{case study} the best of both worlds: a modern ensemble inspired by historical fashion

Steampunk fashion has been described as “an appreciation for the ornamentation of the gilded age.”

I don’t have much use for a stereotypical Steampunk ensemble
(I don’t like to be stereotypical anyway),
but I do love a modern ensemble with a good dose of old-fashioned inspiration.

The first piece a lady would don
in the Victorian and Edwardian eras
is a chemise - a comfortable, next-to-the-skin layer
that provides a nice foundation for everything else.

The brown bamboo jersey dress fulfills this same purpose in my ensemble.
I cut the pattern using my basic princess-seamed bodice,
overlapping the seams to create a one-piece front and one-piece back
with negative ease where seams would usually provide shaping.
The skirt is a half-circle, and the neckline is finished with a simple folded strip of self fabric.
Once again, I used negative ease in the neckline area,
so it clings and doesn’t gape when I bend over.

On top of the chemise, a lady would wear a corset.
My hand-spun, hand-knit shell is anything but constricting,
but the fit and the lacing up the back are reminiscent of this old-fashioned garment.

On top of everything else is the red wool coat.

One of my favorite Victorian details is the shoulder seam that slants toward the back,
creating a smooth, easy-to-fit shoulder line.
I based the shoulder shape of my coat off of a pattern with a c. 1870 style
and drafted the skirt of the coat with pleats in the back,
mimicking the feminine silhouette of coats like this sketch from a Victorian-era ladies' magazine.

Embroidery can be a forgotten detail when it comes to our modern era.
I drew the designs featured on the back belt and sleeve cuffs,
then stitched them with a sewing machine.
I did not computerize the design,
but rather used a straight stitch and manipulated the fabric by hand.

I stitched all of the buttonholes by hand with silk thread
after stabilizing the slits with machine-stitches.
(The best of both worlds!)

I used hand-finishing elsewhere as well.
Anywhere understitching was necessary, I used pick-stiches.
After binding the lower edge, I folded up the hem and catch-stitched it in place.
I also handmade thread chains to attach the lining hem to the coat hem.

The test of any good design is marketability,
so I put my outfit to the test at the 2013 National Make It With Wool competition,
which includes marketability as part of the judging criteria.
I was the fourth-runner-up over all, and received special recognition for the shell,
which led to my being featured in THREADS magazine.

This is quite possibly my favorite creation to date.

There’s something about its history…
the design process itself…
the details from yesteryear…
the decorative elements often overlooked…

…something that makes this ensemble special to me.

allow me to introduce myself

My given name is Jordan Elizabeth.
My brand is jordan elisheva.
This is the story of both.

I’m Jordan.
I have been since before I can remember.
This part of who I am
was given to me,
but the identity given by the people around me
isn’t all of me.

Though who I am
is molded by my past,
I may also choose to mold
who I will be.

Elizabeth is derived from the Hebrew,
“elisheva,” meaning God is my oath.
This part of my brandname
tells the story
of the identity I’ve chosen for myself.

It looks backward to ancient times
and ancient tongues.
To a time when the One True God
made Himself known to human beings.
And it looks forward to the day when
the promises He made then
will be fulfilled,
and God and man will walk together again.

It brings the past and the future together
to the present.
This moment I am in right now.
For this same God is not silent today.

God is my oath:
the One True God
chooses to invite me to walk with Him
and solemnly swears to walk with me.

What has this to do with sewing?

More than I realized when I adopted the hobby.
The answer to the question is not simple.
So as you continue to explore my brand,
I will try to show you what I mean.

Case Study: Moonlight Dress

“Captured by Moonlight” was the theme.
1922 was the year.
This is the dress.

The client presented three images to be combined into one design, but what the client needed was not a handful of beautiful details. The client needed a precise design that reflected the story of the wearer.

So I all but ignored these suggestions and began asking questions.

Who is the wearer of this dress?
Where will she wear it, and when?
What is the story that we want to tell?

The final product is completely different from the mental image the client began with, yet it is exactly what the client needed.

White silk, ethereal and reflective.
Flowing dress, clingy slip underneath.
Discreet seams, delicate selvage for the hem.

As a result, the heroine of the story shines, not just the dress she's wearing.