I have too many hobbies. One is obviously sewing, with an interest in costuming and a fascination for dresses from some period eras. Having too many hobbies means that the resources for each of them are limited, and making an outfit to me is a multiple years' project, so I've always had a tendency to try and make clothing that I could actually wear, not just costumes.
When I read about this competition, it was a perfect fit to what I was already doing, but having decided to participate gave me two big incentives: actually finishing (at least part of) the outfit this year, and be more active in trying to mix and match part of it with my regular clothing. The way my body is shaped, it tends to be quite suited to Victorian lines,
and I love long skirts, but wearing a bustle or crinoline era dress at work or while shopping tends to attract some attention. Early Edwardian clothing, instead, is quite perfect: already modern enough to be wearable in a daily
situation, but still with a recognisable period look and suited to my hourglassish shape.
To give a theme to the outfit, I was inspired by another of my hobbies: being a woman who is involved in the Free Software community gave me an interest in the history and pre-history of women in computing, starting from the human computers: one of the few jobs available for women with an interest in mathematics and the sciences.
I opted not to go for complete historical accuracy, but to make concessions to comfort and wearability. The corset is the first one I ever made, drafted by a friend who used to be a professional. It is more suited to the shape of a decade earlier, but I'm playing the old lady card (I'm almost 40!) who finds the old style more confortable for her back than those newfangled S-curved ones.The choice of fabric was also dictated mostly by what I could easily buy locally (the poplin of the long sleeved one and the organic cotton for the one with elbow-length sleeves) and what I had in my stash (the wool gabardine for the shirt).
The result is something that I've been able to wear in a cosplayer-heavy situation (Lucca Comics and Games), but also in mundane contexts such as visiting the in-laws, and I've started to wear the shirtwaist semi-regularly with modern jeans as daily clothing, at least when leaving the home. For sure, this project can't be considered complete: now that I'm learning to button up a shirtwaist that closes in the back on my own, I decided that I'm actually liking them, and I plan to make other ones in different fabrics and with different embellishment, and wear them even more often with modern clothing.