Bodices – Bombshell and Victorian

The day started early for me, with a latte and a gently chirrupping radio, a boyfriend sleeping in bed and lots of handstitching with Gertie on the laptop.

I’ve realised that early, early morning is actually my favourite sewing time of day, even though it can sometimes leave me drained by the evening. I REALLY like working when the rest of the world is still asleep or only just waking up. I’m left on my own, my brain is fresh, it’s quiet, I can pootle around looking absolutely foul and disgusting and there’s no one to cry out in horror – I can get a lot done.

I worked on the bodice of the Bombshell Dress. There was the twill tape, the cotton batting in the cups, the catch stitching, the re-enforcing of the sweetheart neckline, the fell stitching, more catch stitching…

I could have moved on to cutting out the skirt but after all that I realised it was time for something new and different.

So I attacked my jungle of a garden! My mother is an amazing gardener; I am a gardener. What can I say? With a full-time job and a sewing machine, it’s hard to keep on top of things.

Then I did a second toile of the dress I’m making for a friend. I can’t bear to ruin this for her and got nervous about cutting into the fashion fabric after adjustments, so a second toile it was.

Of course, none of the above involves the use of an overlocker. So tonight I may cut out the three – three! – pattern pieces for the dress I really want to make with recently acquired turquoise jersey. It’s the dress that Eugenia eulogises about and which makes my limbs melt every time I see it – the V1179.

That was my Bank Holiday Monday! I hope you’re all enjoying yours – or that people elsewhere in the world are enjoying this insight into our long weekends.

By the way, I’m writing a manuscript set in 1830s England. There’s a chapter where a passed-out woman has to have the laces loosened on her corset. (Ooh, Missus!) I think I’ve got the clothes details right, but if any of my readers know their stuff about 1830s British dresses and corsets, do let me know if you fancy being an expert consultant on no more than 1000 words of reading!

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31 Responses to Bodices – Bombshell and Victorian

  1. Cindy says:

    You were productive! I can only sew when it is perfectly still in the house! Curious of the bombshell dress. I know the pattern would not be right for me, it does like you would learn a ton!

    I know nothing of the dresses/corsets in 1830s but sounds so fun to read!

  2. Abby says:

    I think this might be my first comment on your blog, but I’ve been reading (and enjoying!) it for a while. I love the fabric you chose for your bombshell dress. I’ve been thinking about joining the class as well, but I’m working on so many projects, I think it’ll have to wait a bit longer. I look forward to seeing how yours turns out!

  3. Freya says:

    The bombshell bodice is looking lovely! Can’t wait to see what it look likes. For corsetry advice – try asking Julia from Sew Curvy Corset kits. She has a blog called House of marmalade. She’s really knowlegeable and passionate about corsets and am sure she would be able to help!

  4. Suzy says:

    What a fantastic day you had! I also worked on my Bombshell dress but still doing the bodice muslin.

  5. Sam says:

    Sounds like you’ve had a lovely day. I’ve managed to get some knitting done, which isn’t bad.

    I love the look of that Vogue dress. I have some dark blue jersey upstairs waiting to become something lovely. Not sure if I’ve got enough for that dress, must go and have a measure.

  6. Sarah says:

    I love working whilst everyone is sleeping, too. It’s quiet and there is this lovely secret newness to it, I find. πŸ™‚ The bombshell dress is looking lovely. I’m very excited about your new book – sounds right up my street!

  7. Scruffybadger says:

    Fabulous looking bodice! I suspect I’m not quite so productive as early as you, however, on a weekend when there’s sewing to be done you can bet i ping awake planning how soon I can get to it…

  8. Roobeedoo says:

    What a great use of a bank holiday! Love the blue rose fabric! And the drapey cowl dress has my eye twitching in a fit of the wants – tsk! πŸ˜‰

  9. Eugenia says:

    Your bombshell dress is really coming to life – and it’s looking good! The Vogue dress is quite the opposite end of the spectrum – quick to make and loose and comfortable to wear!

  10. ericapenton says:

    Oh, that bombshell fabric is gorgeous!

  11. Kirsty says:

    I am sold on that Vogue pattern, I’ve been wanting to do some simple jersey dresses!

  12. amberelayne says:

    Your bombshell looks like the bomb! So beautiful! I’m not sure why, but that navy just pulls me in! Great work!

  13. Shelly says:

    Your bombshell bodice is looking fantastic. I really love your fabric, blue always attracts me. Can’t wait to start mine when the weather warms up a bit.

