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Permalink 09:00:00 pm, by Heather McNaughton Email , 170 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: New Patterns

Truly Victorian has just released it's newest pattern;  an  overskirt to go with the new Imperial Skirt and Bustle.  The 1887 Cascade Overskirt - TV367

This overskirt is drafted based on an actual garment as seen in the October 26, 1887 edition of La Mode Illustre. The front apron is a long swag, pulled up high onto the hips in large pleats that fan beautifully. A slit in the center front hem forms 2 points. The back is in two pieces, and falls in graceful cascades down the center back forming two points. The cascade is achieved through creative pleating, highlighted by 2 burnous pleats. The closure is in the center back. The apron is cut on the cross grain.

This overskirt is ideal for lengthwise stripes, which would then go across on the front, and downward in the back. Any light to medium weight fabric will be suitable, however.

For more information on Burnous pleats, we have a blog post all about them.  

And of course, you can find this pattern at our shopping pages.


Permalink 11:53:00 am, by Heather McNaughton Email , 516 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: Question of the Week

I have been busy creating new patterns for the late 1880's, and the one thing that stands out as unique about this time period is the Burnous Pleat.  Just about every skirt from 1887 - 1888 has some kind of drape created by this form of pleat.   Something else I found out, is that no one seemed to know how to spell the word "burnous".   I  even found it spelled two different ways in the same sentence.  So if you see Bournous, Bournouse, Burnous,  Burnouse, or Burnoose, it all means the same thing.  And yes,  I seem to spell it all different ways as well, in my various instruction sheets.

So what exactly is a Burnous pleat?  Well, it is one of those simple things that is very hard to describe, because we don't use this type of pleat in modern sewing.  Nor really do you see it in any other time period.  So the concept is foreign, and almost unimaginable, until you see it.

The technical description:  A large fold of fabric, like a very wide pleat, where the top edge is unsupported and is left to hang down in a loop. 

Sounds simple, right?  And actually, it sounds like it would look sloppy and weird.  But the reality is they can do so many things, and usually look fantastic.  A burnous pleat is a great way to reduce bulk at the waist by taking away fabric from the waistband, and it can also get you around corners of a square of fabric.  And the more I study 1888, the more ways I find to incorporate the pleat.

Lets start simple, with this example on the right.  This is the back panel of an overskirt from 1879, and is the earliest version of a burnous pleat that I have seen. (I used this same idea for the back of my Hermione Overskirt - TV326.  Though in my version, I used the Burnous pleat to double as the placket opening.)   In this pic, the burnous pleat is in the center, with the middle of the top edge hanging down the middle of the skirt, and the bunching at the bow is made by the fabric sagging down from the top.   If you look carefully at how the back is attached to the waistband, you can also see a regular pleat at each side as well. 

This is what your fabric looks like before it is pleated.  (I have left out the extra regular pleat)

And this is what it looks like after the pleat is put in.   Pretty ingenious, right?  I just love this!

And this is just the beginning.  Want to make a court train out of velvet, but there is no way you can put 90" ov velvet into 6" of waistband?  Use two burnous pleats.  not only do you take away at least half of the bulk, it adds in pretty cascades.    Just like in our new TV263 -  1887 Imperial Skirt pattern. Or even three, as shown in this 1888 skirt from The Delineator.

And how does this pleat get you around corners?  Find out in our upcoming orverskirt pattern TV367 - 1887 Cascade Overskirt!


Permalink 11:26:00 pm, by Heather McNaughton Email , 498 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: Taking your Measurements

There are two measurements that are used for fitting a sleeve;  circumference of the armhole, and the length of the arm. As many people are built a little differently from left side to right side, I highly recommend that you measure both sides. These differences can be caused by differences in muscle mass from being right or left handed, or changes that happen with age, or injury.  It is a very rare person that is evenly symmetrical from side to side.

