Saturday, November 22, 2014

It's Finished // Civil War Day Dress

Happy Saturday all! I'm super excited to be sharing one of my bigger sewing projects from earlier this fall with y'all! I know that a hand full of you have seen/heard glimpses of this ta-do and have been awaiting to see her, that is this dress, for a while now. I've put off starting up a new sewing project for some reason lately (probably because there's always something else to occupy my mind with, but when isn't there? e.i. cleaning job, house work, studying), but when I pulled my Dress out for our photo-shoot, I got excited again, seeing an accomplished project gives you that I think.

 Okay, so for a quick catchup for those of you who have not heard about how this first came about, let me explain real fast. Back in the middle of September our family was asked, by our reputation of good home-cooked food, to take charge of a food stand/tent at a local Civil War event. We were pretty excited to get the chance to take off on such a new venture. Even though we do lots of events like this one, we'd never done one for during a Civil War reenactment before. It was really, really neat, but before the event came around we had very little time for preparations. If it hadn't been for our Aunt (she was co-proprietor) and our knowledge of such things, I don't think we would have been able to pull it off. You see, we had just over three weeks! Anyway- I knew there would be a vast amount of people in period clothing, and me being me, I really wanted to join in. After all, you don't get a chance like this everyday!

So that's the bit of the Dress' story. The couple that owns the farm that Bek and I work at was actually a big inspiration and help also. The wife makes all of their own clothing, using a treadle sewing machine, unique techniques, and fabulous prints, many of them being reprints from originals. She's made many period customs from many differing eras and had a pattern she'd only used once that she thought would fit my bill on the time crunch and the practicality factor, seeing as how I'd be busy both days serving/hauling/setting up our food area. She also sent me to a fabric site called Thousands of Bolts...Only One Nut, where she'd found many inexpensive period fabrics before, that also shipped in a timely manner, meaning I'd have time to get started...and finish on time in a hurry.

 With all the other work in prep for the big weekend, I didn't do any sort of mock-up/muslin beforehand with this garment. So with shakey hands, and reading through the directions about a zillion times, I commenced cutting pieces out and then pinning them together. The sewing instructions that came with the pattern (pictured below) pieces were very cut-dry and had alot of guess work that had to be done. Just the whole pattern seemed to have a first draft air about it. Which played alot with my nerves! Especially without a mock-up to compare/make changes to, looking back, I have no clue what I was thinking! Besides not having any time...

Anyway- the dress features the period off the shoulder bodice/sleeve hem, which if I use this pattern again in the future, I will definitely make that a little bit more pronounced, adding an inch or two for the full effect. The below photo shows a little bit of of the bodice close-up, as you can see, the front of it has the V-shaped format that was so popular in that time period. The work of gathering the bottom of each of the sides was really neat to do for the first time! It was nice to do something that I'd not done in the past that was easy and rewarding. :) It also has a bit of piping up the middle and around the collar, which I hand-sewed into place. I wish I would have opened it up to show the inside structure, but obviously I was not thinking clearly when I took these. :P But under the covered piping are steel hooks (same with the wrist cuffs) that close up the front of the bodice. The sleeves turned out better than I had expected, between the sketchy instructions and the look of the pattern pieces, I was certain they would end up being too snug, which it not what you are looking for in this kind of gown! Slipping it on for the first time, I was so relieved that all was well and that my wider shoulders and stout arms did not factor in too much. Oh! And the cuffs (pictured above, left) were quite fun too. Though those too will be need a change if I use the pattern again, as they were about an inch too tight for my liking! Which I can't quite figure as my wrists are small/average. Also, had I had more time to dress things up a bit, I would have loved to do the pleating instead of gathers for attaching the skirt to bodice. Next time I hope. Along with some hem binding (for the skirt's bottom hem) too are on the plans for next year's dress. 

 Over all, I was super happy with my pretty big, quick project! I figured I only spent around eight hours on it, start to finish! Thats pretty good on timing! Other costs are your average cotton cording and thread which were both easily found in my sash. Other than that, I was able to purchase all eight and a half yards of fabric, shipped, for just over $40! Amazing right! So make sure to give that site a look! (A side note about the fabric I chose- I had had a smaller print chosen, but before I could make up my mind for sure, there was not enough left for purchase as I did need 8+ yards! So even though this print was a little too big to be super accurate, I decided I liked it enough for it not to matter. :))

Have you ever made anything Civil War period or inspired?
 Have you ever not made a mock-up for a project that was tense? 
Have you ever missed out on an on-line fabric sale before you could make up your mind? 

the elder sister & writer 

P.S. For those wondering what all I'm wearing: Hoop skirt (it actually looks larger in real life :))- From an estate sale we did // Petticoat- Vintage, had forever // Pantaloons- Me made // Corset Cover/Cami- Me made // Snood- Bought off line a long time ago // Belt- Leather, thrifted, $1 // Boots, Ariat Brand, borrowed from Bek, gifted


  1. Oh, wow! This looks so great for such a quick project! :) I love the Civil War and it's always been quite close to my heart. Very cool to see this! :)

  2. Beautiful dress! I don't even always follow a pattern, so making a mock up is a foreign concept to me. :) that's probably not such a good thing. The fabric is lovely! I'll have to check out that site!
    I'm still waiting for a chance to wear a dress with a hoop skirt/ full petticoat, but I have one; I just need the right opertunity!

  3. This turned out really well Cassie! You look like a real Civil War era lady. :)

  4. That is beautiful. Seriously. Beautiful. Well done!

  5. Beautiful!! I love the style and fabric.


  6. Lovely Cassie! Making a civil-war dress was one of my dreams I've never been able to do, seeing as we hardly ever go to occasions that would require one. Perhaps I shall someday...
    You did a fabulous job. It looks SO authentic!


    the Middle Sister and Singer

  7. How lovely! Thanks for the links! As for the answers to your questions: yes, yes and yes!


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