Thursday, December 26, 2019

Sometimes things don't go the way we envision

....and that's ok.  Because the saying "nothing ventured, nothing gained" has carried me well through costuming, and I have very few failures to share! If I had hesitated until completely ready, I would never manage to make a single thing. I genuinely think that if having a wearable historical costume for any event is your goal, it's extremely important to research to a point, and then dive in even if you still have some questions. Otherwise you'll hesitate forever and never accomplish anything.

I had always wanted a chemise gown, but not the type with the super fluffy sleeves. There are several more streamlined examples out there (which I can't show you because they're from private Flickr accounts) as well as portraits like the Comtesse de la Châtre (Marie Charlotte Louise Perrette Aglaé Bontemps, 1762–1848) by Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, 1789, which lives at The Met. 

You can see how clean yet elegant the style is here with the long sleeves, and I was going for something similar...except I had the GENIUS idea to make the top and bottom separate so that I could re-use the bottom as a petticoat with other outfits. 

Dear Reader, I failed. 

 (Me running away from my experiment-gone-wrong. Aiieeee)

Firstly, I very foolishly thought that surely it wouldn't be too bulky if I treated the dotted cotton and white cotton lining as one when gathering it all up. I mean, it's all fairly lightweight! Ugh no. The 'blouse' top-half was such a nightmare and so puffy and bulky that I tried to reduce it three different times with very little success. The sleeves, for once, gave me no trouble at all by comparison!

(Looking just fine! ...from a distance) 

(sigh. Such pretty fabric. Such great shoes too from Target -- I'll be painting them eventually for use in Regency-wear!)

 It eventually pulled terribly across the back of the shoulders because of how much fabric I took out, and yet it STILL managed to look like a maternity outfit in front. And I won't even show you the jerry-rigged system I had for keeping the blouse attached to the skirt, there was absolutely nothing accurate about that!

Unfortunately I also realized that with the Chemise a la reine generally having a fairly low-profile skirt, separating the skirt from the top wouldn't even render it useful as a petticoat because it wouldn't have worked with any of the common skirt supports I might need to use if I wanted to be a fancy shepherdess or the like.  I'd have to completely re-do the hemline and it would probably end up too short if I used a bum-roll or small hip pads (definitely wouldn't even be wide enough in fabric for pocket hoops). So this whole thing is in the scrap pile right now, and will probably get salvaged for an Edwardian blouse eventually. Ah well. Sometimes those genius ideas sound great in theory but don't quite work in practice.

I've got a lot of the dotted Swiss left in yardage so I'll probably be making a 1790s transitional gown with it eventually, without trying the gimmicky separates route again!

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Saint Louis Georgians Spring Picnic

Ok, get ready for a lot of pictures and not a lot of text 😂  I won't try to spoil it with my ramblings unless I remember something. Our delightful group of sewists has been finding ways to get together that enable us to wear the pretty things we've all been working on. There are Midwest living history events, sure, but nothing that's on the fancier side other than the occasional Twelfth Night Ball.

On the picnic day, we had a nasty gloomy start (it's so hit and miss with the weather here...that's the trouble with planning way out, but you have to when people are coming to StL from as far as Milwaukee and Kansas City!). Rather than trying to tough it out, we met first at the Saint Louis Art Museum to see if the rain would taper off so we could picnic.

 Alyssa's sacque has such a beautiful shape to it, and you can read her picnic write-up at her blog here

Plenty of time for glamorous chit-chat!

 So glad the museum didn't mind us taking up a couple of the rooms and being possibly a little noisier than the average museum tour group!

 Extremely in love with Emily's charming 1790s outfit

My handsome hubby humored me by wearing the only fancy frock-coat I have ever made, and he looked not too out of place in the museum's 18th-century paneled room (despite my tailoring being awful ugh...planning to try again soon)

 No, no I didn't set off the banister alarm by getting too close to it or anything....

 Oh one day I WILL have a paneled room like this 😭

Back out in the main hall, we realized the clouds had lifted considerably!

