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Monday, February 29, 2016

Crafting Creatively: Things I've Made: Cécile’s Turkey Red Dress, Fawn Jacket, and Trimmed Cottage Bonnet

Two sets at once!
Mwahah, Leap Day! I just have to make a blog post today. C'mon, it only comes once every four years, and I'll have to wait another four years to do anything on that day again. Gods bless St. Tib's Day and celebrate Eris, Goddess of Discord and Order!1

The 2016 Secret Snarker is wrapping up, and my gift has arrived to me and will be documented on Instagram later. And mine has gotten to and been the recipient--one of the two sets I made. As I explained when I made "Samantha's" Pink Dress and Pinafore, I generally when making a gift go ahead and make two sets of things. This in part helps me craft better--not only do I make them simultaneously and thus can figure out the steps all together, I make sure to give the better put together set to my giftee. This time I was gifting kaleb92 and she has among her gang members Colette, who is Cécile with a name change. Guess which Historical Gang Member didn't have a Miss Nethie's Original Outfit? Okay, more than one. I've have the brain issues. But Cécile was the one that matched a member of her gang, and it was a chance for me to design something sweet for her Colette and my Cécile.

I even wrote a description like the old catalogs did. (I actually did for the dress and pinafore, which I've retroactively put in.)

Cécile’s Turkey Red Dress, Fawn Jacket, and Trimmed Cottage Bonnet

Cécile is ready for a bright spring day in her new ensemble. Her turkey red vine print dress has short sleeves, a faux vest with a bow accent, and a scalloped overskirt—all edged with cotton lace trim. (Turkey red is a highly fashionable, colorfast red—and is so named from the method of dying, not the bird!) The fawn colored jacket is fully lined with six smart buttons down the front and a flared shape, and the matching cottage bonnet has runched ribbon trim, a flower accent, and gathered lace trim on the lining. With her full ensemble—including matching hair bows--she’ll look her best!

There's only one major difference between my set and the set I sent, which I'll point out. Hop under the cut for details of the sets.

Also--because this doesn't need a whole post--I've released my first cross stitch pattern in my Etsy shop, which I've restarted. It's to make a 1900's Style Cross Stitch Sampler, with bonus instructions to turn said sampler into a pillow. Take a gander. I hope to get more cross stitch patterns out over the month, once I've crafted them into something. It's always a task to know what to do with a cross stitch once you've finished it sometimes.


The idea for the outfit was finally using the KeepersDollyDuds Patterns I'd purchased from her. Keepers Dolly Duds has some of the best patterns to use. She designs awesome, realistic patterns with easy to read directions, and I found her patterns and instructions super clear. In fact, her patterns on Etsy go on sale starting tomorrow for 50%! Click faster to buy awesome patterns! The two I used for the set were 1850s Girl's Dress and the 1850s Girl's Jacket & Bonnet. In both cases, View A. These are intermediate patterns so you might want to make sure you can chew that bite when you take it. I didn't do any tweaking to the patterns themselves, other than to use red ribbon on the bonnet where the pattern used gathered fabric. A good sign of a pattern for me is when I don't feel like I want to tweak it.

I had originally been planning something maroon and cream, because I'm an Aggie all the way and thought that it'd look cool to have historical Aggie colors, even though TAMU was founded over 20 years after Cécile's books take place. Then I learned about turkey red and had a total "I have to do that right now" moment.

Time for History lesson!2 Turkey3 red, known in France as rouge d'Andrinople (Edirne Red for the city near where the dying technique was created), was a shade of red that was created in the 1740s using the root of the rubia plant. And notably colorfast. Most other shades of red dyed to cotton either came out shades of brick red or tended to fade with exposure or washing. But turkey red kept its bright red color in the same way carmine did and worked with dying cottons,4 and most importantly it didn't bleed into other colors. If you've ever made anything with anything red ever, you know red will run into every color around it and dye them if you don't wash it like, four times first with a fifth to make sure--but turkey red didn't. The process of dying the fabric took a lot of steps, so made it on the expensive side of purchasing; still, it became popular in the 1800s in America and was often used in quilt making. To use enough fabric to make a whole dress--with the wide skirts that were popular in fashion--would have been quite indulgent. And Cécile is a notable rich little N'awlins girl. C'mon, I had to. Red is like, one of my top five favorite colors.5 So having picked out enough red in a fine print, a solid for the jacket and bonnet that would have been called fawn or buff in its day, and a lighter print for lining it and the hat, lots of trims--and going back to the store to get interfacing--I put together the set over the course of a week.

