Chintz in the Fries museum – How chintz was worn

My second post about the exhibition ‘Sits – katoen in bloei’ (Chintz – cotton in bloom) in the Fries Museum! My first post was about color and patterns, and before that I wrote this post, which has more terminology and history about the fabric.

In this post I’ll try to go into the specific chintz garments which were on display. What garments were made of chintz; how where they worn and in what context.

Also: all my pictures of the exhibition are now online on my pinterest board and facebook page, so to see everything you can go there! I took too many images for even two blog posts. For this post; click on the image for the full view.

Chintz on chintz

Most jackets and skirt combinations in the exhibition were made of 2 different chintz fabrics. A while back I posted a promotion image for the exhibition on Facebook with such a combination, and it sparked a question from some people. Were (chintz) print-on-print combinations really a thing?

This is the skirt from the promotion image, here worn with another chintz jacket.

 

Now I know that Dutch 18th century clothing, especially middle class (/small town/countryside), was quite colorful. There are a number of prints which show combinations of chintz with striped skirts, and ton-sur-ton skirts like this, this or this (same-color pattern & ground), and checkered or patterned aprons, checkered kerchiefs or with chintz sunhats. So different prints together is definitely seen. However, I couldn’t find any clear examples paintings showing a chintz skirt combined with a chintz jacket. This print might be. But then again, either jacket or skirt might also be silk, or a simpler European cotton or linen print, it’s difficult to see. The only example I could find which clearly shows chintz on chintz is  a doll. But given that the petticoat and skirt were often inter-changeable in the 18th century depending on the fancy of the wearer, this might be an example of skirts being mixed up. All in all, I wouldn’t take that as enough evidence that it was commonly done.

Even though I still think it’s very pretty

 

So, in the end, I decided to ask the fashion curator of the Fries museum, and of this exhibition. She gave a presentation about the exhibition at the meeting of the Dutch costume society, and I approached her afterwards. Her answer: it was probably not common to wear a chintz skirt with a different chintz jacket. Mostly, chintz jackets would’ve been worn on top of the same chintz fabric skirt, or on top of a silk or wool skirt. Many chintz skirts would’ve been worn as underskirt (which you could still see when lifting the skirts a bit), however, she had also seen chintz skirt which were clearly meant as top skirt. In this case, if not worn with a same-chintz jacket, they would’ve probably been worn with a solid color jacket. This is not saying that you’d absolutely never would see a chintz jacket on a chintz petticoat, but it probably wasn’t the common way of wearing it. Similarly, the ‘onderst’ worn to fill in the neckline (see a section below for more info) was often made of chintz. With a chintz jacket, however, a solid (white) onderst was most likely worn, the chintz ondersts being worn with solid color jackets.

Girl’s combination of skirt and jacket.

 

In the case of this exhibition, she choose to display the chintz skirts and jackets together, as this was an exhibition specifically about chintz, and those are the items you want on display. Something I completely understand, as there’s only so much space, and you want to show as much as possible without cluttering. The only exception was this lovely combination of a chintz jacket with a corded quilted silk petticoat.

 

 

Oost-indisch bont

The apron in the image above is interesting. It is made of what we’d call ‘oost-indisch bont’ in Dutch, which would roughly translate to ‘east-indian motley’. It is a cotton fabric originally from India, and just as chintz, it was taken to the Netherlands by the east-indian trading company (hence the name). It was used mostly for aprons and kerchiefs, and just like chintz, it stuck around in many traditional costumes in the Netherlands. It’s funny how I’d now consider it a very typically Dutch fabric, while it actually came from Asia.

Another example of oost-indisch bont, here in apron and kerchief.

 

 

Onderst

I mentioned the ‘onderst’ before. This was the name given in Friesland, in most of the Netherlands we’d call this a ‘kraplap’, or ‘kroplap’, in Zeeland they’d say ‘beuk’, and I’ve heard ‘halsje’ in Noord-Holland. It’s an interesting garment because it doesn’t seem to have an international equivalent, at least in the 18th century. It’s very like a partlet, or a chemisette. But the term ‘partlet’ I’ve only ever heard for the 16th and early 17th century, and chemisette is a typically 19th century term. I believe that the 16th century partlet stuck around in the Netherlands well into the 17th, and eventually the 18th century. The image below shows a girl in ‘undress'(full dress would have a jacket on top) clearly wearing a partlet, this painting is from ca. 1665, so quite ‘late’ for a partlet.

Reynier Hals, Woman with Needlework, ca. 1665. Frans Hals Museum #franshalsmuseum #haarlem #art

It’s very difficult to still find images of the 18th century equivalent though, which might have several reasons. There’s not as many paintings of lower classes in the Netherlands in this century, and this item was most likely worn primarily in the countryside and smaller towns. Another reason is that it was generally covered by one or even two kerchiefs, which make it nearly invisible in the paintings and prints which do exist. However, we know for sure that they were worn, because there are many existent examples, and they show up in doll’s clothes and inventory lists frequently. The 18th century onderst was typically made with a front and back rectangle, sewn together at the shoulder seams and a ‘hole’ for the head (I’ve never seen any with a slit in front). It was attached by putting tapes from the front through loops in the back. Many would’ve been white, with or without lace (see the pictures of jackets at the beginning of this post), but there are also many chintz examples. They had a whole wall filled with them at the exhibition. Click for the full-size version and to read the text below.

Kraplappen, or 'onderst' as called in Friesland. Worn as a partlet or chemisette, this was a typical clothing item for Dutch women in smaller cities or on the countryside.

 

Sun hats

There was also a display of a number of different sunhats on display. These hats are made of straw, but have a chintz lining which extends around to the top to form a border (I think +- 10cm wide? Couldn’t see the top on these). They’re made of the most beautiful fabrics.

Loved this one. Look at the bird and the insects!

 

These sunhats are a little different in shape than the better known round straw bergere hats. These ones might even be larger (although I haven’t seen a bergere in person, so estimating based on portraits), but the main difference is that the hole head is at the back. This creates a large shape only in front of the head. This shape has everything to do with the lace head dresses popular in Friesland in the 18th century. The lace caps started modest, but as fashion does, changed to rather extreme proportions. These caps are called a ‘Duitse muts’ nowadays, and they had one gorgeous example on display. This was my first time seeing one in person!

Look at all that lace!

 

The cap is worn on top of an under cap and an oorijzer, which would’ve helped keeping the cap in place on the head. The front is kept up by a wire running through the lace around the edge. The exhibition also had a little booklet showing a woman wearing both a cap like this and a chintz sunhat. The only thing which isn’t depicted correctly are the ribbons hanging loose. In real life, you have to hold on to those ribbons continuously because otherwise the hat would fall forwards. Although the wire in the cap is strong enough to keep up the lace, it wouldn’t be able to support the full straw hat!

 

 

Hindeloopen

The exhibition also had a large number of items from Hindeloopen, a town which nowadays is known for the chintz in it’s traditional costume. Although not worn daily since the 19th century, the town still keeps the costume alive. The chintz parts are the jackets, which is either long, called ‘wentke’, or short, called ‘kassakijntje (from cassaquin I believe).

For mourning. I love how you can see the faint outlines where the wax was folded and the indigo seeped through in this fabric.

 

The kassakijntjes were a little harder to photograph as they were further away on a wall, but here are three lovely examples. The construction seems the same as for the wentke, just shorter.

 

 

To finish off, another wentke, this time for out of mourning. It should be noted that this costume contains many other bits and pieces to form a full outfit. These items would never be worn with ‘regular’ 18th century fashion.

I love the top-stitching on all of these. All wentkes I saw had it, and it’s so neatly done.

 

Chintz in the 19th century

Chintz as fabric for clothing is very much an 18th century thing. However, it keeps very well, and as fabric was expensive, re-use was extremely common. Especially for the middle and lower classes, this meant that just because something was a bit old fashioned, didn’t mean it wouldn’t be worn anymore. We therefore also see jackets with a high waistline, worn in the early 19th century, in reused chintz.

This jacket below belonged to a lady on her marriage, and accounts show she had two other identically cut jackets. The other two were of fine muslin, this one is remade from a chintz skirt. This probably would’ve been more of a working jacket as the fabric was more old fashioned. But also more practical than the fine, thin cottons so popular at the time.

 

Another great example of re-use is the early 19th century girl’s jacket below. It is made of 76 different pieces of chintz fabric. Talk about piecing!

 

Unusual jackets

The two ensembles I started off this post with both had gorgeous chintz jackets. Because both are a bit unusual I wanted to show them in more detail.

The green jacket has a very interesting front closure of zig-zags, leaving little dimond cut-outs to show off the stomacher underneath. The zig-zags close with hooks and eyes center front.

 

I’d seen the green jacket in pictures before I went tot he exhibition, and it was one of the things I was most looking forward to seeing. It was stunning in person, but I think my favorite jacket was actually the other one I showed before, this red one. The color is so stunning in person. We know that this jacket was worn in the province of Noord-Holland.

 

This jacket is a bit unusual in several ways. Firstly, it laces in the front instead of closing with hooks and eyes. Practically all fancy jackets in this museum close with hooks and eyes. Front-lacing jackets exist, but these were all worn as under-jackets or for very informal occasions. This red jacket, however, is too fancy for that, it was almost certainly worn as a top jacket.

The other unusual thing is the neckline, 18th century necklines are generally square, this one is almost v-shaped. Additionally, it has a collar-like shape around the neckline. I’d never seen this before, and I commented on this during my talk to the curator of the exhibition. She confirmed it was unusual, but also referred to a portrait of a girl in a blue chintz jacket which also shows a collar like shape. I’d seen this portrait before but hadn’t noticed the collar, but it’s definitely there! It’s pointed instead of round, but it also shows a neckline in a (shallower) v. I’m taking this to mean that these type of collars weren’t unheard of, and I personally think the style is very pretty. If anyone’s ever seen any other examples of this style I’d love to see!

A final thing I noticed about this jacket are little white thread loops on the collar. The curator didn’t know for sure what these were for either. One possible explanation might be to tie a kerchief of fichu in place? As before, if anyone has any idea of their purpose I’d love to know!

 

 

 

Chintz in the Fries museum – color & pattern

Last weekend I finally got a chance to visit the current exhibition on chintz in the Fries museum, ‘Sits – Katoen in bloei’, or ‘Chintz – Cotton in bloom’. It was stunning! I had to force myself to look at one thing at a time, because as soon as I turned around I’d see so much more loveliness. We went on Friday and saw the exhibition, and then enjoyed a lovely day with talks on Saturday, organized by the Dutch costume society. This included a very interesting talk by the curator of the exhibition Gieneke Arnolli, and we took the opportunity to visit again after her talk and see some things we’d missed first time! (To all my Dutch readers: it’s definitely recommended, I’d go again for a 3rd if I lived closer by. It’s running until September 11th)

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Seriously, I could look at this all day

 

Because I love chintz (see this post for a very extensive history and background), I’m going to split my blog about the exhibition into two parts. I’ve learned some more things, and because I now have loads of photos of the lovely chintz items I can illustrate this post with! Click the image for a larger version. I’ll also work on uploading all my images and link to those in the next post, as there’s way too much for even two blog posts.

For this first post: a little more about the use of color in chintz, and the various patterns.

The colors and patterns or chintz are made on bleached cotton, making white the first color you see in chintz. Lines are made in a black/dark brown color. Aside from this, the main colors are often made with meekrap (red) and indigo (blue), and you see shades of red and blue a lot. Additionally, purple sometimes occurs, as well as yellow and green.

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Beautiful wall-hanging with tree patterns and a wide array of colors.

Nowadays, we think of chintz mainly having a white ground, with colored flowers and leafs. But that’s quite a western view on chintz. Many chintzes for the Asian market were made with a read ground. In contrast, the English (and I believe also the American) market greatly favored white-ground chintz, and you barely see any colored grounds. Although the majority of Dutch chintz also has a white ground,  In the Netherlands, you see a relatively high amount of chintzes with colored ground. Mostly red, but also blue, green, purple, dark brown and even ‘spotted’ ground. I personally love these, and the museum had some lovely examples.