I actually really love the 1750s/60s very full silhouette. I don't mind that it's a bit like a shapeless tent, because it makes the fabric the centerpiece, rather than my figure (or lack of)

Sunshine! We finally got some! After a delightful potluck picnic, we took quite a few pictures in the park. There were at least two bridal parties also there for photos, and I think they got quite a kick out of us in our very different type of formal clothes, haha.

 A bit wet at the hem. Thank goodness it's cotton!

 I think Emily was belting "The hiiiiillls are aliiiiive with the sound of muuusic" as she ran down towards the lake. My husband looks rather like a rake up to no good as he follows the young maiden. More on that later.

 My friends all know that I lend my husband out for mock-seductive photos a la Nicholas Lancret. He is a good sport. I can only imagine what the people in the background were thinking.

Ope, just realized this might not be a picture I took. I'm not quite sure. Possibly Jean took it? I saved so many photos onto my phone that now I don't know whose is whose, darnit.

Definitely did not take this picture. I think it must be Jean's. Thank you Jean! So nice to have some of the back of my dress!

 Much contemplation of the glorious landscape. And I'm afraid to speculate on what Kelley's child is up to on the far right 😂  He was very well-behaved though and had the cutest little banyan on!

 Emily spies the matron in yellow heading back to the boxed wine for thirds. "What sort of picnic is this, anyway?"

 I have no idea what silly jokes he was cracking here, but he is a laugh a minute and always happy to entertain. I think our sunny-colored clothing was very fitting on this day that started so wet and grey, but burst into a gorgeous and highly enjoyable event!
Don't ask me what my hair was doing here, it had given up in the car already. I think I have a better system now after much reading in the American Duchess beauty book.

Next week: a fancy banyan/dressing gown! But I'm off to Florida for a few days with a dear friend who is taking me to excited.

Yellow chintz francaise

Words do not express how much I adore this fabric! It was a lucky find at a heavy discount (although I think the original price was a bit ridiculous anyway since it's just cotton, no matter who makes it). The pattern is "Calimere" by Lee Jofa, and is a gorgeous approximation of 18th century 'Indienne' prints.

As soon as I saw it online, immediately a gorgeous sacque at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston came to mind:

(French, 1770s, Chinese yellow silk taffeta with polychrome painted vining floral motifs)

I used the JP Ryan sacque pattern, and I discovered that like my plaid pet from last post, I had issues with the sleeves. Apparently there is just too much fabric in the sleeve head for my shoulder build or something, because I have had to cut a lot of it off to avoid poofed sleeves Anne of Green Gables would be proud of. Everything else went together easy peasy though!

 Yeah I use ugly cotton bias tape for petticoat waistbands, what of it? Ignore the hilarious poof under the petti, you would laugh if you could see how my duct tape dummy is mounted on this thing that was a table lamp built onto a small wooden table/magazine rack. It makes an interesting support shape under skirts anyway.

My favorite part, of course.

Proud of my teeny weeny stitches that are slowly getting better!

 I just love how buttery and rich this looks. It didn't act too heavy for cotton at all.

 I have yet to get this gown trimmed the way I would like. The sleeve ruffles are done, and I managed a stomacher before the event, but I still have plans for long ruched trim on the robings.

You can see the left sleeve that has a little extra party going on over there, due to the extra sleeve head fabric...I think I got it tamed down correctly on the right. 

And now, have some pic-spam:

These were taken in the Saint Louis Art Museum on the day of a picnic. I love this one. "Yes, I'll have that writing desk to go, please."

 Untrimmed gown, but hey, there's a lot going on with that fabric print. I have since ripped the stomacher apart because I didn't like my last minute decoration on it.


 Overlooking my palace grounds.
 (jk, 'Art Hill' in Forest Park has a stunning Versailles-like lake with bridges and steps.)

à la vôtre!

And this leads right into the next post, which will be insanely picture-heavy, so I didn't want to combine the two! Read on for the Saint Louis Georgians' spring picnic!