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!

 

 

 

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Hogwarts house bustle dresses

Yesterday marked the 20-year anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter. I didn’t actually read the book until a couple of years later when I got the translated version for my 10th birthday, but nonetheless I think this warrants a Harry Potter themed post!

So, inspired by this lovely Hufflepuff dress and this plan describing a Ravenclaw one, I thought I’d do some inspirations of Hogwarts house-themed bustle dresses! I tried to get both house colors in, which only failed for Slytherin as I couldn’t find any real green-silver dresses, so those are just pretty green.

Hufflepuff

Yellow-Black

robe en 2 parties | Centre de documentation des musées - Les Arts Décoratifs

Dinner dress ca. 1877

Dress,1872–74 Culture: American Medium: silk, cotton

ca 1870s two piece dress

 

Gryffindor

Red-Gold

Dress  1879  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Abito femminile in due pezzi. | Atelier Compagnie Lyonnaise, Roma (Designer) and Gabinetto fotografico SBAS, Otello Ciuffi, Antonio Quattrone (Photographer)

Dinner Dress, circa 1880

Charles Frederick Worth, Evening Dress (Bodice & Skirt). Paris, c. 1885. (View 2)

 

Ravenclaw

Blue-Bronze

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A very bright blue French afternoon dress from the early 1880s.

Dress  1888-1889  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Day dress ca. 1880. Blue & gold floral brocade with bustle back. Golden brown rouged silk trim at cuffs & front of bodice, which fastens center front with long line of covered buttons. Skirt tiers in contrasting fabric; silk with a bow at center front. Bonhams

 

 

Slytherin

Green-Silver

Promenade dress Emile Pingat (French, active 1860–96) Date: ca. 1888 Culture: French Medium: Silk, metallic

Circa 1874 Silk, Satin, and Taffeta Wedding Dress. Courtesy Of The Chicago History Museum.

Walking dress ca. 1885–86. Patrimonio Histórico Familiar PHF Pinterest & Instagram

Dress  1872  The Victoria & Albert Museum

 

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)

Purple chintz bed/wall hanging in the back (India, 1700-1725). Three jacket/skirt combinations in the front.

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.

Chintz coupon with flower and tree motifs. Collection page: https://www.modemuze.nl/collecties/coupon-van-sits-met-motieven-op-witte-grond-contouren-zwart-en-rood

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.

Girl's ensemble of red ground chintz jacket and chintz skirt. Fabric jacket: India, 1725-1775, jacket ca. 1760.

Young girl’s jacket in red ground chintz.

Girl's cotton dress (1700-1750), closing at the back. The petticoat is embroidered with silk on cotton in chintz-inspired flowers.

Dark brown ground on a girl’s dress

Pair of chintz sleeves with a blue ground. Cotton made in India 1700-1750, sleeves worn ca. 1760.

Blue ground sleeves

Chintz jacket, roses on a spotted ground (Fabric India, 1775-1790). Lovely pleats in the back, and a very low front. You can see the ground is made with tiny little dots instead of a full color. Collection page: https://www.modemuze.nl/collecties/sitsen-vrouwenjak-met-motieven-op-beige-grond-en-contouren-zwart-en-rood-0

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.

Close-up of chintz fabric of an 18th century skirt.

Detail of a skirt.

Detail of kraplap, or onderst in chintz.

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.

Details of a red ground chintz (India, ca. 1750) wentke from Hindeloopen. Collection page: https://www.modemuze.nl/collecties/sitsen-hindeloper-wentke-vrouwenjas-motieven-op-rode-grond-contouren-zwart-onderdeel-van

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.

Details of Wentke from Hindeloopen for heavy mourning.

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.

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

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.

Jacket from Hindeloopen, kassakijntje (cassaquin). White-and red chintz was called 'melk & bloed', or 'milk & blood' chintz and in Hindeloopen was worn by the bride. Collection page: https://www.modemuze.nl/collecties/sitsen-hindelooper-kassakijntje-met-motieven-op-witte-grond-contour-rood

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.

Sleeves form Hindeloopen, showing rare chintz with leaf gold (India, 1700-1750). Usually meant for the Indian royalty, this chintz was rare in Europe.

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.

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.

Detail of chintz kraplap or onderst.

Indian chintz, flat flowers and asymmetrical placing.

