Modes Robe De Jour Vers 1895

Fashion in the 1890s saw an explosion in dress styles and especially when it came to skirt and jacket combinations. Here’s just one interesting example of a circa 1895 day dress1In some instances, “day dress” and “jacket/skirt combinations” are used somewhat interchangeably. from the Musée de arts decoratifs Paris :

Day Dress, c. 1895; Musée des Arts Décoratifs (26009 AB)

This dress has an interesting color palette consisting of a light gray silk taffeta bodice combined with darker gray silk velvet sleeves for bodice/jacket; and the same light gray taffeta for the outerskirt and train combined with a red and gold silk brocade underskirt. Even more striking is that the lapels on the bodice/jacket are also in the same red and gold silk brocade- the effect is stunning. Below is a close-up of the bodice:

Here, one can make out the stylized pockets surrounded by gold embroidery. Also, the top of a faux vest in the same red brocade can also be seen with a waist underneath. It’s very likely that  it’s all one unit giving the effect of multiple layers. Here’s a close up of the brocade:

Below are a couple of profile pictures:


Judging from the pictures, it would appear that the outer and inner skirts are really of one unit and represent an interesting evolution of the over/underskirt combination found on later 19th Century styles. Also, while the bustle style had mostly disappeared by the 1890-91, it still lingered on a bit in a more muted form with padding. Finally, here’s a three-quarter rear view that shows off the train:

This is an interesting dress in that it takes the basic walking suit of the 1890s and then takes it a bit further with using contrasting colors to create an over/underskirt style that’s reminiscent of what was more common in the 1880s. Colorwise, we seen the use of analogous colors with the two shades of gray (although they’re technically neutral) and the use of red as a contrast. It’s not a combination that one normally encounters and it definitely stands out. But what’s more interesting is that the dark gray is on a velvet which absorbs light thereby creating a dull luster while the light gray silk taffeta does the opposite.  We hope to come across more interesting examples of this style so stay tuned. 🙂



At The Atelier- Design Creation, Part 4

In out last post, we started construction on the canvases for the two front pieces of the Eton jacket as well as provide some patterning and construction details on the collar. As noted previously, this jacket pattern is one that we drafted utilizing a pattern drafting system developed by Charles Hecklinger in The Keystone Jacket and Dress Cutter. So now we move a bit away from patterning and into the realm of tailoring- or at least “tailoring light.” Full disclosure here- we’re not trained tailors and a lot of this is new territory for us so there will be mistakes but that’s all part of the learning process. So let’s take a look…🙂


One of the most time-consuming and pain-staking parts of jacket construction is pad stitching the canvas around the lapels.  Essentially, pad stitching is used in conjunction with an interfacing, typically some sort of hair cloth, and the whole idea is to provide a shaped/formed base that will give the lapels some stiffness and definition; if you take a look at any well-tailored suit coat and you’ll notice that the lapels almost have a life on their own, maintaining their shape while giving definition to the jacket as it’s being worn.

The first step is to cut out the two pieces, basically covering the lapel area but making sure to cut away the seam allowance- to reduce bulk and make for clean edges, you don’t want to get the interfacing caught in the seams. These are pinned in. And next, on to pad stitching:

Pad stitching is meant as a way to bind the interfacing to the underlying canvas as well as the fashion fabric with a series of very small (in theory) stitches as a means of shaping and forming the lapels so that they roll smoothly and keep their form. The stitches are supposed to be almost unnoticeable on the fashion fabric side (but mistakes do happen, especially when dealing with a non-wool fashion fabric). Since the pad-stitched fashion fabric is going to not be visible, any flaws in the stitching are hidden. Below is a depiction of how the lapel will look from the front:

Not the most even pad stitching by any means…

Pad stitching can be tricky in gauging the stitches. Technically, at least according to most manuals we’ve come across, they should be about 1/2″ while ones closer to the edges should be 1/4″. To be sure, one can actually trace 1/2″ and 1/4″ grids with a ruler and chalk but we opted to not do this because of the irregular shape of the lapels (and it can be a real pain, especially towards the edges). Finally, once the pad stitching is complete, the perimeter of each lapel is outlined with tailor’s tape which is attached with a catch stitch. This will further give the lapels definition and a maintain a firm shape.

