Costuming · Sewing

McCall’s 8231 1890s shirtwaist

I was going to do two patterns in one post, and then as usual, I ended up being too verbose again. So! This post and the next one will be an exercise in compare and contrast. Both of the patterns I used are for the same ultimate end, but one of them I hated from beginning to end, and the other one I loved. Let’s dive in to the one I didn’t like.

A woman wearing an orange-and-white striped shirtwaist with an angled yoke, an orange-full length skirt, and an orange hat.

McCalls 8231 is a terrible pattern. It is a pattern designed by Angela Clayton, whose work is absolutely stunning. I’ve been a fan of hers for years. I’ll be up front that I do not blame Angela Clayton for how bad this pattern is. The design is extremely cute and I highly doubt that she drafted the pattern itself or wrote the instructions. My assumption is that McCalls’s in-house patternmakers and staff did the drafting and instruction-writing per their in-house standards. So I will be blaming them unless I hear otherwise.

For my 1890s Umbreon project, my plan was to make a shirtwaist, vest, and walking skirt. I looked at a lot of shirtwaist patterns but I decided I liked the style lines on this one the best. How cute is that angled yoke? It won’t be visible if I wear the vest over it, but I can totally wear it on its own.

I started with a mockup. (Side note: this pattern only comes as a printed tissue pattern, and I loathe pattern tissue. Give me PDFs any day.) The first and most obvious problem was the fit of the sleeve. The armscye is incredibly low, and it restricts range of motion. I could barely lift my arm. You might think that an armscye being too low, or too large, would give you more room, but it does not! (Think of hammer pants as an example of how a seam being too low restricts how well you can move.) I have no idea what kind of arms McCalls drafts for, but it sure wasn’t mine.

I did a few things to deal with the armscye. First, I took the side seam in at the top by about 1.5-2″. That helped by making the armscye smaller, but it didn’t solve everything. Then I shortened the yoke pieces by 2” by taking a straight horizontal tuck out of both front and back. This raised the bottom of the armscye. Lastly, I opened up the armscye seam and patched in a bit of extra fabric—like a gusset, except it would eventually be integrated into the flat pattern instead of being a separate piece.

Author showing mockup with fully raised arm. Underarm seam has been partially ripped to make room.
I added fabric into the area where I ripped the seam as a faux-gusset.

On my first muslin, the sleeve didn’t have enough puff, in my opinion. This was an easy fix. While I was making the armscye smaller, I did not make any changes to the sleeve. That meant the sleeve was proportionately larger to the armscye, so I could gather it significantly more in order to make it fit, and that gave me the classic 1890s poof I was looking for. I originally planned to convert the 2-piece sleeve into a 1-piece sleeve, but the seams added shaping, so I decided not to in the end.

One other issue I had with the first muslin: the button band ended up too short for the length of the front. I don’t know if that was my error or a pattern error.

Once the muslin was fitted to my satisfaction, I cut the muslin apart, trimmed off the seam allowances, and traced it off to make new pattern pieces. I find the standard ⅝” seam allowance too big, so I intended to convert it to a ½” seam allowance. Unfortunately I screwed up and ended up with a ⅜”, which was okay but made flat-felled seams feel a little bit trickier.

After my muslin, I stalled, because the next step was dyeing my fabric. I wanted a lightweight, woven-in striped fabric for this shirtwaist, but the fabrics that fit my idea of what I wanted for the weave were all white. So I bought this really nice white fabric and used Dharma Trading Co’s “hot black” dye to turn it black so it would fit the 1890s Umbreon vision. It took about 2 hours and in the end, I got what could be termed “light black” at best. Dyeing it was annoying the first time around, though, so I didn’t bother to do it a second time.

I barely squeezed the pattern out of 2 yards of 45”-wide fabric. I almost completely ignored the instructions that came with the pattern and just constructed it like a normal shirt. The pattern has very weird instructions for the button band, for example, so I had to widen the pattern piece so I could attach it like normal.

