Friday, December 27, 2013

Historical Sew Fortnightly 2014...hurry up, January!

Oh, I am SO excited for this coming year as far as sewing goes. Please pardon the long absence....I have been struggling with increasingly severe migraines, leading to an MRI and trying various medications that make me drowsy and sedated most of the time, and finally the doctors seem to have figured out the correct drug and dosage. It's really hard to focus on sewing when either the drugs are knocking me out or the teeny weeny stitches are giving me terrible headaches, so I sadly didn't complete nearly as many challenges as I wanted to these past few months. BUT...fingers crossed that drugs keep are my plans for the first few challenges Leimomi has already posted!

I have an old grey woolen blanket...and no good cold-weather 18th century wear. Could the resourceful Frenchwomen in the Mississippi Valley area have repurposed a blanket into a rough but warm bedgown? Well why not!

  • #2: Innovation - due Sat 1 Feb.  To celebrate the way inventions, introductions and discoveries have impacted fashion, make an item that reflects the newest innovations in your era.  Be sure to share the research you did on your innovation, as well as your finished item. 
While browsing through the thrift store for fabric, a neat cotton print jumped out, it looks sort of like an Indian chintz on a dark red background.  Kendra at Demode writes "Although some countries passed legislation against the import, manufacture, and sale of painted and printed cottons in order to protect domestic textile industries (as in France from 1686 to 1759 and England from 1700 to 1774), by the 1730s printed cottons were serious contenders in the European clothing and furniture market".  I would like to make a neck handkerchief out of the material to go with the "new" bedgown from the previous project, in honor of the Europeans figuring out their own version of fabric printing.

  • #3: Pink - due Sat 15 Feb.  Make something pink!
Many of the projects during the first half of this upcoming year will hopefully be leading up to this Court Gown nonsense I foolishly bought into (ok who am I kidding, I'm so excited)....possibly I can cut down on the amount of work by finding little "double duty" projects for both that endeavour and the HSF. Little nosegays of silk, ribbon or paper flowers always look so sweet at the bosom of a beautiful gown, for this challenge perhaps a pink and blue flower nosegay is in order. My birthday falls during this particular week and friends and relatives like to cut into my sewing time (imagine that!) so I figured it would be best to keep the project small.
Eye-candy...I mean...examples: 

  • #4: Under it All – due Sat 1 March.  Make the foundations of your outfit: the things that go under it to provide the right shape and support, and to protect your fancy outer garments from sweat and grime. 
New stays. Ugh. This moment has been coming for a few years and fills this seamstress with much dread. Combining these two challenges makes the project a little more doable. My last set is all machine-sewn with metal grommets, the tabs turned out bizarre, and fully-boned turned out to be uncomfortably unnecessary for me, I'm kind of small of bust. Really cannot avoid tackling it at this point because constructing the upcoming court gown over ill-fitted stays is just a complete waste of my time, so I will just have to buckle down and get on with it. Partially-boned with cable ties is the plan; I would never use anything else, having seen enough comparisons from other bloggers that lead me to believe its sturdiness is comparable to baleen without the ethical issues. No interest in trying cane/reed/wood; I am too active at events to want to have to deal with snappage and replacement of my boning materials. 

Leimomi mentions that Cinderella is often portrayed in an 18th century light and I have been meaning to get to a common brown a la anglaise that is cut out but not sewn. I have some really cute ideas of a pre-Princess photoshoot for Cinderella, involving a dirty apron, sweeping with a twig broom by an old stone hearth, and a few fake bird "helpers" (ok that might be too much cheese...but I'm willing to embrace the cheese for a fairytale)!

Cannot wait to get started on this after a somewhat failed 2013 HSF, although certainly I finished more projects than if I'd gone without it! Do you have any projects brewing and bubbling over in your mind for this upcoming year?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I have confidence in confidence alone...

Ok, I'm trying to convince myself that I can do this:

Kendra is inspiring crazy seamstresses everywhere to make Court Gowns, and I was sitting back and shaking my head at all involved for a while there. See, I have very little confidence in my sewing skills. My projects have been turning out a little more polished and advanced each time but when I look at what other people are doing, I feel inspired, overwhelmed and inadequate all at the same time. Plus, being an extremely poorly paid librarian, I feel terrible buying expensive fabric and not sewing from my stash of bargain fabrics and tablecloths.

