Sew, What's New?

Curating sewing and quilting talent, techniques, and tutorials, since 1997.

I just joined and am hoping to find others who re-create dresses and other items from the Victorian period. I make dresses from the hoop and bustle era and although I do some custom sewing for others, I mostly create dresses for myself which I wear as a docent at living histories and historic sites in Texas and New Mexico.
I have done a lot of research and have been fortunate to live close to an antique shop that specializes in antique garments. I received permission from the owner to photograph one of his displays and I put it on the web so others can enjoy it and use it for research.You can see it at
Thank you for letting me join. I look forward to the discussions of this group. Ann

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Loved the bustle dress collection (thank you! ), though I would not actually sew any. I do have two antique dresses here somewhere. One is supposed to be Civil War era & the other is a dark blue and black brocade Edwardian walking dress. I bought them many years ago cheaply just so I could see construction details.

My special period of interest is 1930s through the early 60s womens frocks and daydresses.

I also would like to make a corset, though I never have done.

DD wants me to make her a prairie style dress after she tried one on in a museum. She likes to wear mid-calf length dresses because she says she can just throw them on and go out and play. She is 8.

I took a trip to the geocities web site = period dresses. Wow! they are gorgeous dresses. The craftmanship is no dought awesome too. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for sharing these pictures!
Do you know how one can copy a picture in order to enlarge it and study the details of a garment? The pictures move so fast it's hard to catch everything! Or, maybe I'm just too slow! lol

Thanks again for sharing.
Cathy, is there a particular dress you are interested in? I'll try to send it to you. I don't think you can catch it from the slide show. I have some other original garment pictures, as well
What era are you interested in?
Well, since you asked, I liked these the best: 1868 ball gown; 1880 Cotton velvet and jet evening gown; 1870 Kelly green faille walking dress; 1880 French afternoon assemble. Each one has some great aspects. I simply love the "zigzag" trim on the velvet and jet dress.

I love the CW era, but some Victorian also. I love accessories also. It is fascinating what women could do with just their fingers/hands and we whine if our sewing machines sew too slowly!

Good morning all, I have to make my daughter, and her family Civil War period outoutfits before July. Are the hard to sew? I've sewn and made prom gowns, but this I'm sure will be different. I have to do a gown for my daughter, a dress for a 16 yr.old, a dress for a 10 yr. old and a confederate soldier uniform for my son-in -law. Any and all suggestion and tips will be greatly appreciated.
Wow, that's a LOT of sewing. I take it that you haven't done period sewing before, correct? If so, I suggest that you read up on period techniques before you start as the "public" is VERY critical of how these garments are sewn, and some take great delight in telling you what you've done wrong (and they do it very vocally!). These garment critics are known in certain circles as "garment natzis".

Here are the main NO-NOs in period clothing for the CW era: no sergers/zigzagging, no zippers, no machine made buttonholes, no synthetic fabrics - ONLY natural fabrics allowed! Prints are very iffy, only certain styles/sizes/colors are correct (I'd stick to solids). Even colors are iffy so stay safe with normal colors. No plastic buttons, only bone, pewter, brass (size matters here, too). No elastic.

Most groups follow the three foot rule - if it looks period correct from three feet away, you're okay. And I'd slap the first person who lifted MY dress to see if the seams were finished correctly!

Your biggest challenge is going to be that confederate uniform! People will be swarming all over it to catch errors! Plus, coats are not that easy to make.

I'm not saying all this to discourage you, just to point out the obvious things that seasoned seamstresses will be sure to look for and jump on if it's not right. Check this site out for some good hints:

Good luck!
You are indeed ambitious. My advice is to the soldier see if he can purchase pants, shirt and suspenders and borrow a jacket at the event until he is able to purchase one. If he belongs to a unit they often help out new reenactors. The jackets need to be too well tailored to be worth your time and there are not any good patterns easily available. Don't try to use the one in the Simplicity or McCalls catalog -- its not right and the actual "period patterns" are awful. The easiest and most correct of the commercial patterns that are easily attainable are Simplicity 4551, or 7212. They can be easily dressed up with trim or plain for a "camp"dress. Depending on how mature the 16 yr old looks, she could wear this style too. Look at this page for pictures of those patterns
Another Simpliticy pattern 3727 on is a good accurate pattern taken from an original dress.

The ten year old could be outfitted easily in a cotton waisted or straight unfitted dress (You can sometimes find dresses at Thrift shops that are "little house on the prairie style or Laura Ashley " Then make a pinafore to cover the dress like McCalls M9424 . Pictures can be seen on this page.
This would save you some time.
Carolyn's advice will help you as well in picking fabric. There are reproduction lines for the civil war era in quilt shops and on-line to use to get a general feel when looking for fabric. Solid colors of blue, brown, green and turkey red (maroon) are all good and can be trimmed easily with flat trim or ribbon.

Hope this helps you get started.
Thank you guys so much for all the advice. I'm beginning to wonder just what my daughter and son-in-law have gotten me into. I surely hope I can get right. I've been doing research on the internet. The actual sewing doesn't worry me as much as getting it correct. My daughter said there were strict guidelines, but I truly did not have a clue. I was kind of leary of the costume patterns. I'm glad I asked for help. I could have really messed up. Hope you guys will stay around; I'm going to need some support to do this.
I love the 20th century era, my passion is aprons but one must have the dress to wear under it! Of course I have to have sewing machines from the era's I sew in!

Ann, your dresses are unbelievably Gorgeous! with geocities going down, where will you move to next?

Nice to meet you Ann, Mizzy, Brenda, Cathy, Derenda, and all the follow.

I'll have to check out the geocities situation. Didn't know it was going down. This fall I am planning to create a webpage for my FrontierLady Fashions where I can list the period items I have for sale. I may put those and some other presentations and pictures I have.
I know you posted this a while ago, but I just joined myself. Does any one have any tips on making and sewing a bustle?


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