Toby Barton Designs

August 4, 2012

Costume Analytics or, lets take closer look.

Filed under: Uncategorized — by tobybartondesigns @ 10:17 pm

So, I have wanted to do this for some time now, thanks to Lauren over at American Duchess, but I have not had a garment to take a look at.  Well, thanks a million to my good friend Darlene Davis, I got my hands on an mid 1860’s dress and she graciously allowed me to run screaming out the door with it.  I have never been able to really look at the construction of any gown or dress from the 19th century because I never have been able to get my hands on one, until now.  Bear in mind that I do not have dress form small enough for this so pardon the pictures.  Oh, and also I will be adding additional items in this little expose.

So here we have a lovely example of a mid-nineteenth century dress.  Please be kind, I could not fit it on my dress form.  The outer fabric is a silk taffeta of green stripes edged in black on a cream background with lighter green check pattern within the lighter areas.  The bodice and sleeves are trimmed with one inch wide silk ribbon that has been pleated to fit.

As we can see a close up of the pleating.  There is suppose to be 8 3/4″ buttons down the front on the right side, however, 2 are missing.  The buttons are a disc shape with dome in the middle that is covered in silk.  The buttons are just for decoration.  The true closure is in the inside.  Close up of the ribbon detail on the sleeve.  The lace is a later addition to the sleeve.  The arm and waist have been trimmed in bias binding with a tiny cord.  The cord is about the size of crochet cotton.  About a 1/16th” of an inch.  The sleeves are the two piece variety of the period to reflect the military influence of the time.

On right side, which is the left hand picture, there is a row brass hooks.  Forgive me but I did not count them.  They are stitched down the front along the facing then, another strip of fabric is stitched to the lining under the hooks.  On the left side, which is the right hand picture, we have the eyes.  These are not brass but, I think, nickle, but don’t quote me on that at all.  They are stitched into the seam allowance then the silk and lining have been folded over and whipped stitched closed with tiny stitches.  There are two darts on either side of the bodice and they are fully boned.  No other boning is evident in any other seam allowance.

Now we get to an interesting detail of the bodice.  I have only seen this once and it was on a reproduction pattern from Laughing Moon Mercantile.

Now, I know that many of us have sewn period bodices and the ones from the mid century consist of three pieces.  Bodice front, side back and back.  However, on closer examination I made a very interesting discovery.

The back does not consist of two separate pieces.  It is one piece.  You can see here that there is a top stitching line to indicate the joining of the two supposedly.  However, the side back and back piece is all in one.  According to the pattern and instructions from Laughing Moon, the pattern is moved over then stitched to simulate individual pieces along the curve line.  The back of the bodice has been taken up horizontally by 1 1/2″ with rough stitching on the inside.

What clued me in was the fact that the bodice back is all one piece that is sewn at the side seam.   So the lining is only three pieces.  Two fronts and one back.  The bodice and sleeves are lined in cotton.  The sleeves have self fabric facing.

Here is the dress from Laughing Moon.  I have yet to make this dress.

So lets look at the skirt.

The original skirt with, give or take little bit, is about 152″.  Now, why did I say that.  The front of the skirt has been taken in on the right and left of center front.

The darts, if you will, are three inches on either side of the fold.  Not really sure why this was done, my only guess was to change the skirt shape for the late 1860’s.  Just a guess.

The skirt is lined in glazed brown cotton that was very common for the period.  This type of lining looks like waxed paper bags and just about as stiff.  I really looks like plastic coated fabric.  Like the vinyl table cloths that one would use on a picnic table.  You can also see that the hem is bound in green twill tape or a tape like twill.  On the right side there is a pocket made out of the same fabric as the bodice lining.

The back of the skirt is cartridge pleated to about 4 3/4″ inches.  The rest of the back of the skirt is graded on a slope to the front and it is gathered, rather than pleated, stroked and fitted into the waist line of the bodice.

