Saturday, May 26, 2012

Gearing Up (slapdash clothes, miniature portraits, and shoe-binding)

Next weekend is the biggest 18thc event around here, so I have been hurriedly throwing some last-minute things together for other people. My gentleman-friend now has three pairs of breeches, two I sewed myself (baggy, saggy, but at least he won't be running around in a loincloth, ugh), and the other...was formerly an unspeakable atrocity. I should have taken some before pictures but I was sure it wasn't savable.



The breeches in the middle began their life as a canvas pair of long trousers, only they were the skinniest trousers I have EVER seen...like the 18thc equivalent of skinny jeans. Also, at one point, they had been dyed with a walnut stain, only over time they faded to a delicate pastel shade of pink. 18thc pastel-pink skinny jeans. And to top that off, they had stains and light patches and a blown-out posterior from a sudden skid down a hill. But for the heck of it, I thought "at least he'll have a bum-around pair to cook in instead of ruining the nice corduroy ones I made" so I cut them off, dyed them with some random powder-dye from Walmart, and while I wish they had stayed the rich dark blue that they were before a rinse and a wash, I have to say that the dusty blue is an improvement on pastel pink. The splotches and stains aren't gone but he's delighted. I even sewed some non-functioning buttons on the sides.


Then I also unwisely promised a friend that IF I got the chance, I'd try to whip up something for her to wear if she came down for the day, so she gets a purple ensemble.


Lovely former lavender drapes on top, darker purple bedsheet skirt on bottom. There was no way I was going to buy fabric from anywhere but the thrift store if it might not even get worn!

 Yeeeahhh I don't really know what that is. It's a rare caraco-shortgown-jacket. Good thing my friend doesn't know the slightest about accurate clothing.

And this week, I got some lovely things in the mail, all the fault of Lauren over at American Duchess, as usual. First off, an "imperfect" pair of silk Georgies (pfft, looked fine to me) that I dyed a lovely light pink. Then some petersham ribbon from The Sewing Place in "misty blue" and "peach blossom" to bind my two silk pairs of shoes with, as Lauren demonstrated on a pair of her Regency shoes a while back. It is SUPER easy. I just picked up an Aleen's craft glue pen from Walmart and applied it to the petersham ribbon in small sections, which you then press down onto the shoe and kind of stretch and smooth and pinch it to make it "stick." With the blue shoes, I didn't have faith that the glue was sticky enough so I carefully paperclipped the ribbon to the shoe, and ended up with weird wire indentations all along the ribbon binding. I went ahead and just trusted the glue on the pink shoes and they turned out fine.


 
     Accessories galore. I wish all my shoes could sleep in bed with me, I love them THAT much.

And lastly I got some fun pendants and clear sticker cabochons from an etsy seller Lauren recommended in her miniature portraits tutorial, so that all I had to do was print off some pretty portraits from the internet, glue them to the pendant, and stick the clear sticker cabochon over the picture! So easy, so cute. 

 
Aww. Imaginary sweethearts. The guy is a total historical hottie.


So that is what I've been up to lately...unless I miraculously get time this week to dress up in what I'll be wearing next weekend, I probably won't post until I get time to go through my photos after the event...so excited to finally wear all the things I've been working on over the past year!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Ultimate Dream Shoe

I have always had a shoe fetish. There are definitely a good 60 modern pairs in my closet...most of them only cost about $1 from the thrift store though so I figure it's excusable, and I really do wear them all (If you ever read this, I DO, MOM! Truly)!

So every time the American Duchess herself, Lauren, puts out a new 18th century shoe, my bank account sighs in dismay, because it knows it is about to take a hit. I was very reluctant to spend that much money on a shoe I would only wear a few times a year at re-enactments. However, when my first pair of silk Georgianas arrived, I fell completely in love with the craftsmanship, the smooth leather sole, and the graceful shape, not to mention how incredibly comfortable they were for hours on end. Then came the Devonshires, equally perfect and in durable leather, which I had fun painting and then re-painting, and will probably re-paint again in the future.

