Monday, September 22, 2014

Alas, poor Annabelle

I would apologize for my lonnnng absence but I have not the mental energy for abasement right now. Suffice it to say that severe and frequent migraines have been taking quite a toll on my sewing and I don't have a whole lot to show for the past months! Little by little I have been working on the dusk-blue sacque and hopefully will have some pictures soon. The petticoat is finished; since I've made a number of them by hand before, I thought that was the easiest bit to get going on during a time when I was barely dragging myself to and from work, but following several lovely blogger tutorials I'm doing quite well on draping the rest of the gown.

I DID manage a pair of pocket hoops though! They are regrettably mostly machine sewn, which if didn't want to resort to as I was hoping to have a totally hand-made ensemble from the underthings up, but when health is involved sometimes it's best to just admit defeat.

I also hand-sewed a white, very light cotton-linen under-petticoat to go over the panniers but under the silk petticoat, for extra floof, and it will be getting a ruffle at the bottom to help kick the silk petticoat out a little more. So I haven't been entirely idle, just unfortunately not making as much progress as I would have liked to this year :(

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

HSF #3 - Pink

Sigh, behind again. I'm not going to post about challenge #2, Innovation, because I was counting the red Indienne print neck handkerchief I paired with my new wool bedgown (#1: Make Do And Mend) and was thinking about doing a long post on the innovative cotton printing that was catching on in Europe. But I'm too lazy to do all that research for just a simple triangle of cloth!

The Challenge: #3: PINK - A little bouquet of silk flowers and ribbon to be pinned at the center front of a gown. Very pastoral (hoping for spring soon)!

Fabric: Not really much in the way of fabric in the traditional sense, although I suppose the flowers, leaves and ribbon are technically all fabric!
Pattern: I'm really unlikely to be using any pattern for any of these challenges, I'll just get that out of the way now...I feel much more free looking at photos and scale drawings and letting the item grow organically from that. For this simple little project, I looked at a couple of cute little nosegays pinned to display gowns like these: 

Year: Not sure there is a specific year although I'm most likely in the future to use this with my pink anglaise as it already has floral motifs and some green in it. 
Notions: ALL notion, really!
How historically accurate is it? I'm really not sure, I couldn't find any specifics about extant artificial nosegays, but silk flowers as ornament seemed to be in use on hats and other accessories fairly frequently.
Hours to complete: Not even 1...finished it up in about 15 minutes while watching Olympic figure skating.
First worn: Not yet! I need to take pictures of all my ensembles to date though and pair them with the best accessories so maybe as the weather warms up. 
Total cost: Nada...all stash materials.

The reason it's taking me SO long to get anything up lately is THIS:

Eventually, MAYBE, it'll be lovely light pink stays bound with cream linen tape, half-boned with cable ties, with straps and a stomacher, but right now I have never more regretted swearing a solemn promise to never use the sewing machine again on any of my 18th century clothes or accessories. Shoving a needle through six layers of heavy canvas-like material has been murder on my fingers when joining the pieces, and I'll never really love boning channels much, even less so by hand. If I'm wanting to make the #5 bodice challenge (will count this for #4 Underneath It All as well), I really have to book it. 

They are not very nice looking, but they are drafted off my first stays, which are machine-sewn and actually fit quite well despite some design flaws. Those are fully boned though and hot as Hades in summer so I'm going a lighter, less bulky/more flexible route -- I know there's not much documentation for half-boned stays with visible boning channels, but I just have this idea in my head of what they'll (hopefully) look like, so bear with me. If nothing else, it'll be a good exercise in humility and facing failure! 

My plans for the HSF for the rest of 2014 have changed drastically, and once I finish these stays up, I hope to be devoting the rest of my year to building two ensembles (click for accompanying Pinterest boards)


More to come on those soon after the FrankenStays are done torturing me!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

HSF Challenge #1 -- "Make Do And Mend"

The Challenge: #1 – Make Do and Mend
I’ve recently joined an F&I era group and the one winter event I went to, they just could not seem to leave me alone about not having cold-weather clothing (albeit in a very sweet and kindly way). I had mitts and a thick shawl and lots of petticoats, but I’ll admit my torso was a little chilly in the evenings with just a corduroy jacket. So my “make do” was to cut up an old wool blanket, line it with warm fleece (I know, cheater cheater), and make a very heavy bedgown to go over anything.

Honestly, I can't say for certain if that is something the French Colonial women around here would have done. Still, it makes sense...goods came up the Mississippi River infrequently in canoes, and somehow I don't think the women, when they first arrived in "New France," would have been adequately prepared for the sometimes frigid winters. I could see them whipping up a rough bedgown out of a blanket to throw on over many layers of clothing.

Fabric: Old grey woolen blanket, grey fleece

Pattern: basic “T” shaped garment, hits just above the knee. I know the sleeves look lopsided, but they're not...and I probably won't leave them rolled up and showing the fleece like that when I wear it. The back has a seam down the center until about waist-height, then releases to leave a little bit of a pleat and fuller appearance to the bottom half of the garment.

Year: 1720-1780? You might find something like it in just about any art depicting the lower class of the 18th century I guess, shapeless sack that it is.

Notions: Just thread

How historically accurate is it? I left the typically-seen shawl collar off of the bedgown because my skin doesn’t tolerate wool and even with a neck handkerchief I just KNOW it would end up rubbing against my skin and driving me insane. It’s entirely hand-sewn, but I think the fact I lined it with Wal-mart blanket fleece kind of negates that. But I think with my grey petti, an apron tied over it and the handkerchief, it’ll look very passable.

Hours to complete: Probably around seven

First worn: Not yet! This weekend at a women's event.

Total cost: The blanket was probably around $20 when I got it a few years ago, the fleece was about $6.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Tiny Treasures

Working at a library, sometimes I run across sources for 18th century details I would not have expected to find; my co-worker found this one for me when she weeded it out of the collection due to dis-use: "Classic Dolls' Houses" by Faith Eaton.

 The sweet little Delft tiles in this 18th century kitchen! Adorable!

It details several doll houses; "Mon Plaisir" - an 18th-century German court, the 18th century Dutch doll house of Sara Ploos van Amstel, the 20th century fairy castle of Colleen Moore, West Wood House - a 20th century English dollhouse, and the Thorne and Carlisle Miniature rooms.

The 18th century houses were of course of the most interest to me, but all the houses were beautifully crafted...I remember seeing Colleen Moore's fairy castle in Chicago once, came home with a beloved coloring book of it and built my own equally grand house (so my eight-year-old-self thought) out of shoeboxes.

I would definitely recommend that you try to get this through interlibrary's probably not worth shelling out a whole lot of money unless you really love historical dollhouses, and in fact I couldn't even be sure I found the correct title on Amazon. However, the textiles and color combinations and accessories on the 18th century dolls are extremely valuable in my opinion because they haven't been disturbed or re-dressed based on some well-intentioned museum director's best guesses...they are perfect representations of what was worn at the time by various classes. My pictures here don't even begin to capture the detail - it's quite crisp in person.

 ^Can you believe this is a miniature? It looks like a real room in a colonial house!

Also the tiny dishes and furniture, bed-hangings and curtains, miniature artwork and other housewares are wonderful sources of detail for any re-enactor, arranged just how they would have been used in a domestic setting. Worth a look!