Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Ladies in Blue

Mary and Elizabeth Royal
John Singleton Copley, 1758

And here I was, all nervous about blue silk for a dress not being appropriate.

Well, not blue as a general term, more like a deep royal blue, which is what I received in the mail when I thought I purchased a medium, "Wedgwood" blue. 

Ginger, at Scene in the Past was kind enough to remind me of Mrs. Winthrop, by John Singleton Copley, and her blue gown. I browsed his paintings and wow, LOTS of blue.

In many, many of his portraits, ladies sport blue silk gowns. The blues range from medium and mellow to quite intense (i.e. Lucretia Hubbard Townsend or Mrs. Moses Gill).

I was previously under the misconception that darker colored gowns were mostly worn by more mature women. Perhaps this remains the case for shades of brown, but I guess not with blues. The paintings below show a wide age range. Note the top-most painting, which shows a young girl in deep blue.

I guess I'm safe :)

Enjoy the lovely gowns!

Mrs. Daniel Sargent (Mary Turner Sargent)
John Singleton Copley, 1763

Mrs. Nathaniel Allen (Sarah Sargnet)
John Singleton Copley, 1763

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Back to the 18th Century

I have been so caught up in learning about the 1860's I have been neglecting my beloved 1700's. Sigh.

In the past month or so, I have put so much enthusiasm into learning about a new era, I put my 18th century projects on the back burner, which has totally come back and bitten me in the bum roll.

I keep forgetting all the things I need to get organized for the workshop in November. And yes, November is a long way off, but now that September is almost here I get reminded how fast time goes, and it sent me into an oh-my-god-soon-it'll-be-October frenzy. Yikes!

So out of the half-done pile came my blue worsted stays. Some time today was well spent hand-sewing eyelets into those while watching John Adams - gotta get inspired :)

Those are a must to finish because I want them for the Burnley & Trowbridge workshop. The stays I have now fit great, but they're not appropriate fabric.

Next up will be a new wool petti and a bedgown. It was suggested you wear a bedgown for the workshop between fittings. You could also wear a t-shirt, but where's the fun in that?

I was browsing trough the stash - nothing sparked. I was looking online - too indecisive. I do have some blue print that's cute, but it doesn't say much. Eh. So I jumped on the bandwagon (thanks Lauren, American Duchess, and Jen, Festive Attyre) and went to Lowes for some Waverly chintz drapes. Can I say, I was a little skeptical before I felt the fabric ($20 for almost two yards - too good to be true, right?), but it's fantastic! Polished, 100% cotton, with a perfect print. I'm in love. 

Lowe's chintz, blue on blue floral print, red wool under it all.
Brown and dark blue silk.

I did find some brown silk in the stash that I was debating on for a more upscale bedgown, but the only silk bedgowns I have come across have been quilted, and I just don't have that kind of time right now. 

For the petticoat, I have some red wool, but I'm not really feeling red, so I'm browsing different color options. Maybe light blue, maybe pink or yellow. I'm looking into prints and paintings to get some ideas. Any thoughts? I suppose I'll want a new apron, too... Another can of worms to be opened :)

Lastly, that blue silk in the picture. 

I bought some blue silk to take with for the mantua making workshop. One in a billion chance (because that's how much stuff I order online), they sent the wrong color. I would send it back, but it's almost not worth the bother. India seems quite far. 

It's a beautiful dark blue, kind of a royal blue, but I'm thinking it might be a little TOO dark for your average 18th century American gown, which is what I'm sure we will be making. I have seen loads of light blue silk gowns in paintings, however, like the one below. I love the green trim!

Unless Felicity's dress counts as a first hand resource. Nope? Bummer.

Has anyone come across anything this shade of blue? Is it worth getting another color silk to have something that's well documented? I need some opinions, fellow seamstresses.

Hope everyone is having a great start to the week! Xx, C.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

19th Century Undersleeves

Here we have a pair of victorian mid-century undersleeves. When these came in the mail they were the saddest shade of beigey brown. A little dip in the sink cleaned off well over 100 years of funk. Ah, that's better.

The sleeves are a crisp, white cotton. They feel like a middle weight organdy. The embroidered cuffs are basted on with large stitches, making them easy to remove for laundering. The embroidery is hand done. 

Lot's of mending means these pretties were well loved. The small holes and rips are all repaired with darning stitches, some with little patches of fabric as well as the darning stitches. These sleeves might have been retired when one of the sleeves got a nasty, long rip. Maybe they got lost in the abyss of the mending pile, which happens all the time in my own sewing room... :)

They are quite long, and come all the way to my underarm. The wrist opening is very slim, at about 5" around. At the bottom, I have included a photo next to a measuring tape for scale. They close with little Mother of Pearl buttons.

Lots of pics to follow. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Mid 19th Century Under Petticoat

Ooo look at those tucks! Pretty!

Another new acquisition to the collection! Yay! Being that I usually study 18th century costumes, and extant pieces really aren't that accessible, it is so cool to be able to readily find and acquire real, antique pieces from the 19th century. I am having so much fun with this!

