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:

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A seriously exciting package just arrived.

Ok folks, there are a couple things that have captured me since I can remember. Like as farrrrrrr back as I can remember.

Costumes and horses.

Obviously I have stayed true to my itty bitty, young self and haven't changed a bit :)

Well, today is super exciting for me, because my very own side saddle has arrived! If there is a better marriage of history, horses and costume possibilities, I haven't found it.

Meet my saddle. 

She's a Martin and Martin, and she's an oldie. For her age, she's in pretty good shape. As far as side saddles go, they are surprisingly hard to find. In this day of finding everything in a click, this took some hunting. 

Aside from them being rather scarce in the first place, one is also limited by size, as the saddle has to fit both the horse and rider. I'm not sure of her age, but most side saddles available today date from late Victorian, to between the World Wars. Kept up and repaired, of course. 

There's always a dog or two hanging
 in the background of my photos :)

So, my challenge for 2014 will be to learn to ride aside. Tomorrow I will be taking it out to the barn for the first time. So excited!

I see a riding habit in my future...

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Something pretty for your tuesday. A little stop at the Huntington.

A trip to Pasadena is not complete without a trip to the Huntington. It's a really lovely property. A house and galleries with lots of Georgian art, among other eras, and acres of beautiful gardens to explore. Plenty of pictures ahead...

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Pasadena's Jane Austen Evening

Admiring the general splendor ;)

What a fun weekend! I attended the Jane Austen Evening, Saturday night. We made a weekend of it and enjoyed my old neighborhood of Pasadena. I went down with my husband and my mom, who I've been taking dance classes with. We met up with our group from vegas for the ball and had a blast. 

We were going to attend the tea, too, but ended up making other plans. I had brought a second outfit for it, but I will have to find another opportunity to wear it for pictures. For the ball, I made a new dress. It was highly inspired by a dress at the Museo del Traje. I love the dippy neckline! 

Yikes. My hair is notoriously fly-away. Especially after running around the dance floor.

The ball was very fun. The dancing was great. We ended the evening with an especially fun Sir Roger. Special thanks to the girls that pulled us in to it. We were about to head out because of tired feet. Good thing we stayed! 

The ball was the perfect opportunity to polish up the jewels. I wore a necklace, earrings and a sparkly comb in my hair.

I also made up some shoes. Well, adorned some shoes. I embroidered little silver stars on a pair of white leather ballet slippers, and embellished with some silk pleating little bows. You can see some of the embroidery on the bottom of the dress, below. The embroidered panels are of sheerer fabric than the lawn used for the dress.

I accessorized with a purse, gloves, a fan and my handy shawl, in case it got chilly, but the weather was beautiful! I can't believe we have weather in the 80's in January! The pink bag was also made by me, but loaned to my mom for the evening. I brought it for the tea, but since we didn't go, I was glad it got to come out and play.

And a couple pictures from the construction phase...

All in all, the dress went together very quickly. The embroidery was done much faster than I would have thought. Like, in a couple evenings. The whole dress was finished in less than two weeks. I saved time by serging the long inside seams. Everything else had to be done by hand. The embroidery was so fast because I basically used an uneven running stitch, almost like a darning stitch, and zip zip zipped along. The body of the dress is cotton lawn. The embroidered panels, and pleating at the bust, are cotton voile. The pattern was draped by me, referencing the dress at the Museo del Traje and similar dresses of the era.

I made the back pieces wider than necessary, so I could gather them in with ties. It made for a nice effect when worn.

All in all, I really love this dress. Aside from the petticoat, which could have been a smidge longer, to compliment the sheer hem better, I really can't think of anything I would change about it. Whew, isn't it nice to make something you feel is really finished? And fits. And is comfortable. Such a good feeling! 

I hope everyone else had a lovely weekend. Cheers to a great week ahead!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

HSF #1: Make Do and Mend

Ooo this one was timed perfectly, because I've been meaning to take apart my regency undies and make them better.

The Challenge: Make Do and Mend

Fabric: Short stays and a shift

Pattern: The stays were Sense and Sensibility. The shift was made up and purchased form the Silly Sisters

Year: Early 19th century

Notions: Thread...

How historically accurate is it? Fixing and mending has been happening for ages!

Hours to complete: Maybe 2 or 3

First worn: Just for draping a dress

Total cost: Zip!

When I made up the short stays, the muslin fit, but being that they were front closing, the boning I put wasn't stiff enough (two layers of reed on each side) so the center front bowed out, making the bust too loose, at the top edge. I guess, for my bust size, I will need a proper busk.

Last week, I went to cut out another set of pattern pieces to alter and make them back closing, so I could put a busk, but then I decided it would be much quicker to just alter the cup area on these, so I could get to making a dress over them.

So, I removed the binding on the front, cut down the cups and reapplied the binding. Really quick and now they fit better.

Ooo now I see buckling under the bust. Must add more cording soon!

The short sleeved shift was actually a purchase. I picked it up at an event. It was made by the Silly Sisters and is linen, and is made up really nicely. Only problem, the neckline was a bit too round and small, so it peeked out of squarer necklines. So, easy fix, I marked the new neckline, opened up the seam and restitched. Very quick, as well.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The first project of 2014!

My first project of the new year is an embroidered reticule, very much based on this one from the Met. 

The bag is made from leftover bits of silk, lined with cotton. The embroidery is metallic floss and the ties are done up with pearl cotton, made into little ropes. The tassels are of the same pearl cotton.

It is made up of four identical pieces, lined and whipstitched to each other. The ties run through a channel at the top. 

The embroidery was actually really quick. I often get a little ehhh... before starting something with embroidery, because I think it will take forever. These two little motifs were very doable, though. Like, a few hours. Just satin stitches, back stitches and some french knots.

Makes me want to do more!