Late 1830’s sleeve inspiration

I mentioned some of my plans in my last post. By now, the 1780’s project has been done (iteration 1, at least), and I will wear it next weekend. Expect more posts after that, because then I’ll actually have proper pictures of the whole thing, dress and hat.

It also means I’ve been slowly shifting focus onto the 1830’s project. Just a quick disclaimer; I don’t know if I’ll actually be able to finish this before the January deadline, because I also have a lot of other (non-sewing) stuff going on. But I’ll very probably start it nonetheless.

For my first 1830’s project, I’ve actually chosen a dress from later in the decade. And that means it also doesn’t have the huge sleeves the 1830’s are so famous for. I didn’t do that because I don’t like large sleeves, because they’re really fun. I made that choice, because in the latter half of the 1830’s, you get sleeves which basically start with the same amount of fabric, but where the sleeves are then pleated and smocked in various ways to make a relatively narrow sleeve out of all that fabric.

And I just really love this style of intricate sleeve. So, in this post, some inspiration pictures of 1830’s sleeves you might not have considered typically 1830’s huge, but which are very pretty!

This dress started my love for the sleeves in this era. Three rows of tiny pleats, with strips of fabric in-between, and piping, of course. I found this picture ages back, and for a long time, it was one of the few 1830’s dresses I truly found pretty and inspiring. The craziness eventually grew on me, but I still love this dress.

Dress, 1837-1840, V&A T.184-1931

 

Then, of course, there’s the dress I’m planning on recreating. With the same narrow gathers at the top, but than a wider band around the sleeve with a rosette.

Ensemble ca. 1836, MET museum 1988.105.5a–d

 

There seems to’ve been a bit of a thing with gold colored silk dresses in this era, if you look at the MET collection, as they have a lot. This one also features the typical small pleats, but finishes off the bottom one with a bit of lovely trim. (And look at those tiny gathers at the wrists!

Dress, silk, probably American

Dress ca. 1836, MET 1973.226

 

There’s endless variations on the theme, and all are just a little different. This one has very narrow pleats, finished off with a bit of ruffle.

Evening dress, silk, wool, cotton, British

Evening dress ca. 1835, MET 1984.89

 

This dress actually keeps up the gathering all through-out the sleeve. It has tiny cartridge gathers at the top, and then after that bands to gather the volume down in different places.

Dress, silk, American

Dress ca. 1835, MET 13.49.22a, b

 

The previous dresses are all in silk, but the trend was definitely applied to cotton dresses as well. More difficult to see, due to the prints, but it’s all in the details!

This one is actually quite similar to the palest gold dress above, but with two rows of pleats before the gathered ruffle.

Dress, cotton, American

Dress 1837–39, MET C.I.38.23.2

 

Most dresses feature long pleats, but this one has gathers instead. You can almost see where the gathers have been stitched down in places to keep them in shape.

Dress, cotton, British

Drss ca. 1837, MET  1983.241.1

 

A bit more difficult to see because of the angle, but the cut of this bodice is so pretty it deserves a spot. The sleeves seem to have two rows of pleats and bands inbetween.

Ensemble, cotton, American

Ensemble ca. 1837, MET C.I.56.27.1a, b

 

Most of these dresses were from the MET, simply because they have the best pictures, but to finish off, a Dutch example. I’ve had the pleasure to see this dress in person, and admire the sleeves.

Wedding dress of wool with woven silk stripes, 1836. Gemeentemuseum Den Haag 1018228

 

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

Wool Damask

For most historical costumers, finding the perfect fabric is one of the most difficult parts of getting the look right. One of the main difficulties is that many fabrics used in the past just aren’t made anymore in the same quality, or they are too expensive for a hobby seamstress. Just finding really fine linen is nearly impossible.

One of my favourite historical fabrics is wool damask. And it’s another of those fabrics which has sort of died out. It just isn’t made anymore, which is a shame, because it’s stunning.

Wollen damast, Norwich | Modemuze

 

Yes, that’s wool. Wool damask is two-toned, and pretty much always in the same color palette. So you get a lighter/darker combination, so light green with dark green, dark blue with black, or beige and brown.