Putting in the back yoke was pretty tricky with those opposing angles. It was even trickier because I was attaching both inner and outer yoke pieces, like a typical shirt yoke, when the instructions actually tell you to hand-stitch the inner yoke pieces down after you’ve constructed the shirt. In retrospect, I’m not really happy with the point at the back. It only occurred to me later that the better way to put it in would have been to cut the back piece with a center back seam instead of on the fold, then attach the yoke pieces before seaming up the back. So I’ll have to do that next time.

Partially constructed shirt, showing front yokes coming together as an inverted V at center front.

Couple other fit notes: raising the armscye meant my final sleeve was too short. The cuff pieces were meant to be folded in half, which decreases the height by half, so I ended up keeping the cuff full-width and cutting extra cuff pieces for the inner cuffs. My armscye was also a little too tight after my adjustments, so I had to take the sleeves off, cut the armscye ½” deeper at the bottom, and reattach them.

Author with shirtwaist on, sans collar.
Mid-construction, pre-collar. I felt like this had a real Lady Gaga vibe.

Also, the collar is a completely straight rectangle, which I really did not like. A curved collar band would have fit much more nicely. Since I didn’t have enough fabric to draft a new collar and cut it from my fabric, I added some darts to my collar piece instead. It’s okay but I don’t love it.

Additional construction details: all the seams are flat-felled except for the second sleeve seam, which is done with a French seam, and the armscye, which is serged because life is short. My buttons are shell buttons from Mood. I didn’t add anything to the sleeves to help support the structur of the poof, they just do that on their own.

A note for anyone trying to install a tower placket into a two-piece sleeve: this is apparently a thing no one on the internet has ever done, but for once McCalls’s instructions helped. What you have to do is sew the sleeve seam up to the point your placket slit opens. Finish the seam above that however you like; I flat-felled mine. Cut away the seam allowance on one side. You now have a flat piece of fabric with a slit in it; put your placket piece on top and install as normal.

The back has a little section that’s gathered and held in place with a rectangular tab sewn to the inside, as per the instructions in Authentic Victorian Dressmaking Techniques. I omitted the recommended waist ties because I didn’t want to make them.

Author wearing shirtwaist underneath fitted black vest, black leggings, and Doc Marten boots.
Apparently I just didn’t take very many pictures of the final version! I finished it at sewing camp so I was occupied with other things.

Overall verdict: the result is pretty close to what I wanted, but it took a lot more work than I expected to get there. I’ll probably make this again, with a few more tweaks as noted above.

Pattern: McCalls 8231

Fabric: “Kitty” cotton dimity from Renaissance Fabrics, dyed

Notions: Cotton organdy and black knit tricot as interfacing, buttons from Mood.

Costuming · Life · Sewing

Sewing camp!

Last Sunday I got home from a very cool new experience in my life: sewing summer camp.

Well, the “summer” part is certainly debatable, given the weather was chilly and damp across all five days. But “sewing camp” is certainly accurate! I went to this year’s Camp Workroom Social Wardrobe Week for the first time, joining a group of about 65% returnees, which tells you about how well-loved it is. After attending the first time, I can confidently say it won’t be my last.

What is sewing camp, you may ask? Well, it’s where a bunch of grown-ass adults gather at Frost Valley to hang out with other sewists, learn new things, and just sew for hours and hours of the day. My goal going into it was to sew a lot (check) and foster sewing friendships (check). The latter part was just as easy as the first part for me; I’ve always found it a joy to socialize with other people who are as intensely into the same interests as me. (One of my first solo trips as an adult out of college was to Abby Franquemont’s spinning retreat Stringtopia—I went knowing absolutely zero people ahead of time and still felt zero awkwardness hanging out with all of the fiber people and making new friends.)

My journey started very early Wednesday morning. I took Amtrak for the first time. I live close enough to DC for that to be an easy enough station to reach, and the station in New York City was super close to both the garment district and the shuttle bus meetup point. (It also cost me less than $100 in fare and gave me more room to stretch out than an airplane seat.)

Cross stitch while looking out a train window

Once in New York City, I had a few hours to kill, so I walked a few blocks to reach the famed Mood Fabrics.

