Sunday, January 22, 2012

Rose quarter-back gown -- final photos

I am so, so happy with how my first ever entirely hand-sewn, drafted-from-books gown turned out. It taught me some important lessons along the way, like "don't use extremely heavy upholstery fabric for a gown that would have been made out of silk" but I'm broke and Hancock Fabrics' decorating clearance is impossible to pass up.

 I took a few photos with my phone before I remembered I still had a digital camera...this is kind of grainy but even with poor resolution the silhouette is very elegant. Our clothes nowadays are so unflattering compared to the 18th century. I'd wear this all the time if I could get away with it!


I did self-fabric trim with ordinary pinking shears...I haven't got the scalloped shears yet, maybe eventually, but I do know that there are some extant gowns that have the straight pinking.

 
The bodice is closed with hooks and eyes, which I'm assuming is historically accurate as it showed up in Janet Arnold's patterns. Still not a fan of the puffy sleeves but the fabric was too thick and inflexible to lay down nicely at the shoulder. Next time, next time.
 
I'll post about the shoes with some pictures eventually...they are of course the leather Devonshires from American Duchess with her Fleur buckles. I was so terrified to punch holes in them and kind of felt bad when it was done but of course the buckles are so worth it.
No, I'm not wearing my fichu (and yes, I'm going to call it a fichu instead of a neck handkerchief, because the area I reenact in is French in heritage), I should have been proper and stuffed one under my neckline but it was upstairs and I was lazy. Also I would like to eventually make a fancy, somewhat decoratively short whitework apron to go over this but I don't feel like it's imperative.

Doing my hair was a lot of fun...it reaches almost to the small of my back now so there's plenty to work with. I poufed up the front and bobby-pinned it, then kept making smaller loops and twisted sections and pinned them haphazardly, leaving a couple of pieces loose to curl with the curling iron. Unfortunately with no electricity at the fort, I won't be able to get it to look like this at reenactments most of the time (plus the summer humidity this past year was so disgusting that a crisp piece of paper went limp and soggy within five minutes...curl would have been impossible). But for a first time attempt it looks pretty decent.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

What a cute mule you have there...

I'm not sure why I've never seen these before in the Met collections...but I clearly need them. Flamestitched mules. I knew you could make flamestitch wallets, but shoes didn't cross my mind. They would be so perfect for slipping in to in the mornings when waking up and trailing about in my dressing gown while my maids bring me tea and...nevermind, these mules are giving me delusions of grandeur. But they're so pretty!

          See other views here


Also, as far as engagement rings go, I have said the past few years that some day (if that some day ever comes) I wanted a ring with a "halo" around the center stone, thinking it was a fairly new development in the ring design world...but no, it isn't.

So beautiful. I was surprised to see it belonged to a woman in New York, of all places, around 1760. I guess I imagined it on the finger of some European aristocrat...and the Met doesn't list it as paste, either!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Organizing in the New Year

I am so happy. No longer does my basement crafting area resemble a rag bin! Like more than a few craft-minded persons, I tend to start projects, get excited about a new one and forget the old one, so I had a hunting bag, two men's shirts, one pair of breeches, a cap, a jacket, and several pockets that I had stuffed into bags and forgotten about before finishing, so now I'm telling myself I cannot work on a new gown until I get these things done (hey, as long as Gentleman E. is paying me in woodworked items like chairs and thread-winders, which I cannot make myself, it's a fair deal)! The thrift stores around here have proved a lovely place for fabric, so my cabinets were full of new lengths that were just tossed in them willy-nilly...and after a four-hour effort last night, they are now all color coded and I can see what I have instead of digging through boxes and bags! I have a huge thing for stripes, apparently, based on my selection over the past year and a half. Also I was given an antique wooden sewing organizer for Christmas, and I dumped out every last bag and box and gathered up all my spools of thread to put into it, with hooks and eyes, seam rippers, pinking shears, lace and ribbons. It holds a ton! And I was still motivated enough to organize all my paints (I paint illuminated manuscripts when not sewing) and pull all my reenactment clothes out of their boxes...they are sadly wrinkled so the next step is to iron them gently and hang them up...perhaps I will even dress up and take a few pictures for here.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Not. Enough. Time! :(

Alright, where do all the hours in a day go?! I am currently trimming my rose-pink gown and adding ruffles to it, but I'm thinking about lowering the neckline a bit now because it feels much too high. If I re-do it and it's too low there's always the neck handkerchief, but too high is just dowdy for my age.

My 2012 to-do list (for my own future reference more than anything) is as follows:

1. Finish trimming the rose-pink gown (self trim).
2. Possibly redo the yellow-striped anglaise with a compere stomacher, or with bands across the front to pass tails of an extra-long neck handkerchief down through. I feel like it needs some ruffles on the sleeves also but very short, plain ones.
3. Sew an en fourreau gown out of the blue/white striped fabric, with a stomacher out of the ivory pre-floral-quilted material I got from the bargain bin at Joann's.
4. Do any number of accessories: trim a new hat (pink, hopefully), embroider a satin workbag (also pink), make a couple more aprons, several more under-petticoats, make a new oversized neck-handkerchief, paint a couple more fans, possibly embroider garters...this list is getting ridiculously ambitious.

I never realized before getting into the 18th century how many clothing and accessory options there were. Between Dangerous Liaisons (the movie AND the gorgeous, droolworthy display book by the same name), The Duchess, and The Aristocrats (plus all the blogs of the ridiculously talented people right now), if I am ever bored and wanting a project, it's my own fault and laziness. I go to bed dreaming of clocked stockings and wake up thinking about whitework and shoe buckles. No other time period is going to hold the same magic for me ever again!