    Sounds like the best way to spend a long weekend! πŸ™‚

  14. ooobop! says:

    I love watching how this is coming along. I dont have the bod for this dress so I kind of ruled out the tutorial but I think it might be a fantastic learning curve for me too. Just to learn some of those techniques. Once I’ve finished my list of ongoing projects I will see if I have the nicety in me to make it for someone else!

  15. oonaballoona says:

    ummm… HELLO SEWING MACHINE. and i’m not talking about the one made of metal. you are flying!

    your bodice looks gorgeous. when you get to the skirt, you may want to play with where the gathers fall. i squished mine over to sit closer to the side, it made a big difference in the shape. after all that careful planning on the bodice, i figured why do the skirt strictly as is?

    that toile is gorgeous– what pattern did you use? i’m too lazy to search. i haven’t had my latte yet.

  16. LinB says:

    Check Janet Arnold’s books on English costume for corsetry details. I can’t remember off the top of my head if they were lacing in front or in back in the 1830s. It will make a difference which side of the bodice is ripped … sorry, took time for a small personal reverie, there.

    • Thank you so much! I’ve just looked her books up on Amazon – they look amazing.

      • LinB says:

        I lusted for them in college, and very nearly stole them from the theater department’s workshop. But I remained sinless in that regard, and just accumulated them throughout the years. When I read that she died, just a few years ago, I wept and wept. Perhaps you can borrow them from a friend or a library. Even in paperback they are fairly expensive. You’ll enjoy her writing as well as her excellent illustrations.

  17. redsilvia says:

    Wow, I’d never get up early on a day off, so kudos to your industrious nature! I’ve been off for two weeks and I think you did more in one day than I did in 13.
    Can’t wait to see how that Vogue dress comes out, it seems flattering on everyone and who doesn’t like a stretchy dress?

  18. Bethany says:

    Gail Carriger’s website has a ton of links to her favorite research sites. http://www.gailcarriger.com/ so one of those might be helpful?

    I’m a sucker for historical fiction and alternate historical fiction!

  19. MrsC says:

    Gosh that is quite the challenge, given how blinking complicated it would be to get into the dress and then loosen the lacing on her corset. Corsets in the 1830’s weren’t that restricting or tightly laced except I guess by the Paris Hiltons of the time. Just checking my Janet Arnold fashion 1660-1860, the dresses from the 1830’s are fastened up the back with hooks and eyes, with a slight overlap of the fabric to hide them,a bit like the way zips are sometimes set in. Not uncommon for dresses to be a separate skirt and bodice also. Hey, Jane Eyre is coming out in the movie theatres around now, maybe it will have some ideas, as it is set at the same time?
    Things to look for are whether the laces lace into the middle not top or bottom (can’t remember for that time) which if it were done in the 1830’s would make life much simpler.
    If you’re set on being accurate though, there are a whole lot of social considerations as to how your lady would be dressed, whether she would be corsetted all that tightly in the first place, and who would be brave enough to attempt this! πŸ˜‰

    • Thank you so much for this! People have been incredibly kind with the information they’ve shared and I’m so thrilled to have found out about Janet Arnold. Yes, I can’t wait to see that Jane Eyre film. A lot of what you’re saying ties in with what others have told me. I really appreciate the help.

  20. To be perfectly honest, the 1830s isn’t really the right era for a fainting scene where corsets needed loosening. This is a really unusual, not very historical occurrence in the first place (one that it mentioned in later Victorian lacing fetish literature, and pretty much no-where else – Valerie Steele’s ‘The Corset’ is a good basic introduction to this). It would be very unusual for a lady in the 1830s to be laced tightly enough for her lacing to cause her to faint. 1830s corsets are still basically focused on the bust, with a fairly long, unwaisted body. Most of the structure would come from cording (rather than boning) so would be much softer and more forgiving than most people envision a corset

    As Mrs C said (and I’m here because she suggested I could help πŸ˜‰ ) most dresses would hook up the back, and almost all 1830s corsets laced up the back, so accessing the laces to loosen them would be easy.

    Good luck with the writing!

    • Thank you very much! Yes, it seems that the cliche of fainting fits and tight corsets aren’t true to the mid 1830s – though a girl running around on the moors might still get a bit faint even in the less severe corsets of this time. Thank you all! Thank you for stopping by and helping. Much appreciated.

  21. rosesred says:

    That bombshell dress is coming along so nicely! looks great, I love how ‘built’ it’s looking.

  22. kuby2u says:

    Wow, you are truly amazing. I love your work! You look smashing in your dresses! I love that Sandra Betzina dress also, but I need sleeves at my age!! Thank you for sharing these spectacular dresses!

  23. Pingback: A Bodice Ripping Giveaway | Did You Make That?

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