Cranberry Almond Biscotti Dress-Bodice Part 2 

This post is going to cover the finishing of the bodice. 

I had left off with the back done so I flatlined the front pieces of the bodice with the same white denim. 

Then I went to work on the darts. There were 4 darts in total-2 on each front piece. I tailor tacked the darts, thread traced them, pinned, hand bastedand finally sewed the darts. 

I was meticulous with this because I wanted the plaid to line up. The horizontal plaid matches up but the vertical one dosen’t because the dart comes throught at an angle. 

After I had all 4 darts done I moved onto the side seams. Those were just pinned and stitched-It was easy matching the lines because the seam was relatievly straight. 

I waited to do the shoulder seam because I wanted to put the boning in while the bodice was still flat. 

I have a roll of 1/4″ spring steel (white) boning that I cut as needed. For this I use tin snips, then I file them round and then I tip them with Plastidip so that nothing is poking. 

I cut the bones for the front darts, side darts, and the side seams-for the back I used Spiral Steel because it curves around the seams nicely. All of the bones were stitched into casings made from cranberry cotton. I just made bias tape amd used a zipper foot to stitch them in. 

The bones were then whipstitched in by hand to the seam allowances and on top of the dart takeups. 

Now that I had all of the bones in I was able to lay it flat and check everything before I sewed the shoulder seams. 

I matched up the plaid on the diagnal at the shoulders and then basted the seams before I stitched them. 

This was the end of the bodice so next up is the lining and finishing touches. 


Fabric Haul

So I went to the Garment District last week and now that I have all my crap together and sorted I thought it would be a good idea to make a post about the things I got. My plans ended getting messed up and I realized I left all my cash at home. I only pay cash when I go to stores except Mood, Elegance, and a few other select stores that don’t haggle. If the stores have set prices I don’t mind paying with my card. So I ended up cutting my shopping trip short after going to Mood and went to the Museum at FIT to kill time before I had to go home. 

I went to Mood because I just love how organized it is. Also, I love how I’m guaranteed to be paying for what I’m getting. I don’t have to worry that someone is trying to sell me blends rather than pure textiles. I have a thing about synthetics and I like knowing that I won’t have to do a burn test.

 I got 5 yards of this blue cotton sateen-I finally found a color that matched some fabric I got a loooongg time ago. Its a blue, beige, and white polished cotton home decor fabric that I got at Walmart in California. It the perfect weight for a Victorian skirt and I absolutely love it. I could not find a solid fabric that matched the blue and I saw this cotton sateen in a pile on the cutting counter and its perfect. I got 5 yards for the bodice and the bustle overskirt-it will be separate from the striped underskirt.

I also got 1 yard of a beautiful double face maroon wool-that will be a cape/shawl for my Civil War Camp Dress. Its the perfect color and its so soft and warm-but it’s still light enough to not be heavy and bulky. It was really expensive-40$/ yard so I only got one. It was a full 60″ wide and the guy was really nice and went in from the edge about 5″ because it was all choppy from people pulling swatches.

I also found a set of buttons that I loved for my Civil War Camp Dress.  I got tons for my civil war outfit-large for the cape and fichu, medium for the skirt, small for the bodice and the blouse, and extra small for the cuffs and collar.


I also got a bunch of thread and other notions at a random shop because it was really cheap. I stopped in at Bead World and M&J Trimmings to scope out some stuff for my Tudor gown-nothing bought but I got some great ideas for layering trim and beads.

I’m taking a trip to a bunch of fabric stores over break though for some new projects I had in mind and the fabric for my Tudor Gown, which I’m really excited to start working on.

The Tudor Gown-Pattern

My work has just begun as my pattern has arrived from the wonderful Margo Anderson of Margo Anderson’s Historic Costume Patterns. I purchased the Tudor Lady’s Wardrobe Pattern and holy crap it’s huge. I did all my prep work while watching the Tudors on Netflix.

cover art

The instruction manual is over 100+ pages and is highly detailed-I cannot wait to sit down and just read through it.

It came on tissue pattern paper in three bundles-each holding 2-3 sheets of pattern pieces. These sheets were so large I couldn’t even use my table to lay them out so I did it on my living room floor.

I had to figure out some way of organizing all the pieces so I cut, sorted, and labeled all the pattern pieces for each of the garments in Ziploc’s.  I used a 3-hole punch to put those Ziploc’s in the back of my binder. Each Ziploc was labeled with the name of the pattern (Tudor Lady’s Wardrobe) as well as the number and title of what the pieces made-ex. 5 was the number for all of the pieces used for the partlet so that bag was labeled as such. When I put them all in they fit-but it’s too thick so I gotta run to Staples and get a wider binder.

