The ‘Corset Elastique’, mystery garment, and about Regency short stays

A mystery item

A little while back I was leafing through a book by the Gemeentemuseum in the Hague, ‘Romantische Mode’, which accompanied their exhibition on 19th century fashion a while back.

And in a chapter on silhouette I stumbled on an item I hadn’t really noticed before, namely this garment, labeled as ‘small corset (korsetje) 1800-1825’.

GemeentemuseumKorsetje

Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. Thanks to the museum for providing me with a High-res image, as it doesn’t have an online page. Click for full scale.

 

I was intrigued, as it seemed to be a type of Regency short stays I’d never seen before. Particularly the high center front, and the gathers. So I went online, and did some searching, went down the rabbit hole, and found some more interesting things.

Such that the ‘typical’ regency short stays I always thought of don’t seem to exist.

That this was obviously a transitional period, as several existent stays represent unique styles.

And that they had stretchy garments in the Regency period, way before the spandex corsets of the early 19th century came onto the scene.

Yes, really.

The type of garment shown above includes metal coils, making it stretchy. They even seem to have had a name, the ‘corset elastique’. This explains the gathers, which initially confused me.

 

Then I posted this post, got some more feedback on this garment, and stuff got more complicated. So this is the revised post with my findings and thoughts!

 

Short stays

First, let’s start with a bit of an overview on short stays.

I was familiar mostly with reproductions of short stays. My own pair is made with the Sense & Sensibility pattern, and that seems the predominant type of short stays made. The main characteristics of that pattern are: short, front lacing only, with bust gussets.

20140427_202240 (450x600)

My own short stays.

 

However, when searching, I couldn’t find any examples of short stays which is actually like my own recreation. The most similar I could find is this one:

Couldn’t find a source for this though.

 

The main difference from mine is the length. Though shorter, this still goes down a bit, and has tabs. It’s similar to the one seen in this fashion plate:

regency

 

Similar to the one above is this pair, the main difference being the lack of front lacing, and wrap around ties.

 

It doesn’t have front lacing, and the straps go around and tie in the front, but it does have the bust gussets, and it’s short.

The tying technique is also seen in this fashion plate:

1810 chemise & stays

 

Another pair which has seen various reproduction is this garment in the Kyoto costume institute. However, I recently found that someone had looked at this in more detail, and that it’s most probably something very different, namely later 19th century posture improvers. The boning goes in the back, to support the back and keep the shoulders back. The original ‘letter’ can be found here, and is by collector and underwear expert Anton Priymak. I’m keeping this in this post because I hadn’t seen this ‘correction’ before, and because this image is still floating around as Regency stays. (Close-ups reveal machine stitching, so even if it turns out not to posture improvers, it’s definitely not Regency)

Opaska-biustonosz; początek XIX wieku [The Kyoto Costume Institute, Japonia]

Posture Improver, KCI (not regency…)

 

To wrap-up, there are not actually all that many ‘short stays’ out there. The vast majority of what has survived are ‘longer’ stays.

 

When looking for information, I also stumbled on some wonderful posts by ‘Kleidung um 1800‘, who did some in-depth research on stays of the very early 19th century, including on ‘short stays’. She looked at period descriptions naming ‘short stays’, and actually made some of them following period instructions! She noted that many of those actually look more like ‘longer’ stays, but are just quite light-weight and with a little boning. I won’t be repeating her findings here, so I’ll just refer to some of her posts, about the period ‘short’ stays, and another pair without lacing.

 

The ‘corset elastique’

So where does that leave us with the garment that started the whole search?

Well, surprisingly to me, I actually found a number of examples of the ‘corset elastique’, similar to my original find. These examples are all really short, shorter even than my find, have front closing, and they all include metal springs.

This pair from the MET was the first one I found. And it’s strikingly similar to the one from the Gemeentemuseum. The gathered front, the high center front boning, front lacing. The main difference is the existence of sheer cups. This is the only pair I found with cups. Given how sheer the fabric is, this was probably mostly for control or decoration.

 

The high-resolution image also allows you to see the metal coil which has escaped from the bottom. This was the first ‘aha’ moment. The coils explain the gathers.

This was the first image, and the one most similar to my own find, but I found more.

