because you want to this week?


  1. Not sure how I missed finding your blog but Gina had posted a link to yours so here I am!
    I love your fluffy petticoat! And good use of the sheet. I wished they still made pretty printed ones instead of all solids now. It makes it hard for us seamstresses.


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