Fluffy Edwardian Gown + How I Learned to Clean it

So I actually own very few antique garments. I don’t have much space for storage, so it’s not something that I seek out…

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But when something like this Edwardian gown jumps off the rack at me, how can I say no??

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I bought this dress almost three years ago, now, and didn’t know what to do with it for quite awhile. I was so scared I’d somehow damage it, that I just tucked it away in my trunk until I could do some research on how to properly clean antique linens.

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The dress is in really good shape – no major holes or tears and the fabric is strong. The only thing is that elastic around the neckline has lost some of its elasticity.

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There are a couple of noticeable stains towards the bottom of the dress.

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Particularly at the hem. So I knew I would need to clean it sooner or later so I could pack it away and store it properly. After doing lots of research on the best way to clean antique garments (opinions vary quite broadly), I picked up a bottle of Woolite Extra Delicates and filled the tub with lukewarm water.

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Holding my breath, I carefully laid the dress on top of the water and pressed it down evenly. I let it soak in the water for several hours, refilling the soap + water a couple of times before rinsing it very, very clean.

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Then I rolled it carefully up in a towel to wring out the excess water and carried outside.

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So it could dry completely in the sun.

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The stains came out of the bottom!

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And the dress made it through the whole thing in great shape! It’s been carefully packed away now for a day when I have more space and can take it out to examine it more closely.

The dress taught me a lot about the careful laundering of vintage textiles, though, and I’ve used the same method on other linens since then with similar success.

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It’s always surprising to see how dirty the water is! The fabric always looks so clean at first!


On a related note, I recently bought a bag of Retro Clean after seeing some great success stories on Instagram. I’m really eager to give it a try. Has anyone tried it before? If so, what did you think of it?

Lida Rose Corset in Action

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My beautiful, beautiful corset.

What happened to you?

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Looking normal…

I wore it to Disneyland, under my Cadaver Danielles outfit, for about 6 hours and it started to cave in about halfway through. I didn’t quite understand what was going on while I was wearing it, so I snapped some pictures when I got back to my hotel to try to figure out what happened (you can see my pretty petticoat!).

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The back started bowing out right at my waistline, which you can kind of see in the picture. I laced it pretty loose that night, but the sides pulled it all wonky.

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On the left it’s bowing out, on the right it’s doing what it’s supposed to.

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And you can see it even better here. I still have my bum pad on underneath (which gives my some crazy hips!) but the sides are certainly not in the right spot!

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And this is what it did to my waist. Not the most comfortable…

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When I tried it on after making it, the sides were fine. And it was okay when I wore it around the house to break it in. Some of my theories:

  1. I tied it too loose that night.
  2. Too high up under my arms (it rubbed a bit), so maybe it bowed whenever I bent sideways.
  3. Too weakly boned. I used zip ties purposefully, to keep it light but that might not have made it supportive enough.

Any more ideas? Insight? Wisdom? I really want this corset to be wearable in the future.

Cadaver Danielles {Edwardian Skirts}

You know these guys?

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copyright harshlight

They’re the Dapper Dans – a barbershop quartet that performs in Disneyland – and for the Halloween season they transform into these guys:

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copyright maddyindisneyland

The Cadaver Dans! They’re awesome – one of our favorite acts!

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Which is why my sister and I dressed up as them for Halloween…well, the female version.

Getting ready.

Our skirts are made from Butterick 5970, hemmed to keep the train off the ground since Disneyland doesn’t allow costumes that drag. I plan on letting down the hem someday.

Most of our outfits were sewn at the eleventh hour – literally the day before we left – so we’re wearing everyday dress shirts over corsets. It worked! Haha.

Somehow we managed to cram all of our clothes into my carry-on, which was a miracle in and of itself. I’m wearing my S-curve corset, bustle pad, a petticoat, shirt, and skirt.

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My sister is wearing basically the same thing, just an earlier corset style and she skipped bustle the pad.

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I had searched long and hard for the prefect black fabric for our skirts and ended up buying some black peach fuzz at Walmart that looks really great in motion. The rippling and swishing is exactly what I envisioned!

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We had hoped to get a picture with the Cadaver Dans at the party, but they apparently weren’t walking around.

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So we watched their show on the river instead.

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Twice.

We also did other things like ride rides (not the easiest thing in a corset), watch the parade, and try some snacks. Funny story: lots of people mistook us for employees and we were asked questions like where the bathrooms were and when the parade was. Even funnier, we knew all the answers!

By the end of the night we had had a great time and were thoroughly exhausted.

Fabric: Black peach fuzz
Pattern: Butterick 5970
Year: 1905
How historically accurate is it? Probably not the most accurate, technically, but it looks convincing!
Hours to complete: I did both in the same day.
First worn: Halloween 2016
Total cost: About $20 each

Lida Rose Corset (HSM #6)

This project held a lot of firsts for me. It was my first time using a printed PDF pattern, sizing up a pattern, and inserting a busk. I’m very proud of how it all turned out, considering the fact that (strictly speaking) this is the first corset I’ve ever made and that I was always terrified of making one. Turns out it’s a lot easier than I had expected!

The pattern I used is a free one, Hip Curve Corset, by Ralph Pink. It came only in a UK size 10 so I spent an afternoon measuring and resizing it to fit me. I incorporated into this corset some of the adjustments I made when sewing my stays last year.

Please keep your fingers crossed that I did everything right; I haven’t actually tried on the finished product yet!

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I’m in love with this corset. I adore the hue of the purple and the feel of the silk and the detail of the lace at the top. Corsets from the Edwardian period have always held a particular fascination for me (well, lingerie in general) so it’s thrilling to have one for myself.

Inspiration

The inside is a little crazy, I will admit. I ran out of purple tape to use for the bones and started using peach instead (it’s less saturated in real life) and some of the seam allowances are poking out inside so I definitely could be neater next time.

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How does this item have to do with travel, you may ask? Well, I made this corset specifically to take on a trip with me in the fall. To make it easy to pack, carry, and put on I kept it fairly lightly boned, left the garter attachments off the bottom, and used two layers.

As for the story behind the name of the corset, I spent a good chunk of my time sewing with The Music Man (2003) on in the background. I may or may not have watched it (literally) five times…

So, naturally, I had the songs stuck in my head for days and one of my favorites is Lida Rose so there you go!

The Challenge: Travel (HSM #6)
Fabric: White cotton duck, purple silk
Pattern: Hip Curve Corset by Ralph Pink
Year: c. 1905
Notions: White thread, busk, silver grommets, white lace, zip ties
How historically accurate is it? Don’t even ask lol
Hours to complete: I can’t even guess. I worked on it for about 5 solid days throughout the month.
First worn: Not yet!
Total cost: Zip ties were the only thing I actually bought for the project ($6). Everything else was from my stash (if I remember correctly: 1 yard cotton duck ($6), 1 yard purple silk ($3), busk ($3.25), and the other pieces didn’t have a significant cost).