1840s Day Dress, Part IV: Sleeves and Closures


I chose to use the sleeves from View A of the Laughing Moon 114 pattern– short mancherons over tight, bias-cut long sleeves. While the pattern said that I wouldn’t need to line the mancherons, I didn’t like the look of them unlined– instead, I cut out identical pieces out of my fashion fabric and self-lined the mancherons before attaching them to the long, unlined sleeves.

I hand-basted the sleeves into the armscyes to make sure that all of the layers stayed where they were supposed to be, then machine-stitched over my basting. Then (important step) I clipped the curves on the armscye seams, allowing for more movement. The piping turned out looking great– such a nice tiny detail.


I will note that I made a mistake here– while I raised the armscye on my mockup, I didn’t lengthen the sleeve cap or the mancheron to make up for it. When I tried on the mockup it seemed to fit fine regardless, but that was without back closures, which had allowed for more flexibility. Once I put the whole bodice together with closures it became clear that the shorter top of the sleeve was causing some pulling across the top of the shoulder, and it was really too late to fix once the sleeve was set in. I could redo the whole sleeve, but I just don’t feel like going to all the trouble for a dress that’s not going to get a lot of scrutiny.

While the bodice had fit pretty consistently before I set the sleeves– it had had a 2-3 inch overlap in back from top to bottom– as noted above the addition of sleeves made it a bit tighter through the shoulders, meaning that the overlap was smaller at the top of the bodice than at the bottom. I could’ve taken the bodice in at the sides to fix the issue, but that would’ve meant unpicking all of the piping at the hem, which (as I noted before) I really didn’t want to do. I decided to just place my hooks and eyes at an angle so the bodice fit more tightly at the waist– that way, if I ever need to widen the bodice at the waist, it’ll be easy to just move the eyes over. The stripes in the fabric did make the angle look slightly off (and the closure clearly off-center at the waist), but not enough for me to worry about.


I’d originally wanted to use hook and eye tape– so much easier than individually-sewn hooks and eyes– but it just didn’t work with the bodice, what with the slanted closure line, the small overlap on top, and the fact that the tape was bright white and would’ve been quite visible against the red calico. I could’ve dyed it red, I suppose, but it was just simpler to use regular black hooks and eyes. In the future I’ll try to find the bar-style eyes, or maybe make thread bars, to make for less overlap of the fabric– with these, I had to have more overlap to cover up the outside edges of the eyes when closed.


Now I just need to do the skirt– cartridge pleating, here I come!

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