Last Saturday though I went to the local thrift store for a sweater and found 14 yards of a dusky-blue silk-like material with a visible weave to it, I think it's maybe what would have been termed "tabby" in the 18th century. For only around $5 for it, I took it home and subjected it to a burn test, which was strangely inconclusive. It melts like a synthetic in that it doesn't make a nice soft ash, which I wasn't surprised seemed too good to be true that it'd be actual silk. However, it did not "catch fire" and keep flaming when I took the lighter away from the scrap, so that doesn't quite fit with the supposed profile of a synthetic. Could it be a half-and-half? Is that even possible?

At any rate, the fabric is really's not super shiny, it's subtly changeable, and not at all slubby like dupioni. The weight of it is light, but not flimsy. It's got some definite body while not being heavy. It looks like it could hold a crease but won't unnecessarily wrinkle much. Ideal for a robe a la francais in my opinion and I'm willing to use a synthetic for the first time I attempt anything with this much fabric, especially before shelling out big money!

My inspiration is a gown I've drooled over for a while, a portrait of Catherine Havers by Barthelemy Du Pan:

 It's dated 1735, but it looks later to me! What do I know though. My fabric is close to this color in daylight, and while the gown isn't as over-the-top as a full-on court gown, I'm thinking about making it to fit over bigger paniers or at least large pocket hoops. Also I've always wanted to try fly fringe, and have a gown to be dressy enough to merit lace and satiny accessories, so this is my chance! And it's not "due" till next summer! I am telling myself: you have made three gowns already by drafting them from sketches, and a rough pet-en-l'air a la Chardin's can do this!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

HSF #18: Re-make, Re-use & Re-fashion (18th century shoes, picture-heavy)

The Challenge: #18: Re-make, Re-use & Re-fashion
Fabric: White linen for the heel, heavy crewel-work (machine-made, though) upholstery fabric.

Pattern: Eyeballed it! I seem to say that a lot on HSF projects. But I did really look at quite a few neat extant shoes from museum or auction databases like these two:

(and then mine for comparison!)

Year:  If only the heel were thicker, the pointed toe would be great for 1720-1740ish, which is what I would like to wear them for as well.

Notions: just thread and ivory vintage petersham ribbon (curves around corners much better than grosgrain) AND of course at the end, the lovely American Duchess "Fleur" buckles.

How historically accurate is it?  The uppers are hand-sewn onto the existing shoe, but considering I just molded it around the frame already there rather than adding the sole over everything once it was done, plus a decent bit of fabric glue in some strategic places, and the smaller-than-accurate's about 50% I guess.

Hours to complete:  Way more than I wanted. Probably a good 10 hours if I had worked straight through but I watched too much Jane Austen, Lord of the Rings and Star Wars marathons. Oops. But really it was rough going, my fingers are pretty sore and torn up even though using a thimble much of the time...I was sewing through leather quite a bit and I do not think I had a sharp or strong enough needle.

First worn:  Just the other night for a try-on. They are TIGHT when I have stockings on. They will only be worth wearing for special occasions where there's no dirt anyway so I'm not too worried.

Total cost:  I think I talked the seller on Etsy down to $10 for the shoes, I personally think they were hideous before but some people are saying they were pretty, so what do I know. The nice thing was, though I didn't know it when I bought them, that even though they're vintage they have never ever been worn, the soles were totally unmarked. The upholstery fabric sample was about $10 also, and the ribbon about $5 I think?

 Before: 1980s? "Mootsies Tootsies" (Ew. Sorry, but, ew.)

 I drafted a pattern with some "junk fabric" and had to re-do it a few times, but better with that than my limited upholstery fabric!

 I pinned all the pieces on to make sure they would fit with plenty of room around the edges to turn under.

Only needed to make the pattern once though because you can just flip the pieces over to the wrong side for the opposite shoe!

I tried to center the pattern on parts of the crewel work that I liked best and wanted to be visible.

Pinned it all on once I got it cut out to make sure it would still work.

 This is where I would do it differently if I got a "do-over" would have been much easier to rip the entire sole off and sort of corset-lace the fabric snug against the bottom, then glue the sole back on. I really wanted to avoid that because I was worried if I took the sole off once, it might never go back on securely; instead I rolled the fabric under in a hem and stitched it as close to the sole as I could get.

