Goose Mother: Now that we’re going to revert back to costumes, there’s one I’ve been waiting to hear about and that one is the 1895 walking suit. I’ve always liked that pattern. (Simplicity 4156)
Andrea Schewe: When I was invited to attend the 2005 Costume College, I was really excited. It is a bit different than the Costume Con conventions I had attended previously. Many of the past attendees I’d spoken to told me about all the interesting classes and most especially the traditional events that included a formal ball and an afternoon tea. You can see a variety of photos from these events by searching “Costume College Ball” on line. And Valarie LaBore has a very nice photo chronicle of the event. Costume College is an exceptionally fun event. The theme for the 2005 tea was to be Gilbert and Sullivan and, at that time, I was actively performing Gilbert and Sullivan operettas at two different theaters where I live. So, I contacted the person organizing the Costume College event and offered my services as the tea time entertainment. She found a pianist and with a lot of early planning, sending music across the country, and one short rehearsal we were ready to perform … BUT … I had nothing to wear!!
Goose Mother: How many times does a woman say that in her lifetime?!! (Laughter)
Andrea Schewe: This was a great excuse to make a design of my own choice and I chose a day dress from 1895; the year when the leg-o-mutton sleeve was at its height in popularity and it was also at its peak in size. This is an easy period to research. There are so many books full of fashion plates and pattern diagrams. After spending quite a bit of time searching and poring over photographs, I found a walking suit that was the classic shape of the times and it had some diagonal striping that I thought would give the illusion that I had a tiny waist like the tightly corseted ladies of that era.
I believe it worked out well. I think my waist measured about 29” at that time and I am 5’ 6”. Here I am at the tea with Valarie LaBore and a young lady, whose name escapes me … apologies. I began this project by dragging out every period pattern book I own and began by making starter patterns.
After constructing some working patterns and after a bit of sewing, I finally had a muslin that I could try on and fit. This particular costume I made had a heavily boned bodice so I didn’t have to wear a corset or all the other layers and layers of underclothing, but I did make a correct petticoat, for the period to give the skirt the right shape. It is visible in the photo of the muslin bodice.
Ooooo, look at what I found! I only have one this time, but I think it’s a good one! Well, at least if you like 1950s vintage. Here’s a 1950s pattern from Simplicity. (Simplicity 2300; 1957) A prom dress? An evening soiree? A bridesmaid? Cocktails, anyone? Anyone?
And here’s a pattern published in 2011 by McCall’s. McCall’s 6466
See, just as dreamy now as it was then. (Her feet must be hurting; those heels are kinda high. Kinda scary to dance in too. Or, maybe she’s pissed and thinking about throwing the shoe. Hmmm, I dunno.)
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