FOUNDATIONS REVEALED COMPETITION ENTRY
Outline the story …
The 1890s was a period that transformed European women's relationship with the natural world. The invention of the safety bike allowed women to go further and faster, often unchaperoned. These new freedoms and mobility also came with a new conundrum -- what do you wear? The long skirts that had been in fashion were prone to getting caught in the spokes of the bike and posed a safety hazard. Bloomers were a practical choice, but women would get harassed for wearing them. Many women came up with different solutions for what was known at the time as ‘the dress problem’. One such solution was patented by Mary and Sarah Pease. This involves a skirt that transforms into a cape when you want to cycle. This skirt not only inspired my whole ensemble, it inspired me to learn to sew.
This is a late 1890s cycling costume with a colour palette drawn from Fall in the English countryside.
Since the outfit is made from a lot of different separate garments, each one is a testament to the skill level I had as I sewed each one. I’m proud of them all, even if I now know better when looking back at the mistakes I made along the way.
Outline the construction…
I started with a chemise which I self drafted drawing heavily from Marquise.de and Mariah Pattie’s youtube tutorial on drafting a shift, and adapted to be more Victorian proportions. This was my first wobbly steps in learning to use a sewing machine, so I hand stitched parts that seemed tricky such as the neckline.
The skirt / cape was based on a patent by Mary and Sarah Pease, drafted into a pattern on Bikes and Bloomers. As the pattern came with few instructions and I found no tutorials on it online, I first made a Charm Scout Capelet as practice to learn how to make a lined cape.
Next came the bloomer using the bloomers I pattern on Bikes and Bloomers. Thankfully, several youtube tutorials are available for this pattern and I followed youtube tutorials who walked me through the very tricky process of welt pockets. Fitting the pants took many iterations given my prominent butt, the pattern came in one size, and my desire to be able to wear them with or without a corset.
The shirtwaist is based on Blacksnail 0614. I added some sleeve supports by sewing in some scrap stiff fabric.
The bow tie was a pattern from Hello Sewing.
The vest is based on Black Snail 0220 view B. I lined it with horsehair canvas and pad stitched the collar.
All fabric was second hand except the interfacing, lining, and shirt linen.
What It’s like to compete:
I went from not knowing how to thread a sewing machine to making a whole outfit including some fancy tailoring techniques. I learned so much!
Well done! This inspires me to want to make a cycling outfit 🙂
Wow, such a clever idea, wasn’t it? Didn’t the Pease sisters (cousins?) run into a spot of trouble? Women and cycling was a bit of a fight! Love the history and a love to see an example of Womens ingenuity! Lovely!
I love the convertible skirt/cape – what a fantastic idea!
Nicely done! You put a lot of work into this. Lots of garments!
The colors are wonderful. The practicality is beyond reproach. And there are pockets! Wonderful! Congratulations on all that you learned and the finished garments.
What a wonderful ensemble! I love that you dived headfirst into making not just one garment, but an entire outfit! The whole look came together so well and you should be so proud of what you achieved.
A really spectacular entry, I love the amount of research you’ve put in here and it’s really paid off! I hope you can wear all of the ensemble for everyday wear!