This post is the second in a series with students’ reflections on their class projects to make patterns for reproductions of historic clothing.

For an assignment in our Advanced Draping class this semester, I recreated a two part dress from our historic collection, Dark Blue Ensemble with Crocheted Lace, which dates from the 1900s (see it online in our collection database at http://vcomeka.com/vccc/items/show/797)The first step was a close examination of the garment itself, taking pictures and notes along the way.

This was an interesting part of the process because usually when we work with pieces in the historic collection we focus on their preservation and storage, not on the nitty-gritty of their construction. The bodice, which is made up of many pleats, sloping shoulders, and a puff sleeve, took me a long time to create. By the time I’d finished the bodice (and around 3 versions of the sleeve), the skirt seemed a daunting task. I ended up taking out the skirt to look at it a second time since it’s made up of many sections with various fabric manipulations–pleating and smocking–and it was difficult to see these details in my pictures. Surprisingly, the skirt was relatively simple to assemble despite the fabric manipulations. All in all, the assignment was challenging but super interesting. Recreating a historic garment causes you to get to know the piece on another level than simply researching or storing it.