Sunday, November 11, 2012

1860s Swiss Waist Ensemble

For a recent event I was in need of an evening dress, so I chose to use items that I already owned and make a new silk skirt to wear. Several years ago I had made this ivory silk organza gathered bodice. The bodice is sheer and a ivory silk taffeta half-high darted bodice is attached at the waist inside to cover the corset and chemise. The sheer bodice is worn with a 'Swiss Waist'. This one is based off of an original 1860's waist and made from black silk taffeta with black silk taffeta pinked and box pleated trim along the top and bottom edges. This 'Swiss Waist' is laced up the back. There were many variations in cut, color, trim, and fabric choice for this style of garment. It often laced up the front or back or had a hook and eye closure. It could be high, like this one, or lower in the 'Medici Belt' style. Sometimes they had decorative straps that sat at the dropped armhole of the bodice, and occasionally these straps had elastic underneath to hold the straps to the body (this is really smart because otherwise it's hard to get the straps to lay properly without pinning them in place).

I made a fabric shopping trip to a local chic fabric store - Loom in the Pittsburgh Strip District to select this lovely blue-purple shot silk fabric. The skirt was knife pleated in to a waistband.

The ensemble was worn with my original Chantilly lace shawl. I wore matching gold bracelets, gold snake bracelet and gold earrings with a coral brooch and necklace with the look. I would have loved to have had time to make or purchase a hair comb or headdress to coordinate with the look, but this was a last minute outfit, so I'll have to work on that for a future time.
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  1. so lovely!! i've been thinking about making a swiss waist for a while, and this has definitely inspired me! i will be fabric shopping this weekend in gettysburg! :)

  2. Yay! Have fun in Gettysburg! I'm sure your Swiss Waist will look lovely!

  3. Gorgeous! I love the purple-black-cream combination. It's so sophisticated. :)