For Christmas, I got a whole bunch of historical fashion books. Many of them actually contain pattern layouts, though a few are just simply for show and have extended detail about the garments (or parts of garments) shown in the books. Every time I see some historical garment I like (which is a lot), my mouth starts to water and I immediately think “I WANT TO SEW THIS”. Of course, I never do sew them.
Part of the reason why I never sew them is because of how complicated they seem to be in comparison to modern clothing. Even if went for something somewhat easy, like a bodice and a petticoat, it still feels intimidating. The other reason is that I just don’t have the right undergarments for the structure, which are all things I need to sew.
Usually what happens is that I look through pages and pages of gorgeous historical garments and desire to jump at them, until I hear a large voice in the back of my head, pulling at my reigns saying “WHOA, slow down! Don’t you know how complicated that dress is? Plus, you don’t even have the right undergarments yet!”. Then I angrily kick and scream back at it until I calm down and say, you know, it’s right – I still gotta make the undergarments. You can’t build a house without a foundation and an 18th century sack gown isn’t going to wear correctly without the proper ensemble of underpinnings. This pretty much only happens when I’m looking through a lot of images of the clothing though and not usually when I’m simply just thinking about them.
Since my largest hinder seems to be the lack of undergarments for the centuries I would like to sew for, I think I should start ONLY looking at pictures of the undergarments from those centuries. If looking at gorgeous gowns and coats from the 18th century is going to make me start drooling and make my desire to sew them grow, then why shouldn’t I do the same for things I need to sew before I sew them?
I should start to limit myself to looking at corsets, chemises, pockets, petticoats, and the like. Perhaps I’ll be able to become inspired by their designs and start coming up with my own, then proceed to make them a reality. Wouldn’t that be nice?
I know I definitely want to sew a chemise sooner than later. I actually was going to earlier this year, but failed due to my fabric shrinking in the wash. When I have a chance, I’ll get more period-appropriate fabric for it and take precautions so it doesn’t shrink. The chemise (or a shift, as it was called in England during the 18th century; they started calling it a chemise during the 19th century if I remember correctly; France always called it a chemise) seems to be one of two extremely important foundation pieces and goes on first.
The corset (well, stays for the 18th century) will have to come after the chemise, as it’s always put on after it (the chemise keeps body oils off from the rest of the garment). After that, I would need a petticoat or too, a bum roll, maybe a pannier, and maybe some pockets, depending on what I’m making.
It’s kind of fun to think I’ll have to make different sets of garments for different centuries. Since I think my main focus may be on the 18th and 19th centuries (I could be wrong – just got a book on 17th century garments and Tudors-style garments, so we’ll see), I have to sew two different chemises that reflect each era better, as well as stays and a Victorian corset. It’s pretty exciting! I just hoping I can do these sooner than later.
Sewing wasn’t part of my goals for 2014. Well, I shouldn’t say that – it is a goal up for consideration. I wasn’t going to do so…but I’m starting to rethink that. I’ll have to think about it. There’s still about a week left in 2013.