Now comes THE shoe I have been waiting for....the Pompadour...A glorious confection of jacquard, ribbon and smooth leather, in either white (which I saw on her Facebook was EASILY dyeable) or black (which I'm getting, because I need a solid black pair of shoes but don't want boring smooth leather). Cannot WAIT for them to come in! If you're at all thinking about them...go order! Lauren needs 100 orders to put these into production and I will be heartbroken if she doesn't make it! These shoes are beautiful collectors' items, but I have no doubt will prove as durable as the silk Georgianas, which I have worn outside several times now (though they are not made for outside wear) and they have held up beautifully in grass and gravel.


Monday, May 7, 2012

Sewing/Work bags

Man-clothing is killing my soul right now...I derive no pleasure from boring waistcoats and breeches, but I did make a solemn promise that I'd make a full outfit for a gentleman-friend. I'm cutting a lot of corners with material, patterns, and sewing machine on long invisible seams, but luckily he doesn't care (YET. I'm waiting for the day he demands complete accuracy and hand-sewing, eek). The shirt is done (yay bedsheet), the waistcoat is being sewn (yay thrift-store drapes), and the breeches are cut (bargain-table corduroy and Jack Sparrow pattern? Sweet). I haven't decided if I want to make a not-historically-accurate frock coat from said costume pattern since this ensemble is going to be worn in the heat of summer. He says "yes," I say "I'm not fanning you when you die from heatstroke."

So I have been using the little breaks I've been taking to look at 18th century work or sewing bags, thinking that might make a nice small project to take to events. There is such a variety out there in various collections!

 Love this pretty little bag from the Met, although it's a bit late in the century, 1795.


 This one from the National Trust Collection looks VERY much like it could have been made from an old embroidered waistcoat. Doesn't that placket of trim in the middle look like the pocket flap?


Huh. A drawstring bag from an auction...not really any info (late 18thc, early 19thc), but it's interesting, even if not very attractive. Makes me think of Native Americans in Maine for some reason...


This one from the V&A collection is quite exotic looking; date is very vague (1700-1800), and the silk was made in China with the ribbon added later once the bag was made up in Europe.


 One of my favorites, also late in the century, circa 1799, France, silk, from the LACMA collections. But am I willing to go crazy on embroidery and tassels? Not sure yet.


Woman's drawstring workbag, "Ce panier de fleur" 1780-1800 Origin: Europe, France, from the Colonial Williamsburg collection. 


 Listed as a "Sewing bag" 1750-60, French, silk, from the Met's online collection. This one is very much to my liking; it looks easy to make and doesn't involve a lot of embroidery if I could find similar fabric.

 Late in the century at 1794, but it's pretty much just a plain sewn fabric bag with a channel for a drawstring...nice to know they existed! From the National Trust Collections. I think it's pictured folded in half. Actually if I attached handles to it, this would make a lovely modern-day bookbag...


1790 bag. Maybe other people don't mind this color scheme but I find it SO reminiscent of 1970's couch upholstery fabric :(  Still, another one that doesn't entail a lot of embroidery! Also from the National Trust Collections.

This is by far my favorite bag, because look how easy it would be to make! I like the bright cheery colors. There's no specific date pinned to this one, 18th century is the narrowest guess by the National Trust Collections.


And then, I found this...

A "handkerchief case." WHAT?! Like there wasn't enough to embroider with tapestries and pillows and workbags and samplers?! 18th century women apparently felt the need to embroider the bejaysus out of everything they could lay their hands on. I bet they would have embroidered their dogs if they'd held still long enough. Who needs a handkerchief case?!  

Incredulity aside, it's got an interesting description of materials used by the supposedly North American maker: Birchbark, Moosehair, Silk. I wonder if some frontier wife, longing for finer civilization, decided to make something pretty with the materials she had. Perhaps she gave it to her husband for his birthday and he said "How nice, dear....what is it?"

I didn't even look at reticules, gaming purses and the like! Nice to know though that if I run out of other projects, I can always make a handkerchief case.