Monday, September 24, 2012

Victorian Bathing Suit

Going to the beach in a historical costume has been on my Costuming Bucket List for sometime. So when I was invited to join a group planning to do just that, I jumped at the chance. 
I'll have to admit when I first started doing my research I only had a vague idea of what I wanted. I started out looking at old photos and fashion plates. Luckily I was able to quickly narrow down my search to 1920's or earlier because any later and I would be exposing to much skin for my liking. My everyday bathing suit is a pair or board shorts and a tankini, so the historical one had to cover at least that amount or I would be to self conscious to wear it. It might be the sailor in me but I also knew I wanted it to have a nautical flair to it. Yet I didn't want it to be the stereotypical image found everywhere when you put "Victorian Bathing Suit" into your internet search field.
 So when I stumbled upon this fashion plate I knew I had found the perfect one. The overlapping sleeves and pleated trim set it apart enough to make me happy but still had the nautical feel.
Once I had my inspiration photos I started with the undergarments. The Victorian era is completely new to me so I needed to start at the skin and work my way out. For the Chemise I used Laughing Moon Mercantile #100 Ladies' Victorian Underwear Pattern. I had everything I needed in my stash, and it went together incredibly fast. The corset came because of a discussion on the Live Journal Group CorsetMakers   which led me to these photos. 
1902 Bathing Corset Front
1902 Bathing Corset Back
This corset is later then my swimsuit by almost 20 years but I didn't feel the shape given would have changed that drastically for a bathing Corset. If I am wrong PLEASE let me know. I was instantly intrigued by this corset. It looks like a normal under bust except for the straps and then you see the back. Isn't that AWESOME!! 
I draped the corset on myself and then added the back pieces. If I was more concerned about waist reduction I would of done it differently but I wasn't, that's why I just draped it and pinched away excess material to get my shaped pieces.  I am still not completely sure how it would of fastened in the front. My Inspiration photos do not show that particular aspect. I ended up using a ribbon threaded through four of the holes, two in the back strap and two in the front.
(Once I get better pictures I promise they will be right here to show you what I mean!)
I asked the CorsetMakers group what their opinions were on how it closed and you can read here some of the comments and links they shared. I found the hook that went through the holes of the strap most likely but as of yet do not know how I would replicate it.
Turned out not to be as hard
 as I thought it would be.
Just a triangle piece sewn
 into the collars seams.
For the actual bathing suit I had to figure out if it was a one piece suit with an overdress or a dress with bloomers. I found several examples of the first option, or a one piece suit with a skirt over top of it. I still went with the dress with bloomers though. Even though I had no photos to support this I knew my capabilities as a sewer and knew I could drape the dress and pattern the extra pieces like the sleeves, collar and bloomers. The hardest part would be the collar and "V" insert. 
Deciding what fabric to use was a bit of a challenge. This is one of my weakest points in sewing. Knowing what a fabric is, and when or where to use it. I knew from my previous research that Wool was used most often. Thankfully a fellow Costumer let me know that she had used a tightly woven, even weave, light weight wool on her bathing suit. Yea for for having their awesome Wool sale at the same time! For the trim I decided to use a silk dupioni that I had in my stash.
I used a pinking blade for my rotary cutter, to cut long strips for the box pleats that I used as trim for the bottom of the bloomers and the skirt. The box pleats I measured each pleat pressed then moved on to the next one. Once I got into the groove of it it actually went by very fast. The skirts pleats are 1" wide and the bloomers are 1/2". For the bloomers I used my trusty Pajama Bottom pattern and just shortened it.

Accesories for this outfit:

The Hat/Bonnet is based off of this fashion plate.  I used a buckram blank from The Pillbox bonnet on page 3 in fact, but I altered it. I took the crown completely off and widened the hole slightly. I also took off the outside wire so I could cut down the sides and then reattached the wire so it would keep its shape. I then covered it in the same silk dupioni that I used as trim on the bathing suit. I trimmed the bonnet in a dark blue ribbon. Personally I do not like the bonnet. It reminds me to much of a baby's bonnet which gives the whole outfit a 'big baby' vibe. I am hoping if I trim it a little more and curl/frizz my bangs it will look more like the fashion plate.

My shoes are Capezio Split sole Canvas flats. I attached ribbon to them, criss-crossing the top of my foot and then up my leg. The actual day of the event the straps would not stay up more than 2 seconds so they were cut off. Later it was suggested to me to use Elastic instead of Ribbon so I will try that the next time I wear them.

*Photos of me in the bathing suit were taken by and

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Updates almost complete

I still have a little more to go but it is at last looking like a site I can be proud of. 

  • Events I have been to and the flicker sets for ones I have pictures for are up. 
  • Current costumes have pictures and their status. I need to do write ups for my more recent ones and I think there are one or two more that need to be added.
  • Past costumes - *cringe* I have decided to add them. We all start somewhere. While I may not be proud of them now, I learned something with everything I have sewn. 
I like how much easier this is to update then the website. I am curious if it is as easy to find in searches as the the website is though....
YEA for change!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Lots of updates coming so please excuse the mess till its pretty again.