Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Truly Victorian Elliptical Cage Crinoline TV103

So a couple of months ago I decided I needed to have an 1860s ball gown. And the first step in realizing that dream was to make the foundation pieces. I already had an appropriate corset, so I set about making a crinoline. I chose the Truly Victorian 1865 Elliptical Cage Crinoline, or TV103 for short.

I finished with my cage crinoline a while back and finally got around to taking pictures of it. Construction notes after the pics. Click on the pics to enlarge.

I wanted a jaunty look for my crinoline. I knew right away that if I had to make it out of white everything, I would get extremely bored and resentful. It's made from striped ticking, navy grosgrain ribbons that have a thin red edge, and boning casing that I dyed red.

I wanted stripes because it was hard for me to mark the boning channels accurately across all the pieces of the bag. Believe me, I tried. I actually started this with some unbleached drill (? I think) from my stash, and though I marked the channels very carefully, they did not line up when I sewed it together. That resulted in a fit of rage and a trip to the dumpster for my first bag attempt.

I got the idea to get striped fabric so I could follow the stripes and use those for my boning channel guides. Which required painstakingly laying out the pattern pieces and pinning them together ohhhh so carefully to make sure nothing was off by more than a millimeter, but damn does it look good.

It went together pretty quickly, actually. The hardest part was measuring out the hoop steel and pinning the hoops to the ribbon supports, but my awesome man friend helped with that and thus prevented many fits of rage.

Somehow I was short several inches of boning casing so I couldn't install the fourth hoop down from the top. There is a noticeable gap there in the back but hopefully not too bad. 

Somehow the grosgrain ribbons that form the vertical supports stretched? I have no idea. The instructions call for using grosgrain ribbon, and I hadn't thought it would stretch, but apparently it did so I had to take up the length of the crinoline. I just folded up the ribbons where that fourth hoop was supposed to go and that closed up the space a bit. I still think it's longer than it's supposed to be, but oh well.

What else... Oh, I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to sew the hoops to the ribbon supports. Then I had a flash of inspiration and decided to sew the pieces together with an X inside of a box, which made it go very quickly. Like so:

I'm not sure if I've tied the back ties enough, or if they're supposed to be tied that loosely. From what I understand, they are supposed to help keep the back of the crinoline from swinging forward under the weight of skirts and petticoats, and thus maintain the elliptical shape.

Oh, I forgot to mention the bag at the bottom was very loose and floppy all around. Why do these things happen to me, I followed the pattern to the letter. Anyway, it offended my sense of order so I had to sew lots of little tucks in it to take up the slack.

The tucks aren't very noticeable and thankfully didn't mess up the amazing job I did of lining up ALL THE STRIPES across the seams.

I've had some moments of intense anxiety since I joined the Facebook group Civilian Civil War Reenactors, because the ladies there all insist that the hoops should be in proportion with a lady's height and build. This hoop measures 126" around, and I'm a mere 5' 3" so according to that reasoning this is Way Too Big for me. However, I've seen so many pictures of Victorian women wearing Big Ass Crinolines that I'm not too concerned anymore. 

Time spent making the crinoline: No idea, I never remember to track my hours. It only took two afternoons to sew all the hoops to the vertical supports though.

Cost: $12 for the pattern, $73 for boning casing and hoop wire, $43 for wire cutters--I FORGOT TO TELL YOU ABOUT THE WIRE CUTTERS. Y'all. LISTEN. That hoop wire is REALLY HARD to cut. Like, impossible. Lots of people recommend aviation snips. I say f*ck that noise. I tried aviation snips, you know what they did? This:

Cue second fit of rage. I've never met a pair of aviation snips that was worth a damn.

This is what you need, right here:

I was going to just use them and return them because, well... they were expensive. But they were worth every penny, they cut that hoop steel like it was butter, so I fell in love with them and had to keep them. 

Where was I? Oh, cost. I'm sure I spent around $30 on fabric and ribbons and dye, and another $40 on stuff from corsetmaking.com, most of which I didn't end up needing (like boning tips, boning connectors which ended up being way too big, but I did get a bunch of spring steel bc I will be needing it for bodices).

Cost: around $200. Good lord, there's a reason why I don't normally tally up my costs.

Fits of rage: Two.