After this, I needed a break so I put it to the side before I did the next step. They were all pressed and fused onto Pelon interfacing that I bought from Jo~Anne’s. It was a nightmare trying to get them all stiffened and cut out on the largest cutting line so I still have use of all pattern sizes- but I did it. Plus, they interfacing is stiff enough that the pattern doesn’t wobble or rip but it still folds flat neatly to get back in the bags.

I have yet to start cutting anything out of fabric but it will probably have to wait until I start my Edwardian Riding Habit which I will update on by the end of the week.


Tudor Gown-Intro

Finally-the illustrious Tudor Gown will begin. I have had this design for almost 2 years now and I finally have enough resources to begin. I want to share a secret about this project-I am absolutely terrified. I am investing so much money on this project-I still have stuff to buy but I’m estimating it will clock in around $500-600, maybe more. The fabrics for the kirtle and gown alone cost $260 and that’s after I haggled the price down. But they are beautiful and I love them and my dad paid so its ok.

The whole ensemble will consist of chemise, stockings, kirtle, gown, foresleeves, oversleeves, French Hood, and jewelry. Yeah, I know it’s a lot but I’m super excited (despite my terror) because this is going to be the largest project I have ever taken on.

So onto the fabric-which is amazing!!! Like seriously I’m in awe of all the fabrics.

Linen for the chemise-it’s a beautiful white, lightweight linen and it’s so soft. I got about 6+ yards I think and it’s 60″ so I will probably have enough to make a detachable collar and pair of cuffs that will be embroidered with black-work. It was like $10.00/yard but I paid around $35 for it because I took the last cut, and I know the store owner so he gladly knocked it down into my price rang to just finish off the bolt. Its a bit wrinkled but no stains or damages so It was all good and I just have to spend a while pressing it.

So the kirtle fabric is a 110″ silk taffeta in a stunning bronze color. I only got 4 yards of this because it’s double with and it was $13/yard. It’s about medium weight so perfect for the skirt but I might have to flatline the kirtle bodice so some extra stiffness.

The real killer on my budget was the silk brocade for the gown. It was originally  $26/yard and I needed 12. $300  was just too much and I could not justify it. I was so sad I kinda started crying a bit. But after lots of haggling and agreeing to pay cash, plus a shout-out here to the store, the owner knocked it down to $16/yard so I got all 12 yards for $200 no tax. So thank you so so much to Eric Gerdes and his wife Henriette of Fabric City Inc. in Corona. This was my fourth time shopping there and I have always left happy so I will keep coming back as often as I can.

I have yet to find fabric for my stockings but I’m looking for a silk jersey in the copper color so they match the rest of the underpinnings. I also need to find silk organza for the french hood and the sleeve puff, and fur for the oversleeves. Plus I haven’t bought any of the pearls or beads. I definitely need some cheap fabric for my mock-ups plus the boning, lining, and all the other notions like thread, floss, trims and anything extra.







Cranberry Almond Biscotti Dress- Skirt Part 2

Finishing Touches

Now that I finally have a delicious name-it’s time to finish the skirt. I got my buttons from Mood in the city-they are a brassy color that I love with a really nice design in a unique oval shape. I bought a ton for the bodice, blouse, fichu, cape and skirt so they would all match and I think they go amazingly with the dress.12751212_1673795766218260_1387776532_n

I am terrified of machine buttonholes because whenever I do them they look horrible and also they are not period correct-so I will be doing them all by hand. I sat down in front of my computer with some scrap fabric and embroidery floss from my bracelet making days and practiced buttonholes for hours and hours. It took me almost a week of constant stitching to get them workable and when I finally got 5 in a row that were ok-I got to work on the single buttonhole on the skirt.

I got matching maroon floss and marked a hole big enough for the button and went to work. When that was all sewn up I just attached the button to the other side of the opening and voila-a functional closure. It’s not as pretty as I hoped-the layers of the waistband were a lot thicker than the scrap cottons I used…but it will be covered by the button and the rest of the ensemble so no big worries.

Lastly-I felt the skirt was a little plain so I took he narrow lace trim and hand whip-stitched it right under the waistband. It looked fine but it kept flipping up, so I decided to then hand sew every little loop down so it laid flat. After that nightmare I deemed the skirt 100% done.

Now it is onto the rest of the costume which sadly will be put on the back-burner while I work on my other costume-The Tudor Ensemble (still needs a name).

Cranberry Almond Biscotti Dress-Fichu Part 1

Draping a Civil War Fichu

Because I could not find any patterns for a fichu that I liked I decided to drape one based off of some pictures I had found in old books that I borrowed from the library.

