2018 plans

I’ve already done the 2017 in review, so now it’s time to look ahead!

I actually haven’t made too many specific plans for this year yet, but I do have a couple of ‘unfinished’ projects. These have either been started, or I’ve bought the fabric with a very specific purpose in mind.

The first project of the year is already done! An 17th century chemise for underneath my 1660’s dress.

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The only unfinished project I have at the moment is a pair of 18th century stays. These got pushed to the side line by other projects, but are already some way done. Those’ll be next. A little teaser:

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I also have two vintage-style dresses I still want to make. These were first planned for last year, but got pushed away by other projects. I have both the fabric and the patterns though, so these are high on the list. (Hopefully before it becomes too warm for long sleeves…?)

This, in a black floral.

Simplicity - 8050

And this one, in a grey plaid.

Simplicity - 8251

 

Another thing I’m thinking of is to make the steeple butterfly henin to go with my burgundian dress. That was the original plan, but due to lack of time I first made a smaller, flowerpot style henin. I do love the slight crazyness of the style though, so I’d like to make the taller one as well.

The lady in yellow has the hanging part of the veil folded back up. Note the gold loops. This image is from King René's tournament book.

 

Those are the concrete plans! After that, it gets a little more vague, but I do have a number of fabrics I want to use next year.

I think I might first go towards the 18th century. I’ve made a bum roll and petticoat for the 17th dress, those would both work for 18th century, and with the stays made I’d only need a shift to complete the undergarments. I also have an 18th century themed event in October, so that’d be a good goal.

I just got this silver damask fabric, and I think it’d be perfect for a round gown. I like the idea of starting the 18th century journey with a round gown, as it’s really one garment and doesn’t require a separate petticoat. Most round gowns are also relatively simple trim-wise (they often don’t have any), so that allows me to really focus on fit and silhouette. Plus, with the damask fabric many frills aren’t necessary.

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Something like this dress from the MET? I like the idea of matching my fabric with a black belt. And white lace and fichu?

Ensemble | American | The Met

 

What gets made also depends on events as well. If I have a time-specific event, that’ll probably be what gets made first. I have plenty of fabric and ideas in any case.

One is a sheer black cotton I was thinking of making an early Victorian dress of. Something like this? I love how the sheerness of the fabric is used in the design.

Vanaf 1830 komt de nadruk steeds meer te liggen op wijduitstaande rokken. Door vele onderrokken te dragen wordt dit effect bereikt. De zware rokkenvracht…

 

But I also have the materials for several other possibilities. A gorgeous red/black/gold plaid silk, combined with black maybe for this left number?

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Der Bazar 1886

 

Or a light gold flower patterned silk which was talking about the 1830’s to me.

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For something like this maybe?

Evening dress | British | The Met

 

It’s fun to dream in any case! I might do another post with plans half way through the year, if stuff is more concrete by then :).

Aside from the dressmaking plans, I also want to visit a few more historical events this year. I’d wanted to in 2017 as well, but things got sold out so some fell through. In the end, I only went to Bath and missed all more local events. This year has started off well though, as the first historical ball is already past! I also have a regency ball in my calendar in May, so either the red/white or the blue/silver dress will finally get a proper outing. And in October there’s a soiree with an 18th century theme, to which I hope to wear something 18th century. The theme for this is not as strict, so other historical stuff is also allowed, but I’d like to make something new. If the silver round gown gets made, I’ll probably wear it there! And who knows, some more events might come up!

The 1660’s dress in action! New-year’s ball in Ghent

Last weekend I wore the full 1660’s ensemble for the first time! Although I’d been looking at this period for longer, the theme of this years new-years ball in the opera of Ghent was the perfect excuse to actually start. The theme was inspired by the early days of Versailles, and was 1660 to 1715, so I was one of the ‘old fashionably’ dressed. There were a couple more beautiful 1660’s gowns, but also some wonderful late 17th century ones, which was nice as it’s not a style to see too much.

We arrived in Ghent early afternoon, had some lunch and then went to the hotel to change. Luckily, we had quite some space and very good mirrors in the room, which really helped with changing. Doing some last-minute sewing, hair, and actually getting dressed took some time, and we were ready just in time for the ball!

My hair was inspired by these images:

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I curled the front of my hair with rags, put in the evening before the ball. As it looks quite ridiculous with the rags in, I wore a vintage-style most of the day. Perfect for hiding curlers! I’m really happy with how my hair turned out, a big thanks to Josselin for helping me, as it did require more than 2 hands!

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The ball itself was very nice, with quite a lot of dancing. There was a dance room, a room to sit and one where you could get drinks. Other than the dancing, there was not much in terms of entertainment and there was no food, but given the price of the evening I expected this, and I wanted to dance anyway. There was also a small baroque-dance demonstration at the end, which was very nice to see.