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Young girl’s jacket in red ground chintz.

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Dark brown ground on a girl’s dress

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Blue ground sleeves

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Spotted ground on a jacket. This shows the pleats in the back

 

 

Interesting to note is that the colored ground chintz is mostly used for blankets/spreads, sleeves, baby caps and jackets. Skirts of chintz are most commonly white. All the sunhat linings in this exhibition were also with a white ground. For the kraplappen (I’ll go into their use in the next post!), you see mostly white but also some red.

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Detail of a skirt.

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Detail of a kraplap, Indian chintz with a white ground.

 

In contrast, the town of Hindeloopen uses a lot of red ground in their traditional costume.

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Detail of a Wentke from Hindeloopen. This might’ve been the prettiest fabric in the exhibition.

 

Traditionally, chintz practically always included white (either as ground or detail color), black (mostly lines), and both red and blue as main colors. However, in the Netherlands we also have a number of two-colored chintz. White-black, white-blue and white-red. These were probably specifically made for the Dutch market, and especially in Hindeloopen worn for very specific occasions.

Hindeloopen had a very specific mourning tradition, with up to 7 stages of mourning. Although chintz wasn’t worn for the heaviest stage (all black), the black-white chintz comes into play for the ‘slightly-less heavy’ stages.

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Back of a Wentke for heavier mourning.

 

In an even lighter mourning stage, blue would enter the scene, and you get gorgeous white-blue ensembles for light mourning. As ‘out-of-mourning’ dress was mostly red, this relatively light-colored combo of white-blue would still clearly signal mourning.

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Wentke for lighter mourning.

 

Finally, you see red-white chintz in Hindeloopen as well. This was called ‘milk & blood’ chintz, and was worn by the bride.

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Milk & blood chintz on a kassekijntje, or cassaquin from Hindeloopen

 

Something else I’d never seen before this exhibition was the use of gold. This was usually reserved for the Indian upper class instead of export, and therefore very rare in European chintz. Nevertheless, the museum had a couple of sleeves and a spread with leaf gold on display.

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Detail of sleeves from Hindeloopen with leaf gold.

 

Although not really a color, something very specific about chintz is it’s glaze. I’ve seen a lot of reproduction patterns which feel like chintz, but don’t have this shine. It’s gorgeous though, and definitely best experienced in person. Although some chintz has lost some of it’s shine (it can wash off), the museum had a piece of a roll which is still in an amazing condition.

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Piece of two-tone chintz still on the roll and in very good condition. The angle of the picture makes it catch the light.

 

Pattern wise, all chintz has flower inspired patterns. Originally, these were very stylized and oriental in appearance. However, the European marked also started to influence Indian makers. Although it’s exoticism was a big draw of chintz, you do see it becoming just a little more European in style as well. From very large, asymmetrical patterns and stylized flowers, you start to see more geometrical patterns and more natural flowers.

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Indian chintz, flat flowers and asymmetrical placing.

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Back of a jacket. Chintz made in India, but the rose motif is distinctly more European looking.

 

Additionally, you also get European cotton prints imitating Indian chintz. Some is of high quality, but most of the time the European prints are just a little less in quality.

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Detail of an informal jacket. The sleeves are made of higher quality Indian chintz, while the body is European cotton print, which would’ve been cheaper.

 

 

And despite the flower theme, you get other motifs as well! Little insects and birds show up in chintz, but every now and then you get other patterns. On blankets you see heraldry, but also more animals and people. There was a skirt with hunting scenes. And one of the skirts had a very unusual border of ships of the West-Indian Company.

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Detail of a skirt border showing hunting scenes amid the flowers.

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Exotic bird on a jacket (re-made from skirt fabric).

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Unusual skirt border, showing ships of the West-Indian Trading company.

 

 

That was it for today, in the next post I’ll go into the different items of clothing (jackets, skirts, etc), some particularities of the items and how they might’ve been worn. I’ll also include a link to all my pictures in that post, as I have way more than fit into a blog!

Chintz

This post has been a while in the making! I’ve been wanting to write a terminology post about chintz for a while, but I wanted to do it right and include a bit of the history, how it was used and how it was made. That made it a bit longer than I’d originally envisioned, so be ready for a rather extensive overview! (If you don’t like those, feel free to just look at the pictures, chintz is very pretty!)

Chintz is a name referring to cotton fabric or paper with flower patterns. In this post, I’ll give some information on the historical fabric. It’s one of my favorite patterns, it’s often used in historical (mainly 18th century) dress and in Dutch folk costume. I’ll try go give a brief overview of the history of chintz, it’s characteristics, patterns and how it’s used in fashion. My focus will be on chintz in the Netherlands and traded by the East-Indian Trading company, but I’ll also try to give some more global information.

A short definition

Lets start with a brief section on the term ‘Chintz’ I’m using. In Dutch, we call this fabric ‘Sits’, and it refers to the glazed cotton painted and/or printed with flowered patterns, originally coming from India. This post is about what the Dutch would call ‘sits’. The translation in English is the term ‘chintz’. In time the English term chintz has evolved and become the name of many different types of flower patterns as well as the original patterns. It’s also sometimes used for basic plain cotton. I’ll focus on the Dutch meaning for ‘sits’ or chintz in this post. Most of those chintzes are 17th or 18th century, maybe early 19th century. All later chintz fabrics are based on these historical patterns. They were originally Indian, but when chintz gained popularity it was also produced in Europe. I’ll start off with some images, to clarify what I’m talking about.

 

This is Indian chintz:

BK-BR-328b

Part of a kids blanket, quilted, ca. 1725 – ca. 1750. Made in India. Collection Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

 

Stylized flower patterns. The most typical version is of blue and red flowers on a pale background. There are different colors as well though. This is also Indian chintz:

BK-1971-118b

Detail of Palempore of chintz with tree pattern , ca. 1725 – ca. 1750, India. Collection Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

 

These two examples are typical for the type of floral patterns. The chintz below is much more ‘European looking’, but still also made in India (very probably for the European market though). As you can see, it has a much later date, indicating how the chintz became more ‘European’ and evolved with fashion.

Chintz, ca. 1775, India. Collection Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

Chintz, ca. 1775, India. Collection Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

 

The following image is of a pattern also often named chintz (in English, it wouldn’t be ‘sits’ in Dutch), but which is much more modern than Indian chintzes. To my eye, it’s also much more English, and there’s generally a lot more roses and pink in these more modern fabrics. This is not what this post’ll be about. A good indication if a chintz is Indian or Indian-inspired is to look at colors. Original chintz was mostly white, blue and red. The reason for this is that the white cotton was dyed with natural dyes, which were mostly red and blue, with some yellow. All other colors were a mix of those. Greens and purples you see, although they are rare. Orange and pink are almost nonexistant. Another cue is the flower style, original chintz flowers were very stylized and almost ‘flat’. They became a little less stylized as time went on, but nothing as life-like as the image below.

Modern ‘Chintz’. This is not what I’ll be talking about.

 

The rise & fall in western Europe

Chintz was brought to the Netherlands by the VOC, the East-Indian Trading company. They started around 1600, but chintz didn’t really start to play a role in Europe until about 1675. It initially gained popularity as an interior fabric, later also as dress fabric.  Chintz was imported most notably from Bengalen, Ceylon, Coromandel and Suratte, the latter two being the most important. Some chintz was probably also traded into the Netherlands via England. Indian chintz was copied from the very start, but especially in the beginning these copies weren’t very good. The Indians had a way of binding the color to the cotton to make the fabrics keep their color after washing, and they hand-painted the fabrics. Early European copies didn’t keep their color well, and were block-printed instead of painted. Nevertheless, many companies started making imitations of chintz, and started trying to copy the process to keep the colors, getting more successful as they went.

Two sleeves, displaying a quality difference. Left is early 17th century chintz with a much finer pattern than the right, made around 1800. Fries museum

 

The copying happened in different European countries, but not all of them were happy with this popularity. In 1681, France banned both importing cotton and printing it to protect their silk industry. England followed in 1700 with a ban on importing chintz, and in 1721 a ban on printing cotton, again to protect it’s own linen, wool & silk industries. The English did keep trading in chintz, however, and still made printed cotton for export. Given the bans in England and France, it’s not surprising that cotton printing flourished in the Netherlands from that time.

This started changing around 1750, when the economy in the Netherlands started to fail. The bans in France were lifted in 1759, giving rise to a flourishing cotton print industry. One of the most well-known chintz factories, Oberkampf, was located near Versailles in Jouy-en-Josas. This town still gives it’s name to the famous toile-de-jouy fabrics.

Cotton printed fabric. This sample was made by Oberkampf around 1800. These type of fabrics are still known as toile-de-jouy, after it’s original place of creation. V&A. (We wouldn’t call this chintz though, because it lacks the stylized flower patterns)

Chintz fabric by Oberkampf, 1770–75, MET museum

 

England held on to the bans a little longer, lifting them in 1774, finally allowing printing pure cotton fabrics. New printing techniques meant they also caught up to the Netherlands quite quickly, where innovation stayed behind.

English made chintz, early 19th century. V&A

 

The chintz trading and factories disappear almost entirely in the Netherlands between 1785 and 1815. Archives show 80 chintz-shops in Amsterdam in 1742, 117 shops in 1767, but sharply falling numbers between 1771 and 1776, even more companies fail in the 1780’s. The VOC officially ceased to exist in 1800, after almost a century of decline and growing debt. Changing fashions eventually meant the end of the chintz fabrics. Even though printed cotton was there to stay, the Indian(inspired) flower fabrics went away. Several regional Dutch costumes held on to chintz a lot longer though, some surviving until today.

Interiors

A lot of chintz was not used for clothing, but for home decorations. Curtains, wall hangings and chair coverings are all seen, but bedspreads and blankets seem most popular of all. It seems that using chintz in your interior caught on a little earlier than in clothing.

Schloss Hoff, in Austria, built in 1725

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Room in dollhouse of Petronella Dunois, ca. 1676. Rijksmuseum

 

Clothing

Chintz was also often used in clothing. All existing chintz clothing is from the 18th century, when it reached it’s peak in popularity. It was already worn in the 17th century though, as shown by the girl portrait below. This is one of the earliest depictions of chintz being worn.

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Emanuel de Witte, 1678

 

Despite it’s popularity, chintz never really was used much by the upper class for their best clothes. These fashions were very much influenced by the French court (even in the Netherlands), and employed very rich fabrics. Silks most commonly, often embroidered with silver & gold thread. Nevertheless, chintz was worn by the upper classes. Initially, you mostly see it used in ‘undress’. These were clothes worn at home, for non-official occasions or items such as dressing gowns. So it were the type of clothes not many see, but also the ones for less official occasions. This probably also explains why you don’t see many portraits of high-class women wearing chintz, they owned it (records of property show this quite clearly), but didn’t wear it for such a formal thing as having your portrait painted.

What we in Dutch call a ‘Japonese gown’. A dressing gown for a man, strongly influenced by Japanese kimonos. At this point in time (early 18th century), the Dutch were the only ones allowed to trade with Japan. Fries museum

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A rare example of a chintz Francaise, many more skirts and jackets exist than gowns, Francaises are even rarer. This was probably an (upper) middle class gown. An upper class woman would’ve been more likely to use silk. Rijksmuseum, ca 1780

 

As chintz gained popularity in the highest classes, the higher middle class followed, as did the lower middle class. The lowest classes didn’t own much chintz. For the middle class, chintz would’ve been much more valuable and you therefore do see it on prints/paintings of middle class women. There wasn’t much difference between city and country wear in this.

Girl from Sneek (city in Friesland) in her wedding clothes. Tragically, she died in childbirth age 16.

 

Although we see a lot of chintz dressing gowns for men in the higher circles, it seems that for daily wear chintz was by far most commonly worn by women. Baby clothes are very common at the moment in museums, probably also because little fabric was needed, so jackets and skirts could easily be re-made into baby clothes when necessary. Because you could wash chintz well without it fading, it was very suitable.