Two chintz jackets made of the same fabric (India, 1775-1800). The naturalness of the roses shows how the Indian fabric printers were influenced by European taste. Chintz made in India, but for the European market. Collection page: https://www.modemuze.nl/collecties/sitsen-vrouwenjak-met-roosmotieven-op-witte-grond-en-contouren-zwart-en-rood

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.

Ensemble of informal jacket and skirt. Jackets like these were most likely worn as 'undress', informal wear. The sleeves are of higher quality Indian chintz, the main part of the jacket of european cotton. Jacket: 1740-1770. Collection page:https://www.modemuze.nl/collecties/informeel-vrouwenjak-met-rijgsluiting-lijf-van-bedrukt-katoen-en-mouwen-van-indiase-sits

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.

Details of a chintz skirt with hunting scenes along the border. Fabric has the stamp of the United East Indian Company, 1750-1775.

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

Chintz jacket, early 19th century. Remade from older fabric (India, 1700-1750). Fabric details

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

18th century skirt (Dutch cotton print, 1775-1800) with an unusual border with WIC (West-Indian Trading company) ships. The front is flat, the side and back are pleated to the waistband. Collection page: https://www.modemuze.nl/collecties/sitsen-vrouwenrok-motieven-op-witte-grond-contouren-zwart-en-rood-1

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!

1930’s Summer dress

A little while back I managed to get my hands on my first actual vintage sewing pattern. Even better; it was a 1930’s one! People looking for vintage patterns will concur that the older the pattern, the rarer, so that made me very happy. The seller wasn’t sure what size it was, and just told me it came in all the sizes listed on the back. As I suspected, when I got the pattern it was only in 1 size, but I was lucky that it was exactly right for me!

This is the pattern envelope front. The envelope is damaged along the folds, but all the pattern pieces are in a very good state (very minor short rips around the notches), and the pattern instructions as well.

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Included are a dress with either long or short sleeves, and a jacket. These were the pattern pieces.

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There’s a fabric market that comes to the town where I live, and this spring I found some lovely dress fabric coupons perfect for a 1930’s dress. I had to find 2 the same, as one wouldn’t be enough for the dress, but managed to find one in a lovely red flowered dress fabric.

First was mock-up time! I’ve had some experience with modern simplicity patterns being either too narrow in the back, or too full in the bust. That’s because I’m a bit smaller on top than the standard size, so I was ready to make some adaptations. This is what my dress front blouse piece looked liked after the small-bust adjustment. Cutting and overlapping so that the waist, shoulder and armhole seams stay the same, yet there’s less width across the bust. I looked at online tutorials for this, google is your friend!

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Fitting and tracing is not really my favorite part of sewing, but tea and blueberries are  good companions!

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I only took one progress picture after this… I really loved working with the vintage instructions. I’m also seriously impressed by how they managed to get 3 sewing steps in one picture and still made it make sense. The pattern instructions were one side of the sheet, both dress and jacket, and I didn’t once feel lost despite their compactness.

They also gave several ways of finishing the raw seams, and I decided to pink them for this project! The neckline and sleeves are finished with bias tape, and facing along the neckline split. I appreciated how all hems and facings needed to be finished by hand. With my experience with historical sewing I know how much prettier some things turn out when done by hand, and I think it’s something we’re just not used to anymore.

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As that’s the only progress picture I have, some images of the final dress!

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I was a bit too lazy to set-up the full photo equipment, so just one image of the dress on me, from a slightly odd angle… It looks better on me than on my dress form though, so to show the difference.

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Time for details!

The top of the bodice.

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Sleeve gathers.

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The back neckline has darts for shape. Tiny stitches where the facing is attached.

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The front bodice attached to the skirt. There are gathers on 2 sides, and the skirt is top stitched.

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The only difference I made to the original pattern was to use a invisible zipper, which I believe weren’t actually invented yet in the 1930’s. The instructions do show how to put a zipper in, although they don’t actually call it that yet, and they do also provide a hooks-eyes option.

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All in all this was a very enjoyable project, and I really like the dress. I have several reproduction-vintage patterns I still need to make up, and I’ll definitely keep an eye out for originals in the future!

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

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor ollhouse of Petronella Dunois

Dollhouse of Petronella Dunois, ca. 1676. Rijksmuseum. The red room has chintz walls

 

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.

Emanuel de Witte - Portrait of a Family in an Interior - WGA25820.jpg

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.