It was too difficult to try to get my needle in and out of the point of the shoe, so that last inch and a half you see is mostly glued down with fabric glue. I cheated. When I got to the tip though I was able to gather up the excess fabric and sew it into an even more pronounced, slightly turned-up toe. 

 One down! The petersham ribbon I bought intentionally wide enough to fold over equally on both sides of the fabric, so it was just stitched in a straight running stitch to bind the rough edges.

I'm sorry I didn't get a good picture of how I attached the linen to the base of where my heel would be in the shoe...I did that part first, whip-stitching it to the upholstery fabric as invisibly as possible, then smoothed it over and down the heel and made a seam where it would be hidden under the sole. 

I'm really unhappy with how the heel got covered. I cut the linen on the bias, but the heel was just too curvy and I got nasty wrinkles and loose fabric around it no matter what I did. But it's a low heel so it shouldn't show too much. Sorry I don't have good advice where that is concerned! Ideally I would have covered it with the upholstery fabric as well, but I struggled and struggled with it and it just frayed so much even with Fray-Check that I had to give up the idea. Maybe some day I'll figure out the magic formula for making it work and go back and re-do the heels.

Most shoes like this you can pry the tip off the heel, carefully. Mine had two plastic nubs that slid into the heel itself. DON'T use your scissors to pop the tip, like I did. I just about gouged into my leg open before I went to get a screwdriver instead.

This is why I should have just ripped the sole off when I started: I ended up having to do it for the heel anyway. Luckily it was just a bit that needed to be pulled back, then I trimmed the linen as close as possible to the seam I made.

 Then I glued the little bit of sole and heel tip back down with super glue. I wasn't messing around with fabric glue where the sole was concerned. I think I got the upholstery fabric sewn pretty close to the sole! It won't ever come off, that's for sure. You can see how un-used the shoe is here, brand new sole.

 Tada! Finished shoes!

 Interestingly, I did not need to poke any holes for the prongs of the buckles to go through. The fabric, though it looked tightly woven, separated completely naturally to make way for the prongs when I added the buckles. No holes, no broken or snapped was really interesting to see because I'm guessing that might have been the case with real 18th century fabric shoes as well!

 Coal decided to photobomb...or is that...photobun?! He hates it when I work so hard on a project I ignore him, and he was particularly pesty during this whole project, jumping on the bed, jumping in my lap...I stabbed myself more than once due to his antics.

And my lovely new babies in the midst of my American Duchess eye-candy! If you think I have an 18th century shoe problem, I won't tell you about my modern-day footwear hoarding issues. 

Don't hesitate to leave me any questions in the comment section, I will do my best to be helpful! This was my first (and possibly only) attempt at covering shoes so I am a total amateur, but it was a fun experience!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Sort of not really here

NOT that I think anyone is eagerly hanging around here for my every post, but I just wanted to throw out a warning that I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now...still sewing quite a bit, sometimes for the HSF, but rarely on time and too lazy to post about it. Lately I've done a woman's banyan, modified some modern shoes into mules, and worked on some UFOs, but my heart hasn't been in it as much because of a different (but related) project.

I'm trying to do some serious scholarly (read: over-eager amateur) research and writing on French women in the Illinois country, hoping to compile enough information from primary sources and consolidating tidbits from other researchers to make a short not-for-profit e-book. Most of the researching around here has focused mainly on men...trappers, merchants, farmers, soldiers, artisans...and mention of women is really just thrown in as an aside, so I have spent (wasted?) countless hours poring over whole books for just a few scraps that might be useful to me as a re-enactor. The laid-back, community-oriented, "it'll get done tomorrow after we play billiards" predominately Catholic society of French Illinois was certainly a very different culture to the orderly, Protestant-work-ethic-driven English society on the East Coast!

So that's what I'm up to, and why I might not get back to posting here for a little while, because I'm destroying my vision peering at heinous microfiche copies of already awfully scribbly French handwriting.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Summertime, and the sewin's crazy

Ok I have been sewing like a house afire for the past month or so, and the big event around here is over now so I can feel justified in posting again, but I'm going to go light on words and heavier on pictures because I don't feel like a bunch of essays goes!