These two examples show the same gathering around metal coils, though they don’t have the high center-front of the other two. They are also both in color.

This example has crossed straps in the back (follow the link for more pictures), and the straps attach with small buckles.

 

The final example is also straight across, and has a slightly different type of front closure.

 

This museum also gives the corset it’s name, the corset à élastique. And searching by that name, I actually found another example, this time in a fashion plate, from the Journal des Dames et des Modes. Looking closely, you see the three straps in the front, with little stripes, exactly like the previous example. And it’s got the crossed straps from the third one.

 

And here I thought I was done, but of course, history is always more complicated than you’d think! Sabine, from Kleiding um 1800, pointed out to me that she’d seen these three garments shown above, but interpreted them as outer wear, to wear on top of a dress. (She made one by the way, which is wonderful)

This is supported, firstly, by the fashion plate below, which shows a very similar garment worn over an outfit.

 

It also makes sense given the darker colors of the last two items, as most dresses in this period were sheer and white, and most underwear would also be white. Of course, history is always good at exceptions.

 

The fact that all of them are made of silk could also point in the direction of outerwear, although again, at least until the late 18th century, I could find exceptions:

 

So if they are outerwear, what’s up with the fashion plate from the Rijksmuseum, clearly showing them as underwear? One reason for this might be that fashion magazines copied from one-another, and might have mis-interpreted it. Again, thanks to Sabine for this theory.

It might also be the case that, because of how much fashion was transitioning, that people actually wore these in various versions as outer or underwear. To me, the boning and metal coils seem to point in the direction of shaping the body. Something that most other ‘bodice-type’ garments of this era that I’ve seen don’t do. It makes more sense to me that they were, at some point at least, also meant as supportive garments, but that’s purely my own theory.

Most I know of look more like this. No boning/structure involved, as it’s worn on top of undergarments, that isn’t necessary.

c. 1800 American bodice

MET museum

 

Just a quick note on terminology, I’ve seen the term ‘corset’ (in French!) refer to garments clearly worn on top of a dress in this era. So just the fact that they called it a ‘corset’, does not mean it’s underwear.

1798

Description: Turban a la Gulnaire. Corset et jupon a la Lisbeth.

 

In this light, it is, however, interesting to point out some other versions of the ‘corset elastique’. Firstly, this late 18th century pair of stays: (the left one)

Kyoto Costume Institute

 

This pair actually seems to have the metal springs as well, but in the side. I couldn’t find a picture of the front, unfortunately, so it’s difficult to say what’s going on there. But this, at least, seems to prove that the metal springs were, in some cases, used in supportive underwear.

Another signal in this direction are these sketches from the ‘ Histoire naturelle, de la femme, suive D un traite D’ygiene’, by Lacroix, 1803. Foundations revealed have an article on the corset elastique describing these in more detail, the thing in the middle is a busk, which extends longer than the stays.

 

Brassiere1808b - Brassiere - Wikimedia CommonsImage:Brassiere1808c.gif

 

And then a very helpful comment by Anna-Carin pointed me in the direction of a little book by J.S. Bernhardt, published in 1810/1811, on stays. And she pointed out that there was a pattern in this book, which was remarkably like the corset elastiques shown!

JS Bernhardt corset elastique

Plate VII, Figure E.

 

The description of this garment (page 95 & 96 in the book) clearly refers to the corset being ‘elastic’, calling the metal coils ‘gesponnene Draht’, instructing they should be two ‘Zoll’ shorter than the pattern panel. This ruching removes the need for a gusset in panel D (as the bottom automatically becomes gathered), and the shortness means no tabs are necessary over the hips either.

 

Conclusions?

So, conclusions? There seems to be at least some types of underwear which used metal springs to make the garment stretchy. They are called ‘corset elastique’ (at least in French). Similarly, there is a garment meant to wear on top of a dress, also called a ‘corset elastique’, which also has these metal springs. It’s quite difficult to tell what existent garments were meant as which, although the colored ones at least seam to point in the direction of outer wear.

