I've always had a love for historical fashion, particularly from the Victorian era. The graceful silhouettes, romantic styling, and attention to detail of that time period have long inspired my own sewing projects. Recently, I decided to challenge myself by making an entirely new Victorian-inspired dress using modern techniques and materials.

My goal with this project was to design and construct a Victorian day dress that blended period accuracy with a modern twist. I wanted to evoke the elegance of the late 1800s while creating something wearable and comfortable for the 21st century. Though daunting, I was excited by the opportunity to research, drape, pattern draft, and sew my own interpretation of Victorian fashion from start to finish. This dress was a chance to push my skills and live out my creative vision.

 A Walk Through History: Creating My Dream Green Victorian Dress - Atelier Serraspina

Selecting the Fabric

I wanted to use a natural fabric that would capture the essence of historical dress for my Victorian style dress. After considering different options like cotton, wool, and silk, I decided on prewashed linen. Linen has been used for centuries to create clothing because of its many favorable properties.

The linen fabric I chose was an almond green color that I thought would pair nicely with the romantic styling of the dress. Linen has excellent absorbency, allowing it to take on vivid dyed colors while remaining lightweight and breathable. This makes linen comfortable to wear, even in warmer weather. At the same time, linen has a crisp texture that holds pleats, gathers, and other structural elements well. This was perfect for creating the volume I wanted in the full skirt. Linen also resists wrinkling and lint, so the dress would maintain a tidy, fresh look with minimal ironing. Though prone to creasing, those creases can help emphasize the dress's old-world charm. With proper care, linen grows softer over time while retaining its strength and durability. Overall, prewashed linen in an almond green shade provided the ideal fabric for crafting my Victorian-inspired dress.

 A Walk Through History: Creating My Dream Green Victorian Dress

Designing the Dress

After selecting the perfect fabric, it was time to design the dress. I wanted to create a romantic, vintage-inspired gown but with my own modern twist.

Since I was going for a Victorian era aesthetic, I made sure to incorporate elements like a full, floor-length skirt, fitted bodice, and lace-up back. The off-the-shoulder neckline and long, billowing sleeves added to the romantic vibe.

However, I didn't want to simply recreate a historical costume. I aimed to put my own creative spin on it by playing with unique silhouettes. I opted for a larger skirt circumference than typical for Victorian fashion to achieve a bolder, dramatized shape.

My goal was to evoke the essence of Victorian style but give it a breath of fresh air and my personal flair. I focused on blending vintage charm with a modern twist for a completely new hybrid look. The result was a dress that felt both nostalgic and innovative.

 

A Walk Through History: Creating My Dream Green Victorian Dress

Pattern Making

Drafting the pattern for this Victorian dress from scratch was an exciting challenge. I wanted an elegant silhouette with a fitted bodice, small waist, and full sweeping skirt. This required calculating precise measurements and shapes to achieve the right proportions.

I started by drafting the bodice pattern, using my bust, waist, and hip measurements. I plotted these onto paper and drew curved seam lines to connect them into the shape of the upper bodice. I also drafted the sleeve pattern based on my arm measurements. For the skirt, I played with different shapes and angles until settling on a wide angled design.
to be careful when laying out the pattern to maximize use of the fabric yardage.

Once I had all the dress pattern pieces drawn, I made samples of each piece in muslin. This was to test the fit and make any necessary tweaks before cutting into the real linen fabric. It took some trial and error to get the perfect fit, but the finished patterns were ready for cutting.

Overall, drafting each pattern piece from scratch took time and patience, but allowed me to customize the dress to my exact measurements. The final result was a made-to-measure Victorian gown.

 A Walk Through History: Creating My Dream Green Victorian Dress - Atelier Serraspina

Cutting the Fabric

Cutting out the fabric pieces precisely is a crucial step in dressmaking. I first needed to lay out all the pattern pieces efficiently on the fabric, making sure there was minimal waste.

I began by unfolding the linen and smoothing out any wrinkles. Then, I arranged the bust, waist, sleeves, and skirt pieces on the fabric, spacing them just far enough apart so I could cleanly cut each piece. It took a bit of trial and error to find the optimal layout.

Once I had the pattern pieces placed, I carefully pinned each one along the edges to hold it in position. Then I slowly and methodically cut each piece out, following directly along the printed pattern lines. I used sharp dressmaking shears for the curves and pinking shears for the edges to prevent fraying.

Cutting precisely along the lines is important so the pieces match up properly when sewing. I double checked each piece after cutting to make sure the edges were smooth with no unintended cuts or variances.

Taking care during the cutting process ensures the fabric pieces will come together accurately for a beautifully constructed garment. The time spent on careful cutting really pays off later during assembly!