The fashionable cottage bonnet.
Bonnet: In the 1850s, everyone wore bonnets, hats, or otherwise covered their heads in public. Cécile would not have worn a sunbonnet, as a city girl, because that would have been hella "country" and people didn't like being tied to country looks. (Stop putting your Céciles in sunbonnets when they're in fancy dress--it's almost as bad as casual day dress Felicity in pinner caps.6)  Instead she would have worn the cottage bonnet, a style of bonnet that framed around the face. These were most popular on women in the 1840s, but were still on girls up until the 1860s. This one is made of fawn fabric--I got the nice stuff, since it was on sale--with a subtle print for the lining and holds its shape with fusible interfacing.

Lace inside--
Inside the bonnet I applied slightly gathered matching lace right near the edge. The more trims, the more fancy. Put trims everywhere.

Ribbon outside.
Outside is runched ribbon of a bright crisp red. This took a while--the brim of the hat is curved so the gathering had to be done on a curve--but ooo, was it worth it.

Flowers accenting.
The left side of the bonnet is accented with reddish pink flowers. I purchased some cloth flowers, dismantled them from their plastic stems, trimmed the leaves into acceptable lengths, and then when the bonnet was completed hand-tacked them on.

To tie the bonnet on, two lengths of thick red ribbon were double looped and hand sewn on.

Tied in a bow.
The ribbons can tie under her chin or to the side and have diagonal cut ends.

The back of the bonnet shows the curved shape of the base. No trims. The trims go on the side.

When I packed the set up, I set a Styrofoam ball under it. I did not want all my fine work to get crushed and misshapen.

The full body shot of the jacket will be played by the gift set.
Jacket: The eight panel jacket is made of the same plain cotton fawn fabric and lining and fits ever so neatly over Cécile's dress--and probably will fit over several of her other dresses too.  With the poofiness of skirts in the 1850s, a jacket kept a young lady warm, clean, and dry without having to cover up all of her pretty dress underneath or use a lot of fabric. If AG had given a damn about Cécile and Marie-Grace's collections,7 they would have made a jacket like this for their sets.

The front is closed with three tabs that are tacked down on one side with buttons and fasten with buttonholes on the other side. You will remember I said I hate buttonholes and avoid them whenever possible. Yeah, shit ain't changed. But this one would not have worked with snaps worth a shit and would have sucked seven kinds of ass with velcro. So I sucked it up and did them.

The difference.
This is where my gifted set and my personal set differ. I bought nice, subtle buttons for the gift set, and tacked them on properly--and then realized no, I had only bought one strip of buttons, not two.  So I had to buy more buttons, and mine were not as subtle but still worked.

The pattern called for 3/8" buttons. Guess what the store had approximately zero of in a proper color. Fuck. I went with 7/16, because the difference of 1/16th larger is minimal and you probably can't even tell because I barely could.

Princess Seams.
The jacket has princess seams--for that awesome flair--and each seam around is topstitched both inside and out.

Get to the point please.
The front comes down to two neat points. 

The sleeves are set in and gathered in such a way that the gathers congregate near the top. 

Full length.
The sleeves come down over the hand. I decided to cuff the ends of mine in display so they were just at the wrist. I'm not sure that would have been accurate to the time, but it shows the lining so y'know.

The lining is a very subtle vine print that looks excellent with the jacket and compliments it well. The lining is constructed the exact same way as the outer jacket, the two are combined and sewn shut at the underarms, and then hand tacked inside at the shoulders so it doesn't slip around.