As to my original garment, it’s still a bit unclear. I’d interpreted it as underwear, also because of the chapter of the book it was in, and because it was termed ‘corset’, and it was white. It is, however, made of silk, which was uncommon for undergarments. Looks wise, it seems similar to both garments which were probably meant as outer wear, and a pattern for underwear. At this point, I’ve listed what I could find, and will leave further interpretations up tot he reader. If anyone has any further information, I’d love to know! (Many thanks to everyone who has already chimed in!)

Inspiration – Victorian summer dresses

It’s been unusually warm and dry here in the Netherlands (and in most of Europe, I believe). That’s gotten me thinking of light, summer style dresses. I don’t have any at the moment, all of mine are either silk, velvet or wool. So one of these might have to go onto the (long) list of things I want to make one day…

Last year I did a post on summer dresses of the period just before the Victorian age, so for this post, let’s look at some Victorian examples!

These dresses are all made of very light cotton. They protect the skin from the sun, and the white is relatively cool. The cotton is rather thin, and breathes well. Of course, a fashionable lady would still seek out the shade, and wear a bonnet and parasol as well to protect from the sun.

Some crinoline styles. In this era, flowers on white seem tho have been quite popular!

COTTON DRESS with STRAWBERRY PRINT, 1863

 

I particularly like the pin-tucks on this bodice.

.....

 

Some nice stripy contrast!

Day dress, late 1860′s From the John Bright Historic Costume Collection

 

PRINTED DIMITY DAY DRESS, 1860s 1-piece, white, windowpane-woven w/ small red flower print, self fabric belt, trained skirt.

 

Organza dress ca. 1865. Bodice has muslin foundation trimmed in needlelace accented with bows. Time Travelers Estate Sales

 

Some solid white, as we’re moving into the bustle era.

Dress, ca. 1870

 

But dots are nice too!

Day dress, American (attrib.), ca. 1873-77. White cotton printed with red circles. Bodice: fitted over hips, ruffled edge, long sleeves. Skirt: bustle with white cotton and red trim. Overskirt: as draped apron. Kent State Univ. Museum

Two afternoon dresses in printed cotton, ca. 1875. Part of the Jacoba de Jonge collection, which is now owned by the Mode Museum in Antwerp. Filep Motwary blog

 

And, to finish, two more solid white dresses from the 1880’s this time

Dress, European, ca. 1885. Cotton plain weave with cotton cutwork embroidery (broderie anglaise) & cotton needle lace. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Rebecca Thelin/Flickr, and thecourtesanblue/Flickr

Dress ca. 1885 via The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Album de la Mode Illustrée – A guide

I love browsing through fashion plates for inspiration. Although not always a perfect representation of what was ‘normal’ during an era, you can get a very good idea of what was ideal. This means loads of very pretty dresses, a good look at the ideal silhouette, and a picture of a full ‘look’ including accessories.

Hat, gloves, fan, umbrella, collar. Very important for finishing a look!

 

Those who’ve been following my blog might have noticed that the most recent inspiration posts with fashion plates were all from the same series. This is a version of the Album de la Mode Illustrée, and it’s probably my favorite of all series I’ve seen. There are multiple versions of this album around, but this particular one is special because of the beautiful watercolors. It also runs from 1861 to 1895, so covers a solid part of the Victorian era.

One of the earliest plates. I have a weakness for black lace on a light fabric, so love this dress.

 

The next question is of course: where can I find them?

All fashion plates are online in high resolution, courtesy of of the Bunka Gakuen Library. You need to do some searching on the website though, and once in the album there’s no direct way to search for a certain year. There are shortcuts though, and I have found a way to find a specific year, so the rest of this post is a guide towards finding what you want from this amazing source!

Firstly, the website, which is here

To find the album, a quick way is to go to ‘fashion plates’, and then go to ‘Nineteenth century’. This will give a list of fashion plate albums, the watercolor one is the ‘Album de la Mode Illustrée’ is at the top at number 1.

Untitled-1

 

This will bring you to an overview of the plates. To get the full size picture, click on the thumbnail, you then get a slightly larger version.

Untitled-3

 

There is a larger version though, which you can get to by simply clicking on the image. Pretty details galore!

Untitled-4

 

To browse through the images, it is easiest to use the thumbnail view. You can leaf through the album using the numbers at the top.

Untitled-2

 

The only difficulty left is finding what date a plate is, as it’s not actually on the picture, and there’s no info per image.