This lovely cotton petticoat is a mid 19th century (advertised as civil war era) under-petticoat, which would have been worn under your hoop and over your pantalettes/drawers.

It's very small, like about 20" at the waist. It doesn't have a waist closure at the moment. I don't see any evidence of one, but I'm sure it must have had something to close the waist. Right now all I can see is a slit in the center back, with hemmed edges and tacked tuck, that creates an overlap of about an inch at the waist. I added lots of pictures near the bottom of the page to illustrate.

The stitching on the tucks is neatly done, small, machine stitches. The stitching on the waistband is a little messy. Maybe the waistband was replaced at some time?

On me (5'4'') it hangs to mid calf.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

1860's Gowns, a New Corset and Some Undies

Cotton lace, MOP buttons and feather stitch
embroidery on the bands.

Let's start from the inside out. First things first: some mid Victorian undies. 

I found these pretties for sale on Etsy. I find so much on there! The chemise is in amazing condition! All I had to do was give it a little rinse. It had a couple brown spots on one shoulder but they faded a lot with just a gentle wash in a little free detergent and oxy clean. There are no holes and the fabric is very strong.

It's cotton with self fabric ruched trim and fine cotton lace. The buttons down the front are mother of pearl. It hangs just on the edge of the shoulders.

The drawers were a little worse for wear. They came with a nasty rip right up the center of the crotch. Surprisingly, they were not split crotch to begin with. The had slits on the sides with mother of pearl buttons at the hips. 


But they're split crotch now. Instead of getting into fancy patching and mending, I neatened up the rip and made a narrow hem on both sides. I also put a little patch over a hole and strengthened one of the button holes that was fraying. I don't know if I will actually be wearing these or not, since the fabric feels a little weak. They also have some period mending at the waistband, which is actually pretty neat to investigate. 

Aside from the mending and crotch business, they are gorgeous! The tucks, ruching and whitework trim on the legs are beautiful! I tell you, nothing gets you in the spirit like 150 year old undies. Usually, when sewing whole outfits, the undies end up being pretty plain, since the embellishments are usually saved for the outerwear that everyone sees. These are so frilly and fabulous they give getting dressed a whole different feel. It's a different experience, especially knowing that these pieces were around last time a crinoline was in fashion. Very cool.

Little reinforcement patches on the original slits.

Period mending to the waistband.

Next, on to the corset. (Keep going, there's lots after the jump!)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

An 1860's Bodice: Inside and Out

I found this little gem recently on etsy for a steal. I'm so thrilled!

I have been heavily researching the 1860's lately and it is completely foreign to me. I mean, I thought I had some idea of Civil War era fashion, when I really knew nothing. It's so daunting, venturing into a new era.

What prompted me?

This October there is a big Civil War reenactment her in Las Vegas. Imagine - here... in Las Vegas? Never would have guessed. I suppose Nevada is "Battle Born"... But anyway, it sounds like so much fun. I have seen pictures and they have cannons and lots of smoke and horses charging. Not to mention it takes place in a state park against the mountains and it's very pretty. Very cool :)

But now I need an outfit (or two).

I have started reading extensively and as I think I'm getting the hang of what was in and what was out for the times and my age demographic, the actual sewing was kind of eluding me.

This bodice has been so instructive! It is SO helpful, when trying to create a garment, even with a pattern, to see the real thing. I can reference the seams and the shape and get an idea of the feel of the fabrics. I also found an original chemise and pair of drawers. So cool! But one thing at a time. 

Let's start with the bodice:

She almost fits! A bit petite, though.
The waist is probably about 21-22
inches and the bust around 31-32. The back
 length is around 14-14.5.

The fashion fabric is an olive green,
plain weave silk.

It is a fitted, darted bodice.

Many, many, many more pictures after the cut! 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Trip to Downton - oops I mean Highclere.

Whenever my husband and I go to London we always work in a few day trips or little overnight trips into the country. We are both really big Downton Abbey fans so we though this time we should go to Highclere. To get there from London you take the train from Paddington Station to Newbury. It's about a 45 minute ride.

Sometimes, when you venture out to see estates, the nearby towns can be picturesque but a little boring. Newbury was actually quite busy, while still being very cute. We walked the town, had lunch and then took a taxi to Highclere, which is about six miles away. Aside from the tour of the house, which isn't guided so you can go at you own pace, there's also an Egyptian exhibit in the basement. Highclere is the seat of the Earl of Carnarvon. The 5th Earl of Carnarvon discovered Tutankhamun's tomb with Howard Carter.

There's also a cafe and a gift shop :)

So on to the pictures!

There were three very old churches on
Newbury's main street. Very pretty.

The Kennet and Avon Canal
goes through the town.

Had to stop here for a browse :)

Four types of sausages made by the
local butcher. The red one in the back
corner is bloody mary flavored!

PS, Harry Potter fans, the pub was
called the Hogshead :)

This is the back view of the house.

Ooo look, I live here :)
In the gift shop - how cute are these!?

The front entrance. This is as far as I go with the camera.
Boo they don't allow pictures :(

Had to prove I was there - though
I'm itty itty bitty in the picture.