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Author Topic: White Body Fabric Options  (Read 4401 times)
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Allison vV
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« on: November 25, 2015, 12:07:24 AM »

Last year I made a white sheer body for the 1850's. I will be making one for the 1860's this year. Nothing too detailed, for time's sake -- very much like this one:

http://www.thegracefullady.com/civilwargowns/images/originalgarments/whitewaists/1147340710053_cwblouse.jpg

My question regards my choice of fabric. I searched the forum, but couldn't find anything (please point me in the right direction if I missed it). What type of fine white sheer should I use? What might that original body have been made of? Is this understanding of suitable sheers correct:

Cotton Voile -- has a more "open" weave
Cotton Organdy -- too stiff?
Silk [anything] -- too expensive/difficult to find
Cotton Lawn -- would it have enough body to not hang limp?
Cotton Batiste -- don't know enough about it Smiley

Any help or suggestions would be much appreciated.

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Allison van Vegten


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Michaela C
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« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2015, 12:55:43 AM »

I just wanted to say that the dotted white sheer from Hancocks is fantastic! And inexpensive.
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EKorsmo
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« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2015, 07:16:00 PM »

Ideally someone with more experience will chime in, but here are my two cents:

Organdy, like you said, will be uncomfortably stiff; I wouldn't use it.
Silk may surprise you on price: my first sheer dress was a windowpane silk, because it was on-sale for $3/yd (fabric.com home dec clearance some years back).  How you want to launder the garment is also, of course, a factor in choosing a silk versus a cotton.

You should be pretty safe looking for voile, batiste, or lawn; in my experience, voile has more body, then batiste, then lawn, but that's not always the case.  Some lawns in particular may be a little limp, so, as always, get a swatch.

I hope you'll post pictures so we can see how cute it turns out.
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Allison vV
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« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2015, 09:05:29 PM »

Thank you for the recommendation on the Swiss Dot, Michaela C.

Mrs. Korsmo, I'm glad to hear that silk may be an option. Should I look for a "silk sheer", or more specifically, "silk voile"?  If I don't find a silk, I think that I shall go with cotton voile, or maybe batiste. I want to make sure that my full sleeves won't hang limp Smiley.

And yes, I will definitely post pictures. Thank you!
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Allison van Vegten


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"It's the job that's never started as takes longest to finish." J. R. R. Tolkien
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« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2015, 10:20:25 PM »

Where labelled, the original white bodies I can find are all cotton, so you may want to start your search with cottons.  The only advice I have for finding silks is to browse, and that silk gauze is a nightmare to work with (I love the bonnet veil, but it was like sewing water).  I'm sure you have a surfeit of inspiration, but here are some pretties from the Met.
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Allison vV
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« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2015, 10:31:35 PM »

Thank you for the quick reply! Sheer cottons are much easier to find; I'm glad they were actually more/most common Smiley.

Those originals are so lovely! I love the self-fabric ruffle on the first one. Something simple like that will add interest and that period "line". I'll save pin-tucks and shirring for the next one Wink.
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Allison van Vegten


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Maggie Koenig
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« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2015, 05:31:18 PM »

The original white waist I own is a rather stiff cotton organdy.  If you are doing something with a bishop sleeve style you will want something much softer though.
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Maggie Koenig
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Allison vV
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« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2015, 09:40:42 PM »

Mrs. Koenig, that's very good to know. It can be hard for me to visualize the drape of a new fabric. I will be doing a bishop sleeve, so I will look for a soft cotton sheer.
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Allison van Vegten


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Heidi Hollister
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« Reply #8 on: November 27, 2015, 11:38:24 AM »

Organdy comes in different finishes, soft, medium (rare to find), and stiff, so you can get a variety of experiences with organdy.
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Allison vV
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« Reply #9 on: November 27, 2015, 04:06:26 PM »

Thank you, Mrs. Hollister. I might try that for my next white body. The variety within each "type" of sheer makes things confusing. There isn't a consistency like "organdy will always be stiff", or "batiste will always be limp".

Very confusing, but fun Smiley.
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Allison van Vegten


"Procrastination is the thief of time. Collar him!" Charles Dickens

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« Reply #10 on: November 29, 2015, 09:04:04 AM »

I think the problem is that consumers want fabric names to tell them what the fabric is like, but the names really originate in how the fabric is woven -- so depending on fiber content, yarn weight/style, and fabric finishing techniques/products, you can get a range of very different materials.
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Allison vV
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« Reply #11 on: November 29, 2015, 11:53:50 AM »

Indeed! Smiley

I find it somewhat frustrating when a fabric description says ". . . and has a beautiful drape". Okay Huh. For what? A curtain; a structured sleeve; a full, flowing blouse . . . ?