Wool damask is also usually glazed. It’s treated in such a way that it gets a shiny finish, making it almost look a bit like silk damask. It would’ve been a cheaper than true silk damask, but gives the same impression. The patterns of the damask were definitely inspired by their silk counterparts.

For comparison, an 18th century silk damask:

 

And a wool damask one:

Rok van wol, lichtgroen met grote witte bloem en zoom en splitten afgezet met koord | Modemuze

 

Wool damask was used for skirts in the 18th century, and continued in traditional clothing throughout the 19th century. They were probably often also worn as petticoat under the upper skirt, as they’re a little less fancy than the silk ones.

Some of them are pretty stunning though, so I definitely think they were worn as upper skirt as well. Look how shiny!

Rok | Modemuze

 

The wool damask was used mostly in skirts, but also in men’s waistcoats and in stays. In some regional wear parts of the stays were visible at times, calling for fancy fabrics.

Korset of rijglijf van wollen damast, blauw met groene bloemen, met rijgsluiting middenvoor en een schootje van losse pandjes | Modemuze

 

The richer farmers would’ve worn wool waistcoats as well.

 

Despite the popularity in this country, the wool damask worn in the Netherlands was mostly not actually made here. Instead, this fabric was imported from England, Norwich to be exact. Interestingly enough, I’ve never really seen it in English collections though, suggesting that it was primarily an export product. Wool damask was woven on narrow looms (giving much narrower fabrics than common today), and so that the back of the fabric ‘mirrors’ the colors on the right side, as with all damask. Some more information on this fabric written by Meg Andrews is here. It became a staple of some Dutch dress, and I suspect the skirts in these well-known prints might be from wool damask:

1770s - 18th century - woman's outfit with mixed print fabrics (jacket in floral, skirt in a different floral, apron in plaid/checks, and cap in floral) - From "An album containing 90 fine water color paintings of costumes." Turin : [s.n.] , [ca.1775]. In the collection of the Bunka Fashion College in Japan. Underneath the illustration is handwritten in pencil "North Holland." - Netherlands - Dutch.

A lady from Zaandam

1770s - 18th century - woman's outfit with mixed print fabrics (jacket in floral, skirt in a different floral, apron in solid, and neckerchief either in stripes or simply showing pleats/folds) - From "An album containing 90 fine water color paintings of costumes." Turin : [s.n.] , [ca.1775]. In the collection of the Bunka Fashion College in Japan. Underneath the illustration is handwritten in pencil "Hamburgh" (I think that's what it says!) Hamburg, Germany.

A lady from Friesland

 

Some more, beautiful 18th century skirts, all from the Dutch Openluchtmuseum:

Petticoat, The Netherlands, fabric: Norwich, England, 18th century. Green silk damask woven with large flower and leaf motifs.

Rok van wollen damast, Zaanstreek, 1700-1800 | Modemuze

Rok van blauw-bruine wollen damast, West-Friesland | Modemuze

Rok van achttiende-eeuwse wollen damast, Noord-Holland | Modemuze

 

One of my more prized possessions is a black wool damask skirt, probably from the late 19th or early 20th century. This one is from the Veluwe, where these skirts were still worn as petticoats (underneath a plain black skirt) with the traditional costume. It’s constructed pretty much the same as an 18th century petticoat would be. It’s gathered at the top, with a flat front, and two side slits. It’s got one tuck in the skirt, and a velvet band a little above the hem. The bottom has got a bit of fluffy trim to protect it, and it’s got another ribbon as well as a hem facing on the inside to protect the fabric.

The full skirt, front & back:

 

A close up of the fabric, left from the outside, right the inside.

 

The top is tightly cartridge pleated to a waistband.

20180625_112002

 

Despite the age, the fabric is still very pretty. The velvet trim and hem facings clearly show wear, but the main skirt is still in very good condition. This was another reason these skirts were so popular, the wool fabric wears very well. If only they still made fabric like this today!