The armhole measurement should be taken around the top of the arm, passing  under the armpit and over the edge of the shoulder, taken close but not tight.  The arm should be hanging naturally at the side.  This measurement will give the overall width for the sleeve, as well as the size of the armhole on the bodice.  







If the right and left sides are slightly different, you can usually use the smaller measurement for your sleeve side.  The patterns are drafted with ease in the sleeves, so there is a little extra room to play with.   This works well if you want a tighter sleeve.  If you want a moderate sleeve, then go with the larger measurement.  If the left and right sides are more than 1/2" different, then you might want to take the average of the two sides. 

The second measure is the sleeve length.  This is measured from the front of the armpit straight down to the bone at the front of the wrist.  Place a ruler high up under the arm to help define where the armpit is.  Make sure to stand easy, with your shoulder down and back, and your arm hanging at your side. 
An interesting note about fitting sleeves.  A great many sleeves are ruined by the armhole fitting poorly.  The sleeve always assumes that the armhole it is being sewn into is correct.  In otherwords, a sleeve is drafted to fit the measurements, and any extra puffyness, width of shoulder,  or style options are added to sleeve based on the style wanted.  Which means that the armhole of the bodice needs to be correct for the style, as well.  If you make any fitting changes to your bodice, like cutting the armhole edge up to the correct possition for the time period, or where it fits on your body, then you do not make any changes to your sleeve to match the armhole changes.  The only time you need to alter the sleeve is if you change the style,  not the fit, of the armhole.   For example, if you are making an 1880's bodice, then when you are fitting your bodice, make sure that you create an armhole correct for that time period.  Then the 1880's sleeve will always fit to your adapted armhole, so long as the armhole conforms the the 1880's standard.   (This is contrary to modern sleeves and armhole, where if you make any changes to the one, you need to change the other to compensate.) 


Permalink 11:22:00 am, by Heather McNaughton Email , 210 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: New Patterns

If you have already made the new 1887 Imperial Tournure, aka bustle, then now you need something Imperial to go over it.  Truly Victorian's newest pattern, TV263 - 1887 Imperial Skirt is exactly what you need.  For more specifics on the pattern, click here.

1887-1888 saw a very specific skirt shape that was designed to maximize the look of a bustle. The front and sides were very narrow, with the sides extending back over the bustle. The back itself is confined to a cascade over the top of the bustle. 

Our 1887 Imperial Skirt comes in 3 train variations;  floor length, round evening train, and full square court train.  The floor length skirt has a full width back, and is lightly rumples with a single burnouse pleat that also acts as the skirt closure.  The round train is of medium length, with a extra wide back made of three 22" wide panels.  Gores added to the side back seam let the train transition more transition more naturally across the floor.  The closure is between the side back and center back panels on the left side.  The full court train is long, square,  and double wide.  It has 2 burnouse pleats at the top for a rumpled effect.

Below are some of the original gowns that inspired this pattern.



Permalink 12:16:00 pm, by Heather McNaughton Email , 227 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: In Other News

Over the last year or so, I have noticed the Truly Victorian Message Board getting slower and slower, and the outages increasing in frequency. So I finally jumped ship and moved the bulletin board to the new server. It went much more smoothly than I expected. (The last time I tried to move it, it was a week long exercise in frustration and failure. Thank you, programmer people, for creating scripts to make the move so much easier, i.e. Big Dump.)

The Truly Victorian Message Center can now be accessed at

Though today some weird issues popped up with the site being unaccessible, I was able to sort it all out. The only reason I can come up with for the issues this morning, was that I maybe left open my ftp client on my screen, and the dogs or cat stepped on my keyboard and wreaked havoc with the servers? All I know is everything was fine last night when I left it.

I currently still have half my website on the old server, .com, and the other half on the new server, .net. But with only the gallery to move now, and some other easy files, I might just get the whole site moved, and finally get away from the horrible server. I will be retaining both the and in the future.

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