Handbeschilderde kraplap, Spakenburg

 

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.

foto van Atelier Nostalgia.

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.

foto van Atelier Nostalgia.

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!

foto van Atelier Nostalgia.

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.

foto van Atelier Nostalgia.

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!

foto van Atelier Nostalgia.

 

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.

foto van Atelier Nostalgia.

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

foto van Atelier Nostalgia.

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

foto van Atelier Nostalgia.

 

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.

foto van Atelier Nostalgia.

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.

foto van Atelier Nostalgia.

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.

foto van Atelier Nostalgia.

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

foto van Atelier Nostalgia.

 

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.

foto van Atelier Nostalgia.

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.

foto van Atelier Nostalgia.

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.

foto van Atelier Nostalgia.

The back, however, is pleated to the waistband!

foto van Atelier Nostalgia.

 

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

foto van Atelier Nostalgia.

A close-up of the fabric.

foto van Atelier Nostalgia.

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!

foto van Atelier Nostalgia.

 

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!

foto van Atelier Nostalgia.

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.

foto van Atelier Nostalgia.

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).

foto van Atelier Nostalgia.

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.

foto van Atelier Nostalgia.

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.

foto van Atelier Nostalgia.

A visit to Bath – Part II

In my last blog post I wrote about our visit to Bath early May, but not about our weekend activities. Of course, the whole incentive for travelling to Bath was the Victorian ball on Saturday, so this blog is about the ball-related events!

Saturday morning we first returned the rental car and walked back to the city center. We took a little time to visit the Victoria Art gallery, and afterwards met a friend of Marije for lunch. We were a bit tired already from all the activities, so kept the morning relaxed.

After lunch, it was time for the dance workshop! The dance master for the event walked us through several of the dances which would be done during the evening. It was nice to get a measure of the steps and already meet some people. Before we knew it, it was 5pm, and we hurried back to our B&B to get changed for the ball!

We were very lucky with our B&B, where we had a sitting room available to us as well as a bedroom. This meant room to get changed, and because it was gorgeously decorated, a location to take some pictures! By the time we got our hair done and dresses on it was already past the time we wanted to leave, so we kept it short, but still managed to get some nice images.

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After pictures, it was time for the ball! We were met by the hostess and organizer, Izabella from Prior Attire at the door, and walked on to the parlour room where I attached my train (not daring to wear it outside). Not too long after we arrived, the ball proper started! Half-way through there was a short break in the dancing for some food, which was very good. We also stopped by the event photographer, and afterwards the dancing resumed again.

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Thanks to Timelight Photographic for the image!

 

The whole ball was lovely. The music was very nice, and the dance master did a great job in managing to explain the steps clearly without the instructions dragging on too long, which can be quite a feat. The location was also lovely. The assembly rooms are quite large and can feel a bit ’empty’ because of its very classical style and high ceilings. But especially after it got a bit dark and the chandeliers turned on it was very pretty. It’s also such a historical location that it was wonderful to experience an event like this there.

I didn’t take my proper camera, but phone pictures were definitely taken!

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Finally, all the guests looked absolutely amazing! I spent some time just sitting and watching others dance. So many gorgeous outfits, the standard was really very high. On top of that, everyone was incredibly kind. We didn’t know anyone who would be there, but everyone was very open and nice, and continuously complimenting others on their dresses. I was also really happy to meet some people I’d been following online for a while, and it was great to see their creations.

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Yellow and black dresses! Emma from Ballgown in a Backpack made herself a Tissot inspired Hufflepuff dress, which was very lovely!

 

After the ball we walked home on sore feet, and after undressing, had a good night’s sleep. Not too long though, because we wanted to join the breakfast in the pump rooms the next morning! This was not an official part of the event, but everyone could just show up on their own. We left a bit early and took some pictures outside first.

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Overlooking the river

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In front of the Pump rooms

 

When we saw some other ladies in costume we went to join the queue to be seated. They very kindly invited us to join them, and it was very nice to chat with them over breakfast. We managed to talk with some other guests all during breakfast, and both Izabella and the dance master from the previous evening took the time to walk by the other tables and have a short chat with everyone. Some pictures were taken again as well, this time in front of the fountain!

 

 

After breakfast we took a bit of a stroll back to our B&B. We definitely got a bit of attention, but all of it positive. A very funny moment was when we entered a little gallery, and after posing for the owners quite extensively, saw there was a large group of Chinese tourists standing right in front of the door waiting for their bus. Of course we couldn’t slip by unnoticed, so many more pictures were taken.

