Thursday, May 30, 2013

New mitts for me!

This week I whipped up some cute new 18th century mitts. 

I am so in love with these, from the Victoria and Albert, so I chose to make mine similar. I just love that little flash of color from the chintz.

My mitts are made of white linen, with the flaps lined with chintz left over from a gown. I always save my leftover bits. Even the tiniest pieces can come in handy. The mitts are stitched with linen thread and the herringbone stitch, or faggoting, is done in cotton floss.

Now, for an outfit to wear them with... Must get to stitching soon...

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I'm kind of in love with bonnets right now.

So, I thought I would share a picture or two I took of George Stubbs' paintings, from the last time I was in London. The paintings hang at the Tate Britain. 

The above picture is a detail of the painting, Reapers, which dates from 1785. I just love love love her bonnet, which has that fabulous, big, 80's thing about it. Very stylish for harvesting hay, wouldn't you say?

The ladies below sport a mix of bonnets and hats. This painting, Haymakers, also dates from 1785.

Also, you can check out this engraving of Reapers, which is basically the top painting again, but with a little different detail.

There are many images of bonnets, in paintings and engravings. The only original one I could find belongs to Colonial Williamsburg. Check it out here.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Pretty Things Upcoming

Upcoming, in the somewhat near future (months from now), will be a few events that call for 18th century outfits. I've been hunting for fabrics and getting very inspired.

I've been lucky enough to find some great fabrics that mimic some of my favorite 18th century gowns from museums. They aren't exact exact exact or anything, but for me, they're similar enough to make the effort.

To start, in the winter, there are two events that allow for something very, very fancy. I have always loved this gown, from Williamsburg. I was equally inspired by this silver embroidered cotton dress I saw at Kensington Palace.

Silver embroidery on sheer cotton. For more pics, click here.

When I saw this fabric, I was reminded of both gowns. It is a light cotton, from India, with millions of teeny spangles stitched on, in a diamond pattern. The photo doesn't do it justice. I can totally see it shimmering away, under the glow of candlelight. I also found some handmade silver trim (I LOVE eBay), also from India, that very much reminds me of the metal torchon lace that I picked up in London, which is original to the 18th century. I'll investigate more/different trim, but it's a start.

Cotton with spangles, new silver lace and antique lace, for comparison.

Also, possibly, if time permits, I found the closest fabric I have ever come across, to what was then referred to as Chine a la Branche, which is basically an ikat weave. I pinned a bunch of examples here.

Uzbek silk ikat. My wannabe Chine a la Branche :)

The motif is a little large, but the colors and floral design is the closest I have ever seen to the original fabric. Usually, today's ikat is very graphic and tribal looking. This fabric is a crisp, airy silk, and it's very narrow from selvedge to selvedge, only inches off from period silk widths. I thought that was a pretty fun detail :)

And then, something a little more down to earth.

I have always had my eye on making one of those dark printed cloaks, much like this one, from the KCI, or this one. This fabric is calling out to me to make one. Also from India, this is hand block printed cotton. I have really been loving eBay lately, btw. I don't really have any need for one right now, but I couldn't resist snapping it up for the future.

Block printed cotton from India.

Also, sometime in a near future, I want some nice 18th c. stockings. I have been looking into making some. I just received some swatches of silk and wool knits. I also will look into linen knit, but I haven't found anywhere to get a sample from, with reasonable shipping. I found some nice instructions on how to make stockings here.

Silk knits on the left and two weights of wool on the right.

So hopefully, I will have time to make some of these beautiful things. I don't currently have a sacque so perhaps that will be on my list. In the mean time, I've started on a fluffy, frilly, white cotton polonaise jacket and petticoat for the fourth of July. I'm getting super inspired looking at these.

Cheers all!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Helldorado Parade

Yesterday, for walking in a parade, I brought out the sheer white dress for the first time. Sorry for the oh-so-atmospheric, parking lot pic :)

I accessorized with an antique turquoise bracelet and pin to western it up a bit, for the parade. The pin was actually a tie pin I pinched from my husband at the last minute. It got more compliments than anything else! 

I almost wore the Gibson girl cowgirl outfit, which would have been fab, but honestly, I didn't know if I could duplicate the hair again! And it's always fun to wear something new.

It was hot, hot, hot out and the dress was actually nice and cool. Try explaining that to every other person that said something to us like, "ooo you must be so hot in that!" Actually, since I was completely covered, the sun didn't bother me at all. I also wore my, admittedly boring, sun hat. But hey, I would have fried in a bonnet.  I did change the ribbon, though!

Now I'm off to clean the hem. Yikes asphalt.

Have a good Sunday, all!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Next up. Brainstorming outfits for 4th of July.

On Independance day, there is a parade that I will be walking in, and I plan on wearing 1770's. Appropriate, I think :)

I'm in the planning stages right now. I'm going back and forth between a little red, white and blue. Cheesy, I know, but I think I can have fun with it. Last year I wore a chintz gown with a good amount of red, white and blue in it. Not overtly American Flag, but just enough for kicks and a wink or two.

More patriotic chintz action here.

I'm also going back and forth between a whole dress and skirt and jacket combo. I have a light blue petticoat already, and I have some navy linen I can knock a jacket out of. Maybe add a little red in a sash or kercheif... Maybe not...

Light blue stuff petticoat shown with darker blue linen.

I'm also really loving this 1770's jacket. And I found the perfect fabric! Not at all red, white and blue, but I'm kind of drooling. I LOVE the jacket. I picture it with an ankle length skirt of the same fabric, with a wide band of trim at the hem.


