17th century Leaves

This post is about leaves in the decollete of 17th century ladies.

Yes, you read that correctly.

I’ve been browsing through pictures of historical clothing for years, and in the last week started to look at the 17th century again. This is a period I don’t know so much about, but there’s a drama to 17th century dress which is lovely. When browsing, I stumbled upon this portrait:

 

Catherine Bruce (d.1649), Mrs William Murray, Date painted: early 17th C Anthony van Dyck

 

It’s a lovely dress, with the huge over-sleeves, low neckline and jewelry. What confused me, were the little green things sticking from her decollete. They seem like little green leaves. It struck me as interesting, but I first dismissed this as something specific about this portrait. Maybe because she’s working with flowers?

But then I saw this portrait:

Margaret Stuart, Lady Mennes, Great-Great Granddaughter of Mary Boleyn, attributed to Cornelius Janssens van Ceulen, ca 1620

 

There’s only one leaf this time, but it does look as if those little leaves were more than something weird. Both paintings are  by different painters and of different women. One’s an oddity, two is a trend. So I started looking for more portraits, and I found two more portraits in which the ladies wear leaves. I must’ve looked through at least 40 portraits, so it’s definitely not very common, but it’s there.

 

French School , Portrait de la dame de Noixces de Venese , ca. 1600

 

 

Girl with fan by Peter Paul Rubens, circa 1612-14

Girl with fan by Peter Paul Rubens, circa 1612-14

 

By now, I’m more certain that this is a fashion thing. But where does it come from? I’ve Googled a bit, but I haven’t found any reference and the 17th century fashions are generally a bit under-represented in online research. What I can find in common is that they’re all portraits of wealthy ladies between 1600 to 1620. 3 of the 4 portraits were done by Dutch painters. The first two portraits are of English ladies though, and their painters also worked in England. So we have two examples of English fashion, one French and one unknown, but probably Flemish (given the date 1612 and a bio of Rubens’ life). That’s an indication that the fashion was quite international. That is about all I can say about it though. So for now, the mystery remains unsolved. I’m very curious though, so I’ll keep looking, and maybe come back with some new information some day.

 

Book skirt

I’ve always loved reading. As a child, I always read at least 30 minutes every evening and was constantly visiting the library. Nowadays, with a busy schedule and full job I do most of my reading in the train. The only advantage of travelling 2 hours every day is that I’ve plenty of time to read.

Combining my love of reading with my love of wide skirts, when I saw the various versions of book prints in Lolita-style skirts I immediately wanted one. Prices and shipping being what they are, however, I chose to make my own. The skirt I first found was by Juliette et Justine:

 

 

I spent a long time looking for the right fabric, but it was quite difficult to find a print. Not wanting to pay shipping costs from far away, I was limited to Dutch fabric stores and there aren’t that many. The only type of fabric with a book print I could find were upholstery fabrics, and I wasn’t sure if that would fit the style. But then I saw this skirt by TaoBao:

This skirt also has a coarser weave, but it’s actually quite nice. So I decided to just go for the heavier fabric. On a visit to Amsterdam I went to the store where I found the fabric online, and bought it. I’m glad I didn’t order it online, because I found that with natural light and scale it’s much easier to judge fabric than from an online image.

This was the fabric I bought. It’s not very supple, but it that also makes it stand out on it’s own quite well. It rarely needs a petticoat. I really like the pattern and colors of the print (or weave in this case).

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By now the skirt is done! Some progress pictures (all taken with my phone in bad light, so sorry for the quality).

I made the skirt in my standard bell pattern of a large pleated rectangle. I cut the rectangle, and then made box pleats of 2 inches wide each.

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Half-way with pleating.

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After everything was pinned in place, I sewed the pleats in place. Next up was the waistband and hemming. I wanted something contrasting, and looked at some black lace I still had for decorating the hem. It didn’t work so well, because all the lace was rather subtle and the book fabric is not. I finally settled on a black velvet border around the hem, and a waistband from the same fabric.

Then came making the closure, and this was also when the trouble started. I bought a blind zipper, but had loads of trouble putting it in. My sewing-machine wasn’t getting the tension right thus creating a very loose seam, and the fabric was so stiff that it just didn’t look right. After trying again 3 times, I gave up and removed the zipper again. The fabric just wasn’t supple enough for a blind zipper. Instead, I made a clasp closure and made a little panel behind it so it wouldn’t fall open.