Very pretty, but what year is this?

 

However, there’s an easy way to do it anyway, using the file numbers! As you can see in the screenshots, there’s a filename beneath each thumbnail. This filename consists of 3 numbers. Let’s take the first fashion plate, which has number 014-0001-002.jpg.

The 014 is the same for all, probably this refers to the album itself. The second number is the most interesting, as it refers to the ‘book’ in the series. Luckily for us, there’s one book per year, so this number can be used to find what year a picture is in! The last number is the number of the individual picture within that year.

So in this case, the number 1 refers to 1861. However, 1862 is missing, so the number 2 is 1863. To make it a little less confusing, I’ve made a table to look up what numbers refer to what year.

In this table, the first column is the year. The second is the number of fashion plates in the album for that year. The Start ID is the middle number in the file name. So if you have a filename with 0021 in the middle, it will be a plate from 1882.

Year Number of plates Start ID Pagenr start (all)
1861 47 0001 1
1863 49 0002 6
1864 40 0003 11
1865 48 0004 15
1866 50 0005 20
1867 49 0006 25
1868 50 0007 30
1869 50 0008 35
1870 52 0009 40
1871 52 0010 46
1872 52 0011 51
1873 52 0012 57
1874 52 0013 62
1875 52 0014 68
1876 52 0015 73
1877 52 0016 79
1878 52 0017 85
1879 52 0018 91
1880 52 0019 97
1881 52 0020 102
1882 53 0021 109
1883 52 0022 115
1884 52 0023 121
1885 52 0024 127
1886 52 0025 133
1887 52 0026 138
1888 53 0027 144
1889 52 0028 151
1890 52 0029 157
1891 52 0030 163
1892 52 0031 169
1893 53 0032 175
1894 53 0033 181
1895 50 0034 187
1896 52 0035 192

 

There’s a final column in this table, to help make the searching even easier. This number is the page number when browsing through the thumbnails, where this year begins. (After the red cover picture). The page numbers are the numbers within the red box on the screenshot below. So  for example, if you want to find plates from 1893, you need to go to page 181. As you can see below, you initially don’t see this number. Just click on ‘180’, and then the 10 pages before and after will also show up.

Just be careful to not click on the ‘Plates only’ button under the thumbnails, as this will remove the album cover/backs, and therefore mess up the page numbers.

Untitled-2

 

Have fun browsing, and one final pretty to finish up!

 

Spring pastels

Spring is slowly coming, the first flowers are popping up. Meanwhile the weather is still rather rainy and grey, however. So although I’m not always a big fan of pastel and fluffyness (especially at the same time), right now is a good time for it.

The Album de la Mode Illustree has a version with lovely watercolor fashion plates, so I picked some of my favourites from the most frilly examples. Ranging from the 1860s to 1890’s. If you don’t like fluff, now might be a good time to stop reading.

 

 

Round gown inspiration

One of my most concrete plans for 2018 is to make an 18th century round gown. As this is my first round gown, and simultaneously my first 18th century dress, I’ve been doing some visual research (aka: spend too much time on pinterest).

One of my favorite round gowns, and one of the inspirations to use damask for my own project. (Mine will be silver, as that’s what I have. This green is stunning though!)

Round gown, American, ca. 1775. Metropolitan Museum of Art Popular around the 1770s through late 18th century, the round gown was similar to the robe a l'anglaise. It is not an open robe but rather the skirt and petticoat are as one. The gown has a front-closing bodice with no stomacher.

 

First, a brief definition. (I’m not a terminology expert, nor an 18th century expert, but this is what I believe ’round gown’ is mostly used for.) Quite simply put: a round gown is a dress with a full (’round’) skirt, of which the front is not attached to the bodice. You might say: don’t all dresses have a full skirt? But in the 18th century, most dresses were actually open in front, and had a (sometimes matching, sometimes not) petticoat underneath which shows in the front. The round gown is an exception to this ‘rule’. A round gown is different from most ‘later’ styles of dresses, in that he bodice is attached only to the back of the skirt, while the front of the skirt has ties and is attached underneath the front bodice with ties. The sides of the skirts have slits to allow for getting into the skirt. I’m using the term as applied to 1770’s and 1780’s gowns mostly, as the changing fashions in the 1790’s also seem to broaden the definition of the term.

