Waisted Efforts

-Two-day wild hair-

Diary of a two-day wild hair.

George and I at the VSA event.

So the Chicago chapter of the VSA was throwing an event last March at the Cliffdwellers club. It was a dinner and presentation on a book about William James and the Psychical Society; Victorians and their beliefs about life after Death called Ghosthunters.

Joseph had already left for CA so I asked if George wanted to go with me. I wanted to dress up for it, and had decided to wear my green Moulin Rouge outfit, but what I really wanted was to have something NEW!

So I finally made up my mind three days before the dinner to make a new dress. I researched quite a bit, and decided on a dress from around 1907 since that is when the club was originally built. I mostly used the pattern of the 1906 dinner dress from Janet Arnold’s Pattern of Fashion 1860-1940.

I wanted to alter the round neckline to a more square one similar to a fashion plate from Le Mode Illustree that I have. My darling friend Ginger had given me a bolt of Moire in a great french blue that had almost 8 yards on it. It was a good thing I used almost all of it. I mixed that with scraps from my blue day Victorian outfit, and we were off to the races.

This was the first time that I have ever done a dress from this era. It involves draping the dress from a fitted guimpe to get the shape and flow you want. I had almost no help, and did all the fittings alone. I do NOT recommend this. It was nerve racking, but I knew I could always fall back onto my green dress.

You can see all the hand stitching that attaches all the layers in this pic.

And here is the front pulled down to show the sleeves and inset on the guimpe.

I used a ton of hooks and eyes and bars to close up the back of the dress. It all happens in layers. There are the big hooks that close up the body of the guimpe. Then the smaller hooks that close up the upper back and neck. I used small hooks and hand stitched bars for the back of the skirt, and then finally hooks and metal bars that close the belt over everything at the raised waist.

I really wanted a high collar on the dress and the pattern is straight from the Janet Arnold book. I I boned the points which definitely keeps it up, but is annoying when I turn my head. I may have made the points a little too extreme or the entire collar too tall. I am not sure, it can be difficult when you draft out of a book with 1/8 inch squares trying to become 1 inch squares.

For my hair, I wanted to make a round hair wrap, and this worked great. I took one of my falls that had outlived its usefulness and cut it off its base keeping it in long hanks. I laid these out in a ring about 7 to 8 inches in diameter, and wrapped it with brown thread. I then wrapped that in hair nets, and wrapped it again with thread. I wanted it to be consistent and somewhat firm, but I did not want it so soft it would misshape. I then stitched the two end together to make my circle and went about experimenting with this site for Vintage hair styles.

Here is the finished style with a comb Rhonni gave me, and a feathers to accentuate.