[brief interlude begins]

I had never been to Mood in person before, but of course I had seen it as the featured fabric supplier for Project Runway. It’s pretty easy to get overwhelmed in there!

Hundreds of rolls of fabric in an aisle labeled "silk shantung"
(Hint: it’s very easy to miss that there is a lower floor, but that’s where all the normal everyday fabrics live, while the upper floor is very heavy on the silks and special occasions fabrics.)

I found some buttons there for my 1890s shirtwaist and picked out some trim for a future historical project, but I wasn’t specifically looking for fabric. That said, I had begun to consider that the fabric I needed for my Edwardian Espeon (coming sometime after 1890s Umbreon is done) would be challenging to find, because I’d need something lightweight, a little sheer, with good drape, and the right shade of lavender. I wandered down the aisle of cotton voiles and shirtings, and when I came to the end of the shirting section I saw It. I saw The Fabric.

Sheer, shiny lavender fabric on a roll next to a roll of brown fabric
a light came from the heavens and the angels sang.

It’s a cotton batiste with a beautiful sheen and a gorgeous drape. I bought eight yards and still felt a little pang I didn’t get ten, even though eight should be plenty. (It’s not on their website so if I needed more, I’d have to call them and hope for the best. But I have a budget. So I’m not going to call them. Eight should be plenty.)

Prizes in hand, I grabbed a bagel sandwich and a cookie from nearby and headed back to the station to meet the shuttle bus.

[Interlude ends]

It was a beautiful drive to Frost Valley. The progress of spring was several weeks behind where we were in Virginia, with the daffodils blooming and the forsythia only just beginning to explode in sunny yellow. Day 1 was just about getting settled in to our sleep space and sewing space. I stayed in a cabin with six bunk beds and one other person (the best roommate. Theresa—you rock).

A bunk bed with a handmade Christmas quilt on the lower bed
Is it weird that I felt bad stealing MY Christmas quilt from my cat Nadja who loves to lay on it?

Most of my luggage was sewing-related, despite not bringing my own sewing machine, so that took a little longer to set up. Then we listened to a cool lecture about cultivating personal style and did some socializing/getting to know you stuff.

THEN THE SEWING BEGAN. We were split up into smaller groups each with our own instructor, who was available to answer questions, provide advice, and generally keep the cats herded. There was a lot of variation in skill and experience levels, from relative newbies to experienced sewists who just wanted to bang out project after project. I’ve been time-tracking my projects lately, so I can tell you I spent 8.5 hours sewing on the first full day of camp, and that excludes significant breaks and mealtimes. In fact, I got so caught up in sewing on day 1 that I meant to take a snack break for over an hour before I was interrupted by lunchtime. On day 2 I spent almost 8.5 hours, and day 3 when we had to pack up early I still sewed for 5.5 hours.

On Day 1 I mainly worked on my 1890s shirtwaist (full post coming soon.) I had already mostly constructed it before camp, but I wasn’t able to finish it due to some fitting problems. The pattern is from McCalls and it, frankly, sucked. Fortunately my instructor, Diana, helped me fit the sleeves and armscyes, which I’d already manipulated a lot at the muslin stage but which still needed more work. When I got sick of working on the McCalls pattern, I bounced over to working on my 1890s vest, using a pattern from Black Snail.

Author trying on a muslin of the 1890s vest
The pattern fit almost perfectly straight out of the envelope. What a relief.

One thing I liked about the camp environment was that doing muslins didn’t feel like a drag like it normally does. I think this was a combination of having a lot of time available, having instructors there to help with fit issues, and generally having a supportive, sewing-literate environment. I saw a lot of people making muslins of their projects before starting them, and I think it was probably a higher percentage than if those people were starting those projects at home.

A black tool pouch on a blue plastic chair
I bought this super-neat tool belt / scissor holster at the trading post.