First up -- my blue and white striped en-fourreau's first outing, done up a la Retroussée dans les Poches if I've got that right. Fancy way of saying it was really wet and muddy and the gown is WAY too long so I pulled it up through the pocket slits. Also I had a hemming disaster where the sleeves were too long before and then TOO SHORT after I re-did them *shakes fist at sleevils*. That's ok, I'll just put cuffs on them later, but here I am showing my elbows in an unladylike manner.
 Please excuse the un-period correct chariot in the background, people were setting up and I was anxious to get down to business and finish Monsieur E's coat. He set up camp even though neither of us intended to stay down there this year, just because it's nice to have a "home base" and a canopy to sit under in case of rain or too much sun.
 Here he is chopping wood in a manly fashion...wearing an apron. I told him if I was going to go to all the trouble to make him nicer clothes than his terrible buck-skinner outfits, he was going to have to protect them.
 I don't know, maybe it's just me, but the apron kind of suits him, really...

He looks a little dazed here but I think I just caught him off guard. The coat held up very well during an ultimately really wet and filthy weekend, so it was worth all the hours of sewing boredom. I was so glad not to be staying down there; a storm came up overnight and blew over a lot of people's tents and the whole area flooded, several inches deep in a lot of places!


And here is his finished ivory coat in all its Simplicity didn't turn out too badly although it's a little shorter than I would have liked it, but shhh he doesn't have to know that. I'll have to put pockets in at a later date. At least with added cuffs the sleeves are long enough, thank goodness, the poor guy is built like a daddy long-legs in his extremities. I'll try to find a picture of the back later, it turned out great after a lot of agony.

 And here is my sassy Curtain-Along Lowe's Felicite petticoat! I love it so much. I have shied away from prints so far, other than stripes, and mourned as I envied other girls' lovely floral things, so it was just a dream come true to get to have a little flowery-ness this year!

 My little Burnley & Trowbridge embroidery scissors, antique key from Etsy (I think it actually IS 18th century by the style!), and further down my maroon pincushion. And filthy apron.
 Ok, a glowing tribute to my poor abused Pompadours -- these long-suffering shoes slogged through mud, grass, and ankle-deep swamp for two days straight, and while I know they weren't meant for that kind of use, they held up PERFECTLY. I had waterproof-sprayed them before the event and the mud has wiped right off, so I'm very happy with them. Although the ribbons will be getting a sad burial.

 My jacket makes me look so wide from the back. I thought dark colors were supposed to be slimming! :(  Also I'll try to do a post some other time on my little pinner cap, it needs some adjusting so the lace lappets hang correctly but it turned out really cute.

 Also I just bought this unbelievably gorgeous upholstery fabric on Etsy that I am SO excited about. It looks so much like crewelwork. I can't decide whether I want to make a stomacher out of it or cover a pair of shoes with it. If there had been more than just a little square of it I'd have broken the bank getting it. So cool.
I also bought some really pretty gold striped, airy silk that I think will make a lovely polonaise, and I'm working on a woman's wrapper or dressing robe right now...more projects to come!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Researching the Illinois Country

Yikes have I been absent here! The Historical Sew Fortnightly has definitely been motivating, and now there are a number of nice things in my historical wardrobe that otherwise would have never gotten finished, but I'm tired of taking pictures in my basement and will wait to post until I can persuade someone to take pictures outside.

Lately a lot of my time has been spent on in-depth research on the French in the Illinois country, as close to my hometown were situated a number of small French settlements along the Mississippi River. I'm particularly interested, of course, in women and clothing, and the notaries were obviously all male and often soldiers, so details about women are far and few between in the documents. There have been a number of fine books written about the area, particularly French Roots in the Illinois Country: The Mississippi Frontier in Colonial Times by Carl J. Ekberg, Kaskaskia Under the French Regime by Natalia Belting, History as They Lived It: A Social History of Prairie Du Rocher, Illinois by Margaret Kimball Brown, and The Village of Chartres in colonial Illinois, 1720-1765 edited by Margaret Kimball Brown and Lawrie Cena Dean.  These are all fantastic, scholarly works that give a great deal of information about French colonial life and customs, but there's not much dedicated to women in particular. I'm going through resources like these and trying to pick out the tidbits. So far I'm finding out women's occupations were apparently limited to housewife (obviously laundry and gardening and food preparation and many other things go with that, but it's still just one occupation), although there is ONE mention of a woman being contracted out as a nursemaid to the child of a wealthy man her husband was working for, as well as doing whatever sewing was needed, which I pounced on hungrily because I'd like to portray something other than a housewife/garden-keeper at the annual fort reenactment.