Baby Jacket, probably re-made from a skirt.

 

By far more jackets exist nowadays than full gowns. Skirts of chintz have also survived a lot. You do see a bit more skirts, dresses and capes with the richer classes than with the middle class, where jackets are more common (Again, we know this from inventory lists). Probably because jackets require less fabric. You also often see border patterns on skirts, indicating that fabric was specifically made for skirts.

rok:

Chintz skirt

Chintz jacket on white fond, Dutch, 1810-1820. From www.rijksmuseum.nl #Friesland #Hindeloopen:

Jacket. Fries Museum

 

Aside from gowns, jackets & skirts, you also see chintz in powder capes, or as lining of sun hats.

Cape, tot iets over heup, boord en geschulpte kraag katoen sits zwart/bruin; beschilderd bloem + takje veelkleurig; voerin: wol bruin/groen; garnering: lint zijde lichtbruin:

Short chintz cape. ModeMuseum Provincie Antwerpen

zonhoed:

The lining of a sun hat, the top would be straw. This particular shape was worn over a huge lace cap in the  province of Friesland.

 

Records show that chintz was worn throughout the Netherlands, but you do see it most often in the Northwest, around the coast. This makes sense, as they are either closer to Amsterdam (the founding city of the VOC), or have their own trading ports. This is also why a lot of existent chintz is in museums in these regions.

Activiteiten sitsen - Activiteiten - Te zien en te doen - Fries Museum:

Chintz jacket & skirt in the Fries Museum, in the north of the country

 

Regional costume

When chintz started to go out of fashion, it was also in these regions in the north-west that it was kept most. During the 18th century, we know that specific regional clothing was worn in certain areas. This could be either only be a specific form of headdress, or influence more items. Chintz survived in several regional costumes much longer than it did in regular fashion. Most well known is the Frisian town of Hindeloopen, which had grown wealthy from trade. The Hindeloopen costume was worn daily by women until the 2nd half of the 19th century, but has been kept alive by an active community. The society of Aald Hielpen still wear their costume for special occasions and events. The most well-known item of the Hindeloopen costume is the Wentke, a long coat of chintz worn by the women.

Titel:Sitsen Hindeloper bruidswentke, vrouwenjas, motieven op witte grond, contouren rood  Vervaardiger: onbekend  Soort object:wentke; borstrok; jas  Vervaardigingsdatum: 1750 - 1774  Vervaardiging plaats:India  Afmeting: hoogte: 135.5 cm, hoogte: 129.0 cm, breedte: 39.0 cm, wijdte: 56.0 cm, wijdte: 192.0 cm, sits  Materiaal:katoen, linnen  Techniek: sits:

Hindelooper bridal costume.

Coat (Wentke) #Friesland #Hindeloopen:

Back of a Wentke. Red patterns were most common, blue was worn for mourning.

 

Indian chintz survives up to today in the costume of Bunschoten-Spakenburg, which is still worn daily by a group of women. They wear an item called a ‘kraplap’ over the shoulders, made of heavily starched cotton. It can be made in all types of patterns, but the most valued are the ones from original Indian chintz. Because the kraplap has grown in size over the centuries, the original kraplappen don’t have enough fabric. If you’re lucky enough to find 2 of the same fabric, they are very carefully pieced together. These are the most valuable of kraplapen, and very coveted.

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Back of a kraplap made of 18th century chintz fabric.

 

Process

Chintz is a cotton fabric, with the colors being applied after weaving (as opposed to brocade for instance, where the pattern is woven in with the cloth). How exactly the colors were applied depends on location and time. Below a rough overview, as I’m not a chemist, nor an expert on dying. Be aware that the exact substances used could differ.

Original Indian chintz was mostly hand painted, sometimes block printed with smaller wooden blocks. This chintz had a very specific process to apply the different colors. Base colors were blue, red and yellow. Green and purple exist in chintzes as well, but would always be made by applying blue/yellow and blue/red on top of each other. The very special thing about Indian chintz was that it held its colors really well. This was due to the dying process used, some which weren’t discovered yet in Europe when chintz was first imported.

The first step (after bleaching and preparing the cotton) were the black outlines. These were painted directly on the fabric. After the black, the red would be applied. The red dye wouldn’t actually be applied to the fabric though. Instead, everything which would have to turn red was treated with mordant, a chemical substance which would later bind the color to the fabric. If there would be a ‘white’ area within the red, this would first be treated with wax before the mordant was applied. After applying the mordant (once or twice for lighter or brighter red), the cloth is dried and washed and rinsed. The mordant has now set, and only then the whole cloth is put into a dye bath, where only the parts treated with mordant will change color. After dying, the whole cloth can be bleached a bit again, because the white might’ve changed a bit to yellow. The next step would be to apply the blue, painting with indigo. For indigo, everything which does not need to be blue would be covered in wax. The wax-covered cloth would then in its entirety be put into the indigo dye. After dying, the cloth would be boiled to remove the wax again. After the blue, some fabrics would be treated with red again for brighter colors. Lastly, the yellow would be painted on, on top of the blue where you’d want green. This yellow tends to be a bit less well washable than the blue and red though.

In Europe, most chintzes were printed instead of hand painted, with large printing blocks. To be able to use the mordants with blocks, it had to be thickened as opposed to the very thin mordant used for painting. Another difference was that in Europe, some techniques existed enabling the printers to directly dye blue with the indigo, without having to use the wax method. For yellow, Europeans mostly used a mordant again, as opposed to the direct dye used in India.

These fabrics below were made when an interest in chintz began to rise again in the early 20th century and show the process. Collection of the V&A

Chintz process samplesChintz process samplesChintz process samplesChintz process samplesChintz process samplesChintz process samplesChintz process samples

 

As a final step, most chintz was glazed by applying pressure to the cloth. Many of the reproductions I’ve seen of chintz miss this glaze, but it is very apparent on most originals! That shine to the fabric is also one of the things which gives it it’s luxurious appearance.

 

More pictures: If you want to see more examples of chintz clothing, like the red chintz gown below, I’ve got a pinterest board on chintz here.

Japon. Het japonlijf heeft een vierkante hals. Twee platte plooien lopen over de schouder langs de voorpanden en verdwijnen in de rok. Het lijfje heeft vestpanden die gesloten worden met haken en ogen met overdwars een split even in de taille. Vanaf de hals middenachter een brede aangehechte platte plooi die puntig toeloopt en in één stuk is geknipt met de rok. De mouwen zijn glad en uit één stuk tot op de elleboog en hebben een geplooid elleboogstukje...1780 - 1785:

Red chintz Anglaise, Museum Rotterdam

 

Sources

My main source for all of the above information is the book ‘Sits, oost-west relaties in Textiel’ (‘Chintz, east-west relations in textile’, see reference below). This is also my only source, which is not very good practice when it comes to research. I’ve found it to be the only Dutch book about chintz to exist at the moment of writing. In English literature there’re a couple more books, but not many. (I’m making a wish-list!) I personally suspected more to be available when I went looking, especially because chintz is still quite well known in the Netherlands due to it’s importance in regional costume. All books on regional costume seem to refer to this one source. Having said this, the book was written by scholars, and is based for the most part on primary sources. This means that the information comes from inventories of the V.O.C., from inventories of 17th and 18th century shops and homes, from letters and from 18th century books (for instance on fabric-printing). The list of sources used in the book is extensive, and each chapter was researched and written by another author. Given all of this, I trust this source enough to use it as my only reference. As it’s never been re-printed and only available second-hand, nor has been translated to English, I felt free to share the information and images. Good news though; a new publication has recently come out! With a new exhibition on chintz, a new book has been written. I’ll definitely write a post once I’ve visited the exhibit.

The book:

Sits, Oost-West relaties in Textiel

By the Rijksdienst Beeldende Kunst (National service Visual arts) , the Hague, together with the Rijksmuseum voor Volkskunde (State museum of Anthropology), Nationaal Openlucht Museum Arnhem (Open air museum), Groninger Museum, and the Gemeentemuseum the Hague.

On the occasion of the exhibition ‘Sits, Oost-west Relaties in Textiel’.

Published in 1987, no reprints

Authors:

Christian Jorg – V.O.C. in India

Frits Scholten – A journey of chintz in 1701-1702

Judith H. Hofenk de Graaff – The technique of chintz and cotton printing

Ebeltje Hartkamp-Jonxis – Chintz and cotton printing, trade and make in the Netherlands

Frits Scholten – The interior ‘in the Indian manner’

Mary C. de Jong – Chintz and the printed neglige clothing of the higher orders

Hanneke van Zuthem – Farmers and Citizens in cotton

Ebeltje Hartkamp-J0nxis –  Motives on chintz and printed cotton

Depot visit – Gemeentemuseum Den Haag

The website ModeMuze brings together the fashion collections of several large Dutch museums. Aside from having an online collection of the items, they also write blog posts about items, and organize a lot of events! I went to one of them recently, where we got the chance to see some items in the Gemeentemuseum in the Hague up close, presented by the fashion curator Madelief Hohé.

In this post some pictures of the visit, as well as some of my own observations. This is a selection of the items, I’ll post these and some more on my Facebook page for who’s interested!

 

We saw a lot of 18th century things. Let’s start with this gorgeous blue silk Anglaise. Below is the museum’s picture, click to go to the collection page.

 

These are my pictures. This is a shot of the lining of the bodice. You can see the bodice was lined in linen, while the skirt is unlined. You can also see the stitching lines from the back, where the folded silk was stitched to the (unfolded) lining. You can also see the skirt is cartridge pleated onto the bodice, leaving quite a large allowance.

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A shot of the top of the bodice lining, also showing the robing (pleat over the shoulder). What I also liked was the little blue wool tapes attached to the shoulder corners for extra protection of the silk fabric. The little cord you see was in the neckline. Although the front closed with hooks & eyes, there was a little tunnel at the top for a cord to pull the dress close to the body.

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The dress closed center front, the center front flaps attached to the robings on either side. On top of the center front panels, these little horizontal strips ran, with the pleats on top, as you can see in the bottom left corner. They were lined as well, and closed with hooks & eyes. As you can see in the official museum image, the fichu would be worn on top of the dress, but underneath these flaps. I’ve seen this a lot on other Dutch jackets and gowns, so I believe this was most common in the Netherlands. The curator also mentioned that comparisons of collections show a relatively high amount of blue dresses in Dutch museums, which this is a gorgeous example of!

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The back of the dress! You can see the folded back pleats run into the skirt. They were very narrow. The back is heavily pleated with tiny pleats. If you look closely you can see that the threads running through the cartridge pleats actually extend a bit below the bodice to keep the pleats in place.

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An inside picture of the hem. The fabric was folded over for the hem, and on parts of the skirt this blue wool tape was attached to protect the fabric. I found it particularly interesting that it wasn’t actually attached all the way around on this particular dress!

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On to the next item, a stunning pair of stays in light blue. I couldn’t find an official, full image of these. The stays were continuously boned, but the stitching was covered both back and front. The tabs were covered separately, as you also often see in linings. The stays weren’t bound, as they were covered completely I think this wouldn’t have been needed.

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A view of the linen lining, stopping just before the eyelets. Again, the tabs are covered separately.

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The top, showing off the eyelets. I also love how tiny the tape is which covers the seams. It was super thin.

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More 18th century! This was a chintz jacket, below is the inventory picture, again, click the link for the official page.

My pictures. This one shows the back, and how the sleeves were actually cut on. I hadn’t seen this on 18th century garments before.

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The ‘skirt’ part of the jacket layed open (again, the jacket is on its back on the table). The whole jacket was lined in wool. I love how extremely wide it is. You can also see the deep pleat at the center back.

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The center front closed with hooks and eyes, but again also had a cord running through the neckline, you can see a tiny bit of gathering at the top. You can also see the stitches where the hooks & eyes are attached if you look carefully.

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The back pleat of the jacket, with a little stitching to protect the seam from ripping.