On Day 2 I finished the McCalls shirtwaist and put in a lot of work on the Black Snail vest. (Post also coming soon.) I also started muslining what I termed Weird Pants, which were my Regency-era fall-front breeches (also a Black Snail pattern). Those were designed to have an… unflattering… fit, so my goal was to get them to fit in a way that made my booty look decent. It was a good thing I made the muslin, because I also got a chance to learn how the pants go together. They’re very weird.

Author wearing a linen shirt with ruffles and a stupid-looking pants mockup
Weird Pants: they look even more questionable with a shirt tucked into them that’s about twelve sizes too large. This photo truly does not show how horrendously they fit at first.

I stayed up until like… 9:30pm sewing, which is very late for me. (I was once a night owl but after working night shifts for years, having to closely manage my insomnia, and wanting to be awake during daylight hours, I am an earlier bird these days.)

A forest at night with the moon

Day 3 was the last sewing day, and because we all had to be out of our spaces early the next morning, we had to pack everything up at 5pm. On Day 3 I finished my vest, including all 11 buttonholes and buttons. I got my Weird Pants muslin to an acceptable fit and got the pattern cut out in the final fabric. And last, I got the first several steps puzzled out and completed on the aforementioned Weird Pants before it was finally time to pack up.

Over the course of the sewing days, the various instructors would do lectures or workshops on topics in their specialty, and people could attend or not as they pleased. I admit I only went to one, having major FOMO on getting enough sewing time. (Did I mention I sewed over 21 hours over 3 days?) I did attend one led by my group’s instructor, Diana, on visible mending and embroidery, and I learned how to do satin stitch. I’m going to finish this little sample someday.

An embroidery sample

Camp wrapped up, more or less, on Saturday night with a social hour called “main character hour,” with the idea being that you dress “like you’re the main character in your own life.” I wore a favorite fancy outfit of mine: my wedding skirt, my black corset, and my Doc Martens. (Two out of those three were handmade.) There was ice cream and a little photobooth.

Sunday morning dawned and it was time to pack up the last of my stuff. We had a few more activities available, though it mostly felt like a bit of a waiting game until it was time for the shuttle bus to leave, and then at last it was time to say goodbye (or “good night”, which is what you’re supposed to say at camp, because of course you’ll see everyone again.) We arrived back in Manhattan in the pouring rain, and I took the train home.

Overall? I had an amazing time. I loved the chance to be super-focused on my projects AND have people around who could chat, cheer, and commiserate. The camp atmosphere was beautiful, albeit not the most luxurious, but I’d happily take bunk beds in a cabin over a more luxe but expensive experience if it meant more focus on the actual sewing. The weather could have been nicer, but at least I wasn’t particularly tempted to go outside! Getting back into my usual routine means mourning the hours upon hours of dedicated project time, and I’m already missing it as I get back into my life of distractions and interruptions.

A group of 9 women and/or femme-presenting people
Diana’s group. Diana is third in from the left.

Up next: I need to write the entire post on my 1890s shirtwaist and vest from scratch, but I have the 1860s Zelda underskirt post pretty much done! Friday is the release day for the new Zelda game, Tears of the Kingdom, so I suspect I won’t be sparing much time for anything else. 🙂 


A Tale of Two Petticoats

It’s not much of a tale, actually? I needed some petticoats. I made some petticoats. Mission accomplished.

For these I used Truly Victorian 170, which has 4 slightly different views that suit looks from 1870-1897. I wanted two petticoats that would floof out my eventual 1890s Umbreon skirt, so I made View 2 (Natural Form era, more slender and does not fit over a bustle) and View 4 (Belle Epoque/1890s, a bit fuller and also does not fit over a bustle.) Both have darts in the front for a smooth fit, with a gathered drawstring back. View 2 has a flounce only in the back, while View 4 has a flounce all the way around. The petticoat with the turquoise ribbon is View 2, and the lavender is View 4. In the photos, I’m wearing the turquoise by itself, and the lavender on top of the turquoise.