The drape might not be "beautiful" for my project Wink.

Even though the terms are confusing, the longer descriptions on "hand" and "drape" are usually much more helpful. (I love when some places online actually describe the colour, too).
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Allison van Vegten


"Procrastination is the thief of time. Collar him!" Charles Dickens

"It's the job that's never started as takes longest to finish." J. R. R. Tolkien
Allison vV
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« Reply #12 on: December 15, 2015, 03:57:05 PM »

I have a question regarding construction and fabric for my sheer bodice. Last year I made a white "under-body" to be worn under my sheer 1850's bodice. I made it of two layers with some 200 thread-count cotton muslin I had. When I wear it, I can see the (fairly detailed) shadow of my chemise through it, especially at the back. For example, if the back neck of my chemise is crooked, you can tell Tongue. Here is my question/concern:

Will a (high) half-high, attached lining in my new gathered sheer bodice really be opaque enough to hide my chemise and even my corset (and busk!)? Does anyone have any suggestions or assurances? Should I make the lining two layers? I don't want to flat-line my sheer lawn; I thing that would be strange.

I'm sorry, I'm having a hard time imagining this working. Cry
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Allison van Vegten


"Procrastination is the thief of time. Collar him!" Charles Dickens

"It's the job that's never started as takes longest to finish." J. R. R. Tolkien
Allison vV
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« Reply #13 on: December 16, 2015, 06:42:29 PM »

Does anyone have any suggestions?
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Allison van Vegten


"Procrastination is the thief of time. Collar him!" Charles Dickens

"It's the job that's never started as takes longest to finish." J. R. R. Tolkien
Allison vV
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« Reply #14 on: December 18, 2015, 01:53:48 PM »

Bump. Smiley
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Allison van Vegten


"Procrastination is the thief of time. Collar him!" Charles Dickens

"It's the job that's never started as takes longest to finish." J. R. R. Tolkien
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« Reply #15 on: December 20, 2015, 07:20:32 AM »

I am not an expert, but I don't think shadowing through is necessarily an issue.  Have you looked around to see whether you can see a shadow on original photographs or on people's reproductions?
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Mary Burbage
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« Reply #16 on: December 21, 2015, 09:22:33 AM »

I agree, I don't think that's something you need to be worrying about. Unless you're always crooked, I suppose, which is a different problem!  Wink
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Allison vV
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« Reply #17 on: December 21, 2015, 01:41:35 PM »

Thank you! Cheesy I was probably overthinking it, again.

I suppose this would give me an excuse to make a pretty chemise with whitework. Wink

MCBurbage: I have looked at several original photos of sheer white bodies, but in the old photos the white is blown-out and the bodices appear almost solid white -- no detail whatsoever of what's underneath. And as to reproductions, I'm afraid they still wouldn't answer the question of "how would 'they' have handled it".

Thank you for your advice -- I won't worry about shadowing.
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Allison van Vegten


"Procrastination is the thief of time. Collar him!" Charles Dickens

"It's the job that's never started as takes longest to finish." J. R. R. Tolkien
Ginger Lane
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« Reply #18 on: December 21, 2015, 07:27:47 PM »

This example from ebay says that the low lining is a "heavier" cotton. Maybe something like nice chemise/petticoat material?
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/228135537347947484/
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/228135537347947501/
I saved all of the photos from that auction on that board, though unfortunately there wasn't much of a description or interior shots. It is apparently edged with small wavy braid, so it would look like a chemise.

This one at the Met isn't described, but the lining does look pretty tightly woven and opaque.
http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online/search/108131?rpp=60&pg=17&ao=on&ft=cotton&deptids=8&when=A.D.+1800-1900&img=2
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Allison vV
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« Reply #19 on: December 22, 2015, 12:27:27 AM »

Thank you, Mrs. Lane, that's helpful. I'll save those images.

Is that piecing or a repair on the back left shoulder of the dotted swiss? It seems so conspicuous on a sheer. Undecided

That last from the Met is my inspiration piece. Cheesy
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Allison van Vegten


"Procrastination is the thief of time. Collar him!" Charles Dickens

"It's the job that's never started as takes longest to finish." J. R. R. Tolkien
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