Sunday, September 22, 2013

New Dickens Bodice

     Last Dickens Fair season, I had a new character (one of the Fezziwig daughters) that I had to make a costume for. The bodice was a big mess, in my opinion, and I've been meaning to make a new and more historically accurate one.
     Currently, Dickens Fair is set in the 1842-1864 time frame of the Victorian era. So, Bell Era. When big, rounded skirts and slopped shoulders are in. Fezziwig's (my guild) is actually a bit earlier than that. The book that Fezziwig's scene is A Christmas Carol was published in 1842, so was probably set in roughly that era, maybe a few years earlier. AKA the end of the Romantic Era.
      My point is that the characters from A Christmas Carol should technically be costumed in late Romantic Era. And the characters from the book that are introduced in Christmas Past flashbacks should be costumed even earlier. Mr. Scrooge is a young clerk in Fezziwig's scene in the book, probably 20 years old. The old Scrooge, who is viewing this scene with the ghost of Christmas Past, must be in about his 60's, assuming the book is set in about 1840. With that logic, the Fezziwig's scene is probably set in the Regency era.
So, technically, my whole guild should be wearing Regency garb at Dickens Fair!
     But that would look really inconsistent with the rest of Fair, so it makes sense to put us all in relative Bell Era. Still, Fezziwig's costumes should be on the earlier side of the Victorian Era and even stray into the Romantic Era, because it is the earliest scene at Fair, being in Ebeneezer Scrooge's past. Our costumes, or at least the Fezziwig family's costumes, should communicate a slightly earlier era.
     In fact, our current Mr. Fezziwig does wear Regency clothes, very similar to the illustration and description of him in the book: a big, red tail coat, a waistcoat, britches, knee-high hose, and black buckled shoes. REGENCY. Our current Mrs. Fezziwig is dressed a little later than Mr. Fezziwig. She sports an early 1830's dress (Romantic Era). This has a lower waistline and fuller skirt than Regency would, so it fits in with the Bell skirts pretty well.

Mr. Fezziwig's basic silhouette.

Mrs. Fezziwig's basic silhouette.

     With our Mama wearing such garb, it makes sense for the Fezzwig daughters to wear something in roughly the Romantic Era, but a little more current than our Mama. The have young usually pioneered stylistc change throughout history, while the older generations hold onto older fashions, somewhat.

MY POINT: I, as a Fezziwig daughter and with the semi-comprehensible analysis provided above, should wear a late Romantic Era dress at Dickens Fair.

     And that's what I'm gonna do! Woo!! Romantic Era!!! Which leads me to my actual dress plans.....
My current red skirt that I used last year will work just fine for a Romantic Era silhouette if worn of petticoats. But my old bodice will not work. For my new one, I wanted to go for a smaller Gigot sleeve. This style was common in the late 1820's and a little bit in the late Romantic Era.

Riding habit, 1827.  Early example of this sleeve style.

From The Young Victoria 2009. Notice the fullness at the
top and then tightening towards the wrist.
I want to marry this dress.

Jane Eyre 2011. Same shape here. LOVE it. This movie is set in the late
Romantic Era, I believe. About 1840, perhaps. But Jane's dress is likely a little
earlier, because she would have second-hand dresses, since she is not wealthy.

The Young Victoria 2009. Riding habit. Almost perfect example of the
shape I am going for. Just a tiny bit smaller. This scene of the movie is set in
1840, the year Victoria married Albert. Perfect for Dickens Fair costume dating
 for me. Just sayin', but I want this habit SO MUCH. 

     I started on the bodice ages ago, but have been taking breaks from it. I used the Truly Victorian 1830's bodice pattern. I have used it a couple times before and am quite a bit better with it now. I heavily modified the pattern in two ways: 1) my petite figure calls certain fitting changes (like bust-to-shoulder measurements and bodice length). 2) I want to be able to get myself in and out of my costumes unassisted as often as possible. Meaning, hook and eye closures are out. A while ago I figured that if I can lace myself into a corset, I can lace myself into a bodice. From then on, all my back-fastening bodices are laced. So, for the pattern, I changed the back to eyelets. 
     I have this great lightweight red wool that almost perfectly matches my red skirt. I used that and I chose this white and pink striped cotton for a lining. 

Inside. Flat lining in progress. The lining looks kinda blue here.
But it IS pink.

Outside. There is a slight, tiny point in front, but kinda hard to see,
because it's not ironed out yet.

Sleeve drafting process. Top is Truly Victorian's Gigot sleeve pattern
and bottom is my in-progress version. This wasn't the final shape I
decided on, but close. I made the seams more curved and exaggerated.
     I have since gotten further on this thing, just no photos yet. I whip-stitched the seam allowances to prevent fraying and, instead of making bone casings, I just sewed the bones under the seam allowances, right against the seam. It looks to be working just fine. The back fastens with 16 hand-sewn eyelets, 8 on each side. I cut out the sleeves from my fashion fabric and lining a few days ago and am excited to assemble them. They will close at the wrist with either tiny buttons or hooks and eyes. 
     I still need to make piping the bind the neckline and attach the sleeves. But not too shabby! I might actually get all my costuming done before Fair even starts this year. 

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