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Next up are two 18th century skirts, neither of which I could find a good full picture for.

First is a petticoat, made with matelasse, or ‘zaans stikwerk’. It’s quilted in a way, but through the little channels small cords would also be drawn to create the 3d effect.

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Showing the inside and hem. Again, a wool tape was attached on the inside. I found it interesting how the tape actually extends a couple of mm from the silk hem.

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The top of the petticoat wasn’t quilted, as this wouldn’t be seen anyway. Probably also to reduce some bulk. This is the front of the petticoat, which isn’t pleated.

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The back, however, is pleated to the waistband!

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Another skirt, this time in a glazed wool damask. Such a stunning fabric! The skirt is pleated to the waistband.

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A close-up of the fabric.

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The inside, showing the selvages are used for the main seams. No tape covering the hem this time, instead a narrow cord is stitched to the hem to protect it. You still see this method being used in some skirts of traditional Dutch costume!

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As a final step, we take a big leap from the 18th century to the 1840s. It’s the dress on the left of this image. Click the link for the official page.

This image shows that the center front point of the bodice isn’t actually attached to the skirt all the way. It’s definitely boned though! The point is finished with thin piping, and look how prettily the lines are matched!

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A slightly odd image, but it shows that the boning center front doesn’t actually extends all the way up, only to the fold in the fabric.

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This is the center back closure. The skirt is heavily pleated onto the bodice and actually consists of 2 layers! The top one is silk, and forms the top of the 2 flounces. The bottom layer is made of netting, but the bottom edge of the skirt is silk again to form the bottom flounce. Less need for the expensive silk! I also liked how there’s a small modesty placket beneath the eleyets, and how there’s a hook & eye closure at the bottom (& top, not in this image).

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The top of the back closure. Pretty lace at the top, and the neckline was finished in piping even tinier than around the bottom of the bodice. This was 1mm wide at the most! I also love how there is a small bit of flossing at the top of the bones in the back.

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Final image, showing the side back seam & sleeve insert, which is again piped. You can see how the seam isn’t a ‘normal’ seam. I was wondering how this was done, and the day after the visit saw a great blog post by the Fashionable past. She does it by cutting the fabric ‘bigger’ than necessary to the sides, folding the fabric over and stitching it down to create the effect of a seam. I suspect that on this dress though, the side back was actually cut separately instead. See how the lines match up perfectly? You can’t get that if you fold the fabric, it would shift slightly.

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Getting an (almost) historical look the easier way – or: how to cheat to most effect

A question which seems to pop-up a lot with historical costuming is ‘Where do I begin?’. The proper answer to this question is to 1. pick a time period, and 2. start with the underwear. There’s a good article at Historical Sewing about this topic.

But what if you’re not sure if it’s worth all that effort, or if you’re a slow sewer, or a bit scared of having to make a corset? Sewing undergarments can take quite some time and effort, my Edwardian outfit has 7 different pieces in the undergarments. I know that when I started, I didn’t want to have to spend months creating items before I could finally start on a dress. After all, if I’d loose interest half-way it’d be for nothing (nowhere to wear them without outer garments after all). And I’m not a particularly quick seamstress, nor do I have a lot of time.

So what if you’d want to take a first step into historical costuming, but you don’t want to first build a wardrobe of undergarments? Should you just not start at all? There are some people who might say so, but I’d personally say: just go for it your own way. There are some ways to still get close to a historical silhouette, without getting all the layers correct. Of course, having proper underwear will always be better, but a first try doesn’t need to be perfect, and it just might get you excited about doing more! For my own very first historical dress, I cheated and went right into dress-making, skipping underwear. The result wasn’t perfect, and I don’t think I’ll wear that dress again now my standards have risen, but it did get me excited. It gave me the confidence to continue and try to make the next one better. Sometimes, that’s more important than getting it 100% right the first time.

foto van Marije de Vries.

My first regency dress, worn on top of modern undergarments. There’s many things I’d do different now, but this dress did get me started, and excited to continue to learn and get better!

 

So how do you go about still having a reasonably correct silhouette without all the correct underwear? Firstly, by carefully picking a period and style which could work for your body type. Unfortunately, some body types will work better than others, and for some people some undergarments will always be necessary. But there’s a lot of history to choose from! A second option is to still create some undergarments, but only the most crucial ones. Some are more defining to the silhouette than others, and for some you can limit the difference by picking the correct materials for your outer outfit. Finally, there’s always the option to buy some parts of the outfit. Especially for beginning seamstresses this might be an option for corsets. In the rest of this post, I’ll try to give some tips on what to look out for, and where you can cheat a little without looking absolutely wrong. Again a slight disclaimer: you’ll always look better with all the correct undergarments! These are tips to get you closer to correct silhouette while cheating a little, but there’s nothing that’ll beat the real thing. If it’s okay for you to don’t be 100% right if that means you get to save time/money: read on.

 

1. Pick the correct period/style for your body shape, and you might be able to avoid underwear entirely.

The easiest style if one wishes to avoid foundation garments is to go medieval. There are certain periods in history where the cut of your kirtle (under-dress) basically provided all the support needed. Because most over-dresses still show the kirtle (for example in the sleeves), you’d need to make one anyway. The trick, however, is to cut the kirtle so that it follows your shape and supports the bust.

a woman wearing a green tunic, with a sleeveless reddish surcote layered over it:

A kirtle and overdress. You won’t need anything below the green kirtle to get the right shape.

 

For anything between, say 1550 and the end of the 18th century, the torso-shape is quite specific. This is usually achieved with stays, or boned under-bodices with a petticoat. For the 17th century, one can get away with heavily boning the bodice, but skirt supports/petticoats are always necessary in this period. Not such a great era to start if you want to avoid underwear!

My favorite Queen of them all was Queen Elizabeth 1 - The later years of Elizabeth's reign are sometimes referred to as a Golden Age.:

One of the most extreme examples; but can you imagine this without the underwear? I’d be incredibly sad…

 

For my first costume, I went with a regency dress. Regency is a relatively forgiving silhouette, as you don’t necessarily need any hoops/petticoats etc. to support the skirt. A petticoat will help with the flow of your skirt, but is not crucial. The bust-line of Regency is very high though. Because I’m pretty small up top, this works for my body type. If your larger, a very good push-up bra might get you into the right direction, but it will work less well.

 

L'Art de vivre au temps de Josephine.:

Slinky dresses means petticoats are not essential. Do keep in mind that the chest is meant to be pushed up and to the sides. Easier to cheat if you’re smaller chested.

 

From the late 1820s to the 1840s, skirts become fuller and petticoats are again an absolute necessity. From the 1850s to the 1880s, this turns into crinolines and bustles, which usually need an additional petticoat as well. Corsets are worn throughout this period, but if you’re petite you might be able to get away with only boning the bodice. There’s no getting around the big skirts though. Nothing looks as sad as a bustle-skirt worn without proper support. The only exception is a very brief span around 1880, where the bustle nearly disappears, often called the natural form period. Ladies did still wear slight bum-pads, and petticoats do a lot to help the shape, but with the correct fabric/pattern you might be able to do without. Do try to pick patterns/shapes suitable for this period though, if you get a pattern meant for a later/earlier period your skirt will look very sad!

Revue de la Mode 1881:

Around 1880 the bustle nearly disappeared for a bit, for this skirt shape you might be able to get away not using any support. The only way to get the bodice shape like this is to be petite & bone the bodice. Otherwise a corset is necessary.

 

Although I needed a lot of help to get a proper Edwardian shape, this is already more forgiving than the previous era’s. The key to a proper Edwardian silhouette is that the bust is at it’s natural point (which, by the way, is lower than it’d be with a modern bra on!), and there’s a strong hourglass shape. If you have a natural hourglass shape, this might work for you! Go without a bra, or wear one with the straps very long so it’s low, lower than you’d normally be comfortable with. To control the mid-section, a high-waisted skirt might help, as these are boned. Be careful though not to put too much stress on the closure though. A lot of loose blouses were worn, so these disguise a lot! Try to avoid slinky evening dresses if you’re skimping on underwear, those won’t work without a proper corset. If you’re the straight and slim type, Edwardian is not the best choice. I personally need quite a bit of help achieving the curvy look.

1898-1908 Women's day wear: The trumpet shape skirts and shirtwaist were popular in the early 1900s.. This shows women's change in society. (Denny P.):

A loose blouse can disguise the lack of a corset. If you’re smaller chested like me though, you’ll need a little help filling up the blouse, and it’s not as suitable.

 

The 1910s  saw a distinct change from the Edwardian silhouette. From hourglass, the ideal went to straight and flat. Although corsets and petticoats were still worn in the 1910s, you might be able to skip these if you have a slimmer shape.

Ladies Home Journal (March, 1913):

Straighter shapes for 1913

 

From the 1920s we get into underwear which is more like what we wear today. Because that’s also generally where we go from historical to vintage, I’ll not go into those.

So, a summary of what period is most forgiving for what body shape. Where can you get away with leaving out all underwear?

  • Small bust (everyone): Regency
  • Small bust & petite: Natural form 1880 (do bone the bodice & pick the right skirt shapes!) or 1910’s (again: bone the bodice!)
  • Hourglass (bigger hip/breast size, smaller waist size): Edwardian. Don’t wear a modern bra, and wearing a high skirt with boning can help with the waist definition.
  • Everyone: Medieval

If you don’t want to go Medieval, but don’t fit into the other categories, don’t despair! You might not get away with leaving out underwear entirely, but for some periods you still might be able to take some shortcuts. This brings us to options 2 & 3:

2. Skip some undergarments

Some types of undergarments are more important than others. In general, chemises, drawers and corset-covers don’t add hugely to the silhouette, so could be skipped. So:

  • First tip: skip on chemises, drawers and corset covers. Wear a slip-dress or tank top instead. Not as nice as a linen/cotton base layer, but it won’t show in the silhouette.

 

Chemise Date: early 1870s Culture: American or European:

A chemise keeps your corset clean, but a tank top can go a long way too. Cotton/linen is always nicer than polyester though!

 

The rest is a bit more complicated, and depends both on the period and the fabric of your outfit. So let’s go over corsets, skirt-support and petticoats.

Corsets were worn continually from about 1700 to the 1910’s. Before that, heavily boned bodices or under-dresses took the support role. In the 18th century, stays (as corsets were called) functioned to give the body a conical shape. There’s no real getting around this, I wouldn’t recommend wearing an 18th century dress without stays. A rounded bust-line is very wrong for this period.

The Chocolate Pot - Pastels - Jean-Etienne Liotard - c. 1745:

The straight front, as seen from the side, is very 18th century. You’ll need stays to get the conical shape.

 

For Regency, the bust-line becomes higher, pushed up and separated. A good bra can provide some of the lift-effect, but tends to squish everything together which is not ideal. It’s a lot less noticeable though, especially if you have a smaller chest you might get away with not wearing stays.

Lady with coral necklace, French, 1820:

Lift and separate. You’ll not be able to get it this extreme without proper stays, but if you’re more petite the lift is possible with a bra.

 

After a brief transitional period, Victorian corsets with an hourglass shape came into play around 1830-1840. These can make a big difference in shape, and are most important for smoothing out the surface and keeping the bust in place. (No, it’s not necessarily a small waist!). If you’re petite with a small chest, if might be possible to skip the corset, provided you take care to bone your bodice well. This way, the bodice provides the smoothing and structural effect. (Be careful of the weight of your skirts if you do this, normally a corset supports the weight. Without a corset, the waistband of your skirt could cut into your hips depending on the weight).

Faces of the Victorian Era                                                                                                                                                      More:

Contrary to popular belief, the corset is more important as a base to smooth out the figure than as a waist-reducer. If you’re petite, you can approach this shape by heavily boning the bodice. Otherwise, you’ll need a corset. (See how there’s no clear underbust line? That’s what you’re going for)

 

In the Edwardian period, corsets change to leave the bust mostly in the natural place. For slinky dresses you’ll need a corset, but for loose blouses you might get away without. In the 1910s we’re back to a straight figure. This might work if you’re petite and bone the bodice.