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Watching the demonstration

 

The building was really beautiful, and fit in perfectly with the dress code. Thanks to Josselin for these images, as I forgot my pocket and left my phone in my bag most of the evening…

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All in all, I had a lot of fun, and will definitely keep an eye out for next year’s theme!

The pictures of the full outfit!

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17th century shift

Although I finished my 1660s gown nicely on time in 2017, the outfit wasnt’t quite complete yet. Most importantly, I still needed a shift!

In many 1660’s portraits, you see large white ‘under’ sleeves beneath the bodice sleeves, which are (I suspect) usually the sleeves of the shift. Additionally, you often get a bit of white fabric above the neckline of the bodice. Again, probably usually the shift.

Although you see many different styles, both in neckline and undersleeve, this was the look I was going for.

Caspar Netscher The lady at the window (1666, Heydt Museum Wuppertal)

Caspar Netscher The lady at the window (1666, Heydt Museum Wuppertal)

 

So a large pouf with a ruffle beneath the sleeve, and a thin white band above the neckline.

Just in comparison, some of the other styles I found.

Many Dutch portraits show the more ‘modest’ (protestant?) look with narrow sleeve cuffs and/or a large lace collar. I might try my hand at these as well some time, but for the ball I wanted a more ‘evening’ look.

Portret van een jonge vrouw, Isaack Luttichuys, 1656 - Rijksmuseum

Portret van een jonge vrouw, Isaack Luttichuys, 1656 – Rijksmuseum

 

You also sometimes see a clear ruffle above the neckline, instead of just a narrow band.

c. 1668 Elizabeth Wriothesley, Countess of Northumberland, later Countess of Montagu (1646-90) by Peter Lely

c. 1668 Elizabeth Wriothesley, Countess of Northumberland, later Countess of Montagu (1646-90) by Peter Lely

 

Additionally, some sleeves seem to be gathered up and pinned, instead of having the ‘pouf’. You also see some sheer fabric in the necklines, which is different from the sleeves. I suspect these are separate and draped on top, although I’m by no means an expert.

Diary of a Mantua Maker: 1670s Gown

Margaretha Van Raephorst by Johannes Mijtens, 1668

 

Basically the main conjecture for shifts seems to be: gathered neckline, with or without extra ruffle, and long wide sleeves, either pinned up or gathered into a pouf. The portraits showing ladies in their underwear seem to confirm this.

Two portraits of Nell Gwyn. The first shows the gathered strip at the neckline.

Nell Gwyn, was a long-time mistress of King Charles II of England. Called "pretty, witty Nell" by Samuel Pepys, she has been regarded as a living embodiment of the spirit of Restoration England and has come to be considered a folk heroine, with a story echoing the rags-to-royalty tale of Cinderella.

Portrait of Nell Gwyn.
Painting by Sir Peter Lely

 

This second one is just gathered at the top.

Nell Gwyn (v 1680) by Simon Verelst (1644-1721)

Nell Gwyn (v 1680) by Simon Verelst (1644-1721)

 

In the end, I chose to base my shift on the one made by Before the Automobile. I liked her method of seamless gores, and it ticked also the boxes of having a pouf sleeve (although I made mine slightly longer) and a band at the neckline.

I sort-of measured the neckline to get the width of the finished shift, and cut my pieces about 2x as wide to allow for gathering. The shift is about 1m long from the neckline down. The eventual pattern pieces about these sizes: Front: 75 wide, 100cm long. Back: 75 wide, 105cm long, Sleeves: 60 wide, 50 long, Gussets: 13×13, Gores: 70 wide at the bottom, length to fit with front & back.

Before any gathering. The back is slightly higher than the front.

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I sewed most of the shift by machine as I wanted to finish it in a day. I might go back and hand-finish the seams from the inside.

The sleeves were hemmed with a small hand-sewn hem-stitch though, as these will show underneath the dress. (I need to iron them I see…)

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Some more pictures (apologies for the grainy quality, I won’t have any opportunities to take pictures with daylight for 2 weeks, so it was dark when I took these).

The gathering on the neckline and sleeve.

 

Left is the view from under the arm, from the side. The gusset is inserted into the gore, which is cut open, and then attached to the sleeve. And left is the finished shift!

 

 

2017 in review

A new year means time to look back to what I’ve done last year!

I had some concrete plans, and some more tentative ideas. The concrete plans were for the first half of the year. These were: a balayeuse for the 1870’s gown, a day bodice for said gown, a bodice & overskirt for the 1870’s dress of a friend, finish the red fancy spencer, and a 1940s floral dress.

Of those, only the floral dress hasn’t been done, so pretty good in total!

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The balayeuse

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1870’s day/dinner bodice

 

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A bodice, belt and overskirt for Marije

 

A very fancy spencer

 

The tentative plans were: a red 18th century cloak, a brocade burgundian gown and steeple henin, a satin 1660’s dress and a black-white 1870’s dress.

