Question about cotton sateen

Get how to's and suggestions for making your dream gowns.
katharine
Inquiring Mind
Posts: 186
Joined: Sat Apr 02, 2005 1:20 am
Location: Pacific Northwest

Question about cotton sateen

Postby katharine » Thu Nov 11, 2010 1:33 am

I am planning on making a Late Bustle dress from TV patterns. I'm trying to make a dress similar to one in Harper's Bazaar, circa 1884. The original dress was made from a printed cotton sateen, and I want to make my dress out of the same type of fabric. I can find all kinds of solid cotton sateen but I'm having a hard time finding non-stretch cotton sateen with a suitable print. Somewhere I read that cotton fabric of the Victorian period was always printed and never solid. I believe I read this on a website that deals with the Civil War era only, so I'm wondering if anyone knows if by the 1880's solid color cotton sateen was used for dresses. It would be a whole lot easier if I could make the dress out of solid fabric. I want to be as accurate as possible, though, as I plan to wear the dress when I volunteer at our local museum. I don't want to use a solid fabric if it isn't historically accurate. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

Katharine
Heather
Site Admin
Posts: 5897
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2004 6:03 pm
Location: Riverside, CA
Contact:

Re: Question about cotton sateen

Postby Heather » Thu Nov 11, 2010 9:26 am

CW groups tend to be overly strict in their interpretations of what is appropriate. The problem is that many of the most popular Victorian era fabrics are extinct today, or are prohibitively expensive. So the question becomes how to "look" authentic, when it is very difficult to truly "be" authentic. CW groups tend to want the details authentic. But then the overall picture can be skewed by overuse of some things, the omission of others, and limitations on everything. As in, "you can make that dress, you don't have the right stuff." Ok, but what you end up with small piece of history.

You will find that there are other period groups and average persons (and me) who prescribe to the "I want it to look authentic, even if I have to sacrifice the details." We can do our best, but at some point, if I want a dress that looks like a specific thing, then I will have to make do with what is available to me. If that means I have to use a rayon velvet, instead of silk, then that is what I have to do to get a velvet dress. 1880's loved velvet and to omit it from your wardrobe because of content, is omiting a large part of history. Or if I have to use a solid cotton instead of a solid light wool to get the look I want, then I will do that. It is very hard to find suitable wools these days.

So, short answer to your question. Yes, you can use a solid sateen. Or you can use an cotton calico in an appropriate print to keep the look of your dress. No one will tell you that you can't do that. Well, some might, but you don't need to listen to them unless you want to.

In general... After the 1870, solids and plaids were much more popular than prints. Though in 1880's you do see silk prints make a comeback. People today choose to make a lot of calico print dresses because they can find the fabric easily. But I think the cotton solids make a much more "historical looking" dress, even though solid should=wool. And by extension, that makes a better representation of history. The average not-into-history-but-here-on-vacation Joe who knows nothing about textiles can't tell the fiber content of what he is looking at, but he can see the overall impression that you are trying to convey. So I make that my goal, to give the impression of history as accurately as possible.

You will have to find your own goal, and choose which path you want to follow.
Bookwyrm
Inquiring Mind
Posts: 360
Joined: Sun Nov 11, 2007 2:17 am
Location: Portland, OR
Contact:

Re: Question about cotton sateen

Postby Bookwyrm » Sun Nov 14, 2010 1:55 pm

My philosophy on historical accuracy is that I don't need to be perfectly accurate, but I want to know enough to make a choice, rather than err through ignorance.

As Heather says, fashionable fabrics changed significantly by decade, so if you're making an 1880s dress the CW websites are only going to be of moderate use. Research on museum websites (or in person if you can) and in books like Costume in Detail and the Janet Arnold books to get an idea what real dresses of the period looked like and used. Those two books are particularly good because they use real extant clothing as the source, and they describe each piece individually, rather than generalizing to the whole period.
katharine
Inquiring Mind
Posts: 186
Joined: Sat Apr 02, 2005 1:20 am
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Question about cotton sateen

Postby katharine » Sun Nov 14, 2010 3:03 pm

Thanks Heather and Bookwyrm for your replies.

While I admire and am in awe of the CW folks that have done so much research and are so knowledgeable, I agree that trying to be 100% accurate limits the presentation. Not wearing or doing something because it wasn't the norm, doesn't make sense to me either. You can always explain to visitors that what you are doing was not the norm, but it was done; or explain that your dress would have been made out of muslin, but the quality of muslin today is quite different than that of the 1800's, so you made it out of something similar.

Anyway, I have several projects to finish before I start on my 1880's outfit, so I am going to continue to look for suitable printed cotton sateen; but if I can't find it by the time I'm ready to begin, I'll buy solid sateen or an 1800's repro cotton print. Meantime I'll also do the research you suggested, Bookwyrm.

Thanks again.
Katharine

Return to “Dresses, skirts, bodices, everything else.”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests