The costuming adventures of a lace-a-holic

The Bubblegum Bathing Costume #1

Theory and construction

You already had a glimpse into my Victorian bathing costume made of mint-green worsted suiting. The idea was born the moment I knew we‘d be going to California, to Costume College. Sunshine, beach, a pool, costumes? Victorian Bathing Costume for sure. Easy for day-wear and probably sun-proof enough for my all too white skin.

Originally I had thought about using fine wool muslin in blue from one of my fabric suppliers, Tuch und Stoff, specializing in reenactment fabrics. When I accidentally found the discounted suiting, I switched plans and classical navy blue with white would change to peppermint-green with strawberry sorbet.

I browsed around to find an extant sample or a fashion plate that suited my liking and found a rather unusual one. This fashion plate appeared in the August 1870 issue of Peterson‘s Magazine.

„Fig. X. – Bathing-Costume of White Flannel. – Trousers fastened at the knee by a cross strip braided with a Grecian pattern in black wool. Peplum blouse, with short sleeves, with a braided Grecian pattern, buttoned on each side and on the shoulders.“

When I had decided on the looks, I was happy to see that there was a published pattern which would permit me to simply sew the bathing costume up. Unfortunately I quickly realized that the pattern didn‘t really fit the description as they talked of an „detachable overskirt“.

For me that meant back to square one, deciding I‘d make up the pattern by myself. As for the knee-length trousers it wasn‘t all that difficult, I took the pattern of my drawers, sewed them up as loose, knee-length trousers and gathered the wide legs at the knee.

As for the top, I delved somewhat deeper into history, Grecian-style they called it and indeed I could see a number of motives from the peplos, worn by ladies in antique Greece.

One point is „closed with buttons at the shoulders“ – the original peplos would have been closed with fibulae, special brooches used for pinning clothes together.

The blousing at the waist would originally have been achieved with a belt, in my rendering I probably will opt for a drawstring, though I haven‘t fully decided on it yet.

During classical times the upper part of the peplos often would be worn turned over. The belt could have been worn under this so called apoptygma as in the marble from Olympia you see to the right, or above it as in the marble above, which would lead to pretty much the look of the peplum in the fashion plate.

The main features of the blouse decided upon, I started sewing it up from fabric rectangles, two almost squarish-ones for the upper body part, two slender rectangles for the sleeves, two wide-ish ones for the peplum to achieve the look of the wide peplos gathered at the waist and then falling open.

I will provide details on looks and further construction as well as more pictures in a second blog post as soon as I‘m done.

1 Kommentar

  1. Ellen

    So much research for this garment, that’s amazing! I love the colours of your bathing costumes and the happy name. Can’t wait to see the finished piece.

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