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This shows the  eventual closure. This actually works quite well, so I think I’ll be doing more closures like this in the future, especially when working with heavy fabrics.

Finally, some photo’s of the finished closure:

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And of the whole skirt (in bad light, but the idea is clear!):

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Mr. Darcy to Eline Vere -19th century fashion exhibition in the Gemeentemuseum

Back before the summer the Gemeentemuseum in the Hague announced a new exhibition on 19th century fashions. It’s named ‘Mr. Darcy to Eline Vere, Romantic fashion’ and has as subject the entire century of fashion. I was very exited, because although many Dutch museums have historical fashion, it’s rarely on display. The exhibit opened the beginning of October and I went to see it a couple of weeks later. There is also a lecture every Sunday on various topics, which is really nice. I took loads of pictures (it was allowed!), and I’d like to share some here. Some are a bit blurry, because photography conditions weren’t always great (too dark), but I hope the beauty of these pieces comes across. This museum does not have its full collection photographed and online, so there’s no option to see the dresses except for in the exhibition. I’ll probably go back at least once more while the dresses are still on display (it lasts till March, so plenty of chance). To everyone living close by enough I strongly recommend the exhibit. The pieces are beautiful, they are very prettily arranged and there’s lots of them! The dresses are mostly arranged by theme, which can be era, but also colour or purpose. For this reason, not all dresses are shown chronologically and I think that for people unfamiliar with the changes in silhouette that might be a bit confusing. For me the only downsides of the exhibit were that this chance in silhouette was not really shown off very well, and that some pieces could only be seen from the front. The set-ups were really well created though, with appropriate settings, beautiful back-drops and they even had a room of ball-gowns twirling around on moving pedestals. Especially great because you could see these dresses from all angles. There were also some movie costumes included, most noticeably costumes from the 1995 version of Pride & Prejudice.

In this post, I’ll start with the theme ‘white’. Some of the white and ivory dresses, along with my thoughts. I’ll probably do more posts in the future, but I’ll also try to upload all the images on my pinterest for anyone interested. By all means click through to see the full-scale images.

I’ll start with some Regency dresses. There were many beautiful examples, including some gorgeous white muslin dresses. I think this one was my favorite ‘little white dress’. The embroidery especially was lovely. The dress was made of very thin white cotton, the sheerness shows very well in the sleeves. The neckline seems to be gathered along a very thin cord tied in the front. The bodice is shaped with 3 small darts, and seems to have a waistband sown on the inside at the bottom. Maybe to strengthen the connection to the skirt? The darts also show in the waistband, so it doesn’t seem a separate strip of fabric. The sleeves are the classical puff with gathering on top of the shoulder, and they seem to again be gathered onto a cord at the arm-hole, though it’s difficult to see. The hem seems a couple of cm wide and is decorative, as the double fabric shows clearly due to its thinness. And of course, there’s more beautiful embroidery. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see the back of this dress to photograph it.

Gemeentemuseum the Hague exhibition on 19th century fashion - Cotton dress 1805

Gemeentemuseum the Hague exhibition on 19th century fashion - Cotton dress 1805 Bodice detail

 

Gemeentemuseum the Hague exhibition on 19th century fashion - Cotton dress 1805 Bodice detail

 

 

Gemeentemuseum the Hague exhibition on 19th century fashion - Cotton dress 1805 Hem detail

 

Next is another regency dress, but this time combined with an off-white spencer. The spencer is made out of a lovely textured fabric. I didn’t make a photo of the info tag, so I’m not sure of the fabric type. It closes in the front with hooks and eyes, and has a small collar. The spencer has at least two darts to give the shaping.The whole garment is decorated with corded strips, which run on the collar, on top of the closure, around the bottom, around the puff sleeves and around the lower sleeves. The sleeves have a faux-puff with a longer sleeve. The dress is again of thin white cotton with dotted embroidery all over, and an increase in dots around the hem. The skirt seems flat in front, but is gathered in the back and closes with strings in the back above a slit in the center-back of the dress.

 

Gemeentemuseum the Hague exhibition on 19th century fashion - Empire dress & spencer

Gemeentemuseum the Hague exhibition on 19th century fashion - Spencer detail

 

Gemeentemuseum the Hague exhibition on 19th century fashion - Spencer, sleeve detail

Gemeentemuseum the Hague exhibition on 19th century fashion - Spencer back

 

Gemeentemuseum the Hague exhibition on 19th century fashion - Empire dress & spencer, back detail

Gemeentemuseum the Hague exhibition on 19th century fashion - Empire dress hem detail

 

Aside from the muslin regency dresses, there was also a large collection of silk dresses in different colors. The next two are not pure-white, but so lovely I wanted to include them. These show the more luxury dresses, for grand balls and court occasions.

The first of these two was of a pale gold silk, an evening gown with train. The bodice has a square neckline gathered over a string with a ribon belt around the waistline. The sleeves are short puffs which are gathered and pleated along cords on three different points. I can’t work out the back closure exactly. The hem of the train is beautifully decorated with ribbon trim folded into triangles and pleated triangles.

Gemeentemuseum the Hague exhibition on 19th century fashion. Evening dress (possible wedding-dress) ca. 1807-10  silk

Gemeentemuseum the Hague exhibition on 19th century fashion. Evening dress (possible wedding-dress) ca. 1807-10  silk

Gemeentemuseum the Hague exhibition on 19th century fashion. Evening dress (possible wedding-dress) ca. 1807-10  silk

Gemeentemuseum the Hague exhibition on 19th century fashion. Evening dress (possible wedding-dress) ca. 1807-10  silk

 

Of this second dress I don’t have a good image of the front, but in a way that doens’t matter because this dress is all about the train. It’s a gorgeous silk ivory court dress, with a subtly patterned fabric. The godice laces in the back and is quite low. The sleeves are regular puffs, but with metalic trim and netting around the bottom. The skirt is gathered very narrowly at the back and flows out into a very long train. The train is embroidered around the hem with the most gorgeous metal (I think gold) trim. The embroidery is in a leaf pattern, and if done on netting which is again attached to the dress. This netting might be original, but I also saw that they restored some items before the exhibition and used netting to reinforce materials, so it might be a restoration effort. (I don’t know enough about period embroidery to decide this)

Gemeentemuseum the Hague exhibition on 19th century fashion. Gala dress ca. 1810, silk & gilded silver applique

Gemeentemuseum the Hague exhibition on 19th century fashion. Gala dress ca. 1810, silk & gilded silver applique

Gemeentemuseum the Hague exhibition on 19th century fashion. Gala dress ca. 1810, silk & gilded silver applique

 

Although the majority of pale dresses were regency, there were some beautiful examples from other eras as well. From ivory regency, to Ivory mid-century.

This silk dress is 1850’s, with a three tiered skirt in a gauze fabric. At the bottom of each tier there is a swirly embroidery pattern. The sleeves are short, and a bit of a mystery to me. They seem to be made of several layers of swirly fabric. The bodice has a low v neckline and a deep v at the bottom front. In the center, there’s a pleated gauze pattern. I think it’s a lovely example of creating a visually narrow waist.

Gemeentemuseum the Hague, exhibition on 19th century fashion. 1850

Gemeentemuseum the Hague, exhibition on 19th century fashion. 1850

Gemeentemuseum the Hague, exhibition on 19th century fashion. 1850

 

Aside from Ivory, there was a slight blue/white theme in the mid-century dresses.

I believe this dress is late 1840’s early 1850’s, but I’m not entirely sure. It’s made of thin white cotton, and very interestingly seems to have a blue petticoat beneath the skirt. I don’t know if this is original, but it does make the skirt embroidery stand out in a lovely way. The front of the dress has an almost shawl-like effect, with the fabric being pleated over the chest and stitched down at the waist. The sleeves are 3/4 and unadorned. The skirt is two tiered and decorated with flower embroidery. I’m not sue of the closure as the back was hard to see, but it seems like there’s a little bow at the back on the waist.

Gemeentemuseum the Hague exhibition on 19th century fashion - Victorian Dress

Gemeentemuseum the Hague exhibition on 19th century fashion - Victorian Dress bodice detail

The second blue white dress is ca. 1855 and an evening dress. It has a two-tiered skirt with blue stripes and dots as decoration. The skirt is gathered in tiny pleats to the bodice. The sleeves are short and wide in 2 layers. The bodice comes to a point in the front and is piped along the edges. It seems to close with hooks and eyes. The bodice has two darts on each side, and what’s really interesting is that you can see the boning in the bodice through the sheer fabric. It seems to have boning along at least one of the darts, and in the center front.

Gemeentemuseum the Hague exhibition on 19th century fashion - Victorian Dress ca 1855 cotton

 

Gemeentemuseum the Hague exhibition on 19th century fashion - Victorian Dress ca. 1855 bodice detail

Gemeentemuseum the Hague exhibition on 19th century fashion - Victorian Dress ca. 1855 back

 

To end this (long) post, I’ll jump to the end of the century, to one of my favorite dresses of this exhibition. It’s off-white, and has so many gorgeous details. The bodice center has a collar and flower applique onto sheer pleated fabric. Over this, a shawl-like construction is draped and pleated which ends in the waistband and has lace insets and borders. When looking from the side, the closure is just visible. The long sleeves have an upper and lower part, both with tiny pleats and more lace insets. The skirt has a solid base with lace insets and flower embroidery, and becomes more decorated towards the bottom. There’s curved lace insets, pleating, gathering, etc.  And yet despite everything going on, it’s still elegant.

Gemeentemuseum the Hague exhibition on 19th century fashion - Edwardian Dress

Gemeentemuseum the Hague exhibition on 19th century fashion - Edwardian Dress bodice detail

Gemeentemuseum the Hague exhibition on 19th century fashion - Edwardian Dress bodice detail.

Gemeentemuseum the Hague exhibition on 19th century fashion - Edwardian Dress sleeve detail

Gemeentemuseum the Hague exhibition on 19th century fashion - Edwardian Dress skirt detail

 

 

Edwardian corset

I’ve been working on a new corset. This time it’ll be an S-bend Edwardian corset, ca. 1903. This type of corset is very specific for the time. It has a straight front, and a very sharply curved back, giving it the S-bend name.

These corsets are meant to minimize the waist, but to keep as much volume as possible in the hip and bust era.

I’m using the Truly Victorian pattern for this corset. It comes with a hip pad to add volume to the back and bust padding to fill up the front. I made the padding last year. It looks a bit weird on its own.

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I also already cut out the pattern pieces last year, and over Christmas cut and pinned the mock-up. Corsets are alwasy difficult to fit, but these even more so, so I decided it was close enough and will just go with my measurements. I’ve a gap at the top front, but that’s sort of the point as Edwardian corsets don’t really support the bust anyways. If it turns out too big, I can always make some more padding to fill it up. There’s loads of examples of Edwardian ‘bust-improvers’, so it would be very period.

Wearing History has a e-pattern of some bust-improvers which I might try.

e102COVERweb

 

So now it’s time to sew! I’ll be using a beige coutil as strength layer and I’ve bought a lovely pale pink silk for the outer layer. It’s my first time working with silk, and I’m very excited but also a bit scared, because it’s so pretty! At the top of the corset I will use a lovely beige lace with tiny flowers and pearls. I’m also planning on trying out flossing for this corset, so it should turn out to be pretty fancy!

My phone camera doesn’t do the fabric justice, but just to get an idea. I want to layer the lace this way at the top.

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For the bottom of the corset I’m planning on using the top side of the lace in a thin border.

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Mid 19th century ballgown bodices

I’ve been working on my 1860’s ballgown bodice. I’ve already drafted the pattern, sewn the seams and am in the process of adding the boning. After this, it’s setting in the sleeve and finishing the edges. Then comes decoration. My bodice will be tucked into my skirt, as I’ve already got a waistband. I’d like to also have loads of lace around the neckline, and have been exploring options by looking at existent dresses. There’s a lot of variation! In this post some inspiration images.

Evening dress Date: ca. 1865 Culture: American Medium: Silk

Evening dress
Date: ca. 1865
Culture: American
Medium: Silk

Dress Date: ca. 1860 Culture: American Medium: silk

Dress
Date: ca. 1860
Culture: American
Medium: silk

Dress Date: ca. 1860 Culture: American Medium: silk

Dress
Date: ca. 1860
Culture: American
Medium: silk

Dress Date: 1860–61 Culture: French

Dress
Date: 1860–61
Culture: French

Dress Date: 1860–61 Culture: French

Dress
Date: 1860–61
Culture: French

Dress

Dress Date: ca. 1864 Culture: French Medium: silk

 

Dress

Dress Date: ca. 1864 Culture: French Medium: silk

 

Ball gown Date: ca. 1869 Culture: British Medium: cotton, silk

Ball gown
Date: ca. 1869
Culture: British
Medium: cotton, silk

Ball gown Date: ca. 1869 Culture: British Medium: cotton, silk

Ball gown
Date: ca. 1869
Culture: British
Medium: cotton, silk

Ball gown Date: ca. 1860 Culture: probably American Medium: silk, cotton

Ball gown
Date: ca. 1860
Culture: probably American
Medium: silk, cotton

Visiting dress Date: 1865–68 Culture: British Medium: silk

Visiting dress
Date: 1865–68
Culture: British
Medium: silk

Visiting dress Date: 1865–68 Culture: British Medium: silk

Visiting dress
Date: 1865–68
Culture: British
Medium: silk

Wedding dress Date: 1859 Culture: American Medium: silk

Wedding dress
Date: 1859
Culture: American
Medium: silk

Wedding dress Date: 1859 Culture: American Medium: silk

Wedding dress
Date: 1859
Culture: American
Medium: silk

Wedding dress Date: 1855–62 Culture: American Medium: silk

Wedding dress
Date: 1855–62
Culture: American
Medium: silk

Wedding dress Date: 1855–62 Culture: American Medium: silk

Wedding dress
Date: 1855–62
Culture: American
Medium: silk

Evening dress

Evening dress Date: ca. 1865 Culture: British Medium: silk (probably), glass

 

Evening dress

Evening dress Date: ca. 1865 Culture: British Medium: silk (probably), glass

 

Ball gown

Ball gown Designer: Emile Pingat (French, active 1860–96) Date: ca. 1860 Culture: French Medium: silk

 

Ball gown

Ball gown Designer: Emile Pingat (French, active 1860–96) Date: ca. 1860 Culture: French Medium: silk

 

Dress Date: ca. 1865 Culture: French Medium: silk

Dress
Date: ca. 1865
Culture: French
Medium: silk

Dress Date: ca. 1865 Culture: French Medium: silk

Dress
Date: ca. 1865
Culture: French
Medium: silk

Ball gown Designer: Emile Pingat  (French, active 1860–96) Date: ca. 1860 Culture: French Medium: silk

Ball gown
Designer: Emile Pingat
(French, active 1860–96)
Date: ca. 1860
Culture: French
Medium: silk

Ball gown Designer: Emile Pingat  (French, active 1860–96) Date: ca. 1860 Culture: French Medium: silk

Ball gown
Designer: Emile Pingat
(French, active 1860–96)
Date: ca. 1860
Culture: French
Medium: silk

Dress

Dress Date: ca. 1865 Culture: French Medium: silk

 

Ball gown Date: 1856–59 Culture: American or European Medium: silk

Ball gown
Date: 1856–59
Culture: American or European
Medium: silk

Ball gown Date: 1856–59 Culture: American or European Medium: silk

Ball gown
Date: 1856–59
Culture: American or European
Medium: silk

Wedding dress

Wedding dress Date: 1869 Culture: American Medium: silk

 

Wedding dress

Wedding dress Date: 1869 Culture: American Medium: silk

 

Dress Date: 1860–64 Culture: British Medium: silk

Dress
Date: 1860–64
Culture: British
Medium: silk

Dress Date: 1860–64 Culture: British Medium: silk

Dress
Date: 1860–64
Culture: British
Medium: silk

Ball gown Date: ca. 1868 Culture: French Medium: silk

Ball gown
Date: ca. 1868
Culture: French
Medium: silk

Ball gown Date: ca. 1868 Culture: French Medium: silk

Ball gown
Date: ca. 1868
Culture: French
Medium: silk

Refashioned hoop

Because I recently made a new 1860’s hoop, I no longer needed the old one. The main problem with the old one was that it was made out of plastic piping and ducttape. The piping was sewn onto the vertical supports with little pieces of ribbon, but they frayed terribly and so the hoops kept falling loose of the vertical supports. Moreover, to keep them in the right location horizontally, I attached the hoops to the ribbons with ducttape. This wasn’t very sturdy either. Although this meant it was a terrible elliptical hoop, the piping itself was quite sturdy, and I felt like just throwing it out would be a shame. So I took it all apart, and fashioned it into a regular 1850’s bell shape!

For anyone interested in the process, I strongly recommend the tutorial by the Dreamstress. I made my hoop in a similar way.

I first designed the hoop to check for the desired hoop sizes. I drew a picture of the shape, checked for scale and looked at the diameter of the hoops and accordingly calculated the circumference of the hoop. As turned out I had one hoop less than I drew in, so I shifted all the hoops down and didn’t use the last one.

IMG_0702

One of the main problems with the old hoop were the vertical ribbons, so this time I decided to do it properly and used a double ribbon for each support. I put a hoop every 13 cm, and sewed the ribbons together at those points to create the supports for the hoops.

I then attached the hoops to the vertical supports with rope. It’s not very pretty, but as I couldn’t sew through my hoops, this was the best way. My piping has ridges, which stop the rope from slipping, so it works fine. I used the same method to clasp the hoops together in the front, and further supported it with a bit of ducttape.

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I used the waist-band from the old hoop, and voila! It’s no beauty, but it works!

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Now I just need a 1850’s petticoat and dress. Nothing planned yet, but who knows.

For now I’ve just tried the hoop with one of my long non-historical skirts. It’s quite pretty this way! I did have to put another two layers underneath to make sure the first hoop didn’t show too much, so I’ll definitely need at least one petticoat.

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2015 – plans & dreams

After writing my year-review post, I figured it was also time for a list of things I’m planning. I don’t know if everything will actually happen in 2015, but who knows! Most of the items on this list I already have either the fabric or the patterns for.

 

The first item of this year is already finished! I refashioned my old elliptical crinoline into a 1850’s bell shaped hoop. A blog post will follow.

1860  The vast hoop skirts of the mid-19th century were supported by crinolines – steel, cage-like structures worn with a corset and petticoats. The crinoline reached its maximum dimensions in 1860 and then started to shrink to less ludicrous proportions. for women.

Mine is slightly more subtle though 😉

 

I’ve also been working on my black velvet 1860’s evening bodice. I drafted the pattern ages ago, but I’m now actually working on construction, so it’s speeding up a bit.

 

The third item I’ve already started on is a new corset. I want to make some Edwardian pieces, and the corset is the first step.

1903 Edwardian Corset

Other Edwardian items I want to make: a shift, French drawers and a corset cover. I’ve already got the pattern for these.

Edwardian Underwear

Next would be an Edwardian shirtwaist using some of my antique lace. Something like this?:

Stunning White Cotton French Tape Lace Edwardian Bodice Blouse | eBay

And then a skirt. I’m thinking of a corselet skirt, in either black or tartan… (or both?)

Vintage Beauty - belle époque portrait  found at http://retro-vintage-photography.blogspot.com/2011/05/vintage-beauty.html

And because I already have the fabric for this as well, a red Edwardian winter cape.

Cape

Another thing I’ve been planning for a while is a red/white regency evening gown. The blue dotted dress took precedence, but hopefully I’ll make this one this year.

Jurk1

And to go with the red/white dress, a new red spencer, which I’ve also already got the fabric for. Something like this, but in red. I’d really like to do some braiding.

Spencer Date: 1813 Culture: American or European Medium: wool, silk

 

My wish-list is miles long, so maybe some other things will be added, but these are the concrete plans.

 

2014 – Year review

My review of 2014, a bit late, because I finished a couple of projects at the end of december which I wanted to blog about first. Looking back, I think I achieved quite a lot. For me, 2013 was the year in which I truly started historical sewing. I made my first set of underthings, for 1860’s, and finished my first regency dress. In 2014, I continued and learnt a lot.

The year started with finishing my 1860’s black velvet dress.

Photo by Jurgen Niessen

Photo by Jurgen Niessen

 

After this dress, I started on new regency clothing. To do it properly, I first needed underthings, so I made a shift:

20140505_152158

 

And stays:

20140427_202240

 

After this, I could make my new dress. I started this dress in the summer and it took ages to finish, but it is done and I really like how it turned out.

IMG_0559b

 

The end of the year was very productive for me. I made a full set of items for regency outer-wear. A spencer, chemise, bonnet and muff.

IMG_0617

 

At the end of the year in the christmas holidays, I finished two more items. A new, sturdier 1860’s hoop:

IMG_0679

 

And although not entirely historical, my Irish dance dress:

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Now onto 2015!

Irish dance dress – finished

A while back (read, half a year ago) I wrote a post about my plans on making an Irish dance dress for myself. It’s taken a while, but the dress is finally finished!

I drafted most of the pattern myself, with the exception of the sleeves for which I used a commercial pattern. Because of the low waist-line, there weren’t really commercial patterns which would fit the bodice.

The design of the dress started with this lovely fabric. Because I couldn’t make any of the traditional embroidery, I wanted a quite busy fabric. Irish dance dresses are usually very bright and meant to get attention on stage. This fabric is lovely, while standing out it’s still classy. As complementing colors I chose black (velvet) and old-pink.

20140808_131846

 

This was the design. A faux-bolero of the rose fabric, a black velvet base, a dropped waist, a pleated skirt with the rose fabric at the bottom and pink accents.

Black velvet for the base, with a (faux) silk with velvet roses fabric for the bolero and old pink accents.

Black velvet for the base, with a (faux) silk with velvet roses fabric for the bolero and old pink accents.

 

After drafting the pattern (which was a pain, dropped waists are tricky!) I could cut out the fabric:

20140808_131839

The sleeves

20140807_143618

Cutting the velvet.

I lined the dress in black cotton and made the lining first to check the fit again. To make the skirt stand out a bit, I used tule. I still had a short tule skirt I bought a while ago and it was the perfect length to use as sewn-in petticoat. These were the base layers:

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After this, I attached the outer layers of the bodice to the lining. (never mind the laundry behind the dress 😉 )

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The next step was to attach the sleeves and the skirt. Especially the skirt was tricky. It was velvet lined in pink, and pleated so that it formed 6 layers in total. With the addition of the tule, it meant I had to sew 7 layers to the 2 layers of bodice and lining. It took a long time fiddling with fabric, but came out all right! With the skirt and sleeves done, it was time for decoration. I tried plain strips of pink along the bolero, but it was too plain, so I found some pearly strings and decided to decorate. I then spent a long time hand-sewing the pearls to the strips and the strips to the dress, but it looked pretty!

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This is what it looked like after attaching the strips. I also sewed one string of pearls around the sleeves. At this point, I decided that I also needed something to separate the skirt form the bodice. I tried one string of pearls, but that was still too plain, so more pink with pearly swirls it was!

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And then it was done! I attached a cameo brooch to the neckline as extra decoration.

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Hoop skirt finished

It’s done! My new elliptical 1860’s hoop skirt. Some info:

Pattern: Truly Victorian 103

Fabric: White cotton

Notions: Loads of bias-tape for the bone casing, white tapes for the vertical support, 11mm steel hoop boning, 8 end-caps for the half-circle hoops and heat shrink to clasp the bones together.

The hoop is not entirely even, but close enough that it doesn’t matter with a petticoat over it. It is also similar enough to my previous hoop skirt to still fit with the petticoat and skirt I made before. It feels a lot sturdier than my previous hoop, and I’m very happy with it. I’m making my previous elliptical hoop into a 1850’s round hoop, but progress on that will follow later.

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The side view. Here it’s still knotted together at the waist, but by this point I’ve a clasp in place to reduce the bulk a bit. The tapes holding the half-hoops together behind the bum and legs also don’t work quite as well on the mannequin as on me, as it doesn’t have legs. The ‘gap’ between hoop four and five isn’t as obvious when I’m wearing it.

 

 

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A close-up of the half-wiring at the back.

 

 

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Another perspective.

 

 

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And the back view.

 

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With petticoat and skirt. The skirt is slightly long on the sides, but I’m confident that will be less when I wear it, as the mannequin was rather low and the hoop stands out a bit more towards the back on me.