December 31, 2014

A Wrapper Named Sophia

...Or one last internship update for 2014!

The Sophia Project: Chronicles of an 1870s Wrapper Reproduction

Remember The Sophia Project?  Otherwise known as the major project of my costume internship at the Genesee Country Village & Museum, the reproduction process for 1870s wrapper has reached its climax.  The end is in sight.  Ever since the Preparing for the Holidays event on November 22nd, I've been spending two days a week in the costume shop working on the details of Sophia, mostly hand-sewing piping, facings, hems, etc.  Finally, after months of machine and hand stitching, the wrapper itself is finished!!!  All that's left to do now is the silk trim and bows!  What a journey.

Hello!  My name is Sophia.  I am a wrapper.
Cheryl, the head costumer of the village, told me that just about every time someone came into the costume shop, their first question would be about the new, instead of her having to explain what a wrapper is again and again, I made Sophia a sign!

Sophia's description reads:

Hello!  My name is Sophia.  I am a wrapper.

Not the kind that candy comes wrapped in, but the equally yummy eye-candy for historical clothing enthusiasts!  Think of me as a morning gown or, later in the century, similar to a tea gown, a semi-fitted or loose dressing gown that women would wear in the morning or evening over their undergarments.  We often follow the trends of more fashionable dress, and are a prime choice for maternity wear, offering women a cut with style and comfort in mind.  We also have great durability, typically fashioned from printed cottons for the summer and warm wools for the winter, and stand up to many years of wear.

Come back later for more progress or wait until next season when you may catch me lounging in one of those lovely 1870s houses!

Completed wrapper shots in the shop:

Front of wrapper: notice the tiny neckline & armscye piping.

Side view of dropped armscye & coat sleeve.

Close up of front side of sleeve.  

Close up of inner side of sleeve.  The construction of the sleeves was a challenge.  First, the triangular piece of the sleeve had to be backed (triangle piece whip-stitched onto sleeve).  Then, the other side of the sleeve had to be stitched by hand to close along the triangular side.  Followed by hand-sewn piped facings, which had to be stitched carefully, especially along the triangle seam.  (As you can tell from my inability to describe the steps cleanly, finishing the sleeves took a lot of time and patients!) 

Inside details:

Inside of wrapper: notice the pocket, whip stitched fronts
& facings on the neckline, sleeves and hem.   

Inside of sleeve with visible hand & machine stitching.

Hem facing detail shot.   I was beginning to wonder if there was an end
to this as the hem is 6+ yards .  Yes, we measured and even took bets :)
Reused the light brown hem from another dress and tore chocolate brown cotton to match.
Pleated extra fabric at each seam and whip stitched flat along pleats.  

So, what's next for the Sophia Project?  Trim!  

Bias strips cut for all of Sophia's bows!
That's 150+ inches of printed cotton, 150+ inches of polished cotton to back the bows & 300+ inches of black silk for the tiny 1/8th inch bias bound edges of the bow...wish me luck!

While there won't be any more weekly internship updates in the new year, stay tuned in 2015 for a post on the trimming & completion of the Sophia Project!  Thanks for reading!


  1. I do believe I am in love with Sophia!! She is gorgeous! I LOVE the color of the fabric...those colors just make my old fashioned soul so happy!! Dark mustard and Turkey red...mmmmmm.....delish!! Can't wait to see the trim. Your tiny piping is marvelous! To think you hand stitched that!! Awesome!!

    1. Thank you, Gina! I find that, as cliché as it sounds, the more I stitch of Sophia, the greater my love for the project! It makes hand sewing all of those details seem less tedious and more of a labor of love. And, I’m so happy you like the fabric! I may be biased, but I think the combination of colors is sharp! Thanks again, Anneliese :)