Saturday, April 12, 2014

A great new antique find. A 1920 Victrola!

I have been having way too much fun with this thing. Especially considering I have only one record so far!

Last weekend we went poking around the antique stores and came home with this bit of fabulous. It's a hand crank Victrola from 1920. I looked up the serial number. This type of table top style dates back into the teens. In fact, this model, with the little feet, first started being made in 1915. 

Fun fact, the little doors on the front are volume control. Closed and the volume is softer, open and louder. Nifty.

So far I only have the record the machine came with from the store. It is a good one, though. It's got a waltz on one side and a fox trot on the reverse.  

I must say, never having been into records, this is a fun new experience, though it does have it's drawbacks. Nothing bad, just a bit inconvenient compared to what we take for granted with music today. Things I never would have thought of, had I never played a record on an old machine. But that's part of the fun for me: the experience as it would have been.

First, for every song, you must crank. Second, the songs are short, so you have to run back to the player pretty often to pick up the needle. No playlist here. Third, it is recommended that for every play, you use a new needle, so you end up going through a lot of needles. But again, it's more for the experience and the fun, than modern convenience...

And in other news, we got a new puppy! He likes the Victrola, too!

I also found a new, well new to me, sewing machine at the antique shop. More to come on that when I take some pictures. Oh! And I have been sewing. I'm just so behind of photos. More to come soon. 

Happy weekend all!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

New petticoats for HSF #3 and #4.

Happy March everyone! I got delayed on posting challenge #3, so why not post about the projects together?

For challenge three, Pink, I did up an 18th century petticoat of pink check silk. It's not tremendously exciting by itself, but I have future plans for a frilly little caraco to match. I already have fly fringe for it in the works! 

The Challenge: Pink

Fabric: Pink check silk

Pattern: None, just took measurements from a previously made petticoat that fits.

Year: Later 18th century

Notions: Linen tape for waistband.

How historically accurate is it? Appropriate fabric. Appropriate stitches and pattern, to the best of my knowlege.

Hours to complete: I didn't keep track :(

First worn: Not yet

Total cost: The fabric was about $20/yd.


For the fourth challenge, Under It All, I finished up an early 1900's petticoat that I started last year. It's based on the Truly Victorian Circle Skirt pattern, with an extra flounce at the bottom. The flounce and skirt are stiffened with tucks at the hem, to help hold the fabric away from the feet, and support the over skirt.

The Challenge: Under it All

Fabric: White cotton broadcloth

Pattern: Truly Victorian's Circle Skirt Pattern

Year: 1900, give or take. I planned it for 1900-1905, but I suppose the shape could be used for 1890's, too.

Notions: Ribbon, insertion, cotton tape for waist band.

How historically accurate is it? I would think it's fairly accurate to the era. The ribbon is probably poly, though...

Hours to complete: I am so bad at keeping track of this!

First worn: Not yet

Total cost: I think the fabric was anywhere from $4 - $8 for a yard. Everything else, I had.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

HSF #2: Innovation. The side saddle safety apron.

In beginning to ride side saddle, a whole new world of tack and appointments has been opened to me. Prior to this, not much thought went in to what a lady wore when riding aside, except that it was a skirt.

The ladies riding habit started with a skirt, when ladies would basically wear just clothes to ride, as opposed to a riding "outfit," or habit. I think we can thank those proper and fashionable Victorians for evolving an outfit worn when riding, to a designated riding outfit. 

A lady out riding in her redingote. Fashionable clothing for riding,
but not only worn for riding. Pretty much cut the same as every other dress.

As the century progressed, the riding habit began to look
more and more like what one might think of when "riding habit"
is mentioned.

Sisi of Austria, who was an avid hunter.

Sisi, again. When off the horse, there's a
lot of fabric to keep track of.

In the later part of the century, the shaped riding skirt came into fashion, allowing space for the right knee and a level hem when mounted. No more were skirts billowing around everywhere, hanging at all different lengths, but this meant that on the ground, the skirt hung absurdly long in the front. Here we start to see the skirt being buttoned up to walk.

An 1875 riding habit from the Met.

So, the knee pocket, and way of buttoning the skirt up when walking become the fashion toward the end of the century. The riding skirts begin to lose fabric, as fashions progress, and the more tailored look of the riding habit is seen. A good pattern for this style is Truly Victorian's riding habit skirt pattern, which illustrates the knee pocket nicely.