20180625_112157

A new petticoat – and a note on red-white chintz

As mentioned in my last post, I wanted more petticoats for my 1780s dress. I know from ladies in more regional dress in the 18th century (which followed fashion quite closely), that they probably wore at least 4 petticoats 1. As I can’t really imagine fashionable ladies wearing fewer, I’d ideally have 4 for my ensemble as well. One plain linen bottom one, underneath the false rump. One simple linen one as first one over the rump, one striped linen or wool one over the rump, and a final, prettier, printed cotton one as top ‘under’ petticoat. The top petticoat was usually the prettiest, as that one might show when lifting up the skirt.

When writing the last post, I had one grey linen petticoat, which I’ll be wearing right on top of the rump. Now, I’ve also added the final, printed cotton petticoat to the list!

20180506_184916

 

It’s made the same way as my grey linen petticoat, following this tutorial.  Basically, you take a two big rectangles and sew them together on the sides leaving open a slit at the top. You then fold down the top so the hem will even out over a rump (longer in the back), and them the bottom. Then the top is pleated so each side is a little larger than the waist measurement, and you add a waistband and ties. Very simple, and nice for a quick side project, especially if you cheat and sew it by machine as I did.

 

My petticoat is made of cotton, printed with red flowers. If it looks familiar, that might be right, as it’s made from one of the new Ikea duvets.

20180504_090751

 

In the costuming community, Ikea is known for some fabrics which are based on 18th century textiles. As such, they’re actually reasonably historically accurate, though sometimes colors are slightly off, and not all of them are equally good. Plus side is also that they’re very easy to get a hold of, and often relatively cheap!

This particular line is new, and is a two-color design. The flowers are quite small, and there’s a fair bit of white space which makes it most suitable for later 18th century styles.

20180506_184934

 

The color way is what makes this a little bit unusual as a chintz reproduction. By far most chintz is multi-colored. Two-tone designs are quite a bit rarer. If there are two colors, it’s either white-black, black-white, white-blue, or white red. The white-black and blue-white combinations were often worn for mourning, especially in regional costume.

Wentke from Hindeloopen for light mourning. Cotton painted in India, 1750-1800.

Wentke (from Hindeloopen) for light mourning, in white and blue. Fries museum

The red-white chintz is often called ‘milk and blood’ in Dutch. You see it most often in the costume of Hindeloopen, where it was used specifically for bridal clothing.

Bridal Wentke from Hindeloopen. Zuiderzeemuseum.

 

Although a bit rarer, you do see ‘fashionable’ dress in white and red as well. This jacket is a very nice example.

 

Jak met lange mouwen in sits met rode bloemenranken (zogenaamd melk en bloed sits); model met maagstuk, ellebooglange mouwen en brede schootpanden die in plooien vastgenaaid zijn; sluit midden voor met koperen haken en ogen; voering in wit linnenHet maagstuk is een beetje uitgelaten bovenaan. Het sits bestaat uit niet op rapport aan elkaar genaaide fragmenten; waarschijnlijk alle van hetzelfde patroon. Het rechtervoorpand bestaat uit 12 stukken; het linker voorpand uit 10 stukken (mogelijk in beide meer stukken in de dichtgenaaide plooien. De rechterschouderpand bestaat uit 2 stukken; de rugpand heeft 7 stukken. In veel fragmenten zijn oude naaisporen die wijzen op herbruik. De voering bestaat uit stukken van verschillende witte linnenweefsels.

MoMu Antwerpen

 

All in all, the fabric is pretty close to historical, and a nice choice for a petticoat which might show on occasion!

Fries museum. Petticoat with red flowers.

Coupon of chintz, blue flowers on white ground, with the VOC (East-Indian Trading company) stamp showing. The VOC first brought Indian chintz to the Netherlands

Chintz from the Fries museum, looking quite similar to the little Ikea flowers!

 

1. [Source: Aangekleed gaat uit, streekkleding en cultuur in Noord-Holland 1750-1900.  M. Havermans-Dikstaal, 1999]

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.