Ha!! And this is just her UNDERWEAR! Edwardian lady in underwear, corset with attached garters.:

See how low the bust is here? If you have an hourglass shape and wear a loose blouse you can get a similar effect without a corset.

 

So, in summary, when could you skimp on a corset/stays without looking absolutely wrong? (Focused on 1700-1910, as that’s when they were worn)

  • 18th century: Always wear stays, no way around it.
  • Regency: Wearing a good bra can go a long way. It won’t give you a perfect silhouette, but if you’re smaller chested it can work.
  • Victorian: If you’re petite you might get away with only heavily boning your bodice and wearing a push-up bra. I won’t recommend this for anyone above a B cup, or those who prefer some tummy control. Do be careful of heavy skirts though, as they might dig into your hips/waist without a corset.
  • Edwardian: If you don’t need too much tummy control you could go without corset. It’s best to choose a blouse/skirt option as they’re loose fitted trough the bust, evening dresses will look bad without a corset. 
  • 1910s: If you’re petite and bone the bodice you can get away without a corset. Corsets were generally underbust anyway, but the goal is to get the midsection as flat as possible.

So, onto skirt supports & petticoats!

Nearly all periods from the 1500’s to the 1920’s see some type of skirt support. These make sure the skirts hold the correct shape. They’re also absolutely essential to getting the correct silhouette. For 1500-1800 this is usually a wide skirt with extra width from the hips (depending on the period). In the 18th century, there’s also a period where panniers were worn to widen the hips. But even without those, hip-pads and bun-pads and extra petticoats were worn throughout the period to support the skirt. These can’t be skipped.

Journal des Luxus, February 1792. And just FYI, I'm officially calling dibs on this one!:

Approaching the end of the 18th century, skirts have never been slimmer than this. But see how big her but still looks? That shape can only be achieved with a little help.

 

Regency is more forgiving, as it only occasionally saw a small bum-pad. Most dresses will work without anything underneath.

Muslin Dresses about 1800 Hamburg Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe:

Unless your fabric is sheer like these, you won’t need a petticoat, the shape is correct without one.

 

From the 1820’s to the 1840’s, structured petticoats are again necessary. After this, there’s the era of crinolines and bustles. Needless to say, any dress from the 1850’s to 1880’s absolutely needs support in some form.

ANTIQUE-ROYALS:

Imagine a dress like this without hoops, it’d be very sad, and dragging on the floor…

 

The only slight exception is 1880, around which the bustle had shrunk to nearly nothing. This ‘natural form’ period can deal with only a slight bum-pad, no extra steel contraptions needed. From the 1890’s on, only petticoats were worn.

Paquin evening dress ca. 1895  From the Kunstgewerbemuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin via Europeana Fashion Fripperies and Fobs:

Dresses like these only had minimal skirt supports, but definitely need a couple of petticoats to keep it in shape.

 

Petticoats were also worn almost always, and are often necessary to make the skirt fuller. Aside from regency and the 1910s, I can’t think of any period after 1500 where you can forgo with a petticoat. If you really don’t want to make one, you can, however, closely consider your outer fabric. If your outer fabric is stiffer and thicker, it will need a petticoat less. Basically, because it will stand out on itself more. Very thick wool you might get away with. Thin cotton, not so much. If you’re wearing a hoop and skirt without a petticoat, always check very well if the hoops aren’t visible! I’ve seen a lot of outfits with great potential ruined by hoop-lines showing through, so be careful.

So, in summary, when could you skimp on skirt supports without looking absolutely wrong?

  • Anything between 1500 and 1800: You’ll need some skirt support. If you’re doing lower class and you have wide hips in ratio to your waist you might be able to wear a thick woolen skirt without petticoat. That’s the only exception I can think of however, and it’d need to be heavily pleated to the waistband to stand out.
  • Regency: you can get away without a petticoat unless your fabric is sheer or super-thin. Now they liked those fabrics in this era, so you’d need to go to the slightly thicker cottons or stiffer silks.
  • 1820-1845: No crinoline cages in this era, just petticoats, which are essential for the shape. No cheating here, alas.
  • 1850-1890: The era of crinolines and bustles (Except for the short natural form period, I’ll go into that below). You’ll always need something to support your skirt, be it crinoline or bustle depending on the period, you won’t be able to do without. If your dress fabric is very thick (think heavy wool/velvet), you might be able to forgo a petticoat. Be careful though, if crinoline hoops/bustle bones show through the fabric you really need a petticoat (or 2, depending on your fabric). Bones showing through can ruin the look.
  • 1880, Natural form: A brief era without big bustles. In the slimmest years you could get away without any skirt support. Only if you’re not wearing a train though, those do need support of a petticoat!
  • 1890’s & Edwardian: If your skirt fabric is heavy (say; heavier wool) you might get away without a petticoat. Flounces at the bottom can help to have your skirt stand out. Lighter fabrics (ie cotton) will need a petticoat though. My own Edwardian skirt was light weight wool and looked loads better with a petticoat.
  • 1910s: Very slim skirt silhouette means a petticoat is not essential!

If you want do do an era for which you’ll really need a corset, but are afraid to make one, there’s still option nr. 3:

3. Buy foundation pieces

This especially holds for corsets, as they’re generally the most difficult and time-consuming piece of underwear to make. This doesn’t mean they’re impossible though! There’s a lot of good patterns out there, so no need to be scared. If you do want to buy one, it’s important to do your research well. Corsets are very form-fitting, so they need to fit you really well. A good fitting corset can be tight, but should not be uncomfortable and definitely not painful! So check the sizing well. I personally cannot get away with an off-the-rack corset, because I have a large hip-spring. There’s a big difference between my waist size and hip size, and as a result nearly all pre-made corsets are too small in the hips for my waist, and shift upwards. Because all bodies are different, a lot of people cannot find a corset with fits them well off-the-rack. In that case, there are a lot of corsetiers who make custom corsets, but this will, of course, show in the price. Also check how suitable your corset if for the period you’re aiming for. Most modern corsets are reasonably similar to Victorian corsets in shape, but there are differences. Most notably, most Victorian corsets are mid-bust instead of high-bust. A high bustline can show underneath a dress. And obviously, if you’re aiming for 18th century, don’t wear a Victorian corset underneath, look for stays instead.

Clermont State Historic Site: Is it Really Necessary? Of Corset is!:

Nice infographic on corset shapes, by Clermont State Historical. Pick the right shape for the right period!

Vintage spring

Spring is finally here! Well, theoretically, the weather here has turned grey again after the sun of last week. But we’ll just ignore the rain and focus on the calendar! So I figured it’d be time for something a little spring themed. I’ve been looking a lot at vintage sewing pattern covers. They’re a great example of fashion from a period. I always preferred the 1950s above the 40s and 30s, but they’ve been calling to me lately. Although I still love the wide-skirt silhouette, you see a lot of interesting detail in seaming and patterning in 40s and 30s dresses. 50s tends to be a bit more clean-cut, which makes dress patterns slightly less interesting. I love circle skirts, but pattern wise once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.

So, for this post, a focus on 30s and 40s vintage dresses! I love the pastel tones with these dresses, and figured pastel blue would be perfect for a spring theme.

1930s with a nice waistline treatment. I really like how the blue dotted fabric is sheer at the top. Not entirely sure about the hat it’s been paired with though…

30s 40s red floral white dot sheer print swing war era  McCall 9653 Vintage 1930s Sewing Pattern Dress by studioGpatterns, $28.50:

I love these styles, they seem very comfortable yet fun at the same time. I think I prefer the one in the middle, with pintucks and lace detail.

-z36qVAdeWA.jpg (751×1024):

Clean lines for a sophisticated look. The little details are what makes this period. I love how the overlap on the neckline features a round edge.

1930s McCall 3344 Misses Flared Skirt DAY DRESS womens vintage sewing pattern by mbchills:

Another lovely grey-blue pattern. Also, this has a bow on the back, which is just perfect.

1940s Misses Short Sleeve Dress:

A lot of 1940s dresses feature buttons all along the front. You can see the skirt starting to widen at the bottom, but the top is still pleated for a closer fit.

Fashion Frocks 1940 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!:

Lovely zigzag trims on this one. And again; a bow in the back! The bodice is fairly simple construction wise, signalling we’re getting on in time.

1940s Misses Dress Vintage Sewing Pattern day dress casual floral red white pink blue war era WWII color illustration fashion style house wife looks:

A slightly darker blue. I love how they provide different detail/style options on this pattern. Exactly what home-sewing is all about! (Also, I’d love for patterns to be 15cts again 😉 )

lovely dress:

 

Burgundian gown – Placket theories

I’ve been brainstorming about making a burgundian gown from my brocade silk. With the brainstorming came some research. I’ve never done anything before 1800 before, so 15th century is entirely new.

Most burgundian gowns seems to be made up in 2 different ‘fabrics’. One for the main gown, and one for the collar and cuffs. Some also have a strip along the hem of the second fabric. The main gown can be plain or very fancy. The collar and cuffs often seem to be made of fur, although fabric/velvet examples also exist.

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Fur collars. Brown left, ermine right.

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Fabric collars

 

The burgundian gown itself is fairly simple to figure out. It either has loose or fitting sleeves, a full skirt and a collar. The back often shows that the collar also runs in a v shape in the back. The dress is fitted around the bust and looser underneath, worn with a belt to fit it through the waist. Different variations exist, in the exact shape of the neckline, the fullness of the gathers and the sleeve shape.

 photo Back_zpsihwwmlko.jpg

Some back views

 

It gets a little more complicated when looking at what’s worn underneath. Most medieval dresses seem to have both a linnen shift and a kirtle underneath. A kirtle is basically an underdress and can either have short or long sleeves. It can also be worn on it’s own, or layered. Most kirtles lace/button in either the front or at the sides.

 photo Shifts_zpsygaeok6g.jpg

Shifts, with straps or sleeves

 photo Kirtles_zps0rb7prwd.jpg

Kirtles. Side-laced left, front-laced right. Either with long or short sleeves. Separate sleeves could also be pinned to the short sleeve of the kirtle.

 

When wearing the burgundian gown, you can see a little of what’s worn underneath. Because the neckline is a deep v, you always see a little ‘placket’ there. Also often shown in paintings are the skirts, as ladies lift the skirts of their burgundian gown to show the one underneath.

That’s where it gets interesting. One would think (this was my original thought as well), that both the placket in the v and the underskirt would simply be those of the kirtle worn underneath. Side-lacing ones when you don’t see lacing, front-lacing ones when you do. And maybe they are in some occasions, but often in paintings you see a different color underskirt than placket. The big question therefore is, how would this work?

 photo Different colors_zpscphwot1a.jpg

All of these show a different color placket than skirt underneath.

 

I’ve done some googling, and from what I can find there are a few different theories. No one is conclusive, as so little original material exists. Images of women dressing & undressing exist, but are not all that common. No images I’ve seen are really obvious. These are the different theories, I’ve provided a link to the pages where I first read about each of them. (Ergo: none of these are my own, so I don’t take credit for any of them)

1. There’s a simple square/triangle of fabric pinned over the kirtle along the neckline. (Theory credit/where I first read about it)

The page where I first found this has an image about this as well. I should note that this person has since moved on to theory nr. 2.

2. Two different kirtles are worn. One below with a high square neck, one on top with a lower neckline. This way you see the bottom gown in the v neckline but the top one when raising the skirts of the burgundian gown. (Theory credit/where I first read about it)

Supported by these images, depicting several stages in a story. Left you see the red kirtle and first gown with black collar and lacing in front. In the second image, she wears the burgundian with blue collar on top of the one with the black collar. This way, when lifting the overskirt you’d see the laced gown(black collar), not the red kirtle. I do have to say I’m not 100% convinced by this image, as the belt also changes color from left to right image. It might just’ve been an inconsistency in coloring by the artist. Nevertheless, it’s a valid theory and layering dresses seems to’ve been quite common.