Because pictures are clearer than words sometimes. This is a round gown:

Brown Cotton Round Gown from the Blog, Slightly Obsessed. http://slightly-obsessed.blogspot.com/

A bit difficult to see, but there’s no separate petticoat. This image shows how the front of the skirt is not attached to the bodice, while the back is.

Around and about ROCOCO 1780 Closed dress, cotton. Private collection.

 

I’ve seen examples of round gowns both with a pleated back (pleats stitched down), or with the (later) seamed back style. For my own dress, I’ll probably go with the seamed back, as that’s quite a bit easier to do.

Time for some more inspiration! Most round-gowns are relatively simple trim-wise, and there’s quite a number of chintz examples.

Gown, blue floral pattern on cream ground. Copperplate printed linen. Worn by Deborah Sampson, possibly as her wedding dress. Date: 1760-1790

Textiles (Clothing) - Dress, 1785-1795

 

One of my all-time favorite dresses is this red-ground chintz one.

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

 

There’s also patterned silks. This is another fancy silk example.

eMuseum - View Media

 

And a ‘plain’ silk one. I love the styling with the belt on this one, and I’m thinking of adding one to my dress as well!

Levite or round gown, The Netherlands, 1780-1800. Sky blue silk taffeta with a light blue silk sash.

2018 plans

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

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

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

20180108_184232

 

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

IMG_20170920_140452_833

 

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

This, in a black floral.

Simplicity - 8050

And this one, in a grey plaid.

Simplicity - 8251

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

20180118_112052b

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

Ensemble | American | The Met

 

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

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

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

 

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

20180103_102414

Der Bazar 1886

 

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

20180103_102340Klein

For something like this maybe?

Evening dress | British | The Met

 

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

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

Dutch quilted petticoats

As it’s almost Christmas, something winter-themed for today, namely 18th century quilted petticoats!

When looking through the Dutch collections, I noticed a couple of skirts with very similar stitching patterns. You have to look carefully, but they’re all just slightly different. All of these are also in different museum collections! Apparently, this was a popular design.

Below is one of the best photographed of the lot. Clicking will bring you to the museum page, where you can zoom in to see the details.

 

Quilted petticoats were very popular during the 18th century all over Europe. They gave more volume to a skirt than a ‘regular’ petticoat due to their thickness. They were also nice and warm due to the wool inner layer. Although they went out of fashion at the end of the 18th century, some regional costumes in both the Netherlands and France kept them. This might be one of the reasons so many of them survive in the Netherlands. Another possible reason might be that there were some Dutch regions where the jacket/petticoat combination was worn more than full gowns, even for the middle upper classes. More use for pretty skirts!

Very similar to the first one! But this one has a small yoke at the top.

 

 

Many existing petticoats are of silk satin, with a wool inner layer and lined in linen. You see linen, cotton and wool examples as well though. The stitching is incredible to see up close, I’ve seen some originals and the workmanship is amazing. These petticoats would’ve often been made by specialist stitchers, a newspaper from Friesland mentions the move of such a professional lady in 1762 (https://www.modemuze.nl/blog/winterwarme-rokken-0).

Nope, it’s not the same! See the little singular diamonds in the bottom pattern? Those aren’t there in the other ones.

 

 

I know that at least in some of the examples, the technique used was different from what we’d call ‘quilting’ nowadays. Instead of a layer of wool or flannel put between the outer and inner layer, wool threads were pulled through the stitched channels afterwards. This technique is called matelassé in French, and ‘Zaans stikwerk’ in Dutch, after the region where it was found a lot. I suspect that in these petticoats, the bottom part might be matelassé work.

Yet another one! This one is display with a chintz jacket, showing how it could be worn.

 

Blog anniversary

My blog is 4 years old today! In summer 2013 I started my first big historical sewing project. I’d only made a (not very accurate) Regency dress before, and this project was a 1860s dinner dress including all undergarments, so quite a leap. When this blog started I was still working on that dress, and suffice to say that project got me hooked!

Since starting historical costuming, I’ve made 4 corsets, 4 chemises, 2 pairs of drawers, a corset cover, two hoop skirts, a bustle cage, a bum pad, five petticoats and a balayeuse. That’s the underwear list (it’s mostly stored in one very, very full box).