Person with blue hair wearing a black corset and white petticoat

I used 118″-wide Kona Premium cotton from Dharma Trading Co. Because it’s so wide, I was able to cut both petticoats out of 4 yards with about a yard to spare. (I skipped cutting out the View 4 ruffle from the cotton, though, because I used lace instead. For View 2, I cut a less-tall ruffle and seamed the less-tall lace to it.) It’s a tightly woven cotton with a fairly firm hand, well-suited to its purpose here. The pattern calls for five tucks in the flounce section, which also help stiffen the fabric to keep the fullness from crumpling under the weight of the skirt. Instead of ruffling everything by hand, I used my ruffle attachment on my machine, which worked a lot faster and was a lot less annoying, although it did require a few tests to get the ruffle ratio correct.

Person with blue hair wearing a black corset and white petticoat

There’s not much else to say about these—they were not at all complicated to make! I did give in and use my serger on the ruffle seam allowances, which feels like cheating but also made the process far quicker and less fiddly than if I had done any other type of seam finishing. I used ¼” wide twill tape as drawstring and ⅜” ribbon in the beading lace.

Person with blue hair wearing a black corset and white petticoat

Pattern: Truly Victorian TV170 Victorian Petticoats

Fabric: 118″ Kona Premium cotton from Dharma Trading Co

Lace: beading and hem lace from Laceking on Etsy

Total time: 13:19


1890s Umbreon: Combinations

Person with blue hair wearing embroidered combinations

I’m not going to say this project was cursed… but I might have been slightly cursed making it.

Nothing whatsoever was wrong with the pattern or even the fabric. Unfortunately for me, too many moments of not paying attention (plus a fabric that has not only a distinct right and wrong side but also a right way up) made things more difficult for me along the way. However, it all worked out in the end, and I’m really pleased with how these 1890s/Edwardian combinations came out.

So let’s talk about underwear!

These are my undermost layer for the 1890s Umbreon project. Prior to the invention of combinations, women wore a chemise on top and split-crotch drawers on the bottom (the split crotch means you can actually see to certain necessities without removing any layers). Before the invention of the hoop skirt/cage crinoline, which pushed petticoats and skirts away from the legs, women typically only wore a chemise as a base layer (also called a shift.) Around the 1870s, the chemise and drawers began to be replaced by “a set of combinations” which combine both garments. Wearing these base layers, which are typically made of linen or maybe cotton, is essential, because most outer clothing wasn’t made to be laundered often. Undergarments could be washed frequently (and linen withstands laundering beautifully, only getting softer over time) and outer garments could be spot-cleaned as needed.

Dilute tortie cat laying on fabric
Jellybean is a great sewing helper. Well, she thinks so, anyway.

I used the Edwardian combinations pattern from BlueFineGoods. This is a lovely pattern, with instructions for using lace appliqués as well as without lace, and a very helpful lace diagram as well. I found the pattern well thought out and well-drafted. Notably, there was very little paper waste after I’d printed the pattern and assembled it together. Based on my measurements, I cut out a size 6 on top and 10 in the waistband and drawers.

Various lace and purple ribbon
I ended up not using the lace on the bottom, which was intended for straps.

Per the pattern’s recommendation, I made a muslin before cutting into the real fabric. The first iteration of the muslin fit fine everywhere except the bust and shoulders. I have very narrow shoulders, so the first part wasn’t surprising at all, but I didn’t like how the excess fabric at the top of the bust stood away from my body. I removed some width at the top of the side seams and also lowered the height of the bodice in front. I then made a second mockup of the bodice and attached it to the prior version of the drawers, fitting both with and without my corset as recommended. This satisfied me well enough, so I sallied forth to cut into the fabric.

Person with blue hair wearing a beige mockup of combinations

And immediately started making mistakes, yay. My first mistake was cutting the bodice on the correct grain, which isn’t normally a mistake. However, the flowers on this fabric are embroidered sideways. I resolved to cut everything else on the cross-grain so the flowers would appear right ways up, and the very next thing I did was cut the left and right drawers fronts reversed. (The first on accident, the second on purpose to make up for it.) In my defense, I am used to working with fabric that doesn’t mind which way up you put it—I rarely cut patterns with the fabric folded, because I can get much more efficient with fabric use if I puzzle-piece the pattern pieces on a single layer. Normally it’s fine to cut a pattern piece facing down instead of up… but not here. Once I had cut out the rest of the pieces, I had enough to recut the bodice pieces with the flowers right ways up. I felt a little bad about the waste, but I also thought it would look strange for the flowers to be different orientations in the bodice and the drawers.