Now why do I think that this dress is from the mid ’60’s?  Around about 1862 to 1863, Charles Frederick Worth, father of Haute Couture, decided he no longer liked the bell or dome shaped skirts.  He started to move the skirt out to the back, precursor to the bustle period.  In order to accommodate the change in the skirt shape it had to go from floor length in the front to a mini train in the back.  The skirt length in the front is 401/2″ and the back is 44 1/2″.  This leads me to believe that this a transitional skirt from dome to elliptical.

As you can see the skirt is moving from a uniform circumference to an oval shape hence the short to long in the length of the skirt.

I am so very thrilled at the opportunity to look at this dress, it is still in my work room and I may have to hostage this lovely, my dream goal is to discover a dusty steamer trunk full of Worth dresses and gowns.  A boy can dream can’t he?


July 19, 2012

Bustling Along

Filed under: Uncategorized — by tobybartondesigns @ 2:39 pm

So I have decided to split my time up between The Titanic project and another sewing project.  I don’t know how many of you out there just get an idea in your head and you just want to do it or you will go batty well, that is me.

I bought about 10 yards of nice cotton fabric from the store that shall not be named thinking that I will do a mid century outfit out of it.  Now, bear  in mind that I have had this fabric for months so, I decided on an early bustle day dress.  When I have used my modern dress form for draping and fitting something just didn’t look right.  Then, after reading a blog by The American Duchess, she had hit on the problem.  The bust is too perfect and pointy.  She filed away the bust, made some changes to the waist and hip line and, voila, she had a better working model called Franken Lilly.  After she filed and smoothed everything down she padded up the form to her measurement, slipped the cover back over, and she had the shape she needed to corset it up for her to any period of time she was designing for.  Go to Lauren’s blog site at click on tutorials and scroll down to find how she did this.

Now, with all being said I decided to try it myself.  Sorry, no pictures available.  I was caught up in the moment and forgot to take and pictures.  Oh, and try not to do any thing strenuous on a day that is 95 degrees out or you will be wringing wet.  Well, it worked like a charm.  With the dress form padded and ready to go I was ready to go but…………..

I did not have all of the proper undergarments namely a chemise.  So what does one do, one drafts a pattern and gets to sewing.


A very simple chemise to make and draft a pattern for.  Wide neckline that is pulled together with ribbon and beading lace.  Cap sleeves trimmed in antique lace edging and the hem edged with antique embroidered trim.  I am very happy with this pattern.  Perhaps I will make this available for special order.

Now we are getting somewhere.  Mid century corset made out of red and white striped ticking.  I love working with this fabric for foundations garments.  If you look close you can see that the bust is much smoother and the roundness comes from the padding and the corset.  No more torpedo bust.

Now the bustle.  I made this bustle years ago from Nora Waugh’s book Corsets and Crinolines.

And we have the petticoat.  This poor thing has seen better days.  Thank goodness you can’t see too much.  This petticoat is from Truly Victorian patterns.  Technically, bustle is supposed to be installed in the back but I chose not to.

Well, there you have it so far.  Foundations are in place and off to the races I go with the dress.

July 11, 2012

Dress 4016 or, sewing with a Treadle Sewing Machine

Filed under: Uncategorized — by tobybartondesigns @ 3:10 pm

My mother bought this treadle sewing machine about 25 years ago and I have always wanted this machine.  On a recent trip North, my mother gave me her machine and I was absolutely thrilled with receiving it.  When I started to look at the machine I realized that there weren’t any markings of any kind on it.  So, doing a little research, I discovered that this could very well be any inexpensive version of a Singer or White.  What I do know is that it was patented January 29, 1910 which makes it perfect for the project.  So, my objective for the rest of the 1912 project is to use the treadle to do all of my sewing for the project.

If you have never used a treadle sewing machine practice, practice, practice.  It takes a bit of eye/hand coordination and rhythm but, once you get the feel of it you are good to go.

This is Dress 4016 from April 1912 which is my latest project.  Quite a lovely dress.  I chose to use a burgundy and ecru stripe cotton for the main body of the dress and a solid burgundy cotton for the contrasting center panel and lower hem.


The main body of the dress put together, using the treadle machine.  The pattern called for bands to circle the skirt, sleeves, and bodice.  I choose to use bias of the stripe fabric for these.  I also added a lace edging to the bands to add a little something extra.