 

3. There is a piece of fabric attached to the burgundian itself. Connected on one side of the v, pinned shut on the other side.  (Theory credit/where I first read about it)

This sounds logical as well, but somehow doesn’t seem as plausible to me as the other theories. The author of this one preferred theory nr. 4 herself, also because of some of the evidence for that.

 

4. There is some sort of ‘wrap’ bodice worn on top of the kirtle. (Theory credit/where I first read about it)

Inspired by these images. On all of these, there seems to be a very short bodice worn. In the leftmost image, you can see where it stops around the waist. In the second image, you see something is covering the lacing at the top. In the third image, you see the black ‘under-layer’ stops just below the waist. The glimpse of white at the sleeves also suggests this doesn’t have sleeves.

The author of this theory gives some more ideas on this, just follow the link above to her page to read more.

Stark Triptyque 1480 -detail

 

5. Skirt theories. There’s a separate skirt underneath the kirtle, there’s an under dress with a different skirt/bodice fabric or the skirt of the under dress has a broad border of different fabric.  This seems a bit less likely, as even a waist seam was pretty new in the late 15th century. It doesn’t seem so likely that they would’ve made completely separate skirts, or skirts of a different fabric than the bodice. The border you see on outer dresses as well, but none as wide as would seem necessary for the effect you see in paintings. (Theory credit/where I first read about it)

6. Final options would be that two under dresses were worn, and both the burgundian and upper under dress are lifted to show the skirt of the dress at the bottom. Although it’s likely that more than 1 under dress was worn at times (as shown by paintings with different skirt layers), I’m not entirely convinced. It seems to make most sense to just lift your outer dress, to grab 2 layers and leave the 3rd just seems a bit too fiddly to me. (Theory credit/where I first read about it)

 

I quite like the 4th theory myself. I want a black silk placket under my burgundian gown myself, but I already knew I wouldn’t have enough fabric for a full kirtle. This solution seems more ‘stable’ than theory 1 or 3, but still requires little enough fabric to make it feasible for me. That means I’ll probably make a chemise, kirtle, placket/bodice, burgundian & headdress for this project. Whenever I get started on it, that is.

Digital design tutorial – how I do it

When starting a new project, I like to make some sketches and images of what I want to do. I generally start with some paper sketches, but these have the disadvantage of 1. me not being a great artist and 2. being difficult to color, especially with patterned fabrics.

So generally, once the design is clearer in my head, I make a digital ‘sketch’ of what I want the finished project to look like. Below two examples of past and current projects:

 

In this post, I’ll attempt to show how I make my images in photoshop. A similar post was written by American Duchess, but her method is slightly different from mine. You can, of course, also use a combination of methods, just pick whatever works for you! The main difference is that I don’t have a tablet, so draw my lines differently (I’m also not as good a sketcher as she is!). My method should also work if you’re no good at drawing. I also tend to use layer masks for coloring instead of erasing outlines.

This tutorial will assume a slight familiarity with photoshop, but I’ll try to be as clear as possible, and questions are always welcome!

To start with, I always look for a base picture. This is because I’m not a great artist, and drawing with a mouse is very tricky. This shape of this base should resemble your finished vision as closely as possible. Color, etc. doesn’t matter. It’s also possible to use a combination of pictures. I tend to look for fashion plates and pictures of existent dresses. If you wish to use (modern) art, or a modern photo it would be good to first ask if you’re allowed to use the image! Especially if you’ll be posting it online.

For this tutorial, I’ll be using this dress from the Glasgow Museums. The dress I’ll be designing will have the same shape, but have a chintz dress and a plain petticoat with a ruffle at the bottom.

Damask robe a l’Anglaise with floral pattern, 18th century </br> © CSG CIC:

So let’s start with opening this image in photoshop! The picture will be your base layer. The outlines of the different ‘garments’ (dress, petticoat) will all be on separate layers. The colors will each have their own layers as well.

I always start with the outlines. To draw the outlines, I use the pen tool. This can be a bit tricky to use at first, but I’ve found it much nicer than the mouse when figured out.

To start, open photoshop, make a new document and copy your base into it. The first thing to do now is to select the brush for the lines. Select the brush tool on the left, and select your brush at the top. I personally like this ‘brush’ tool (the one bordered in blue), at the smallest size.

 photo Screenshots 1_zpsn4jk0bdb.jpg

I always first check if my line won’t be too wide by drawing a bit. In this case, I find it a bit too thick. The pencil can’t be smaller (it’s already at size 1), so let’s make the base image a bit bigger. (First, to remove the line, undo one step or use ctrl-z)

 photo Screenshots 2_zpscz2jpbe5.jpg

To do this, select Image -> Image size. I generally just enlarge the image by 2 by setting it to 200 percent.

 photo Screenshots 3_zpsg3oqbcen.jpg

Now lets start making the line. First, switch to the Pen tool in the left toolbar. Click where you want your line to start, a small square will appear here. Next, click where you want the first section of line to end. You will see the two dots connected like this. (it’s a very thin line, click on my images to enlarge if it’s not visible)

 photo Screenshots 4_zps99e0n1xp.jpg

The problem now is that the line is straight, but I want it to follow the neckline. To do this, you don’t release the mouse on the second click, but drag it away to the side. You will see the thin line becoming curved. Drag it until the line is at the right place, and then release the mouse. It’ll look something like this.

 photo Screenshots 5_zps8ffsgfnp.jpg

It’s now following the curve. The great thing about the pen tool is that it will make the next curve nicely follow the last one. That’s also the annoying thing about the pen tool, because it’s not always what you want. To give an example, if my next click is somewhere above the last point, it’ll do this.

 photo Screenshots 6_zpsnbzji3sh.jpg

You can see the curve between the second and last point. If you don’t want this, but just want a straight line from the second to third point, you can press ALT and click on the second point before you make the third. You’ll see that one of the ‘guidelines’ sticking out from that point will disappear. This is what it’d look like.

 photo Screenshots 7_zpssol2vthe.jpg

From this point, you can keep clicking where you want your line to come. I usually do this in small parts, so I don’t select the entire outline at once. In this case, my first segment is the neckline and part of one sleeve.

 photo Screenshots 8_zps8ifxn7op.jpg

I now want to turn this guideline (path) into an actual black outline. First, make a new empty layer for the lines in the layer menu bottom left. Next, right-click on the path and select ‘Stroke’. Make sure the ‘Tool’ is set to ‘Brush’, and that your foreground color (bottom left square) is the color you want the outline to be (black). Then click OK.

 photo Screenshots 9_zpskbcuuitv.jpg

You will now see the black outline in the same place as the path!

 photo Screenshots 10_zps1lfclq6h.jpg

To continue, first delete the path you just made. You can do this by pressing Enter, or right-click on the path and delete. Continue on making paths, stroking them and deleting paths until you’ve outlined the whole dress. Don’t do the petticoat yet, as this will be a different layer. General guideline: everything which needs to be a different color on a different layer. The whole dress done:

 photo Screenshots 11_zpsjmgmtvkn.jpg

For the petticoat lines, make a new layer and do the missing lines same as the dress. In this case that’s just the hem. I also drew a squiggly line to mark the top of where I want my ruffles to be. These type of lines are easier using the mouse and the brush tool.

 photo Screenshots 12_zpsmfcwsyac.jpg

The ruffle still looks a bit weird, some lines resembling the pleats can improve the image a lot. Always try to draw there ruffle or pleat lines in a new layer! This will make it easier to color everything the same color later on.

After all the lines are drawn, you can hide the base layer, getting this outline!

 photo Screenshots 13_zps7ob5abzv.jpg

Now it’s time for coloring! The dress will be a chintz fabric. I usually just google for images resembling the fabric I want to use. In this case, it’s a chintz from Betina Printing.

Copy the image onto a new layer, underneath the layers with the outlines.

 photo Screenshots 14_zpsy1oqaeoz.jpg

It’s not quite big enough, but I like the scale. If the print is too big, just make the picture smaller. Then I just copy that print layer and move the copies to fill the whole dress. I generally don’t look too much at seamless lines, you barely see it anyway with a busy print like this.

 photo Screenshots 15_zps8nnpatix.jpg

The whole dress is filled! Now, first make sure all the prints are on the same layer again. You can merge layers by selecting all layers you want to merge and clicking ‘Merge layers’.

 photo Screenshots 16_zps8ax6hldg.jpg

Now let’s make sure only the dress is colored. We’ll do this with layer masks. For now, hide the layer with the print on it. Select the ‘wand’ tool from the toolbar left. Make sure that at the top, both ‘Contagious’ and ‘Sample all layers’ are on. (Tollerance can be low, 0 even).

 photo Screenshots 17_zpsqaf1gxdg.jpg

We’re now going to select all the areas within the dress, so the areas we want colored by the chintz. Click on one part at a time. To add the next part, hold SHIFT while you click. This will add the selection to your current one, instead of replacing it.

 photo Screenshots 18_zps4kliurgt.jpg

Once you’ve got the whole dress selected, you can make the selection a tiny bit larger. This will make sure the color will go up to the line, and not stop a couple of pixels before. To do this, click Select -> Modify -> Expand. Set it to 1 pixel, that should be enough, and click OK.

 photo Screenshots 19_zpshjsambfj.jpg

Now, for the magic! Turn on your fill layer again, and go to this layer. At the bottom of the layer menu, there’s a ‘Mask’ button. The little black square with a white circle inside. If you click that button, a layer mask will be added. This will hide all the non-selected parts of your document, making sure only the parts of the dress are still visible!

 photo Screenshots 20_zpslwv0huio.jpg

Similarly, you can also color the same way just using a solid color. We’ll do that for the petticoat. Add another layer (below the lines), and fill this with the color you want the garment to be.

 photo Screenshots 21_zpsntonchgt.jpg

Now we’ll do the same thing again, starting with hiding the color layers. Then, hide the layer on which you drew ruffles etc. This will make the selecting process easier!

 photo Screenshots 22_zpsnrocltep.jpg

Select the entire petticoat, enlarge the selection by 1 pixel, unhide the color layer, select that layer and click ‘Mask’ in the layer menu.

 photo Screenshots 23_zpskakxhb6j.jpg

Unhiding the color for the dress and the ruffles, you’ve now got a basic design done.

 photo Screenshots 24_zpsvlobbrpw.jpg

What if you change your mind, or want to compare different colorways? It’s quite easy to add another color option. (Of course, for the fill layer, you can also just fill the layer with another color. This option will keep both versions though).

Let’s try to give the dress a solid red color. First make a new layer for the red, and fill this with the chosen color.

 photo Screenshots 25_zpsdm6y4r2i.jpg

Now we want to give this layer the same mask as the original dress layer. You can, of course, repeat the whole process, but there’s also an easier way. Hold CTRL on your keyboard, and click the mask layer for the dress. (So the one with the black-white outline!). Doing this will select all the white parts of that particular layer. In this case, the dress!

 photo Screenshots 26_zpssw79ckyh.jpg

Now you can just go back to your color layer and click ‘Mask’ again to apply the mask!

 photo Screenshots 27_zpslsmldyb6.jpg

You can switch layers to compare versions, or you can copy the whole image (Select everything, Image -> Select merged) to a new document. This is usually what I do, so I can see the versions side-by-side and choose which one I like best.

 photo Screenshots 28_zpstcn3ienq.jpg

This is basically how I do my digital designs! I personally find it very useful to see colors and patterns applied side-by-side when picking a design. I hope this was helpful.

Oorijzers – ‘Ear-irons’ – Part 2

Time for part 2! In my first post about oorijzers I shared the history, what the original oorijzers were and looked liked, as well as one example of how they continued to exist to the early 20th century. The oorijzer is currently best known for its part in various regional costumes in the Netherlands. So for this post, an attempted overview of how and where the oorijzer evolved from the 16th/17th century practical object to the many variations we have today. Prepare for a lot of pictures!