My first and last Victorian corset. Still room for improvement, but it’s definitely moving in the right direction.

 

For outer wear, I’ve now made dresses/outfits for 7 different era’s. Late medieval, 1810’s, 1820’s, 1860’s, 1870’s, 1900’s and 1920’s. Aditionally, there are 2 spencer jackets, one mantelet, a jacket and 4 head pieces. Accessories really do finish a look.

My first and last regency outfit. Left was a dress only (no period underwear yet), right is a chemise, stays, petticoat, dress, spencer and bonnet. The left dress was a great place to start costuming though! (Right image by Martijn van Huffelen)

 

It’s always fun to look back, and a good reminder that your current skill level always matters a lot less than the fun you have in making and wearing your outfits. The whole process of research and discovery and learning is such an important part for me, and the great thing is that there’s always so much more to learn!

At the moment there are two more outfits in the making, and I’ve got loads of plans for more! Suffice to say, I haven’t grown tired of this hobby yet in the past four years.

Since starting this blog I also made a Facebook page and Instagram account for it. I just saw that I reached a 1000 followers on the Facebook page this week, which is honestly still a bit unreal to me! A big advantage of Facebook is connecting with other enthusiasts through groups, and Instagram is great for showing progress. Nevertheless, I still really value the more in-depth view a blog offers, so this one will definitely continue to exist as well. In any case: to anyone who has been following me, thank you!

One of the things that inspired me to get started with historical sewing were the other sewing blogs out there. I still really enjoy seeing other peoples projects, so to close this anniversary post a shout-out to some of the blogs that really inspire me!

The Dreamstress

This was the first historical sewing blog I stumbled upon, and I actually went all the way to the beginning to read the whole thing (that took a while). This blog really inspired me to get started on the big, elaborate projects, and to do it right.

Before the Automobile

One thing most historical costumers strife for is to look as you’ve stepped out of a photograph. To really get the silhouette, details and accessories right. This lady does that so well, and the way her dresses are fitted is perfection.

Prior Attire

Izabella runs her own business sewing historical pieces, and has made so many lovely pieces from all different era’s. On her blog she shares loads of advice, and I’m always impressed with how generous she is with her knowledge. Plus, I briefly met her at her Victorian ball last year, and she was a lovely host as well!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Entering the 17th century

Those who follow my instagram account might have already seen that I’m currently working on a gown from ca. 1660.

This project started with a ball. There’s a yearly new-years ball in Gent, in the opera there. I’ve been wanting to go for a while but timing has been off (I was on holiday last year). This year I was talking with another costumer about it and we decided to go! Last years theme was 19th century, but this year it’s going back in time. Inspired by Versailles, the dress code is now 1660 – 1715.

So that means I need a new dress! I’ve decided to go for the early limit of the dress code, as I’d been looking at 1660’s fashions for a bit longer and those are best represented in research as well. As often happens, I started with looking for fabric. I wanted real silk, but keeping it affordable means searching for bargains and that often means picking from whatever happens to be available.

I got really lucky with fabric, and found a golden upholstery silk with a pattern quite suitable for the era. When I got it the color was absolutely stunning. It’s a bit of an ‘older’, antique golden color. What’s even better, it goes perfectly with the antique metallic lace I found a little while back.

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The materials decide the style in this case, and I decided to go for a style that would fit with lace trimming. Lucky for me, many of the existent 1660’s bodices have lace trim and work very well with my materials.

To help with the patterning and construction I also got a new book, seventeenth century women’s dress patterns (part II). It’s absolutely brilliant, showing close up pictures of both inside and outside the garments, x-rays that show the boning, patterns for both exterior and foundation layers and full construction notes.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor seventeenth-century women's dress patterns book 2

 

Even better, it has all of that for this 1660-1670 bodice:

Pale-coloured silk satin bodice, 1660-1669, V&A. Decorated with parchment lace. The boned foundations is made from twelve pattern pieces, reinforced at places with up to three extra layers of linen. The middle side panel is unboned but stiffened with buckram and wool and may be a later addition to increase the size...