As far as clothing goes, there's nothing noted in the inventory translations about the style of gown and a very few scattered mentions of's all up for conjecture in my opinion because the inventories I've seen were translated by people who, while I'm sure did their best, probably had very little interest in or knowledge of 18th century fashion. Currently, English translations all say "calico gown," "gown of striped silk," "petticoat," "chemise," "stockings of silk," "embroidered shoes" ...which are fabulous and make me really excited, but I'm extremely hopeful that the originals actually give a little more detail like "robe à la française" or "drap de Indienne" so that I can have definite details when trying to pin down if a style or fabric was even worn here as I make my own clothing. 

Hopefully next week, I can get to a library in another town that has microfilm of the original Kaskaskia documents in French, and while my French is limited, I know an inventory when I see one! It would be a big step in accurate historical historical costuming around here to be able to definitively say "yes, they wore sacque-back gowns" or "yes they wore caracos", both items of clothing prevalent in a European French closet, but as far as here in the Illinois country, not something that's been pinned down. Of course, it's possible that the notaries themselves neglected to give any specifics, but fingers crossed that's not the case!

Monday, March 25, 2013

HSF #6: A tiger of different stripes

The Challenge: #6 -- Stripes! I did a striped man's frock coat for Mr. E. in exchange for him making me some more wooden threadwinders.

Fabric: Well, it's stripey...I'm only guessing at the fabric content but it's quite like a soft canvas, so I'm assuming a good bit of cotton content. I'm not the best judge of these things but it didn't feel like a synthetic at all.

Pattern:  Simplicity 0857, modified...the amount of fabric in the gores was would've looked like a flared button-front dress on Gentleman E., so I did away with all but the back one. Also the cuffs were weirdly huge and floppy so those got modified as well.

Year: We'll call it anywhere from 1740-70 (i.e. I really don't think it'd be right in any one of those decades so we'll just lump them together, oh well)

Notions: Thread, buttons, canvas for button stand.

How historically accurate is it? Because I haven't researched menswear as much, it's kind of an approximation...also the inside seams are machine done because if I'm not wearing it, I just can't bring myself to care that much, haha. But all visible seams are done by hand and the buttonholes are half-machined and then hand-finished. There's a button stand added to keep the buttons from pulling all out of whack after normal wearing, which I learned about from Hallie's post. I don't know if I did it quite correctly but it really does help keep the buttons looking straight and sturdy!
    The coat is not lined because the weather here when we usually have our main summer re-enactment is VILE. The French fort is nestled in basically a floodplain bowl between bluffs on either side of the Mississippi (those idiots never did have a good head for feasible building sites, see: New Orleans) that yes, occasionally floods, but more often crushes you with the humidity that settles down like an invisible thick unbreathable soup and leads to 100+ F afternoons. I know that in areas like South Carolina, colonial coats were sometimes left unlined because of the interminable heat, so I chose to do that as well because I'd rather spend time thinking about how miserable (yet fabulous) *I* feel in layers of petticoats and gowns and caps and hats than listen to Mr. E. grouse about his hot coat. Also for that reason it's intentionally quite are his shirts...his wrinkly get the idea. Tight things make him squirm and protest. So he doesn't QUITE cut the ideally dashing figure as it always looks like he's wearing the clothes of a bigger guy, but as long as he's happy!

Hours to complete: Probably around 8.

First worn: Not really yet! Just to try on. Hopefully next weekend for an event, but if not then it'll be worn early June.

Total cost: I think the fabric was about $4 from the thrift store, and the thread was probably almost as expensive.

He was quite the ham when he first put it on.

Close-up of the buttons and the button stand, functional pockets. 

