Past Patterns’ Lowell Mills Dress Part 3: Skirt

I was so ready to make this skirt. After the (albeit welcome) challenges of the bodice and sleeves, I knew the skirt would be a breeze. Past Patterns replicates Mary Gregg’s original skirt, which comprises four rectangular panels. The panels aren’t symmetrically placed or evenly sized, probably because—like many women of her time—Gregg was trying to be economical with her fabric and didn’t have the luxury of cutting even panels. If you wish, you can cut your own panels to be more symmetrical.

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The 1830s Project and the Lowell Mills Dress: Notes on Style, Pattern, and Fabric

As always, I feel compelled to acknowledge that I don’t have enough hair for sausage curls.

The 1830s Project:

Every so often, we are treated to an era of utterly outside-the-box fashion exuberance that later leaves us asking “What were we thinking?” I’m sure plenty of folks in the 1840s looked at their own high necklines and sensibly narrow sleeves, and breathed a sigh of relief as they thought back to the whims of the 1830s: The pineapple shaped hairdos! The scandalously visible ankles! The dresses with gigot sleeves so big you could hide babies inside them! Not that anyone did, but you get my point.

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1830s Tucked Petticoat

Gosh, I love a perfect union of form and function such as the tucked petticoat. Tucks are so crisp! So elegant! And they can be added or let out to alter a garment’s length, which made them especially popular for children’s and teens’ clothing. I would also guess that as the ankle length skirts of the 1830s gave way to the floor length gowns of the 1840s, plenty of women removed tucks from their petticoats or tacked decorative borders onto the bottoms.

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Whitework Embroidered Romantic or Early Victorian Day Cap

Me, trying to hide my pixie cut. Alas, I cannot do the standard 1830s sausage curls.

TV and film would have us believe that nobody in the 19th century wore a cap aside from maids. Which is a lot of people, but they’re not the ones getting screen time, sadly.

I get it. By today’s standards, caps are frumpy and unsexy. Directors don’t want to hide actors’ faces, and costume designers don’t want to ruin the effect of an elegant gown by plopping something that looks like half a chef’s hat on top.

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How to Set Small Grommets Without a Grommet Tool

Maybe you went to the hardware store and they had grommets but no setters. Or perhaps you have a few spare grommets in your craft kit and want to make something NOW, whether you have the right tool or not. Maybe, like me, you ordered a corset making kit that came with grommets…but no grommet tool.

I waffled on ordering a tool, but didn’t want to spend the money for one that handled varying grommet sizes, and my local JoAnn didn’t have those handy little grommet-and-setter kits in the right size. Also, I was impatient. The internet turned up any number of videos suggesting that I use a ball bearing or a marble, but I found that those didn’t work well for me.

This is the process I worked out through trial and error. It will result in a beautiful front on your grommet, and a back that is less than ideal looking, but completely solid and functional.

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