I found something exactly like I wanted during my search-except for the seam down center back. I can just eliminate this by cutting on the fold so its no problem but it saves me from matching up the plaids.I wanted to make the waist adjustable so it will have ties that will tuck into the skirt waistband and it will also be reversible because the pattern is so simple.

So I drew out my diagram and then drew the shapes of the pieces I would need to make. I did it in paper to see if I liked the lines and then I set out to drape.

I used a size 16 dress form because it needs to have the same bust measurement as I do-the waist won’t be an issue thanks to the ribbons. I cut, blocked and pressed my muslin, pulled and drew in my center front and back (vertical/straight) grainlines, as well as the bust and shoulder (horizontal/cross) grainlines for the front and back respectively. Then I draped using style tape where I wanted the seams to be and ended up with my pattern pieces.

They have 1/2″ seam allowance all around that will be clipped afterwards so there is minimal bulk. It was a bit short so I will be adding 2 1/2″ to the bottom-2″to lengthen and 1/2″to keep the seam allowance.

The front side will be the same plaid as the skirt and the reverse will be a maroon cotton lawn. The ties on the side will be a plain maroon ribbon and it will have the same cotton crochet trim as well as oatmeal piping in the seams for contrast.

I have the fabric ordered so as soon as it arrives I will sew this up in no time at all.

Cranberry Almond Biscotti Dress-Skirt Part 1

Drafting and Sewing the Skirt

This is going to be the first of many posts about my civil war ensemble starting with part one of the skirt. I still haven’t finished it 100% because I am still waiting on the buttons to ship and to fit it over my corset. I have the constriction down and it looks amazing!

The first part of making the skirt was cutting the rectangular panels which were 42″L x 45″W. It was a bit tricky doing the math but I was able to figure it out. I had to do a ton of calculations for the width and the length but thank God for calculators. Here is a stupid diagram I drew when I was trying to figure it out.


For the length, I measured from the center of my waist to the floor and then I added for seam allowance and hem. My base measurement was 39″, so I added 2″ for the top and 1″ for the hem because I am using a facing (39+2+1=42).

My fabric was 45″ in width and my hoop-skirt hem circumference is 130. I divided 130 by 45 and rounded up to the next whole number which was 3 (130/45=2.8888) . I then cut three panels of fabric that were the width of the fabric 45″ and 42″ in length-measuring down the selvage edge.

I then pieced the three panels together using the lengths of the selvage as my side and center back seams, leaving the top 8″ of the center back seam open for dressing. Because I used the selvages I’m not going to do any seam finishes because it saves time and the skirt is fine without them.

The hard part about this was matching the plaids, which I did both vertically and horizontally which took forever but it looks really neat and even all around the skirt and I’m really happy with it. I used 1/2″ seam allowance which ended up making the plaids lay even which helped a lot when I matched the panels up.

After I had the seams done up, I began working on the hem. For this I cut polished beige cotton 6″L x 45″W and seamed them together with 1/2″ seam allowance. I pinned it right sides together with the hem of the skirt and stitched it at 1″ seam allowance which I then turned and pressed to the inside. After, I turned the top edge underneath 1″ and hand-hemmed this all around the bottom. This created a hem facing which is important to give the hem weight and strength as it gets dragged along the ground. It makes sense logically because them hem gets all the wear and tear so the facing can easily be replaced to keep the skirt in good condition.

Next I made the waistband and whoa…that was a process. I cut a rectangle 4.5″L x 45″W in both the fashion fabric (plaid) and the polished cotton. I hand basted both rectangles together and then stay-stitched 1/4″ around all the edges. My waist measurement with a corset is 41″ but with petticoats I wanted to be safe so I made it 42″. I turned the short sides over 1/4″ and then each side got folded over to bring the waistband to 42″. One side folded over 1″ and the other was folded 2″ so it overlapped which is where I will place my hook and eyes so I have a nice flap to cover them. I then turned the top edge under 1/4″, pressed, and then turned under 1/4″ again to get a nice clean finish.  I hand-hemmed around all the edges of the waist band except the bottom which is where it will be attached to the skirt.

Pleating the skirt panels was part fun and part hell but I got it done somehow. I decided I wanted to cartridge pleat the waist, also known as gauging. I was a bit nervous but I tried it on some scrap and it looked good so I went for it. First I folded the top edge 3″ to the inside, which not only finished the top edge but doubled the fabric to make the pleats stiffer. I used upholstery thread in a cream and I used the plaid as guidelines for my stitches. I ran three rows of thread all across the skirt and pulled it down to 42″.

This did not work at all. Like major epic fail and I was freaking out. It looked kinda funky and wasn’t laying right but the worst was that I couldn’t space the pleats evenly.  I really was getting super frustrated and I ended up accidentally cut into my stitching and all of the pleats came out which made me cry a bit.