 

1880s Winter bustle – pictures

Yesterday I wore my 1880’s dress for the first time, to the Midwinter Fair. It was really nice to wear, and even though it was rainy I had a good time.

Because of said rain, we only took some pictures inside. By this time my curls had started to sag a bit, but I was quite happy with how my hair turned out. Not having bangs, I flipped two curls towards the front and pinned them in place underneath the hat. Looks ridiculous without the hat, but with hat you’d never know!

 

Today it’s been snowing all day. Snow doesn’t happen that much around here, and when it does it usually disappears very quickly again. So I thought I’d take advantage, and dragged my boyfriend outdoors for a couple of minutes to take some more pictures. I didn’t curl my hair this time, too much effort, but the braid this way also works okay. And the dress looks really pretty in the snow!

 

You can’t really see it in these pictures above, but I’m wearing my winter boots with them! Very nicely warm and comfy.

 

 

Some more pictures!

 

Construction post is here!

1660’s bodice – foundations

I’ve gotten quite a long way on my 1660’s dress, and the base of the bodice is nearing completion. Time for a blog post about the interior, as it’s quite interesting on it’s own!

Although stays were already worn in the 17th century, the particular type of bodice I’m making does not need stays. Instead, the bodice itself is heavily boned to provide the support.

I started making my bodice with the guidance of the book Seventeenth Century Women’s dress patterns. It shows close-ups, an x-ray picture (to see the boning), patterns and full construction notes for every original garment. I based my bodice on this one from the book.

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...

 

I made some changes to construction though, mostly because I machine-sewed the parts I could without it showing on the outside. I also didn’t always add every extra layer of linen. The original has loads of little extra pieces stitched in in places, and most of those I left out.

While the outer layer was attached entirely by hand, the foundation is therefore not constructed in a historical accurate way, just as a disclaimer.

First step was adapting the pattern. I’d scaled it up, but made it a bit too big, so had to take it in again. I also took away most of the bust curve in front as I didn’t need it, and I lowered the neckline. Many 17th century bodices are quite low, with maybe a shift on top to make them a bit more modest.

20170925_173402

Copying the pattern to cm grid so I could scale up to my full size cm gridded pattern paper.

 

Not necessarily too modest though.

Gerard Soest (1600-1681) Portrait of a Lady seated at a table with a jewel casket

Because I don’t think this one could’ve been much lower…

 

Being rather small on top, that means I could cut it lower than the original. I also changed the angle of the straps slightly so they would still lay over the shoulder okay.

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2nd mock-up. With a busk for fitting purposes.

 

After fitting, it was time to start the sewing! I used sturdy linen for the foundation. Every piece has 2 layers of linen. First step was drawing the boning channels on top, trying to follow both the original lines and accounting for different pattern shapes and bone width.

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Sewing the boning channels took some time, even by machine. I respect those who do this by hand.

One piece in the original is unboned, and instead stiffened by extra layers of linen buckram and wool. I used coutil because I didn’t have buckram (I know cotton coutil isn’t period), and some leftover wool from another project. Those layers were pad-stitched together for extra support.

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After that, I sewed all pieces together, again by machine.

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The trickiest part was a little gusset added between two of the tabs, for a little extra flare. It worked quite well on the body! It’s just sewn in by laying it next to the foundation and sewing it together. Both sides will be covered anyway, by lining or outer layer.

 

After that I put the boning in, I could still reach most places after construction. The only construction done after the boning was the strap, as that closes off the channels. I used 5mm wide German synthethic whalebone for this project. I’d gotten a 25m roll, and after my 1880’s corset and this bodice I had 2cm left over… Suffice to say you need a lot of meters for continuous boning like this!

 

The foundation layer also has a pocket for the busk. This was gone in the original, but is there in most other examples of such bodices. It’s basically a strip of linen sewn to the inside, and a pocket at the tip.

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Insides. All seams are stitched down, necessary because the linen is so thick it doesn’t lay nicely flat otherwise.