Two ladies in riding clothes, circa 1880.

Ah, but there was still a problem. A nasty one.

In the event of a fall, a lady could easily get tangled up in the saddle and be dragged and injured, or worse. So, around the turn of the century, the riding safety apron comes about. It is basically an apron that covers your legs when mounted, and wraps around your exposed lower limbs when on the ground. 

The snap fastener also plays into this. Not only is there less fabric to be tangled, but often the aprons were fastened with snaps. In the event of a fall, where the fabric got stuck on the saddle, the skirt would come apart and the rider would be free. And to save her the added embarrassment of walking the field in her drawers, the rider would wear matching breeches under the skirt. And a side note, this is the same reason why western shirts started having those pearl snaps.

Below are a few pictures from Alice M. Hayes' book, The Horsewoman (1903).

The apron, when mounted, looks like a skirt.

From behind, it's just an apron.

And wrapped up, it both covers the legs and
keeps the skirt from dragging.

The riding apron is still worn today, when a lady rides aside. It is both traditional and safe. The style changed a bit over the first part of the century, losing and gaining fabric, and the hem changed with fashion. The "golden age" of hunting side saddle ended with the second World War, and it's style has changed very little since then. 

For HSF: Innovation, I chose to recreate a safety apron. It's all done, save for the buttons, which I haven't decided on yet. Horn or fabric? Hmm… It does close with snaps, so it is basically finished, as all but one button is just cosmetic. I chose navy wool, as navy or black is the appropriate choice for a formal habit. The wool is a medium weight plain weave, which is what I had, so I chose it. Same for the contrasting lining - I had it. Ideally, a habit would be made of a sturdier wool, like whipcord, cavalry twill or melton, which would stand up to the rigors of hunting. As I live in Las Vegas, and I'm not hunting the English countryside (bucket list!!), I'm thinking this is just fine. Maybe I need a Raj era linen habit for summer here… Hmm…

As for the pattern, I browsed many. I even scaled up some 1912 patterns. I had a modern, Suitability apron pattern on hand that I went with. It got a bit of a bad rap with reviews, with users claiming too many darts and too much fabric, but I found it fit me well, with little alterations. I didn't really follow the directions, which is so me, but I don't have any complaints yet, though there were a heck of a lot of darts! Well, and I chose snaps instead of velcro.

The Challenge: Innovation

Fabric: Navy wool lined with checked cotton

Pattern: Suitability's riding apron pattern

Year: Eh, anywhere from 1900 to present. Wide range, I know. The bodice/jacket worn with it would really determine the year.

Notions: Snap fasteners

How historically accurate is it? Oo this question always gets me. I tried to be as true to when these came about, in the early 20th century, as possible. But without a lot of experience wearing these aprons, I went very basic.

Hours to complete: I didn't keep track. Took a few good days, though I did hand sew the whole thing. Not to be snazzy, or anything. Just that I traveled with it and hand sewing is much more portable.

First worn: Not yet. Off to the barn!

Total cost: Less than $5 for the fasteners. Everything else was stash.

And here are some pictures. It is a bizarre arrangement of fabric, until it's on a horse.

From the front, fastened up.

From behind.

And this is why it buttons up...
From the near side, or left side, one would see this.
Like my fake knee chair? It makes more sense like this.

From the offside, you see this.
The flap at the bottom fastens around the right leg,
keeping everything in place. Some aprons replace this
with an elastic loop.

I have accumulated many, many more examples of these aprons, as well as other side saddle bits and habits, over on a Pinterest board. Check it out!

And just for kicks…


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Gilt Equipage

Yay ebay! I found this little nugget on there last year and lucked out. It is in fantastic condition. It is probably 18th century, and made of ormolu, or similar. She's in fantastic condition, with only a little rust to one of the clasps. Each section has a nice little scene. They appear to be Oriental in design.

Equipages, or chatelaines (their 19th century term, that means "lady of the house"), are handy items that one uses to hang one's necessities from. They can be functional or ornate. One might hang a watch, keys, a wax seal, sewing tools… In the late 18th century, it became popular to wear two at the waist. In the later 19th century, they moved into the ball room and might have held a lady's fan or dance card. That's why a lot of Victorian fans have a loop at the base, to hang by. But back to the 1700's...