I took some time to breathe and came back to it after I did some more research. I found another method which worked perfectly-thanks to Jennifer Rosbrugh of posts on cartridge pleats are amazing.

I divided the waistband by three and then I pleated each panel separately to that measurement (42/3=14).  So after I ran the three rows of basting again I pulled each panel down to 14″ and then pinned it to my waistband. This made spacing the pleats a dream and it laid so flat and perfect and I had no trouble at all sewing down the pleats. I used the same upholstery thread to secure each inside pleat to the bottom of the waistband and then flipped it up. I whip-stitched the top of the pleats up to the top of the waistband and then using tiny stitches in red thread tacked the waistband down from the front over the rows or pleating. I pressed lightly on the pleats with my hand so they laid flush against the body.

This was the basic construction of the skirt and my next post on it will be about decorating it and the finishing touches like the trim and buttons. I did a quick fit and it hangs beautifully and sits nicely on my waist.







Cranberry Almond Biscotti Dress

Intro and Inspiration

This post will be the first post about my civil war ensemble…I will break it up into chunks because I only work on it in big areas and then leave it for a while-mostly because my schoolwork takes precedent. I got the fabric and trims of this project during Feb of 2015 while I was on vacation in California (ikr I live in NYC-the heart of the Garment Industry and I go all the way to LA to buy fabric…I’m crazy) and I knew it would be perfect for a Civil War Camp Dress. So because I needed to have this fabric and I didn’t wanna pass it up…I bought 12 yards of it forgetting that I would have to pack it in my bags to go home. I ended up saying screw it and I shipped it home which meant that I had free reign to buy even more fabric  which will make appearances later on.

It a beautiful maroon and oatmeal plaid, lightweight yet sturdy and 100% Cotton. It’s slightly rough to the touch on the back and semi-polished on the front but I’m not worried because it will be worn over several undergarments.

To go over it I bought 2 trims, a wide and a narrow. They are both 100% Cotton crocheted trim in the same oatmeal color as the fabric’s stripes. I bought 2 yards of each and I want the wide one at the collar and the narrow one at the cuffs. I might have my uncle buy and ship me a medium width one for the bonnet and apron because the narrow is too small for ties.

I chose the skirt design and I am still working designing the bodice, blouse, and apron. The skirt will be separate so it can be worn with a blouse and apron/fichu or the bodice.  The skirt, bodice, and apron will be in the plaid and the blouse will be a solid maroon with oatmeal piping at the seams and details.

It will be loosely based off this design which I happened to find after planning it all out when looking for a fichu pattern.


It will be worn over a chemise, drawers, corset, cage crinoline, hoop slip, and a ruffled petticoat as well as stockings and boots. I will make a matching bonnet but I have no millinery skills ever so it will be a trial and error process. I will have posts about all of these as I make them too. 

So now that I have started to name my costumes I have officially dubbed this the Cranberry Almond Biscotti Dress. I was struggling so hard to find a name for this ensemble-one that fit the colors and sounded nice while not being tedious to say. I was going crazy until we were having dessert and my Nana had brought pastries from the Italian bakery down the block. Being me I was stuffing my face with cranberry almond biscotti when I was like holy cow this is it-this is what I will name the Civil War Ensemble.

I have the skirt started so the next post for this costume will be about that and I will post the update on that when I finish it…probably the start of the week because this snow will keep me in my house for days.

Until then, be safe and enjoy the snow!



Hello Bloggers, Seamstresses and Vintage Fashion aficionados-my name is Cassidy and I am a first year fashion student working towards several degrees in historical costuming and fashion history.  I hope to end up with master’s degrees and doctorates-my focus being on the styles of the Renaissance, the Civil War, the Late Victorian Era as well as the Baroque & Rococo Era.

This blog will be a portfolio of sorts for my 16th-20th Century designs and creations. I have ideas for tons and tons of projects that I hope to make in the next few years. I love all aspects of old-fashioned clothing-from chemises to coats, shoes to stays, farthingales to fans and bustles to bonnets. Watching an ensemble come to life is such a joy-from the culmination of thoughts in my mind, to the research and study I do, to the design and drafting process, all the way to sewing the final seams and adding the finishing touches.

I try to make everything as period accurate as possible and I openly shun the use of synthetics. I’m not rich by any means but I feel better saving towards material than churning out projects. I dream of cotton, linen, silk, and wool…polyester, rayon, nylon, and acrylic are my nightmares. Also, I am a stickler for period correct underpinnings and I am currently building my array of chemises, petticoats, stockings, stays & corsets, as well as hoopskirts and various accessories.

While a majority of posts will be about my outfits and their creation, I will have posts about my sewing space and my purchases of fabrics and trims. Hopefully enjoy my blog and look forward to my next post!