I’m done with the 1890’s walking suit for the character of Nina in Chekhov’s The Seagull. For the jacket, I used Simplicity 2207, and for the skirt I used Butterick 5970. This outfit will be worn in act 2 before Nina leaves home to become an actress. I wanted to make her something more wholesome in this scene, as I plan to make something much sexier when she comes home in Act 3 , two years later, after becoming the mistress to an older man and an actress.
Skirts in the 1890’s were gored, and flared from the seams to give fullness, and generally not gathered at the waist. This gave them a nice slimming effect, and they are actually quite flattering! I’m thinking of making one of these in silk for myself. The pattern has a slight train, which I shortened a bit because I don’t want the actress tripping on stage. The jacket was pretty much perfect as is. Simplicity 2207 is a Steampunk costume, but the leg of mutton sleeves and tapered arms were really interesting, and I felt it would look period appropriate once sewn up in this cotton ticking fabric I bought at JoAnn fabrics.The leg of mutton sleeve was very popular during the 1890’s. I probably should have made the sleeve more exaggerated as it’s not as big as I would like.
I need to take the jacket in a little at the bust still. If the jacket were really made authentically, I think it would have to be boned and worn with a properly built corset. But this is community theater and I have lots of costumes to make in a short time. And no assistant.
I recently bought a new sewing machine, a relatively inexpensive ( 300 dollars) Janome Magnolia. I bought it because I read that the buttonholes it made were quite good. I don’t need a lot of fancy stitches, because I don’t ever make quilts or do embroidery. The guy at the sewing machine shop confided in me that most people buy way too much machine for what their needs are. I love how the stripes match at the side seams.
Sewing on buttons close together makes a jacket look antique. Another sewing technique that makes clothing look authentically period, is adding an underlining. It gives clothes body and thickness and weight. If you examine antique clothes, many have an underlining. In sewing for the theater, underlining makes a costume more durable. It’s also a technique used in couture sewing often.To underline a pattern piece, cut out an identical lining piece in cotton and then sew it to the pattern piece inside the seam allowance. It’s then treated as a single unit. Professional costumes are often unlined but they are underlined. Not lining them makes them easier to alter in the future.