Regional costume

To start this post, a little map of places I’ll be discussing!

 photo netherlands-303419_960_720_zpsjgliynel.jpg

The regions best known for their oorijzers in traditional costume are Friesland (a province in the very north) and Zeeland (a province in the very south). It stuck around in several other places as well though, surviving in the traditional costume of towns like Urk and Staphorst. These towns have their own traditional costume worn very locally. Staphorst sees women wearing traditional clothing on a daily base up to today. The oorijzer evolved in different ways in different places, so you can usually tell which oorijzer comes from which place and which period. I’ll be discussing the most well-known of traditional costumes with oorijzers. Just as a quick disclaimer, these aren’t the only places with an oorijzer in the past of their traditional costume, just the ones most familiar (to me) and well known.

Let’s start with the costume from the Zaanstreek. This is a region above Amsterdam and the traditional costume died out in the early 20th century. It had it’s own typical headwear, which stayed nearly the same during the 18th and 19th centuries. The rest of the clothing largely kept following regular fashion.

This is a 19th century image of the 18th century costume

 photo download_zps7j7jcszr.png

Source: Het geheugen van Nederland. Part of drawing by Duyvetter

The oorijzer  was gold, quite a bit wider than the 17th century version and has large golden plates to the sides. Its worn fairly straight across the back of the head and is not so much a practical thing as a piece of jewelry.

An oorijzer from 1834. You can see the gorgeous filligree on the plates.

 

And a picture from the costume group the ‘Zaanse Kaper’, this is a reproduction of the 18th century costume. She’s also wearing a ‘voorhoofdsnaald’ (the thing across her forhead), two ‘zijnaalden’ (the two ‘needle’ things at the top, you can only see one) and pins behind the plates of the oorijzer. These pin the cap to the oorijzer.

Source: Zaanse Kaper

 

Another village which managed to keep it’s traditional costume despite nearness to a big city is Scheveningen. Now technically a part of the Hague, it used to be a fishing village. The costume has nearly died out, being worn only by a handful of elderly ladies today. There are several groups (from museums or choirs) which keep the knowledge about the clothing alive.

In Scheveningen the oorijzer today is silver with golden knobs. It has a distinctive shape and is used very much to give the cap it’s shape.The golden knobs are worn very close together high on the head.

In the 18th century the oorijzer was mostly silver with golden knobs, which were sometimes decorated with golden ‘bells’, jewels which would hang from the knobs. In the 19th century, some golden oorijzers also existed along side the silver ones. The knobs also took various shapes, settling on the round ones similar to the modern ones at the end of the century.

This is an image from 1850 depicting the costume around that time, also showing the ‘bells’ hanging from the oorijzer in the center top. These also disappeared later in the century. You can see the different types of knobs, as well as the swooping shape the oorijzer has in the back.

 photo urn-gvn-NOMA01-PR18591-large_zpshhvx4fi6.jpeg

Image by Bing & Braet, Source: Het geheugen van Nederland

 

In the current costume, the oorijzer has become longer in the back, giving shape to the cap. The knobs are no longer at the sides of the head but nearly meet at the top and are a distinctive round shape. The pins are put through the knobs to keep the cap in place. (I always have to think of knitting needles sticking through a little ball of wool when I see them)

A lovely picture from the 1950’s showing the shape of the oorijzer and cap. The oorijzer sticks out in the back so keeping the cap in place.

 

An oorijzer from Scheveningen made in 1919

 

Next up is the town of Huizen. This used to be fishing town, before the Afsluitdijk (dike) made the inland sea of the Netherlands into a lake, and before the province of Flevoland was ‘created’.

This is an image of the costume around 1850, showing a simple cap on top of a silver oorijzer with small pins through the knobs.

 photo urn-gvn-NOMA01-PR10666-large_zpssghqlnst.jpeg

Image by Bing & Braet, Source: Het geheugen van Nederland

 

The clothing in Huizen followed regular fashion and eventually became all black between 1870 and 1920, probably also due to religious influences. From 1870 on the cap also went through a great change, becoming the main point of interest, mostly due to its size. The oorijzer seems to have stayed relatively similar, changing slightly to accommodate the new style of cap. Two different types of large caps were worn, the ‘isabee’ for daily wear without oorijzer, and the oorijzermuts (oorijzer cap) for Sundays and special occasions. The cap with oorijzer was also a lot more difficult to put on, nearly impossible to do alone.

These pictures show the progress of putting on the cap. This one shows the under cap and the oorijzer before the outer cap is put on.

The cap is put in place with the pins, attaching to the oorijzer. This eventually creates a type of ‘loop’ in the fabric as shown in the next image of the final cap.

 photo urn-gvn-NOMA01-AA3791-large_zpsf76qkabv.jpegAfbeeldingsresultaat voor dracht huizen

And an image of the oorijzer only. You can clearly see the knobs with holes to put the pins through.

 

Another fishing town where the oorijzer survived is Urk. Urk used to be an island, before the province of Flevoland was basically created around it in the 1930s and 40s. It still very much retains its island culture today. The traditional costume has all but died out, but is sometimes worn for special occasions.

I couldn’t find any information on the 18th century costume, but this image shows the clothing ca. 1850. The oorijzer is silver with silver knobs, little pins stuck through. The knobs are worn on the cheeks.

By Bing & Braet, Source: Het Geheugen van Nederland

 

Around 1900 the costume reached its current state, the changes mostly being in the clothing. The cap changed little, the version today being a under-cap, a white cap with yellow lace at the front, pinned to the oorijzer and if the lady is married a black over-cap on the back. The red bands disappeared. The white cap and oorijzer would’ve been pinned together first and then put on. These pictures are from the early 20th century, showing the oorijzer beneath the cap. The little round balls are the tops of the pins which pin the cap to the oorijzer.

 

The oorijzer, this one made in the late 19th century. It’s very narrow in the front, which shows that it’s meant to press into the cheeks.

 

Staphorst-Rouwveen is a town which even today is known very much for its wearers of traditional costume. It has got the highest number of women still wearing the traditional clothes on a daily basis of the whole country, a couple of hundred today. The youngest is in her 40s though, and most wearers are over 60, so also in Staphorst traditional costume is dying out.

Again, I couln’t find any images from the 18th century costume. The image below is a small picture from ca. 1850 showing the headwear including oorijzer. The oorijzer is silver, still quite narrow and has small golden ‘curls’ at the ends. It’s worn quite low, both in the neck and on the cheeks.

 photo Untitled-1_zpshjj42byf.jpg

Excerpt from Bing & Breat. Source

 

From the 1850s costume, it changed quite a bit until around 1900. After that, small changes kept happening up to at least the 1970s. As the flow of ‘new’ wearers stops, the same usually happens to the changes in fashion.

Staphorst today actually sees two examples of the oorijzer. There’s a girl version, which isn’t worn daily anymore today. The other version is for adult women. Aside from the headwear with the oorijzer, another cap exists. That one is a small decorated cap of fabric and usually the daily wear today. The oorijzer is reserved for special occasions.

The ‘girl-oorijzer’ has the same basic shape as the one for adults, and is made fully of silver. It has very basic knobs at the ends.

The girl-oorijzer, this one was made in 1909.

 

For ‘neat’ wear (opknapdracht) the oorijzer was worn on top of the black under-cap, but without a lace cap on top. For church and special occasions, the lace ‘toefmuts’ was worn on top. The oorijzer changed from being worn low in the neck, going up over the ears and back down, to being worn almost on top of the head, going over the ears and ending low on the cheeks.

A picture of a girl in opknapdracht, picture from the 1940’s.

 

And with the lace cap for church, also from the 1940’s.

 

The oorijzer for adult women is similar in shape to the girls. The knobs at the ends are different, and are replaced by golden curls. In the 1850s image you can already see small curls, but these grow bigger.

This oorijzer is from ca. 1900, showing medium-sized golden curls.

 

This next oorijzer was made a bit later, in 1954. You can see the curls have grown, and tilted slightly.

 

A picture of a woman wearing the oorijzer in opknapdracht in the 1940’s.

 

And a picture taken in the 1990’s, of three women who still wear these clothes on a daily base. From left to right they’re dressed in regular, light mourning and mourning clothes, all fit for church.

 

Friesland

Friesland is a province in the north of the Netherlands, but (more so than most others) has a large ‘national’ Frisian identity. They have a flag, and their own official language. In some specific places a specific costume was worn, such as in the town of Hindeloopen or on the islands at the north. In most of the province though, traditional costume mostly took shape through the headwear while the rest of the clothing followed fashion. Friesland is one of the most interesting regions when it comes to the oorijzer. That’s because it had quite a large number of wealthy farmers, that wealth allowing the oorijzer to grow to epic proportions.

In the 18th century Frisian headwear was most commonly the ‘German cap’. I’m not sure of it’s exact origins, but it grew to be quite large. The oorijzer beneath however, was still quite modest. It’s already often made of silver or gold plated.

An 18th century Frisian costume with the German cap and oorijzer.

 

Titel:Trouwkostuum, gestreepte changeantzijde met gebrocheerd bloempatroon, afgezet met franje  Vervaardiger: onbekend  Soort object:trouwkostuum; rok; jak  Vervaardigingsdatum: 1782  Afmeting:hoogte: 75.0 cm  Materiaal: zijde, linnen:

Source: Fries museum

 

An early 18th century gilded oorijzer from Friesland.

Source: Fries museum

 

At the beginning of the 19th century the cap changes quite drastically, and this marks the beginning of a growth in the oorijzer. The band becomes bigger, the knobs growing as well and becoming more ornate.

The headwear at the turn of the 19th century was named a ‘Floddermuts’. This one is for mourning, as it’s plain. The ‘regular’ one would be made of lace.

 

Around this time, the oorijzer starts to grow. This is a gilded copper one from ca. 1800. You see that the knobs at the end grow with the band. Because the front shows best through the cap, the front starts growing first.

Source: Fries museum

 

In time the cap becomes shorter again in the back. Up to around 1850, the oorijzer keeps growing. Along with the base, the knobs at the end grow out to large ornate ornaments. Instead of a practical accessory which keeps the cap to the head, the oorijzer starts to have a more public function. Because it shows quite well beneath the sheer lace caps, your neighbors can see your oorijzer. Being made of silver or gold, a large oorijzer is expensive, a sign of wealth. And of course, it won’t do if your neighbor has one larger than you. With the growing wealth among Frisian farmers, the oorijzer grows to almost be a helmet of gold. Silver was, of course also still worn in less rich families.

The shorter cap. This is what the early Floddermuts evolved to between 1820 and 1880.

Source: Fries museum

 

A gilded copper oorijzer from around 1840. The fronts become larger, and the knobs start to become wider and even more ornate.

Source: Fries museum

 

A golden oorijzer from 1873. This is about as large as the oorijzers got. This one obviously  belonged to a wealthy lady.

Source: Fries museum

 

If you were not quite as rich, you could still have a large golden oorijzer, but the back would be unconnected, needing less metal. This one is gilded brass.

 

Silver versions also existed. It would be common as well to own both silver and gold, with the gold being for Sundays and special occasions and silver for daily wear. In this one from 1879 you can again see the narrow back.

Source: Fries museum

The Frisian costume (i.e. the cap) disappear after 1880/1890. Quite a strong national identity exists though, so a form of the costume (the ca. 1840 version) keeps being worn at events. Nowadays you can still see it being worn in dance groups, costume groups or in the traditional coach races (with Frisian horses). Nearly all of the jewelry, including the oorijzers, are antiques and even today worth quite a lot. (After all, you’re wearing a helmet of gold).

 

Zeeland

Zeeland is the province in the very south-west of the Netherlands, and mostly consists of islands. It’s probably partly due to this island culture that Zeeland evolved to have a rich variety of traditional costume.

The variation in dress in Zeeland existed mostly in the headwear. Small variations also exist in dress, though mainly in the upper-body. For the oorijzer though, the 17th century version evolved into two basic variations worn throughout the province.

