Some Thoughts onThe Natural Form Era: 1887-1882

"La Mode Ilustree", 1879

“La Mode Ilustree”, 1879

The Natural Form Era. I started this historical reproduction thing being enamored of the Early Bustle Era fashions and I had trouble appreciating the relatively bustle-less styles that followed. Then, as I started researching the bustle eras and saw extant examples, I began to enjoy the design aspects: creative use of asymmetry, the overall sleek lines and the infinite potential for playing with the back skirt and train. I absolutely love the red stripped dress on the left – she reminds me of a walking peppermint stick.

Carolyn Jones as Morticia Addams.

Carolyn Jones

My enthusiasm wanes with the extremely hobbled styles, however, which make no sense to me – neither in the Natural Form Era nor the 1910’s. (It brings to mind TV’s 1964 original Morticia Addams (“The Addams Family”) and how Carolyn Jones seemed to simply glide . I always wondered how long she had to practice to do it so well. I would have spent half of the filming time on the floor, flailing to get upright – like a beetle on its back, but far less graceful.)

One giant leap one.

One giant leap for…no one.

But I digress. Now I’ve come to like the Natural Form Era; the appeal of shape and the myriad methods of creative draping it allowed…especially in the back.

I’ve  already put these two fantastic designs into my “one of these days” queue, but I need to work on my skills and understanding of the construction before I can even start draping and make a muslin.

Closer to (theoretical) reality, in a bout of what must have been temporary insanity, I actually puchased the pattern to make this dress, seen in Harper’s Bazar, 1877:

Harper's Bazar, 1877

It’s sold by Ageless Patterns, which are currently way over my head. But the design is so intriguing I couldn’t pass it up. No matter that I’m not even remotely close to being able to pull it off. One day I’ll be ready. And I can already hear myself banging my head against the wall over the zillions of tiny pleats. It will take me at least a year to finish it. But won’t it be grand?!

First, however, comes the matter of catching up with the Historical Sew Monthly. #3 is in progress, but #1 is far from done. I’m still moving boxes, but now the patterns and most of the fabric are in the new house with me. Tomorrow I’m bringing over the sewing machines and production will, finally, re-commence.


4 thoughts on “Some Thoughts onThe Natural Form Era: 1887-1882

  1. Buy a “pleater” to solve that. It’s a cast iron tool that does exactly that. You can often find them in antique stores, or sometimes on Ebay. Lauren of American Duchess bought one a while back and used it on her Green Acres dress if you’d like to see one in action.

    — Tegan

    • I figured that would be the only way to get through all of those pleats ane stay sane(-ish). I’m “watching” a couple of them on eBay. I can’t recall Lauren’s Green Acres dress, so I’ll go back and take a peek – thanks for the info!

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