"Becoming Victoria"

I am honoured and excited to have been invited by the Llandrindod Wells Victorian Festival committee to appear as a young Queen Victoria at this year's festival from 22nd-28th August 2016. In preparation for this role I will be designing and making the costumes for the young queen over the coming months. These will be authentic reproductions of the fashions of the early years of Victoria's reign and will include a range of 1840s women's garments from corsets and petticoats to day dresses, ball gowns and bonnets. This blog will document and share my progress as I research, design and stitch each element to reveal the secrets of "Becoming Victoria".

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Preparing for piping

46 days to go...

The first dress is finally cut out and ready to go. However, before I could begin construction I had to take account of a very important feature of 1840s dress.

It was customary at this period for most of the bodice seams to be decorated with piping. Piping is when a narrow cord inside a tube of fabric is sandwiched into the seam. This creates a decorative cord along the seam line on the outside of the garment. This is most commonly used to today to finish the edges of cushions.

An example of cushions with piped seams (from here)

In the 1840s, piping was used to add definition and emphasise the seam lines of garments.

V&A_T.32-1940_Day Dress 1836-1840 - This cotton day dress has green contrast piping on all of the bodice seams, with a thicker double piping used to finish the bottom of the bodice.
So before beginning to stitch my bodice I had to prepare several metres of piping. I used a continuous bias strip cut from the fabric (find out how to cut one here). Using the bias (diagonal) of the fabric is important as it allows the piping to stretch and bend easily around curves and corners. This strip was folded in half lengthways and a thin blind cord tightly sewn into the fold.

From left to right: unfolded bias strip, folded bias, blind cord
With the cord sewn in to create the piping
All ready to be applied to the bodice

The next step will be to apply this to all the seams of the bodice prior to construction.

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