I also have a good amount of peach linen thats been asking to become an anglaise...
Peach linen from Fashion Fabrics Club

Ah, ideas... Any opinions?

Oh, and does anyone know of any original linen jackets/dresses with self fabric trim? I feel like I haven't seen this. Just curious.

Cheers all!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

An almost finished dress, a ruffly petticoat and a helpful balayeuse.

A petticoat and an almost dress.

I made the mistake of wearing an unfinished dress to something... and now I'm sick of looking at it. 

I also made the mistake of not taking one picture. Not one! I have never done that. I'm usually surgically attached to my camera.

There was a tea last weekend and so I got this dress wearable, so I could enjoy it. I actually attended with lots of basting stitches still in place, lots of hidden pins and no collar! I slapped on a whitework collar and cuffs and machine stitched the button holes. I also managed to get a bone into the CB of the dress. 

It worked and no one really knew but me, so this wouldn't be a bad thing, except now that I've worn it, I've lost all motivation on actually finishing it. Hmph. I'm so mad at myself because this dress was really looking good... It even has a snazzy watch pocket :) 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A 19th Century Etui

You may remember these beautiful 18th century examples of etui cases I shared from one of my last trips to London.  This one isn't as fabulous, but I think it's pretty nifty just the same.

As best I can tell, it is brass, set with cabochon turquoise, and is most likely from the 19th century. The seller suggested it was probably 1870's. It is very plain, perhaps even a little masculine, and it hangs from a chain. 

It's a very handy little thing. It has a button hook, a pen knife, a pencil and a pointy implement. Maybe a toothpick, maybe to clean under your nails... Something personal and yucky and not to be done in public, I'm sure... :)

The handiest of all, and the reason I purchased it, was for the button hook. On the go, it's hard to readjust little buttons on your costume without one, and it's impractical to carry around the full length one I have, which is about eight inches long. 

The knife is handy, too. In case I have any impromptu quills to sharpen... Or fruit to cut...

And the pencil is great. I have a little silver book that I'll have to share soon. I carry it with to a lot of events, in case I need to jot something down and it's not a moment I can whip out my phone. It hangs from a chatelain and has a little pencil and space for paper. 

Haha no comment on the pointy thing. Maybe if I get an errant poppyseed stuck in my teeth at tea time... Just kidding.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

A Look at an Original 19th C. Petticoat

Happy weekend all! 

Today, I wanted to share with you an original petticoat. My educated assessment is that it is in the late 70's, natural form style. It is narrow and flat-fronted, with the telltale tie-back. It is walking length. A similar, modern pattern in the same style would be the Truly Victorian Fantail Skirt (TV225), sans train. The same pattern I have been working with for a skirt and petticoat this week. 

When I start a project, in an era I'm unfamiliar with, I love to hunt for an original item or two to study. This was a great find, since I rarely have seen this style of petticoat up for sale. An interesting thing about this piece, which I haven't seen a whole lot of in later Victorian petticoats, is it is entirely hand stitched.

And now, pictures. Lots and lots.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Not too shabby for a days work...

Ignore the million pins. I love pins, ps.

Oh, don't you just love when a new project takes enough shape to actually look like what you're supposed to be making? It's so exciting.

Yesterday, because of crap fortune, I had the good fortune to be stuck at home all day, which, to me, means sew day. So, get this, my husband's car had the carborator? catalytic converter? (I know zip about cars - something important with a "c") removed (ahem stolen) off the bottom of his car! How crazy is that? Since his was getting fixed, he took my car and that's how I ended up stuck at home.

Poor me, I know, all day long with nothing to do but sew... :D

So, I started working on a base skirt for my next project, the red and black, Tissot inspired dress. After lots of pinning and brainstorming and deciding which direction I wanted to go in, I've come to envision the dress as a late 70's, natural form, kind of casual ensemble.

The elder sister, by Tissot.

In the painting, the woman is sitting on an outside step, which obscures the details on the dress, but also leads me to believe this is a more casual dress. Day, afternoon, house - whatever you want to call it.

I browsed my patterns and settled on Truly Victorian's TV225, TV326 and TV420. Personally, I really like to work off a pattern and go from there. I sometimes drape, but I like to make it easy on myself. I started with TV225, the 1878 Fantail skirt. There was some debate over using TV 221 (the tie-back underskirt from the same year), but that fabulous fantail train won out.

Who isn't a sucker for a bit of train?

Testing out the length and style with pattern paper.
I love using this stuff!

I traced and cut the patterns, tested them out and then went for the black cotton I had. I picked out a red and black print cotton for the bodice and overskirt, so I wanted black cotton for the skirt underneath. Unfortunately, after washing it, I'm 99.9% sure it's not 100% cotton. It just feels, well, weird.

The perils of buying online.

I was pouting and kicking myself until I went to iron it post wash. The wrinkles came out like a dream! I think I can live with a little poly in it... but shhh! Don't tell!

I will have to find some actual, for sure, without a doubt, 100% cotton for the trim, though, so it will hold the pleats without a battle.

Here she is, inside out, to show the lining and seams. It is lined with polished cotton (hence all the pins in that top pic). At the back of the knees, there is a channel of self, single fold bias, for a drawstring. I just love the shape of that skirt!

Oooo now picture that with ruffles... yum!

However, I have hit a wall. In order to fit the darts, gathers and pleats, I realized a really need a properly shaped petticoat. So, I will be waiting to finish this until after I make up a petticoat or two. Next up I will also be facing the hem with a serious layer of crinoline and lots of pleated ruffles. Something along the line of this hem...

From Full Color Victorian Fashions: 1870-1893,
 edited by Joanne Olian

Now, enough typing. Off to go make a petticoat!