I didn't have too much to hang from mine, so I pawed around my closet and found a lovely little antique seal my mom had given me. I also found a Forever 21 necklace with a monocle on the end and thought, why not! I'll have to keep an eye out for more bits to hang from it. A watch would be awesome!

The equipage hangs over your skirt, secured by a long paddle you slip under the waistband.

The clasps are fascinating. I don't know if they are replacements, or how old they are, because they don't all match. They are nifty, though, with thier little locking screw mechanism.

You unscrew the little nut...

…and then you can open the clasp. You screw it back down and off you go! 

Below is the sad little rusty one. I probably won't be hanging anything from that one :(

It will be fun to hunt for little items to attach to it. It's such a lovely piece! I'm proud to be it's new custodian.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Happy Birthday, Mozart!

Yesterday was Mozart's birthday. Happy Birthday, Herr Mozart!

Mozart's birthday has always been an excuse for a party. It's near and dear to my heart because my mom had a Mozart party every year, and dressing up for it started my 18th century sewing. Last night she had a little party and we dressed up and ate sacher torte and Riesling and had a great time!

Lately I've been really good about getting things out of the to-do/mending pile. I trimmed my printed cotton jacket and used the rest of the fabric to make up a petticoat. The petticoat has a bit of piecing, too, but I kinda like it! Why the piecing? I bought the fabric from a shop in Williamsburg, and it was already cut into one yard lengths. This made for an interesting time cutting up the pieces so that the design looked decent. But I just love piecing! I love it :)

For the trim, I had very little fabric. Why add trim? The jacket was originally laced over a stomacher. I'm a bit lazy and would rather pin than lace, so I covered the holes, and the rest of the hem of the jacket, with inch wide, knife pleated trim. 

I gave in and just ordered a couple more yards of the fabric so I could remake the front and ditch the stomacher. Maybe a cut away look… Maybe just a center front closing style… Something to make it more up to date, as in later in the century. The stomacher kind of clashes with the later century, informal jacket style. At least it seems to me, after trying to find period examples to copy. I went for 1780's last night.

I accessorized with my favorite wig, an equipage, a ribbon in my hair, my elbow ruffles, of course, silk shoes and a cute little breast knot. 

Yum! Sacher torte and Viennese cocoa. Those Austrians love their sweets! Want a little tour of Salzburg and Mozart's home? Click here.

My dog is obsessed with Kitty. So jealous! If I went near the cat, pup was like hey! Hey! What about me!?

Good night, Mozart! I finally got a picture in my hooded cloak and muff. The muff is rabbit fur in imitation of ermine, and the cloak is green silk satin, lined with green wool. Warm! I only had enough fur trim to go around the front. Someday I'll have to get around to trimming the bottom edge in fur, too. And maybe add some arm slits… I'll order more.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Lady Never Trots

I read this somewhere and I get it now. Boing boing boing bouncy jiggly mess! Poor horse. We must work on that.

A weekend update! After this I'll be back to posting about what we love most - clothes! But I thought one last update this week about my recent side saddle adventures. 

First off, I am LOVING this! 

I was so worried it would be awkward and difficult and I would not enjoy it, despite hoping I would so badly! But yay!!! It turns out it is a fantastically fun thing to do. I think, aside from the equestrianism of it, there is something just so ladylike and elegant, and I feel a bit of kinship with ladies of the past. Much like the first time one wears a pair of stays or a hoop and you know how it feels. It's like a little bit of time travel.

So, the update. 

Saturday, I warmed up on the ground and astride, and then mounted aside. I'm getting more used to using my stick and leg simultaneously. He's a gem at the walk and we attempted a bit of trotting, but it was a little ugly. The crowning glory of my second ride was cantering. We cantered! Yay! I was a bit nervous to ask for it, but it was so nice and easy. Definitely the most pleasant of all gaits aside. It's so much fun, I went back again this morning and did it all over again.

I actually chose the barn over trimming a petticoat. Haha I'm that inspired!

Well, we are off to a great start and I'm quite hot on the idea of sewing up a habit soon. Now I just have to decide on an era… Ooo choices… 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The inaugural side saddle ride!

Woo hoo! Today was fun! I took the saddle out and hopped on. Well, not just hopped on. I warmed up with groundwork and then astride to insure a pleasant horsey. I was totally nervous! But my darling pony was so good. He is just a gem of a horse.

He was a little tripped out at first. Like, hey lady, where's your other leg?! But he rose to the occasion like a champ.

So, the experience went like this: