Black & White lace

I’ve been quite busy working on several projects, but none are quite ready yet to be blogged about. (For progress pictures etc. see my instagram and facebook page). So for now, some more very pretty pictures. The topic was inspired by the last inspiration post, where I couldn’t include all of these.

Lace has been used for centuries, but the height of it’s popularity might be the turn of the 20th century. I adore these dresses, and would love to recreate them, but the cost of suitable lace is frighting, so instead I just admire. Although there were a lot of solid white and colored dresses with lace, this post would be too long if I included them all. So the theme will be black & white.

 

DressJeanne Paquin, 1902The Museum at FIT:

Jeanne Paquin, 1902, The Museum at FIT

 

Ball gown dress of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. 1900-1901:

Dress of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. 1900-1901

 

From the collection of Alexandre Vassiliev:

From the collection of Alexandre Vassiliev

 

From the collection of Alexandre Vassiliev:

From the collection of Alexandre Vassiliev

 

Half-Mourning Dress  1889-1892:

Half-Mourning Dress 1889-1892

 

Circa 1906 black silk and lace evening gown, Bonnaire, Paris.:

Circa 1906 black silk and lace evening gown, Bonnaire, Paris

 

Dress, Evening  Date: 1898–99 Culture: American:

Dress, Evening Date: 1898–99 Culture: American, MetMuseum

 

1900s evening dress:

Musée de la Mode

 

 

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Back to basics

In my plans for 2017, one of the big projects was a burgundian gown. That means medieval, 15th century to be exact, and a totally new period for me. And, of course, a new period means new underwear.

Medieval underwear is relatively simple, especially compared to the 1870’s bustle period I did last time. Although not a lot has survived from the era, we have enough visual material to get an idea. The general consensus seems to be that a smock/shift of linnen is worn close to the skin. Linnen could be easily washed and bleached, and was therefore suitable as first layer. You see both sheer and solid smocks, with straps or long sleeves. We know very little about construction, the most common guess is that these are similar to smocks in later centuries.

Lara Corsets - 15th century guide to Women's clothing during England's War of the Roses. The detail on some of these images is astounding.:

Smock with longer sleeves

corset-like undergarments? You can see the lines of stitching which form channels for what is probably cording. An undergarment like this would completely explain the shape and fit kyrtles from the mid14th century thru the 15th. I don't buy the tight, supportive dress theory at all. A corseted chemise such as these would be far cheaper to make in the first place and remake ...:

Smocks with straps

On top of the smock you normally see a kirtle, a basic dress. Kirtles come in various types, short/long sleeves, lacing front or sides, with/without waistseam. They are often worn as under-dress, but also on their own for the lower classes/work wear. A burgundian gown would always have at least one kirtle underneath. Evidence also exists that more than one kirtle was worn at times.

Les Tres Riches Heures du Jean, Duc de Berry, created in 1416:

Short-sleeved kirtle on top of a long-sleeved smock

 

Kirtles also often seem to serve as supportive garments. One medieval bra-like garment has survived, so these did exist, but they seem to’ve been more rare. Generally, the kirtle is cut in such a way that it sits very flush to the body, especially under the bust. That provides the necessary lift/comfort.

Bild

Lengberg castle bra

 

So, before I start on my burgundian gown I’m making both a linnen smock and linnen kirtle. The kirtle is in progress, the smock is done! I’ve chosen to make a long-sleeved smock, as you often see hints of smock sleeves beneath kirtles with short sleeves. I also want quite a low neckline, so I can wear it underneath any type of kirtle neckline.

The pattern I went with is quite simple, identical front & back. A basic flared bodice block, with straight sleeves with gusset. Main inspiration came from the Medieval Tailor’s assistant book, although I kept the bodice straight down to the waist and flared from there. It’s made of plain linen.

Basic construction was done by machine to save on time, because no one is ever going to see the main construction seams on my smock. Finishing was all done by hand. In the end, I might have cut the neckline a bit too deep and it tends to fall off my shoulders when worn on it’s own. I suspect wearing a tight-fitting kirtle on top will fix that though, so I’m okay with it.

This is the only construction image I took… Finishing the neckline in a very narrow seam, because I’d cut it a bit too deep.

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And finished! I should probably iron it a bit…

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The finished neckline

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Holding out the sleeve, sowing the gusset and basic rectangle construction.

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