Bedecking Ms. Babbage
I think head-in-the-clouds Rae has won out (was there ever a question, really?). I’m making a Steampunk costume over the course of the next nine months. I even ordered some fabric, so now I have to make it.
My muse hasn’t stopped singing about the costume in the past week. It came up with a whole backstory and character for this costume, and who am I to deny it? Now that it’s in my head, I can’t get past the character (who is about 18 years old) so this won’t be a costume for me. Luckily, I have two younger sisters with similar body types (to each other, not me. Brats got all the tall genes)—hereafter referred to as C&K—to exploit, and they’ve agreed to let me dress them up at Christmas for a photo shoot.
So, paired with their measurements, a dress form I don’t yet own, and only a single chance to fit a mockup or two in person in less than a month (unless they come visit me, which is doubtful, since they’re on college-student budgets and I’m on a recently-bought-a-house-and-am-making-a-big-costume budget), I will be creating a costume that fits them (in theory). Luckily, they have more pattern-ready bodies, so fitting should be simpler than if I were to make it for myself, I think.
I can’t really sketch, but here’s a bit of my idea on paper…
The main components being a corset (not drawn), a bodice, a bifurcated skirt, a bolero, a princess-seamed overgown, and possibly some sort of draping piece to go over the divided skirt, but under the gown so that the pieces can build on one another, rather than having to take the divided skirt off and replace it with a second skirt. (So, really, two semi-interchangeable costumes, actually.)
It’s all very late-1880s/Belle Époque, and I’m trying to keep it close to historically accurate, design wise, although it will be a bit of a mashup in styles from 1885-1900.
As soon as C&K give me their measurements, I’ll get started on a corset mockup using Simplicity 9769 (since I already own it).
In the mean time, I’m working on trying to figure out how to turn instructions like these…
…into a successful divided skirt.
I have three slightly different resources. The one above, and
- The “Standard” Work on Cutting Ladies’ Tailor-Made Garments, pub 1908. (Cross-saddle riding skirt with apron front, p. 184)
- Turn-of-the-Century Fashion Patterns and Tailoring Techniques, pub. 2000, which is just a modern reprinting of the 1901 printing of The “Standard” Work on Cutting Ladies’ Tailor-Made Garments. (Cross-saddle riding skirt, p. 144 and Divided Skirt (Bicycle), p. 138)
The 1908 book has this quote on the page immediately preceding the riding skirt.
“Read attentively, think earnestly, and you will acquire knowledge rapidly.”
I hope it proves providential.
If it doesn’t, Truly Victorian has a 1901 Split Skirt Pattern pattern, which I’m 99% sure is drafted directly off the one in the 1901 edition of The “Standard” Work, but I’d like to draft it myself instead of paying someone to do it for me.
So, that’s a start. My inspiration Pinterest board is steadily growing. We’ll see how this bifurcated skirt goes.
Also, outside the sewing room, my friend Koba and I are collaborating on a part of the costume. She makes wonderful math/science-inspired jewelry where she interprets constants and other numbers in beads. If I wore more jewelry, I’d own a ton of her pieces. But, my lack of accessorizing aside, she’s running a bit of a contest for readers to guess what we’re collaborating on… so play along!
Do you do late-Victorian or Steampunk? Have any pattern recommendations?
3 Responses to “Bedecking Ms. Babbage”
9:48 am | 04/26/12
After Regency period fashions I think late-Victorian/Edwardian are my favorite costume styles. Love the divided skirt pattern and I think I will attempt to draft it based on the instructions. Good luck with your new projects!
9:54 am | 04/26/12
Suitability Equestrian Wear has great patterns including one for a wonderful divided riding skirt for $12.
11:10 am | 04/27/12
Oooh, that’s cheaper than Truly Victorian and has the side-saddle skirt too. If I fail in my drafting, that is a definite possibility. Thanks!