In the 18th century, the oorijzer remained largely the same. It was silver and thin, but did develop round/rectangular golden pieces at the ends. These are all images from the 18th century fashion in Zeeland. You can see the small golden oorijzers, the round balls are probably the pins sticking through.

 photo urn-gvn-NOMA01-B09469-4-large_zpsppstpfla.jpg

Source: Het geheugen van Nederland. Left to right Zuid-Beveland, Zuid Beveland & Walcheren

 

And a late 18th century / early 19th century (pre 1814) oorijzer. You can see the small golden plates at the ends. It still has the same shape as the 17th century oorijzer, and hasn’t really become wider.

 

Before we continue, another map, this time of Zeeland. Most of the names I’ll be throwing around are the islands. Walcheren and Zuid-Beveland are two regions on the same island. Arnemuiden and Axel are specific towns. I’ll also be considering costume from just north of Zeeland, the light blue island at the top of this map. These are the islands of Zuid-Holland. Another province, but the oorijzer existed there as well and is most similar to that of Zeeland.

 photo Zeeland_zps3nz3wdue.jpg

In the first half of the 19th century, the oorijzer starts evolving in two different ways. In most of Zeeland, the knobs turn into golden curls. In Zuid-Beveland, however, they stay plates and become larger. Most back parts of oorijzers are silver, though brass is also seen. The decorative knobs are generally gold, but also sometimes gilded brass.

Oorijzers from Zuid-Beveland. 1864, 1886 & 1964. The first one is rather unusual, being made of filligree. Most oorijzers would be more similar to the other two, with plain golden plates. Through time, you see the plates growing in size.  This reflects the growth in wealth during the late 19th and 20th centuries.

 photo urn-gvn-NOMA01-HM3521-large_zps5olxmor9.jpg

 

Although the oorijzer in the rest of Zeeland and islands of Zuid-Holland all developed into spiraled curls, you do see some slight regional differences. In Walcheren and Axel, you get spirals which are even in size. As well as with the plates, you do also see them growing slightly over time, although they keep the 4 tiers.

Oorijzers from Walcheren (ca. 1800-1825), Axel (1899) & Walcheren (1920)

 photo urn-gvn-NOMA01-HM2896-large_zps6foyswes.jpg

 

An interesting case is the town of Arnemuiden. At some point the back part of the oorijzer disappears, leaving only the curls. This happens exclusively in the town of Arnemuiden. These ‘curls’, as they’re called (this term is also often used for the whole oorijzer by the way), are pinned to the bonnet. You see here that all practical function of the oorijzer has gone, leaving only the decorative part.

A pair of curls made in 1909.

 

In Noord-Beveland, Schouwen-Duiveland and Tholen you get spirals with 4 tiers, but decreasing in size. The process of growth is similar to the other regions. The twisted spiral seen in the oorijzer of Tholen was typical for this island.

Oorijzers from Schouwen (1856) Noord-Beveland (1872-1904) & Tholen (1954)

 photo urn-gvn-NOMA01-HM5780-large_zpsakz18ism.jpg

 

In the islands of Zuid-Holland, you also see spirals decreasing in size as they go upwards. Unlike the spirals from Zeeland, however, these are not limited to 4 tiers. Over time, they get more and more spirals.

Oorijzers from the islands of Zuid Holland, (1879, 1898, 1900-1910 worn in Heenvliet)

 photo urn-gvn-NOMA01-Z35-49-large_zps42qt6mpk.jpg

 

These following images all show the oorijzers as worn with the different costumes in Zeeland and the islands of Zuid-Holland, throughout time. Most of these images will show the costume and cap as worn on Sundays, this being the most elaborate version. The most recent images for each costume are also roughly where the changes stopped. This is different per region, depending on how long the costume was still worn. The only one being worn daily today is the one of Arnemuiden.

Zuid-Beveland. On the left is a print ca. 1850. Next to this you see the 2 different ways the cap evolved. Top row is protestant, first image ca. 1905, second one is ca. 1940. The catholic cap is in basis the same, but folded and pleated differently to get a different shape. The first image is ca. 1900, the second one ca. 1950. You can see how the oorijzer was worn much higher on the head than before in the catholic version.

 photo Zuid-Beveland_zps3ztsuya5.jpg

 

Walcheren. On the left the costume ca. 1850.  Top right is an image from what I’d guess to be early 20th century. The girls on either side are wearing the ‘girls-cap’, with the long back. The cap in the center is the one generally worn by adult woman. Lower right shows pitures from the 1950’s. Left the adult cap, right the girl cap.

 photo Walcheren_zpskrqztx7z.jpg

 

Arnemuiden. Left the costume ca. 1850. In the middle a girl ca. 1890. On the right the cap ca. 1930. This was roughly the size the cap stayed afterwards.

 photo Arnemuiden_zpscefgwhua.jpg

 

Axel. To the left an image depicting Zeeuws-Vlaandren ca. 1850. Top middle is a woman from Axel ca. 1880, bottom middle girls ca. 1905. The right image was taken in 1950.

 photo Zeeuws-Vlaandren_zpsdrver2do.jpg

 

Noord-Beveland. Left ca. 1850. Top right is ca. 1900, bottom right 1950’s.

 photo Noord-Beveland_zpsklo3cusy.jpg

 

Tholen. The Bing & Braet series doesn’t cover Tholen, so on the left a print from 1874. On the right a woman in the 1950’s.

 photo Tholen_zpskrfzhvye.jpg

 

Schouwen-Duiveland. Ca. 1850 on the left, ca. 1910 on the right. The hair was typical for Schouwen and worn slightly different in Duiveland.

 photo Schouwen-Duiveland_zpscgfuh4k9.jpg

 

Islands of Zuid-Holland. The left image depicts the costume from Goeree Overflakkee, Voorne, Beijerland and IJsselmonde ca. 1850. In the middle a girl from Voorne ca. 1880, the right image was taken ca. 1910.

 photo Goeree Overflakkee Voorne Beijerland en IJsselmonde_zpszfecr9ov.jpg

 

This post turned out slightly longer than anticipated, but I wanted to be complete, so I hope it wasn’t too long. This concludes the post. Below some sources, by far most information and images were taken from the website ‘Het Geheugen van Nederland’, which has a large image archive about Dutch traditional costume. This includes wonderful information from about the objects, from the museums they belong to.

 

Sources:

Het Geheugen van Nederland

Fries Museum

De Scheveningse Klederdracht, Koolbergen 1990

Historische Kring Huizen

Oorijzers – ‘Ear-irons’ – Part 1

Oorijzers are a type of metal headgear which have been worn in the Netherlands for a very long time. Literally translated the name means ‘ear-iron’, but I don’t think there’s an official English word for them, so I’ll keep using the Dutch term. I wanted to just write one post about oorijzers, but it became a bit long, so this is part 1 of 2! In this article I’ll give a little background on the history of the oorijzer and one example of it’s continued use throughout history. The next article will be about the oorijzer in various traditional Dutch costumes!

Just a quick disclaimer: I’m writing this article as an interested layman, I’m not a scholar on this subject by any means. My information comes from museums and books, and I’ll try to give an overview of sources at the bottom. I’m also writing this more as knowledgeable on Dutch traditional costume than on 16th and 17th century dress, to give an idea of my perspective.

But back to the topic on hand! What is an oorijzer? The basic description would be ‘a piece of metal  worn on the head underneath a cap’. That’s a very bare description, mostly because the function, appearance and material of the oorijzer all changed throughout time and place. Below you see a collage of different existent oorijzers ranging from 16th to 20th century, all worn in different parts of the Netherlands (source for all images: Het Geheugen van Nederland ).

oorijzers_zpsvbwzua9m

Origin

In origin, the oorijzer was a simple wire often made of brass. It was worn around the head and meant to keep the cap (which was worn on top) in place. It was a very utilitarian object, of which the largest part was not seen. The tips could be a little decorated with wire or small knobs, because these would stick out a little in the front. The rest of the wire was narrow and undecorated. Below is a brass oorijzer with copper wire around the tips found in Amsterdam, believed to be made in the 16th century. This is a good example of the style and shape of oorijzers around this time.

This type of oorijzer was worn throughout the entire country as a part of regular fashions of the time. These would’ve gone out of fashion for the elite around 1650. The lower classes would keep wearing them for a little longer. After 1700, you see oorijzers mostly in regional and local wear.

Although the earliest examples of oorijzers are twisted wire, at some point you also start seeing plated (I’m not sure if this is the correct technical term for how they’re made, sorry!) examples with little loops attached. The one below is from the last quarter of the 17th century, made of gilded brass. This one might’ve been for a wealthier woman, given the gilding and decoration of the knobs. It might have been worn with an early version of regional clothing as well, given the date.

Oorijzer, vermoedelijk laatste kwart 16de eeuw

The oorijzer would be made such that it would grip the head, preventing the cap from sliding off. The cap could be pinned to the ear iron. Because it was a bit tight (otherwise the grip wouldn’t work), you often see the knobs or ends making indentations of the cheeks of wearers.

Although few oorijzers from the 16th and 17th centuries have survived (being the practical accessories they were), they were worn widely. Luckily for us, the 17th century is a great era for the Dutch painters. Even though most of the upper class stopped wearing them at some point during the century, lower class portraits were also done. This means a fair number of paintings have survived which show women wearing oorijzers. Below a small selection.

 photo Oorijzers 2_zps5vsrmco3.jpg

Top left to right: “Vrouw aan de maaltijd” Gabriël Metsu ca. 1661, ca. 1664 – “Portrait of Catharina Hooghsaet (1607-1685)”  Rembrandt, 1657 – “Studie van een oude vrouw in een witte dop” Rembrandt  – “Woman eating”  Gabriël Metsu 1664-1666. Bottom left to right:  “Meisje maakt kant”  Caspar Netscher – “Portrait of a Lady” Frans Pourbus the Elder 1580 – “Portrait Of A Young Woman” Frans Hals 1655,1660 – “Portrait of a woman” Frans Hals 1640

 

In the 18th century the oorijzer disappears from regular fashions. In some regional costumes the oorijzer disappears (if it ever existed at all, sources pre 1700 being scarce). In others though, it is kept on and starts to transform. The 18th century is the base of most of the regional traditional costume we see today, it’s when the differences start becoming larger. The same is true for the oorijzer, which becomes different for different regions.

Burgerweeshuis

One very interesting place where the oorijzer is kept is the Burgerweeshuis in Amsterdam, the main orphanage in Amsterdam. Founded in the 16th century, the orphanage was quite well known and located in the same place up to 1954. The uniform for the girls was very distinctive, with dresses which were black on one side and red on the other, worn with white caps including oorijzers. After the oorijzer goes out of fashion in the 17th century the orphans keep wearing it and it serves as a part of their dowry when they leave. Throughout time it grows a bit from the 17th century version, becoming wider. The oorijzers worn in the Burgerweeshuis are eventually made of silver, making it one of the most valuable possessions the orphans were likely to have. The costume, including oorijzers was worn up to 1919 when they stopped wearing the uniform. This is an example of a costume which is not as much regional but institutional, but which therefore stays nearly the same for centuries. I couldn’t find any pictures of the uniform before late 19th century, so these images below best reflect the uniform as worn in the last years.

Below is a print of the costume made in 1914 after a doll (date unknown, but I’d guess late 19th/early 20th century) which clearly shows the silver oorijzer beneath the cap. At this point, it has become wider than the original 17th century oorijzer and the little knobs are high on the head.

Some existent examples. The pins would’ve been put through the knobs at the top

The painter Nicolaas de Waay painted a good number of paintings of girls of the Burgerweeshuis in the early 20th century. This is one of his portraits, again clearly showing the oorijzers beneath the caps.

Currently, most Dutch people know the oorijzer purely from their use in various traditional Dutch costumes. In Part 2 of this topic I’ll attempt to give an overview of how the oorijzer evolved in different regional wear, and how they’re still worn today!

Sources:

Het Geheugen van Nederland

Amsterdam Museum – Burgerweeshuis

Wikipedia page Burgerweeshuis