(To be continued…)



At The Atelier- Design Creation, Part 3

In out last post, we detailed constructing the basic toille of the Eton jacket pattern that we drafted utilizing a pattern drafting system developed by Charles Hecklinger in The Keystone Jacket and Dress Cutter. Before we move on, just for some added detail, here’s the front pattern piece with some annotated details:

The one thing we want to note here is that as you can see from the multiple darts on the above pattern piece, the dart(s) have migrated quite a bit. Originally, per Hecklinger, there was one very large dart. Because of the size, we decided to break it into two smaller darts but that proved to be impractical from a construction perspective (there’s theory and there’s practice). So, we opted for the single dart BUT with half the width that was originally calculated using Hecklinger’s formula. Also, we opted for a straight dart rather than curves. Please note that part of the “take up” that the dart is meant to do is also accomplished by  the side seams which have been curved. This seems to have given satisfactory results and worked well on our fit model.

Next, as previously noted, I was not happy with the first collar pattern piece (Collar Version #1) that I drafted and it just didn’t work well on the toille so I drafted a second one (Collar Version #2) as shown below:

By moving the front edge back, it doesn’t interfere with the lapel edge:

Finally, before we move on, we just want to reiterate that while Hecklinger provides fairly comprehensive details, you really have to parse some of his instructions because they ambiguous on first reading. Also, for the collar, I had to “fill in the blanks” with basic pattern drafting knowledge that’s not readily apparent in the book- this isn’t a complete cookbook for tailoring by any means but pre-supposes a lot of knowledge on specific details. You have been warned! 🙂

So now onto the next phase….


Aas part of the development process, we decided to treat to treat this as a semi-  tailored jacket and as such, we decided to utilize a canvas combined with hair-cloth interlining on the lapels. The “canvas” that we utilized is actually medium-weight cotton muslin, the same fabric we use for toiles and it’s stitched to the fashion fabric with a basting stitch:

Below is a picture of the canvas fully stitched onto the fashion fabric and the roll line has been taped. The next phase will be to apply hair canvas to each lapel and then pad stitch it down.

(To be continued…)



At The Atelier- Design Creation, Part 2

In out last post, we detailed drafting out an Eton jacket pattern utilizing a pattern drafting system developed by Charles Hecklinger in The Keystone Jacket and Dress Cutter. As we previously mentioned, while Hecklinger provides fairly comprehensive details, you really have to parse some of his instructions because they ambiguous on first reading. Also, for the collar, I had to “fill in the blanks” with basic pattern drafting knowledge that’s not readily apparent in the book- this isn’t a complete cookbook for tailoring by any means but pre-supposes a lot of knowledge on specific details. You have been warned! 🙂

In drafting the pattern, some details such as the width of the lapels and the collar style are left to the designer. Below are the pattern pieces:

And here’s the pieces for the toille:

So now onto the next steps….


First we form the jacket body. I was pretty pleased except for this darts. Following Hecklinger’s formula created darts that were simply too big.

After a test-fit, we modified the darts and added the collar and got this:

Not the most impressive result but it must be noted that I only used a single layer in the toille and forgot to account for the 1/2 inch seam allowance that would be lost when attached to the lining. We must emphasize that it’s a rough draft at this stage. However, we were more impressed with the back although the collar is riding up above the roll line (easily solved with a pressing).

After another test fit- the basic shell body was pronounced “good” so onto drafting the sleeves, once again following Hecklinger’s formula:

And then to a toille and attached to the rest of the toille:

Sleeve attachment is done pretty much by eye although a good general rule to start with is to line up bottom sleeve 1 inch forward of the side seam.

We used Hecklinger’s “plain sleeve” draft formula so there’s not a lot of excess in the shoulder head but just enough. Style-wise, this could work for either early or late 1890s. In the background, our fashion consultant Fiona is expressing her disapproval- not “Corgi” enough! 🙂

After more test-fitting, it was found that the sleeve cuff was too small so that was enlarged on the pattern piece (we didn’t bother constructing a new sleeve). Overall, the toille has been a success and everything has lined up nicely with the drafted pattern pieces. However, we’re not happy with the collar so that’s going to need some more work…

(To be continued…)



Winter In The West

Day Three of #VictorianFebruary hosted by @ladyrebeccafashions is: “Winter”…well, Los Angeles isn’t that wintry, but when we want “weather”, we go to our house in Tombstone, AZ. Brrrrrrr! Old West Winter fun 🙂

At The Dressmaker’s Cottage at No. 11.

Outside of the Bird Cage Theater.

1890s Cape

At Big Nose Kate’s warming up with an Irish Coffee.

I’m afraid that’s pretty much it in the way of “winter” pictures- we just don’t get much weather weather in Southern California. 🙂