Monday, April 25, 2016

Yellow Sheer Civil War Dress

I am finally getting around to posting some photos from my most recent project: My cotton sheer Civil War dress!

Layers 1, 2 and 3:
I made a new chemise from the Simplicity Fashion Historian 9769 Pattern and reused my corset and drawers (from the same pattern) that I originally made for my Victorian 1840s dress.

All the glorious LAYERS!
5 layers in the photo... add in 3+ more for chemise, drawers and corset (and stockings of course)!

Layer 4:
I can finally say I started a project the right way (from the ground up) as I constructed my very own Cage Crinoline using the KayFig 7-tier 108" hoop kit! That was loads of fun hammering and awl-ing the thing together; It felt like using heavy machinery compared to what I'm used to. I completed this while I was 9 months pregnant, so it was the perfect project for me while lying in wait!

Layer 5:
I already had my "Wedding Cake" Petticoat made from the free Truly Victorian Pattern but I made another one for good measure to ensure my hoop rings would not show through. Oddly enough, I have never bought fabric for my petticoats, I just use a combination of bedskirts and sheets from thrift stores. I just LOVE ruffled bedskirts for undergarments!

Layer 6:
I had made another simple flat petticoat (with a cute bedskirt yellow eyelet ruffle) but this still didn't smooth thing over enough for my liking.

Layer 7:
To completely smooth things over I made a very flat simple petticoat. This helped immensely since my starched bedskirt ruffles get a little crazy.

Layer 8 (Top):
My dress pattern is Peachtree Mercantile Day Dress, ca.1860 which I have to say, was completely worth the crazy price $35+!!. I have never paid so much for a pattern before, but the photos and history and in-depth sewing instructions (with variations!) was almost overwhelming and taught me so much about the construction of this garment.

The fabric:
I bought 10 yards of this yellow windowpane fabric at a thrift store in Modesto for $8!!! (Please don't hate me... I had no idea it was quite so much fabric when I bought it, but could tell the unmarked quantity was a steal anyways! I didn't know I'd be making it into a Civil War dress at the time, but I soon started to question my ability to pull this dress off and didn't want to invest a huge amount of money into buying fabric. Then I got the idea to use my thrift store find (even tough I can tell it probably has a small percentage of synthetic fibers in it). I'm happy I went the "cheap" route because the final fit is not what I'd like it to be. Too blousy! At least I know that... I'm slowly but sure understanding that I cannot skip the multiple toile fittings. :-(

My glorious hand-stitched cartridge pleats!

The trim:
I bought some cotton eyelet trim and replaced all the white ribbon with yellow. It was a bit of a pain, but worth it... I think.

The Details:
Look at that hand gathered shoulder!

Ah.. and all the prettiness of the sleeves!

The shoes:
I finally splurged and got some American Duchess "Renoir" $190 shoes! They were so fun to put on with the victorian button hook! I FINALLY didn't have to hide my ballet flat feet!

Fun! Fun! Fun! I hope to make a better bodice one day so I can solve the blousy fit problems *I created* when I decided to add more gathers to the Peachtree Bodice. Ugh. I promise I'll check to see if I like it first next time.  :-)


  1. Absolutely beautiful! The color is stunning and the whole silhouette so very graceful. I love those boots!

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  3. your dress is so beautifully made. I admire your work. I especially love the cage crinoline. I was wondering where you got the kit. The originals by kay website doesn't seem to have it. Is it out of production or did you get it somewhere else. Thanks!