 I really dislike menswear, partially because it's hard to understand, having spent a good part of my life shopping for and sewing for and bemoaning the female figure, which despite its weirdness is at least familiar in trying to fit. But men! At least, the one and only that I've had to try to pin things on is, himself, like a bunch of squares and rectangles...which should seem to make it easier, but it's been a strange transition. While it turned out better than I thought, for the HSF By the Sea challenge I'm thinking about doing another one for Mr. E now that I know a bit more. Could I be...starting to enjoy menswear?! We'll see! If I could get good at it, it would be lucrative around here because there are a great many more male re-enactors than female and it might pay off to be able to sell men's items.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

HSF #3 and #4 -- the "Meh"tticoat and sleeve ruffles

Yeah yeah, I'm behind on Historical Sew Fortnightly. I actually had #3 done in time but have been too lethargically stricken by the boring common cold to feel like dragging myself on here and collecting my thoughts and photos well enough to post.

#3 is something I already posted a picture of, and I'm not going to do an in-detail photo series on it because it bored me to tears just making it:

The Challenge: #3: Under it all (boring petticoat)
Fabric: Lord was some kind of very large ivory tablecloth, most likely a linen blend by the feel and look of it, but I couldn't find a tag.
Pattern: No pattern, just winging it like I have ever since making my first petticoat based on the lovely Koshka the Cat's tutorial.
Year: 17whatever, it's kind of hard to pin down a specific date for something so basic that I don't think changed much.
Notions: Thread
How historically accurate is it? Very, as far as I looks like most museum petticoats and is entirely handsewn. Also I think the fabric is natural.
Hours to complete: 3-ish
First worn: my birthday
Total cost: Nada, I raided my stash!

There's really no point in taking a dozen pictures of it, haha. It's just a boring off-white petticoat that I felt "meh" about when I finished it. Just one of those things that I needed but didn't really want to make.

And then much more fun (to me, anyway!):

The Challenge: #4: Embellish (Sleeve Ruffles aka engageants but I gather we're not supposed to use that term, unless we're French? Who knows.)
Fabric: None! Bet that threw you, haha.
Pattern: Eyeballed it
Year: 1740-1780, we'll say
Notions: Lace, ribbon
How historically accurate is it? The materials aren't quite right, but I think the construction isn't too bad. Plus they're completely hand done.
Hours to complete: 2 1/2, if I hadn't gotten distracted by tv a lot
First worn: Not yet! Looking forward to putting them on dresses, taking them off dresses, putting them back get the idea! I wanted them to be easily interchangable with gowns.
Total cost: I think about $14.

 I started out by trimming the lace a little so the ruffle would be a little narrower where it hits at the inside of the elbow/fore-arm, but in retrospect I could have trimmed even a little more off to make the contrast greater with the length of the back of the ruffle.
My hand sewing is definitely getting better little by little! After I gathered the lace, I bound the top with grosgrain ribbon so I'd have a good sturdy surface for when I stitch these into gown sleeves and then take them out later.


 They're very ornate, and probably not quite the thing to go on a middle-class "Sunday" gown, but I just really, really loved the lace.

 Tada! All ready to be sewn (or even safety-pinned) into a gown's sleeves! I felt very elegant just making dismissive hand motions at the dog when his drooly jowls got too close to my superior person.

Eventually for a challenge I'd like to make an entire lower-class ensemble from some delightfully clashy colors. Don't judge me for my 70's berber Thanksgiving-themed basement carpet.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Old Maid

Yesterday I turned 28 and spent most of my birthday sewing and having a Jane Austen DVD marathon...just myself and my unsociable rabbit. I came to the conclusion that maybe I will be one of Those Old Ladies and I rather like the idea...a lot.

Ok I didn't spend the WHOLE day by myself like a hermit, the parents lured me over with promises of Dairy Queen ice cream cake and presents and of course I happily fell for the trap. After much ice-cream-snarfing and opening my very first coffeepot with all sorts of accompanying coffee flavors, I settled down on the couch and sewed more. GREAT day!

Mom took pictures of me dressed up because I've been promising to show her what I've been working on, and I was happy to not have to take blurry shots of my new en fourreau in the mirror like usual.

Why is it so hard to get stomachers pinned correctly? I see why people prefer closed-front gowns, big time. I am so proud of my cute little maroon pincushion, I copied it off of:

And I think it'll be quite handy! Here is a close up of it:

A full-length picture of the gown...the back is all wrinkly and ill-fitting right now though so I'll post that after I fix it.

And my own mom wanted me to pose in a most unladylike and provocative manner (really, Mother! The indignity!) to show off my shoes and stockings...she was quite charmed by them. Although who wouldn't be? Yay for American Duchess products!