Bodice front of combinations
Flowers oriented the way I wanted them.

From there, the assembly went rather straightforwardly. I thought about hand-sewing the lace applique on and then decided not to and just machine-sewed it on instead. The stitches are really not visible, so it’s fine. I didn’t love the instructions on the drawers to just fold over a hem on the curved crotch seam. That curved area really needed to be clipped so the seam allowance could spread out. I would recommend a bias tape finish rather than a folded hem. My fabric is extremely lightweight and it wouldn’t have added much bulk. I used cotton organdy as a sew-in interfacing for the button bands and waistband, and some lovely shell buttons from my button stash. My beading lace (the kind of lace you thread a ribbon through) wasn’t as wide as the pattern called for, so instead of substituting it for the waistband, I just folded in the seam allowances and stitched it directly on top. (Another mistake: I also managed to cut the waistband slightly too short. It’s fine, though.)

For some reason when it came time to do the ruffles, the fabric did not want to cooperate. Attaching the lace was no issue, but when I added gathering stitches and started to gather the ruffle to the drawers legs, the gathering would reach a certain point on the threads and refuse to move past it. I had to break the threads more than once and ended up ripping the gathering threads out and redoing them on the first ruffle, which was extremely annoying. The instructions also suggested doing both rows of gathering threads inside the seam allowance to avoid having to rip them out later, as they wouldn’t be visible. I did this but determined that I prefer my gathering threads to straddle the seamline—it’s easier to get the gathers to lay properly when stitching that way.

A long strip of fabric (future ruffle) hemmed with lace, scissors on top
A ruffle prior to gathering. I absolutely love a good flat-felled seam.

Another change: because of my narrow and sloping shoulders, during the mockup stage I found I couldn’t ever quite decide on how short the straps should be; they always seemed to need to be shorter. So instead of using lace for the straps as planned, I used self-fabric and then made them adjustable with a bra ring-and-slider set. This is almost certainly not historically accurate, but I really wanted the ability to adjust the straps later if needed.

Person with blue hair wearing embroidered combinations

Overall I found the pattern really easy to work with and the results are just as cute as I could ever have hoped. If it weren’t for the split crotch, this would be the most adorable romper (if I was into that sort of thing.) They’re going to be absolutely perfect for wearing under any late Victorian or Edwardian costumes I might make in the future, and if I end up with several, well… I might need a few more sets of combinations.

Person with blue hair wearing embroidered combinations looking very cold
Photographing lightweight cotton underwear in January is not always the wisest idea.

I started time-tracking with this project, because after I finished the 1860s Zelda costume I wished I knew how much time I actually spent on it. My time-tracking includes all the time involved in physically working on a pattern—including assembling the paper pattern and doing mockups and fitting—but it doesn’t include any research time that happens away from my studio (that would probably double my time spent, to be honest.) The total time I spent on these was almost 21 hours.

Person with blue hair wearing embroidered combinations

Pattern: Edwardian Combinations from BlueFineGoods

Fabric: Emma purple embroidered cotton lawn from Renaissance Fabrics (I don’t see the purple version on their site anymore, it might be sold out.)

Notions: Appliquéd lace from Petite Coco Crafts, beading (ribbon) lace and hem lace from Laceking, ribbon from Joanns, shell buttons from stash, bra rings and sliders from a handmade bra I made a while ago which didn’t fit so I didn’t mind destroying it for parts.

Total time: 20:45


1890s Umbreon: Concept Development

I’m going to be posting somewhat non-chronologically for a bit. I’d like to post the whole process of 1860s Zelda, but that process took place from early 2021 to mid-2022, as in, The Past. But I’d also like to keep up with my current projects. Therefore, I give you: 1890s Umbreon.