 

So that’s the base for my pattern. The skirt will be a pleated rectangle, so doable without any patterning.

For the rest of this post: some more pictures of what I’m going for, as inspiration!

One other dress in this style is the silver tissue gown I saw in Bath last year. So stunning in person.

Ca. 1660 silver tissue dress with parchment lace. Fashion museum Bath

 

I love this painting as well, as it shows the combination of patterned gold silk with lace.

Knallhattens osorterade tankar: Sveriges vackraste porträtt

Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie with his spouse Maria Eufrosyne of Pfalz-Zweibrücken, the sister of King Charles X of Sweden. Painting from 1653 by Hendrik Munnichhoven

 

It’s a style you see quite a lot in Dutch paintings. You do get quite some differences between countries the further back you go in history, and I like the idea of making something that could’ve been worn in the Netherlands.

bartholomeus-van-der-helst-court.jpg (675×800)

Bartholomeus van der Helst: Abraham del Court and his Wife, 1654

 

American Duchess:Historical Costuming | Historical Costuming and sewing of Rococo 18th century clothing, 16th century through 20th century, by designer Lauren Reeser

Bartholomeus van der Helst, Jeanne Parmentier, 1656

 

All of the above show thin linen or lace collars, but you also see what’s more like a thin linen shift above the dress. This is probably what I’ll go for as well for the ball, as it feels a bit more like evening wear.

Isaack Luttichuys   Datering   ca. 1660 (1655 - 1665)  Titel  Portrait of a lady with a fan

Isaac Luttichuys, ca. 1660

 

Details of Dutch fashion of 1658 include a string of pearls tied with a black ribbon, a jack-bodice with matching skirt, pleated sleeves, and dropped shoulder.

Mieris Frans, Duet, 1658

 

At this point I’m done with the foundation layer of linen and boning, and ready to start patterning the top silk layer!

‘Uit de mode’ – Fashion exhibition Centraal Museum Utrecht

This year it was a 100 years ago that the first fashion curator was appointed in the Centraal museum in Utrecht, and in honor of that they held a fashion exhibition called ‘uit de mode’.

It was organized in themes: the maker, wearer, restorer and visionary. It also spanned the whole time-line of their collection, often drawing parallels between their historical and modern collections.

I only took pictures of the historical pieces, as those were my main interest in coming to the exhibition. I’ve got all images on my facebook page and pinterest. In this post, a couple of my favorite items!

One of the first items on display was this 18th century cotton toile de jouy petticoat. With lovely pleating up top (flatter towards the front), and a cord running along the hem to protect it from wear.

 

This 1830’s dress was one of the first buys a 100 years ago. With gorgeous lace along the edges.

 

One of the show pieces, 1760 robe a la francaise with gorgeous embroidery. I also liked how the robings ran all the way down to the hem.

 

An Edwardian cotton and lace gown. With all the small lovely details and pin-tucks you see so often in this style. This one is definitely on my wish-list to recreate one day. Made of swiss dotted cotton and two types of lace the material part at least would be doable. (Now for time…)

 

Another show piece, a 1886 Worth gown. Very unusual pleating on the top skirt, lovely rose fabric for the underskirt and a spectacular train.

 

Cotton regency. This fabric was super-sheer, and in remarkable condition. I also quite liked how the sleeves were actually pleated and attached on top!

1805-1810 gown of white batist. Collection page: http://centraalmuseum.nl/ontdekken/object/?img_only=1#o:4247

 

Another regency piece, and another showstopper. A lavender court train of moire silk with pearl embroidery. Probably never worn, and it might have belonged to Hortense de Beauharnais.

 

This ensemble isn’t quite as spectacular as the train, but I still really loved it. The fabric especially was gorgeous and shiny, and the lace was really the perfect touch. Another one for the wish-list…

 

To continue with beautiful fabric, this dress also had some stunning silk. I also really love the bodice and the neckline in particular.

 

To finish, two 18th century ensembles. This one is a caraco I’d seen before on a depot visit, and it was really nice to see it displayed. Shown on top of a stunning red quilted petticoat.

 

The other chintz/quilted ensemble. A chintz robe a l’anglaise on top of a light blue silk quilted petticoat. Again, gorgeous fabric and details, and I loved the pleating on the dress.