Victorian Era Undergarments: The Beginning

Project 7, part 1 – Let’s Sew Some Unmentionables!

But are these patterns…truly Victorian?! 😀

Welcome back to Mukashi no Sewing! I had so much fun sewing the Mary Quant Minidress that I decided to dive into another sewing project right away – but this time I’m back in my favorite era. Ultimately, I plan to sew a full dress – to that end I have purchased both Victorian Dressmaker books by Prior Attire. However, there are a couple of issues with eating dessert first, as it were. 🙂 One is that I haven’t tried many of the techniques involved with sewing for this era, so I am a little nervous about learning on a major garment right out of the gate. Another is that many historical costumers recommend starting with the undergarments not just for simplicity’s sake, but also because the dresses require the foundation garments in order to drape correctly. In the case of the Victorian Era, that means a corset and petticoats at a minimum, and for the Bustle Eras, a bustle.

And SO much white linen. This is JUST for the chemise and drawers! 7 yards!

One of the things I learned from the Mary Quant Minidress project was just how useful it was having a video to refer to during the sewing process. As I absorb new skills I’m sure I won’t need them anymore, but I felt like I would want the option still at this point. After looking at several options, I really connected with the style of Jennifer Rosbrugh of HistoricalSewing.com. (I’m also pretty jealous of that URL, haha!) She has a great selection of classes, including one that covers making a set of Victorian undergarments. Another point in her favor was that she uses the Truly Victorian patterns which I’d already been eyeballing!

The only undergarment not included that I would absolutely need would be a corset, but honestly I have ZERO desire to sew my own corset at this point. Judging by the number of patterns and classes I see online these days, it seems doing so is quite trendy! I’m a “make the bread, buy the butter” kind of girl, though, and I just don’t see the benefit of making my own at this point in time. The effort-to-result ratio seems quite lopsided! Plus, there are so many tremendously talented corset-makers out in the world. I narrowed my choices down to two; RedThreaded and Period Corsets, and ultimately decided on the Alice Corset from Period Corsets for the 1880s look I’d be going for.

Photo credit: periodcorsets.com

I happened to need two small buttons for the chemise part of the project, and as you may recall I bought two period buttons for the Victorian Era Nightgown restoration that ended up being slightly too large for that project. Since I get to make my own buttonholes this time, I now have the perfect excuse to use them!

Taking photos of small objects is really difficult! But I think these will be super cute fasteners for the chemise.

And that detachable butterfly train in the first picture? …I couldn’t resist. I won’t actually be making that as part of this particular project series, but I just wanted it so much! I have no doubt it will feature in a future project! 😀 So join me next time, when I begin sewing the chemise (and working with linen for the first time; yikes!)

3 thoughts on “Victorian Era Undergarments: The Beginning

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