A better look at that lovely print up close.

Fully lined.
When I say fully lined, I mean it--the sleeves are even lined too. The underarm seam is the only "raw" side, and I trimmed it carefully to slim down seam bulk.

The flare.
And a good shot of the flare of the jacket and topstitching.

Two Dresses, alike in dignity, in fair Seattle, which isn't fair at all.8
Dress: Now we get to the part I especially adored--the dresses. All that babble about turkey red pays off! Both dresses are made of quilters' cotton in a bright, vine-printed red and were put together the exact same way. Cécile's looks a little puffier all around since she is wearing her ruffled full petticoat under it. 

I also included two hair ribbons because hair ribbons make the dress.

Dress on Cécile.9
I took the close ups on Cécile. No other fabrics or lining colors are used--the whole dress fabric, stem to stern, is  the same turkey red print.

Faux vest. And the lace requiring the patience of St. Tib's.
The front has a faux vest on the front that is trimmed in lace. The faux vest look has been around forever, and this is no exception.

But the lace. Peeps, let me tell you about this lace. This lace, man. This damn lace. I picked a narrow white that wouldn't overpower the print of the dress, and went with cotton to help compliment the look. And a narrow lace means a narrrow lace channel to sew on--in this case, it was only 1/8th" to sew, if that. So I had to ever so carefully sew that lace onto every bit of the dress it's on, with slow but secure machine stitches so it caught without catching the lace. Damn straight I take the steps to make things awesome.

The vest front is sewn to the bodice at the top, and then accented with a white grosgrain bow. The store didn't have a single bow I liked. So I made the bows myself with a technique that uses a fork that makes very nice looking well tied bows for decoration and tacked them on.

The neckline is slightly open and achieved using facing for it and the back opening. No narrow hems here!

The sleeves are short and lace trimmed, and ease-set into the bodice. You can get a good look at the cotton lace there--it's like a picot all around.

The vest hangs over the waistband in front. So I had to pin them out of the way when I gathered the skirt and sewed it in. Not hard, just something that had to be done or the vest would have caught in the seam.

Scallops. With LACE.
The skirt is actually a double layered skirt--a top scalloped layer and a bottom plain. The top scallops also have lace. That's right. I had to lace trim all around two wide scalloped edge skirts and then press it to make a narrow hem that was then top stitched over--as the vest  and sleeve edges were. Hardcore sewing.

In the pocket corner!
I had to press and hem scallop corners and barely tripped up. Don't fucking tell me my ass can't sew and make it look good.10

The print.
The print is a bright red with white vines made of dots printed on top. Can I just say that finding a print for the jacket that matched the vines on the dress was some boss ass shit? Sure I can.

Bottom hem and back.
The bottom hem is just turned and pressed under. The design of the large scallops means that the dress had to meet ever so properly in the back to make it line up. I got this perfect on the gift set. Mine--well, I had to seam rip it and put it right. That's why I make two, people.

Back closure.
The back closes with velcro. Red velcro. I managed to find some that matched perfectly. Look, I had suffered enough with buttons and snaps are only as necessary because they're picky whiners about being aligned, so I velcroed this shit.

The back also has two sashes that are attached to the bodice and tie in the back. These were made and then turned on a dowel I have in the house that will now be used from now on for such an occasion as turning fiddly bits of narrow fabric tubes.


And now something new that will go with my crafty bits--conclusions.

Best part of making it: I gotta say, I loved the lace application. It took time and patience, but the lace looks so mother fucking good that I would do it again, and I don't often say that when I have to attach fiddly lace to narrow hems that are then pressed. I also love to gather, and the gathering of the double skirt made the dress look floofy woofy. And the little flowers on the hat just look so good.

Worst part of making it: I was personally frustrated by not having the interfacing and buttons and having to go get more of each. And I still hate button holes. Still hate them. Hate them so much. Ugh, button holes and then I actually ripped one of mine too far and had to redo the whole tab. UGH BUTTONHOLES.