I’ve just started work on my next, and second, historical costume. Instead of staying with the same era as my first, like a sensible person, I’ve decided to jump ahead three decades so that I have to make entirely new underpinnings before starting the costume itself. And to be honest, none of the concepts I have in the pipeline are in the same era as each other. The benefit to this, in the long term, is that eventually I’ll be able to jump start future projects because I’ll already have underpinnings suitable for a wide range of decades.

(This is kind of like when I tell myself that buying perennializing fall bulbs for the garden means I won’t have to buy as many next year. I always buy as many next year.)

The good thing is, my trusty Truly Victorian 110 (TV110) corset, which I originally made for another cosplay (Stripper Jessie and James from Pokemon, maybe I’ll blog about that one one day) should do me pretty well through the mid- to late 19th century, so I’m not planning to make a new corset for this.

But before I get into detail about that, let’s talk about the concept!

The 1860s Zelda dress taught me that it’s really fun to mix together historical costuming and cosplay. I attend anime conventions regularly, while I haven’t yet attended a historical costuming event, so making costumes that are recognizable at anime conventions and other fandom gatherings means I get a lot more occasions to wear the outfit.

When I cosplay, I almost never stick exactly to the character. I can’t help myself—I have to put my own twist on it somehow. So adding in historical clothing is a really fun way to do that. However, it’s pretty important to me to be recognizable to other people when cosplaying, and that’s doubly so when I’m not exactly replicating the character design. As a result, I like to focus my cosplay designs on widely recognized, popular characters. If I chose an obscure character that people would have a hard time recognizing normally, and then put a historical spin on it, it would probably be a pretty cool outfit… but it doesn’t give me the massive psychological reward of people getting excited when they recognize my character.

Enter: Historical Pokémon.

Long story short, I searched through the fandoms I’m familiar with to find easily-recognizable, easily-reinterpreted characters to adapt for historical costume, and Pokémon jumped out as a really great option. They’re well known, especially the classic ones; they’re not terribly detailed compared to many, many anime/video game characters out there; and the designs lend themselves well to experimentation.

Enter: Eeveelutions.

For those not familiar, Eevee is an adorable little fox/cat sort of creature that can evolve into a much wider variety of new forms based on what it’s exposed to. In the long term, this could result in a really damn cool rainbow of linked costumes. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I opted to start with Umbreon, a Dark-type Pokémon that evolves at night, and paired it with the 1890s walking outfit I’d been craving for some time.

Drawing of a woman wearing a flared black skirt, close-fitting black vest with gold buttons, and black shirtwaist. Also wearing a straw hat with long black ears.

My goal here seems pretty simple compared to the very-involved layer cake that was the Zelda dress. Thank goodness the skirt hems shrank down again after the ‘60s. There will be a wool walking skirt, a wool vest, and a cotton shirtwaist. The gold trim will probably be the same base as whatever it’s stitched to, and it will probably be stitched on permanently, but I’m not sure I’m ready to commit to permanent stitches for those ovals… the skirt would be more versatile without. We’ll see.

Oh, and there’ll be a hat. And ears. I don’t know how I’m going to do those. I’ll figure that out later.

So. The plan.

What I need:

  1. Combinations. I don’t technically need new underwear—my chemise and drawers would work fine. But I want them. Planned pattern: BlueFineGoods Edwardian Combinations
  2. Petticoat. Probably two; one specific to the 1890s, and one suitable for the Natural Form era that I’ll wear underneath for extra volume. Planned pattern: Truly Victorian 170
  3. Shirtwaist. Planned pattern: haven’t decided yet, but maybe Angela Clayton’s McCalls 8231.
  4. Skirt. Planned pattern: Black Snail Patterns 0414 Fan skirt
  5. Vest. Planned pattern: Black Snail Patterns 0220 1890s Ladies’ Vests
  6. Hat/ears
  7. Wig

What I already have:

  1. Corset
  2. Shoes (American Duchess 1890s Paris boots)

And so it begins!