Of these, the burgundian got made but the henin was simplified into a flowerpot style. The 1660’s happened, but in a much fancier fabric and with a different design than I was first thinking of.

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A damask burgundian gown.

 

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The 1660’s gown. This became a much larger project, as I wanted to do the fancier fabric and trim justice.

 

And, of course, I also made some things which weren’t on the list. In addition to the 1870s day bodice, I also made a hat and chemisette. The burgundian gown actually started with a linen smock, and then kirtle, which I hadn’t planned at the beginning of the year. Although not the one planned, I did make 2 vintage dresses, one 1940s and one 1930s. I also made a full 1880’s winter ensemble, and a corset to match.

 

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Chemisette for the 1870’s dress. I also made a hat and bag.

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A medieval smock

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An medieval kirtle and veil

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An 1940’s dress inspired by my grandmother.

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An 1930’s dress from an original pattern.

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An 1880s corset

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An 1880’s winter ensemble, underskirt, overskirt, bodice, hat and muff.

 

All in all, a pretty productive year! I also visited a number of fashion exhibitions, which was really great. And I went to Bath for the Victorian ball. Stay tuned for some tentative plans for next year!

1660’s skirt & full ensemble pictures

The skirt for the 1660’s dress was quite a bit simpler to make than the bodice. The skirts of this period are basically rectangles pleated to fit a waistband, so no tricky patterning there. The main question was: how wide should my hem be?

I looked at some other costumers for information, as the book I based the bodice on didn’t have a matching skirt in it. Some very helpful blog posts were by the Dreamstress, Before the Automobile and Demode. From their research I found that skirts are typically between 115″ and 150″ wide, so between 2,9m and 3,8m. My problem now was that I wanted to use full widths of my fabric, and have a very full skirt. With 1,5m wide fabric, that meant choosing between a 3m or 4,5m wide hem. The 3m would probably be more historically accurate, but with my very fancy gold fabric, I didn’t want to have a relatively narrow skirt. So in the end, I went with a 4,5m wide hem. A little wide, but the fabric is quite lightweight for the period, so it doesn’t look too much to my eye.

After sewing the 3 skirt panels together, leaving a slit center back, it was time for pleating. There’s some debate on whether skirts of this period are cartridge pleated, or knife pleated. I believe the main consensus is that they’re probably very wide cartridge pleats, folded to one side so they look like knife pleats. The extra threads of the cartridge pleating hold them in place though.

I opted for slightly narrower pleats, mostly because I had to fit 4,5m to my waistband, which was quite a lot. The cartridge stitches are 1cm wide, and I made 4 rows to about 10cm deep. I cheated slightly on the markings, and omitted those. Instead, I marked my finger and then stitched the next rows in the same place by eye. Not quite as neat as marking, but a lot less work.

Black marks the width, red the height for the first row.

 

Pulling the pleats in is one of the fun bits!

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I first bound the inside of the pleats to a piece of linen tape, to hold them in place. After that the waistband was stitched on, pushing the pleats to lie (somewhat) flat towards the back.

The inside, with tape to keep the pleats in place (left), and stitching the waistband on (right)

 

The hem was faced with grey linen I had in my stash.

I have one little pieced bit of hem on my skirt, underneath the lace. This was a measuring mistake on my part, where I thought I could cut more than I could in reality. I started with two coupons of 3m of fabric, and with piecing I could leave myself with one piece of about 2m, instead of two pieces of 1m. So I chose to mend the little ‘gap’, and as it’s underneath the lace, it barely shows.

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The top part of the lace in this picture will be the hem, so all of the piecing is covered in the end.

 

All the lace was stitched on first, and then the hem facing and waistband were added. The stitching only shows on the inside where there’s a single layer of fabric. I used the same netting as for the bodice, and the scalloped trim I also put on the sleeves. The other (prettier) scalloping I used on the bodice I only had a little off, so barely enough for the bodice alone. But despite the different laces, I think it works pretty well!

There are 6 ties on the inside. 2 are actually near the front, on the sides of the ‘flat’ piece. This is the only part of the skirt to go under the bodice, and in this way you can tie that part in place, then put on the bodice, and afterwards tie the rest of the skirt. I got the idea from Demode’s blog, who in turn looked at these pictures of the Bath dress, taken by Cathy Hay. (This is why I love the online community). The other 4 ties are in the back, I made 4 so the back might overlap a bit (difficult with 2 ties center back).

Above: putting the front ties on, below is a look from the inside of the skirt.

 

I also made a bum roll to go underneath, and a grey linen petticoat, following this great tutorial. The grey linen was originally intended for something medieval, but no concrete plans. So I used most for the petticoat, and the rest to bind the hem of the skirt. Stashbusting!

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The bum roll, it’s almost a croissant!

 

The skirt finishes off the look! So some pictures of the whole dress, only lacking a chemise now.

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More pictures!

And some details