Historical Accuracy: I compliment KDD on researching styles for the era and making them accurately. The turkey red had me geeked and when Moni let me know that fawn was a color and a popular one at that, I felt really awesome. The cottage bonnet looks sweet and was a style still being wore by girls in the 1850s. 

Does it look good on the doll?: Look at my Cécile. Look at kaleb92's Colette who practically never wants to take the set off again. It looks trés magnifique. 

Would I use the pattern again? I not only would use it again, I plan to soon to make View B for Cécile around here once I find a lovely dress color for her I like. (I won't be doing the scalloped skirt for that one, just for variety.) And I plan to pick up some patterns in the sale I don't have already.

Final Thoughts: Set looks good on her, and it's going to be some time before my girl changes out of this at all.

Happy Leap Day, everyone!


1 Parts of my paganism include Discordianism.
2 I can get them into any post!
3 Not the country specifically. Back then, everything in the general area of the Middle East got called "Turkey, much like racist idiots call everything south of I-10 "Mexico."
4 You have to dye cotton differently than, say wool. I learned this dying my yarn.
5 In no particular order: blues through greens, reds, lavender side of purples, black.
6 There is nothing worse in my mind than people sticking lacy frivolous pinner caps with a damn day dress. Get a mob cap or else.
7 And they didn't.
8 That grey in the lower corner is my leg. Also Shakespeare playing with words round here.
9 This is also when I realized that Cécile is going to need restringing. She kept falling.
10 Some bitch told me that once. She's dead (to me) now.


  1. I'm so glad you published this post! It was wonderful seeing and getting to hear about the entire process of making this outfit, which I am still so completely in love with. (Although I really need to get Colette a petticoat now that she has an appropriate outfit to wear it with).

    I love knowing that my Colette and your Cécile have twin outfits! Thank you so much again.

    1. No problem at all, dear! Making twin outfits is one of the best parts of making gift swaps for me.

  2. ::twitches:: OH MY GODS. What a masterpiece! This is truly a work of art! Also, the fabric Gods (if there aren't specifically Gods of fabric, I think any of the Deities who bless inspiration and/or good fortune would surely work) were smiling down on you with that match!
    This is utterly gorgeous and the only way it doesn't look cannon is because it looks better than cannon (especially because it's for my beloved neglected Cécile!). I appreciate your taking us through the steps as well as the new conclusions because for those of us who don't really sew (especially not like THIS), it's... even more inspiring, if that makes sense.

    It's a good mood when I see you have a new post! :D

    1. Athene is the goddess of weaving and fabricraft, and I'm devoted to her as my Primary. So yes, She was.

    2. Ha, I feel like a bad (or at least lazy) Pagan for not realizing that. I'd heard of knitters who pay homage to the Norns, though.

  3. Oh wow, that's a gorgeous dress! I love the little jacket part, it could easily work as a modern piece too. Love it!

    btw, on footnote #3, wasn't the whole middle east (and a good chunk more) under Turkish rule in those days? I'm not saying people weren't ignorant, but the Ottoman Empire meant the whole region was technically Turkey...

    1. Not the whole Middle East (as it is now). But Wikipedia shows a lot of chunks of the edge of Northern Africa, southeast Europe, and what are now various ME countries. Also on the same wikipedia entry:

      In the West, the two names "Ottoman Empire" and "Turkey" were often used interchangeably, with "Turkey" being increasingly favored both in formal and informal situations. This dichotomy was officially ended in 1920–23, when the newly established Ankara-based Turkish government chose Turkey as the sole official name.

      So yeah, in America and Europe they just called the Ottoman Empire "Turkey" as a collective. So those people weren't ignorant. But the people who call it all "Mexico" are.

  4. Love this piece and now know what "Turkey Red" means : )
    Can't wait for your review of "Happy Birthday, Samantha!"

  5. Neth, this is lovely! I always look forward to your posts & am amazed at how talented you are. As a historian, I also very much appreciate your attention to historical accuracy & details.

    Fabulous dress!


  6. gah-damn and I do mean gah-DAMN that is a fine looking set! *heart eyes all over the place*


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