March 11, 2013

A White Waist and Skirt, Plus Bonus Cage Crinoline

A new Civil War outfit for a little girl who has outgrown her winter dress--something a bit fancier, a bit more grown-up.

An outfit like this would have been worn by an upper or upper-middle class little girl, one whose family was in tune with all the fashions. 

Eventually I hope to add trim to the skirt, like this one!
It would not have been made in a thick cotton or calico print, but rather a fine white batiste (or sheer cotton) for the blouse and a silky, fancy dress fabric for the skirt.

I looked at several fashion plates, CDVs and read lots of threads at the Sewing Academy before designing the white waist. It's made from a thin cotton batiste (which was a simply enormous white tiered skirt that I thrifted some time ago) and the bodice is lined with plain cotton.

I used the HMP 250 dress bodice as a pattern, changing it up only slightly. It has the standard stand-up collar and button-front placket, plus the front and back bodices are gathered to a waistband. Knowing this particular little girl's tastes and fancies, I trimmed it with lace wherever I could.

The design of the sleeves was a bit of an accident. Originally I was going to make two sets of sleeves--a long, full bishop sleeve and a short puffed sleeve, to be interchangeable for different occasions. Unfortunately I ran out of fabric after cutting out the short sleeves and there was no way I could cut out two large bishop sleeves without piecing them.

So I decided on this: use the short puffed sleeve at the top, end it with a band of lace (like a cuff) and simply cut the bottom part of the sleeve as a bishop sleeve which can be tacked on or taken off as needed. Does that make sense? It's kind of hard to explain. Suffice to say, the bottom of the sleeves are detachable to make short sleeves when wanted and I believe that is a period-correct technique.

The skirt is merely pleated to a waistband--made very full, to fit over the tiny cage crinoline and starched petticoat. This fabric was actually my very first "Civil War" style dress which I made---oh, about four or five years ago! That was before I got into living history and learned what was accurate styling and what was not. Glad it can be used for something. ;) As soon as I get time I'm going to make a matching plaid jacket and hopefully trim the jacket and skirt.

On the cage crinoline: I made it completely from scratch, after looking at a lot of homemade ones on the internet. It's deceptively simple: I merely bought a pack of the longest zip ties (cable ties) you can find and duct-taped them into circles of differing sizes. (I believe the bottom rung's circumference is about 60".)


Then I covered the circles with white bias tape and made several long white strips (the vertical ones in the photo) that are handsewn to the waistband and each of the circles in turn. No biggie :) It doesn't look very big in the photo but once you put a starched petticoat and a skirt over it, you can really see the difference. It's also fun to bounce around in when dancing the polka. ;)

With starched (but wrinkled) petticoat over top--see how much it poofs out?

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