31 Jan 2021

DIY: 1890s Fan Skirt Made Entirely From... Bed Sheets

My sewing adventures continue and this time I present you my latest project that I've been working on during the second half of this January. It is a late Victorian (around 1890s) fan skirt, but there's a twist: I made it entirely from second-hand bedsheets! So how did that happen?



The pattern for this skirt was probably the first one ever that I've bought on Etsy (you can find it here). But it has been tucked away in my sewing folder, because there was one essential item lacking if I wanted to make it, and that item was... a corset. Yes, the very ones, dreadful corsets that generate clicks whenever they are mentioned, because a corset was a device of female torture! Or... was it? If you want to dive deeper in the matter of historical corsets and their function(s), check out these videos for more information (Karolina ŻebrowskaBernadette Banner, Abby Cox, Morgan Donner, Cat's Costumery). "But why do you need a corset if you want to make a skirt?", one might inquire. Well, the thing is that the pattern that I bought comes with reduced measurements because you are supposed to wear a corset as an essential foundation garment that gives the distinct shape of the particular period. In this case, I would have needed a 1890s corset which, sadly, I do not own. So I did the next best thing and after some constant scrolling and searching on the "Vinted" app, I came across a modern corset that I could wear until I make my own, proper historical garment (spoiler alert - because I intend to!). It is far from perfect, but I can reduce my waist considerably (don't be alarmed, I still can breathe and function!) and use the abovementioned pattern.



The thing with making this skirt, besides the corset part, was that we're still in a pretty strict lockdown here in Lithuania, and fabric stores are closed. I managed to purchase a very high quality Italian wool, but I was not confident enough to make the skirt straight out of it, besides the pattern stressed out how it is important to make a mockup first. 

Making a mockup was my priority anyway and what I've decided to use a black satin cover for a blanket that I've bought last summer in a second hand shop, thinking about making an Edwardian walking skirt out of it. As a lining I decided to use couple of old bedsheets from my own closet. They were already worn down and I was about to use them for my mockups anyway. At first my idea was to treat this attempt as a mockup and after assembling it and checking for mistakes and corrections, to take apart. But later, as I was basting all those seams I decided to treat it as a real garment and really concentrate on making it as right as possible on my first attempt. That was a bit stressful, but I decided to stick with the decision I made.



Most of the work was done with my old and trusty hand turned sewing machine. There was lots of handsewing too, because there were some strange nooks and corners that I just couldn't get with the machine. In the picture above I was attaching a tape to protect the skirt's fabric from fraying and damage at the bottom. It is much easier to change the tape than try to mend a worn hem.

All in all, I've worked on weekends and afternoons when I'd finish my "normal" work, and it took me around couple of weeks. I've also had to make a bustle pad, because although my hips are wide, some padding is still necessary in the back, to give that particular shape and make the waist appear smaller. 




I also wore a 1890s vest that I completed on the last day of 2020 ( so exactly a month ago!). The blouse is purchased from a fast fashion store, but as I am a very attentive person when it comes to clothes, it is going to serve me for years to come. 




Probably it would've been better to do a photoshoot next to a manor or in a lovely XIX century park, but since we're in a national quarantine, the corner with my personal library will do. At least, for now. Meanwhile, I'll just let myself enjoy and wear this mockup-turned-a-real-deal skirt and read more books from the XIXth century. Because *aesthetics*.


Stay tuned for more sewing adventures!



Photos © Things I Like Blog

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