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Modern VictoriaModern Victoria

As I thought about Steampunk, and why I feel attracted to it, I realized that it’s just what the YWU 2013 Themes and Competition page says: “It’s an appreciation for the ornamentation of the gilded age…” I don’t have much use for a stereotypical Steampunk ensemble (I don’t like to be stereotypical anyway) so I decided to create a modern outfit with a heavy dose of Victorian inspiration.

My Modern Victoria consists of a red wool coat, cream mohair cuffs and scarf, brown mohair shell, and brown bamboo dress.

The foundation of the outfit is a simple dress made from brown bamboo knit jersey. This piece is almost like a chemise, providing a smooth, comfortable base for the rest. I cut the pattern using my basic princess-seamed bodice, overlapping the seams to create a basic front and back with negative ease where seams would usually provide shaping. The skirt is a half-circle, and the neckline is finished with a simple folded strip of self fabric. Once again, I used negative ease in the neckline area, so it clings and doesn’t gape when I bend over.

On top of the dress is a knitted shell. Its shape and the lacing in the back are reminiscent of victorian corsets.

Mohair shell. Mohair Shell

I spun two types of mohair yarn on a drop spindle for the shell, cuffs, and scarf. I hand-knitted them using some lace charts, but the overall shapes I designed without a pattern.

On top of everything else is the red wool coat. One of my favorite Victorian details is the shoulder seam that slants toward the back, creating a smooth, easy-to-fit shoulder line. Therefore, I based the shoulder shape of my coat off of Truly Victorian 400 and tweaked and re-drafted the rest until even I couldn’t tell what pattern I began with. I also drafted the skirt of the coat with pleated fullness in the back, mimicking the feminine silhouette of coats like the one pictured below.

The new coat and Godey's coat.

Embroidery can be a forgotten detail when it comes to our modern era. I drew the designs featured on the back belt and sleeve cuffs, then stitched them with a sewing machine. I did not computerize it, just used a straight stitch with hand manipulation.

Embroidery Embroidery
Embroidery and cuff Collar detail.

I knew that I had to have hand-sewn buttonholes on my coat. To stabilize the slit, I first stitched them by machine, then by hand to make them neat and tidy. I even found the perfect shade of silk thread!

I used hand-finishing elsewhere as well. Anywhere understitching was necessary, I used pick-stiches. After binding the lower edge, I folded up the hem and catch-stitched it in place. I also handmade thread chains to attach the lining hem to the coat hem.

Thread chain detail

The test of any good design is marketability, so I put my outfit to the test at the Make It With Wool competition, which includes marketability as part of the judging criteria. Check out the results and dress diary on my blog.

Finished ensemble Finished ensemble.
Exquisitely crafted delicate details, your tailoring is also superb, love it!
Translating 19th c to 21st c fashion
I love this experiment of translating 19th c to 21st c fashion, your work is brilliantly executed and is very marketable as well. I especially like your knitted corset concept and the embroidery on your coat. Love it!
I love this outfit! I have always been inspired by Victorian and Romantic style, and this is just the sort of Victorian inspired outfit I would wear on one of my more modern days! The coat is exquisite, I would wear it anywhere, and the delicate brown crochet top is just gorgeous! It's the kind of dreamy outfit that I love!
Thank you very much!
I love the coat. It has a lovely shape to it and the embroidery is very pretty!
I'd happily commission one for myself (if I had the money) in a not-wool fabric (allergic to wool). Actually, I'd take a couple in different colours. :)

Not really keen on the rest of the outfit myself as the one thing the Victorian period makes me think of is shape - hourglasses everywhere. This is far more late Edwardian in shaping. It would have probably passed well into the 20s too with its slim-fit shape. Not that its bad, its well done and the knitted lace is great. Just not my taste. :)

Thank you!
I agree with you that the dress/lace top turned out more edwardian in shaping. My natural body shape is more edwardian-ideal than victorian too, and without the ever-helpful corset, I must simply work with my natural shape. A few people (non-costumers) have said it made them think of "Downton Abbey" which fits with what you are saying very well :)

"Modern Edward" didn't sound as nice as "Modern Victoria" though! ;)

Beautiful, just beautiful.

Is the pattern something you would have designed yourself or did you use a modern pattern and add the little extras.

I think i will have to start following your blog based on that coat, alone. :)

Exquisite! I love your attention to detail, the idea of "negative ease" for fitting the knit fabric, and the embroidery on the coat is out of this world. Thank you!
Thank you for your kind encouragement!

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