more dressing downton without a corset

by puu on February 28, 2012 · 4 comments

in 1910s

working on my titanic-style dress for last week’s sew weekly means i actually cannot stop thinking about downton abbey and its influence on my current mood boards.


i love lady mary’s formal dinner gown from series two–especially now that i can see it is blue, not black. (which should have been obvious–wouldn’t it be inappropriate for a lady NOT in mourning to wear black to dinner?)

i’ve become quite fond of the idea of doing this look as a blouse. a nice, basic bodice with vaguely corset-inspired stylines would be a great start:

in this instance, i would probably trace off the pattern to get the right shape, and eliminate the button front by re-aligning the center fronts minus the placket. then i could decide whether to commit to the pintucks or keep it more straight. can’t you see it in a great blue lace with a blue underlining? and the sleeves would be fun to figure out, although probably a fair bit of work to determine the best way to design, cut and insert those velvet bits and the tie-end.

i recently had an epiphany, of sorts, about using vogue 1043 or 8409 as the basis for lady mary’s series 1 evening dress:

and i am not sure i mentioned it, but i’m having pleat obsessions and it’s entirely because of this skirt and its fabulous movement and design details:

oh! and i nearly forgot! have any of you checked out susan khalje’s new craftsy course? firstly, how exciting is it that someone as great as susan khalje is doing an online course like this? first gertie, then susan, and now even the wonderful kenneth king is jumping on the bandwagon. that’s good news for all of us looking for new techniques from wonderful teachers, no?

anyway, susan’s course focuses on a single pattern, vogue 8648. but check out these style lines:

i’m seeing definite potential.

part 1 available at puu’s door of time or right here at WSR.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessamyn February 28, 2012 at 9:21 pm

Just to bust a myth: Dresses for full mourning were black, but not all black dresses were for mourning. Not by a long shot! Black was a respectable, reliable color for dresses. Perhaps not the most youthful choice – a 16-year-old’s party dress would not have been black – but an incredibly common one at all levels of society.

Proper mourning was marked out in dress by combining black with dull materials and an absence of contrasting trims and accessories – so a black satin dress or one embroidered in sparkly beads or worn with a white collar would not have been seen as mourning wear.

Coco Chanel was a fabulous self-publicist, and one of her successes in that department was managing to sell the idea, later in the 20th century, that she had invented the simple black dress for ordinary wear. Women had already been wearing simple black dresses for ordinary wear since at least the 1850s! All Chanel did was help shepherd them back into chicness after a decade or so of color being more popular (that decade being when post-WWI society was sick of black, for obvious reasons).

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Debbie March 1, 2012 at 6:45 pm

I don’t know why i never thought to look at vintage or modern patterns to use as a base for even older “costumes” like Victorian and Edwardian. What a great idea. Now my mind is spinning.

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D'ellis March 1, 2012 at 7:28 pm

Have to thank you, Puu, for solidifying some ‘translation’ abilities which many other wonderful Downton-related posts started: How to translate a newer pattern design into something more 1920′s… or should that be vice versa? Very enjoyable!

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puu March 6, 2012 at 11:47 am

i’ve really embraced using modern patterns to get a specific look–they are easier to find, easy to modify, and may be easier to fit! it’s less authentic in one way, but in some ways, it’s even more authentic because it is a more original interpretation.

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