 

The final step of the foundation was to bind the bottom of the front panels, and the top of the back panels. These are the places where the allowance of outer layer will be turned in between the layers and sewn down. (The bottom of the back panels will be bound all layers together, the top of the front will be finished by turning the allowance of the outer layer to the inside around the linen.

 

That finished the foundation! It already looks really great, the most annoying thing at this point was not being able to try it on yet. The eyelets are sewn through the outer layer as well, so no way to close it yet until those layers are on and all eyelets are in.

At the moment I’ve only got a little bit of trimming and sleeves to do, so when those are done I’ll show the bodice with the golden silk and trim on top!

 

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.

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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!

Corset patterning

I’ve started a new corset, 1880’s this time. My goal for this one was two-fold, firstly to try to pattern it on top of a padded bra to give a little more curve. Corsets tend to flatten me a bit up top, and while fashionable in some periods, the 1880’s were all about the hourglass. The second goal was to take a little more time patterning to get it just right.

I haven’t even cut the coutil I’ll be using yet, but that first step of patterning is done. I thought it might be interesting to see the process of slowly adapting the pattern to fit.

I should also give a shout-out to the corset making community of ‘Foundations Revealed’, a online magazine/coaching subscription website including facebook group, where I got some great feedback on my progress.

I started with the 1880’s pattern from Corsets & Crinolines by Nora Waugh.

1880 waugh

 

I didn’t have a scanner, so I eyeballed the pattern onto gridded mm paper until I had the height and waist measurement about right, and the pattern pieces had the same proportions as in the book. I then copied the pattern to full size cm paper and started from there.

The black lines were the pattern as roughly copied from the book. I measured it and found it small, so the red lines are the added width for the first mock-up.

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When fitting, I found I shouldn’t have added the extra space, the corset was too big. So the second mock-up went back to the black lines. Additionally, I found that the corset was too short on me. So I lengthened the pattern by adding a couple of cm above the waist line. This picture shows that pattern, laid out on top of the original.

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This one was much better, starting to fit. It was still short, so I added some more length to the pattern. I also added a little room to the hips on the side, and took some away from the bust and center front bottom curve, as those were too big.

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This was the first one I made a mock-up off in sturdy fabric, including busk and lacing, but no boning yet. The overall fit wasn’t bad, but the busk was tilting quite badly. I’ve had this happen on previous corsets, and thought it might just be me not lacing it straight, but it was too extreme to be a coincidence.  I also didn’t really like the inverted ‘c’ shape the third panel was making over the hip.

Mockup1

 

I suspected the tilting was because I wasn’t symmetrical, so to test this I took a picture of myself, standing solidly on 2 feet. I then traced my outlines on both sides, and then copied the lines to overlap on the other side. As you can see quite clearly, one hip is both a little higher and wider than the other. The things you learn about yourself when sewing…

Bodyshape

 

So, for the next mock-up I made a left and right version. Basically, I added some hip space for the right-hand version. I also transferred some hip room from panel 3 to 4 to make the pattern shape a bit nicer, and I added 1cm at the top. I’d added that in the previous mock-up and it was still a bit low, so I figured 1cm extra room at least would be good.

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This next mock-up I also boned, which makes quite a difference. Also: the hip fixes worked, as it wasn’t tilting anymore, yay! The whole corset was still a bit low at the top though, and I still had too much room center front bottom.

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I added even more space up top, and took away a bit of the bottom. I also took away more of the curve on the bottom of panel 2.

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The final mock-up was really close. The height is finally good here, and it’s curving quite nicely. It was a slightly sturdier fabric than the previous one, and I noticed that made it a little tight in the hips.

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So the only things I changed for the last draft was to add a little more hip room, mostly on panel 5 as that didn’t have much flare yet. In this picture you can see the final pattern, laying on top of the one I started with!

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The main changes were that I added some length above the waist, and above the original bustline, lengthening the corset quite extensively. I took away some bust and tummy space, and added space for my hips. Finally, I made a left and right hand version to accommodate my own asymmetry.

Now it’s time to cut the coutil, and start planning the boning channels and cording. It’ll be a single layer black coutil corset with red external channels.