 

A Walk Through History: Creating My Dream Green Victorian Dress - Atelier Serraspina

Construction

I carefully assembled the bodice of the dress by sewing the bodice front and back pieces together at the shoulder seams using a French seam. This enclosed the raw edges for a clean finish inside.

Next, I attached the full gathered skirt to the bodice. The pleats and gathers were evenly distributed and stitched securely to the fitted waistline of the bodice.

Structural elements like a petticoat were essential to support the full shape of the skirt. I made a simple cotton petticoat with adjustable ties to ensure the skirt had the right amount of lift and flair. The petticoat was lightweight while still providing the needed foundation for the voluminous overskirt.

After assembling the main components of the dress, I tried it on to double check the fit and make any adjustments before moving onto finishing details. This was an important step to ensure proper shaping and proportion.

 A Walk Through History: Creating My Dream Green Victorian Dress - Atelier Serraspina

Decoration

The decoration of a Victorian dress is key to achieving the romantic aesthetic. I carefully selected various trims, laces, and flowers to embellish my green linen dress.

For trim, I chose The same green linen fabric. I hand-sewed this trim along the neckline and sleeve cuffs to frame the neckline beautifully.

To highlight the waist, I hand-sewed a satin waistband made from a contrasting fabric. The smooth texture played nicely against the linen.

Overall, the thoughtful trims, flowers, and laces elevated the dress and brought the Victorian style to life through intricate hand-sewed embellishments. This decoration process was time-consuming but worth it for the final outcome.

 A Walk Through History: Creating My Dream Green Victorian Dress - Atelier Serraspina

Finishing Touches

After constructing the main parts of the dress, it was time for the finishing touches that would really bring the whole look together.

 

Hemming

I wanted a nice clean hem, so I folded up the bottom edge 1/2 inch, pressed it, then folded it up another 1 1/2 inches and pressed again. I pinned the hem in place, then stitched it all around the skirt.

 

Closures

For the back closure, I opted for a row of fabric covered buttons going down the back bodice opening. I made the buttons by covering metal button blanks with scraps of the dress fabric. The buttons added a decorative touch while also functionally closing the dress.

 

Pressing

Pressing is an important finishing step to give the garment a crisp, finished shape. I pressed all the seams flat before topstitching to reduce bulk. Then I gave the dress a final press, using steam and starch to smooth out any wrinkles and give the linen a nice shape. The pressing really makes the linen fabric look its best!

 

The Final Reveal


After many hours of careful work, it was time for the big reveal - trying on the finished dress! I was thrilled to finally see my design come to life.

When I put on the dress, I was amazed at how well it fit and moved. The wide skirt swished beautifully when I walked, creating a dreamy, romantic effect. The off-shoulder neckline and fitted bodice were elegant and flattering. I felt like I had stepped back in time.

To capture the magical feeling of wearing my new creation, I did a photoshoot in my medieval village. The lush green trees and stone paths made a perfect fairytale backdrop. 

Reviewing the photos, I was thrilled with how they spotlighted the details and romance of the dress. The rich green fabric popped against the natural backgrounds. The off-shoulder sleeves and full skirt were shown off in their best light. I was so pleased to have photographic memories of the first wearing of my Victorian dream dress.

The entire process - from choosing the fabric, to sewing each piece, to the final photoshoot - was a labor of love. Putting on the finished gown made all those hours of effort completely worthwhile. I'll cherish this handmade, romantic dress and these photos documenting its debut for years to come!

 

Conclusion


Making my own Victorian dress was a rewarding and educational project. Here are some key takeaways:

- Historical costuming requires patience and attention to detail. From selecting the right fabrics to incorporating structural elements like boning and hoop skirts, everything must be carefully considered. But the end result is worth it!

- Fit is crucial for this style of dress. Taking the time to create a custom pattern and do multiple fittings ensures the final garment flatters your figure. Proper fit also improves mobility.

- Quality materials make all the difference. Choosing fabrics with the right weight and drape helps capture the elegance of the Victorian era. Sturdy construction supports the gown's shape.

- Hand-finishing provides beautiful finishing touches. Elements like covered buttons, lace and trim showcase fine craftsmanship.

For others who want to create their own Victorian ensemble, start by researching the styles and construction techniques of the era. Plan your design meticulously before purchasing materials. And be patient - this type of historical sewing takes time and dedication.

Once complete, your custom Victorian gown will be perfect for vintage balls, historical reenactments, costume parties or themed weddings. Wear it with pride, knowing you created something truly special with your own hands. The joy of making your own historically inspired fashion is priceless.

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