Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Making of... Tennis Dress #3

Frances Grimble’s Bustle Fashions 1885-1887 has a pattern for a front apron that is very similar to LACMA’s Tennis Dress. Although that pattern overlaps much further in the front than I wanted. An overlap that far would make it impossible to have the skirt attached to the bodice as the LACMA’s Tennis Dress is.

That being the case I decided to either draft or drape my own front apron. I spent quite a while looking at the Frances Grimble pattern and could never really figure out how to alter her pattern to make it useable. I gave up and tried my hand at draping the front apron.

It was much easier than I had thought. I very quickly, within an hour, had the perfect shape. I was lucky with this dress, because the fabrics stripe helped me to find the originals straight of grain, and by counting the stripes, I easily estimated the horizontal lengths. There are three pleats at the waistband and three pleats at the side seam. I was a bit confused by the hem edge. The original has a one inch hem. This seemed strange to me, because that edge has an extreme curve and I worried that it would bunch oddly there. I decided that I would use a bias strip of polished cotton to hem the overskirt. I caught the cotton lace trim up in the bias hem, so all the raw edges are nice and tidy.

 Another worry that I had was how to make the pocket in the under skirt accessible when the overskirt was installed. I decided to accomplish this by pleating the side seam of the over skirt and covering its raw edges with polished cotton bias tape. I then whipped stitched the overskirts front apron side seam by hand to the under skirt.

The back drape was much easier to construct. It’s a full bolt width and one yard in length. The waist band edge is knife pleated with a box pleat at center back. The sides are blind hemmed by hand with a half inch hem. The bottom hem is finished like the hem of the overskirt. I used a bias strip of polished cotton and caught the cotton lace trim up in the hem.

The back drape is tacked up with hooks and eyes.

The closure of this skirt is done so that both the over and underskirt share a waist band. The underskirt closes at center front, but the over skirts waistband crosses in a wrap closure.

I followed the instructions for Making a Round Bodice on pg 264 on Frances Grimbles Bustle Fashions 1885-1887. “ Cut and piece the lining as directed for a basque bodice, with the exception that you cut it only 2 inches below the waist all around.”

I enlarged the “Plain Basque” pattern on pg 74. The only alteration that I made to the pattern was to make the back and side back pattern pieces all in one. I thought it best to make the princess back seams faux. I made up the mock up out of my lining polished cotton. I altered it to fit, and when I was happy with it, I cut it apart and used it as my pattern to cut out of my fashion fabric.
I boned the bodice with Rigilene boning. The inspiration dress from LACMA has a gathered center front that I believe is a separate piece of fabric. I didn’t make a pattern piece for this, I just cut two rectangles of my fashion fabric gathered one edge and pinned it in place. I did this a few times and finally I found a look that I liked. The waist band is a strip of fabric torn on the grain, sewn to the bottom edge of the bodice and flipped up over the fashion side of the bodice. The collar is also a strip of fabric torn on grain. It’s trimmed in cotton lace. The center front buttons are faux. The bodice actually closes with hooks and thread bars.

The sleeve pattern is a two piece style with a curved elbow. I have used this particular pattern many times and actually drafted it for a 1780’s zone front anglaise. The only changes I made were to bring in the sleeves side seams at the shoulder only, 1/2” on each side, so 2” total. I also shortened the sleeve so that the cuff falls midway between my wrist and elbow. The sleeve is lined in polished cotton and trimmed with cotton lace.

OK... after a week of posting this info to you all I feel like I've run a marathon!! lol!

I hope you all enjoyed it, and it wasn't too annoying to see my name YET AGAIN on you friends page. I said it in the comments before, but I'll say it again here. Thank you all for inspiring me. I hope these posts are of use to you. :)


  1. Replies
    1. I'm glad that you got sonething out of it. :)

  2. Wonderfully Done! You got it spot on :)

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