Now, me being me, you already know my garment is going to fail the historical accuracy test on a couple of counts: 1) machine stitching instead of hand stitching, and 2) made from bedsheets. This dress is no exception, as it's actually made from a 1970s dress pattern, Simplicity 7439, which was gifted to me by Meg the Grand last summer. Still, the differences between the authentic historical look and this modern adaptation are pretty minimal, at least in my mind; the same elements get used over and over again in nautical-inspired dresses, which is probably why people can sell generic versions.
After looking through loads of extant garments on Pinterest and museum sites, as well as fashion plates from the era, I came away with:
1) Light colored bathing suits are rare, but still possible. They don't all have to be dark blue!
|"Women on the beach," by Maud Stumm, 1904. [source]|
|Thanks to The Dreamstress for sharing these images from this 1906 Girl's Own Paper! Check out the girl on the right.|
2) They were not afraid of red.
|Edwardian bathing suit, c. 1910 [source]|
|Petal sleeves galore! Also yokes and tucks/pleats. Lastly, note that they don't all have to be super-puffy in the bodice. c. 1883. [source]|
|On the very left: petal sleeves with trim, and a sash at the waist, c. 1873. [source]|
5) Trim on the collar, sleeves, and skirt bottom are pretty common.
|Two bands of trim at the bottom of the skirt, as well as a yoke and pleats. Also see #3.|
6) Most bathing suits from the era are actually a jumpsuit-type deal with a bloomer bottom, and then a skirt is worn over the bloomers to create the "dress" look.
|Buttons disappearing into the skirt! Also see the previous picture and picture #3. [source]|
7) Bare feet is okay!
|Well, I guess bare feet are only allowed if you're wearing full-length trousers too, but...ummm....yeah. c. 1868 [source]|
So add up all of those elements, throw in a dash of 1970s, run it all through some old-timey filters, and this is what you get:
Okay, enough of the antique effects, here's what it really looks like:
|It was ridiculously bright out.|
|The bodice with its non-functional buttons disappearing into the sash so as to look like the inspiration garments.|
|It was also way too windy for my hat to stay on.|
Since I wanted to work only from stash, I had to settle for the lightest-colored sheet I had, hence the totally anachronistic print. I go back and forth between thinking it looks vaguely science-y and thinking it looks like a hospital gown. At any rate, the light blue was begging for some vibrant pop of color, and hey, guess what, April is Vibrant Color Challenge month! When I first started sewing, I bought, for some unknown reason, something like ten packs of bright red bias tape. I'm really not sure why. Three years later, I've still got two packs left, so I figured I would go ultra-preppy and do the light blue and red combo. I guess I'm all set for July 4th celebrations this year?
To make the petal sleeves, I started off with this helpful picture tutorial from A Sartorial Statement, but I ended up doing lots of basting and trying on and taking off and seam ripping to get the shape and size right. I'm really pleased with the final look, though, so it was worth it!
|A better look at the petal sleeve.|
|The insides -- you can see the yoke and the elastic across the back. Also,|
I used a tan-colored bias tape for the neck binding, the better to hide dirt from
wear. Hah! Actually, it was just because I wanted to use up that scrap.
Fabric: 100% cotton twin flat sheet, thrifted (by Emily, then gifted to me), part of a white thrifted sheet for the collar.
Notions: Six yards of red bias tape and five buttons, both originally from Joann's. More bias tape for the sleeve and neck facings. Elastic for the back, and seam binding on all the insides.
Hours: At least twelve...all that trim took forever to apply, and those sleeves weren't helpful either!
How historically accurate is it? Kind of? I mean, minus the construction and materials, it's got all the right elements.
Will you make it again? Probably not. I've already got way too many nautical things in my wardrobe!
Total cost: less than $10? I don't know how much Emily spent on the sheet, but the notions were about $5.
First worn: To lunch with Mr. Cation on my day off, then for a walk along Venice Beach (possibly the most un-Victorian beach ever). It felt so incongruous to be taking pictures for the HSF while surfers were wandering around and hip hop music was blaring from the Muscle Beach Gym. Didn't Mr. Cation do a great job snapping photos at opportune moments so as to avoid too many obviously anachronistic elements?
|Black and white, now, because that's really Victorian.|
It's too bad I don't know how to photoshop those sunbathers out of the picture!
Although my materials weren't originally included in my stashbusting fabric list, the sheet and the notions have both been in my possession for over six months, if not more, so I'm counting it as a stashbusting project!