The contrasting center front panel has been sewn in on the right hand side.  Now, take a closer look at the original picture and my dress so far.  I believe that I forgot one little detail………………..

The bands on the bodice.  I did not realize this until I was driving to work yesterday.  After taking a look at this morning, I have decided not to put the bands of the bodice.  My next challenge, and this is very thinking ahead helps, is how to fasten this on the left side.  I will have to put a placket in the left side.

So far I am very pleased on how the dress is coming out and sewing with a treadle isn’t hard at all.  It is actually quite fun.

May 3, 2012

1910 Lace Dress

Filed under: Uncategorized — by tobybartondesigns @ 2:08 pm

Another new project.  I am drafting a pattern based off of this dress for the 1912 project.  Beautiful white cotton dress with lace insertion, white embroidery, and cut outs.

The poor beat up pattern.  This is not the final pattern.  All my patterns look horrible until I get the drafting and fit issues resolved.

The bodice is a little loose for the fit.  The right side has been pinned at the dart and the side seam and the left side left alone.  The bodice back is good for me, so no changes to that.  The biggest challenge was getting the dolman sleeve to work.  The sleeve was a little wide and long so I altered the pattern with the adjustments.

April 22, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — by tobybartondesigns @ 10:49 pm


March 28, 2012

Skirt 0162

Filed under: Uncategorized — by tobybartondesigns @ 3:46 pm

Here is the skirt front.  I used two different wool fabrics instead of one.  Plain for the front and back panels and a tiny check for the side panels.  The skirt will fasten on the left hand side with hooks and bars.  I haven’t decided yet how I am going to trim it out yet.

Skirt back.  I popped the pleats out and topped stitched them down to hold them in place.

Close up of the facing and placket.  Only the upper portion of the skirt is lined.  It is under stitched at the upper edge and on the front panel edge.  I added a one inch placket on the left hand side in the seam allowance.  The hooks will go on the front panel edge and the bars will go on the placket.

Skirt 0162

Filed under: Uncategorized — by tobybartondesigns @ 3:26 pm

March 22, 2012

Duster Jacket for the 1912 Titanic Project

Filed under: Uncategorized — by tobybartondesigns @ 5:43 pm
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This is the finished Duster.  What great fun this was.  The jacket fabric is a heavy cotton duck with a green/brown stripe duck for the accents on the collar, cuffs, and pocket.  I created a front facing as well as a full lining.  The buttons that close the jacket are of self covered buttons out of the jacket material.  That proved very difficult to cover the buttons well so I choose to cover the rest of the buttons in the lining material.  If I were to “modernize” this jacket I would narrow down the width of the hem, lower and widen the armhole and enlarge the sleeves.  So there you have my first completed garment for the project.  Let me know what ya’ll think.  Thank you.

February 29, 2012

Duster Jacket Shell

Filed under: Uncategorized — by tobybartondesigns @ 5:00 pm

Update to progress of the Duster Jacket.  The outer shell is done.  No problems in the construction at all.  I posted last week that I was going to reduce the hemline sweep but, I changed my mind and left it as is according the pattern.  After getting the shell done I saw the armhole is very high and tight.  If anyone wanted to wear this as a regular day wear jacket the armhole would need to be re-drafted to fit more comfortably for the modern wearer.  I very pleased how it is coming along so far.  What’s next, the lining and hem and we are good to go on my first pattern for the project.

February 24, 2012

April 1912 Duster Jacket

Filed under: Uncategorized — by tobybartondesigns @ 1:17 pm

Well, here is the pieces to the Duster.  The fabric is a yellow-green canvas and the trim is a brown-green stripe canvas.  On the cuffs, I did not apply the trim according to the pattern; I made a trim pattern and applied it right to the cuff.  Lots of clipping and trimming and pressing to get it to lay nicely.  The collar applied the trim in three separate parts.  I may trim the hem with bias of the stripe haven’t made up my mind yet.  The sleeves are narrow but the body of the jacket looks huge!

I moved the button hole placement over from the original placement on the pattern but, in hind site I think that I will have to play with that but I won’t cross that bridge until I get there.  More to come some.

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