We finished our stroll with a quick detour into Sidney Gardens, which had some more gorgeous scenery for photos!

foto van Myrthe Tielman.

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Lovely flowers on the bridge

 

Alas, after arriving in the B&B it was time to get changed, and wait for our cab to take us to the train, as our flight left early that evening. We had a wonderful time in Bath, and the ball and breakfast were the perfect events to end the holiday with!

A visit to Bath

The first week of May I visited Bath with a friend. The main incentive was the Victorian ball held there, but we also took the time to visit the city and a bit of the countryside. More about the ball later, but for now pictures of the rest of our visit!

We arrived in Bath late Wednesday morning. After dropping off our things we went into the city to just wander around a bit. Wandering turned in to visiting loads of shops very quickly… Just a warning: Bath isn’t very good for your wallet.

After browsing the shops and getting some souvenirs, it was time for tea! My friend arranged a high tea in the pump rooms for my birthday, and it was really great. It’s such a lovely setting, and the food was very good.

foto van Myrthe Tielman.

 

After tea we had just enough time to visit the Roman baths, which originally gave the town its name. The whole museum around the baths was very well set-up, and it was definitely an impressive place to visit! This picture is of the King’s bath, which is the original hot spring. You can see the windows of the pump rooms above the bath.

foto van Myrthe Tielman.

 

Because we had tea late in the afternoon we wandered around Bath a bit more before going do dinner, visiting the Georgian streets, including the Circus and the Royal Cresent. The roses and wisteria were in bloom. So pretty!

foto van Myrthe Tielman.

 

On Thursday we first visited the Jane Austen Center, and afterwards went to the fashion museum! They had two exhibitions on, one ‘a history of fashion in a 100 objects’ and the other one was ‘lace’. It was really impressive, and great to see a number of true icons I’d only seen pictures off. I won’t post all my pictures here to avoid cluttering, but there’s more on my pinterest. Also go there to see the full size! Much better for drooling over details.

This one I was most excited about beforehand, and it didn’t disappoint. The silver fabric still has some sparkle to it, which definitely comes across better in real life! Silver tissue and parchment lace dress, ca. 1660

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

 

Another one of the very old items. A gorgeously embroidered jacobean jacket, ca. 1620. The embroidery was stunning, incredibly detailed and colorful. As always, the pictures don’t do the metalwork (the golden swirls) justice. They sparkle as you move.

ca. 1620 Jacobean jacket. Fashion museum Bath.:

 

This dress I didn’t know beforehand, but immediately fell in love with. (I’ve got a thing with black lace, in case you hadn’t noticed). The color was very pretty in real life as well, and that trim…

1860s Victorian dress in pale green with black lace. Fashion museum Bath:

 

Final stop of the day was Bath Abbey, which was very impressive as well, and had the most amazing ceiling.

foto van Myrthe Tielman.

 

Friday we rented a car to go exploring a bit, and ended up visiting Lacock and Glastonbury. Lacock is a very scenic town used in a lot of movies as a location. Just next to the town is Lacock Abbey, which is part medieval abbey part aristocratic country house. Also a lovely place, and with all the flower bushes growing outside it was stunning. And of course, the halls of Hogwarts are inside!

foto van Myrthe Tielman.

 

In Glastonbury we mostly just visited the grounds with the old abbey ruins. Most of it is gone now, but it is still an incredibly impressive and beautiful place.

foto van Myrthe Tielman.

 

Saturday morning we took the opportunity to visit the Victoria Art gallery, shopped some more (tea shops!) and afterwards met a friend for lunch. And after lunch it was time for the dance workshop! More about the workshop, ball and breakfast on Sunday in the next post!

1870s Accessories, a hat, gilet and purse

While working on my 1870’s day bodice, I knew I wanted some accessories. After all, when wearing your dress outside, you can’t go without a hat! Accessories and hair can really make an outfit.

So right after finishing my bodice, I started on the hat. I looked at a lot of fashion plates for inspiration, and settled on this style. I have to admit that the fact the base hat was visible was a big advantage, as many hats are so decorated you can’t see the base anymore. Not quite so handy when you want to recreate it.

1876 Hat Fashions:

This looked doable though, and I really like the ribbons hanging from the back.

I didn’t use a pattern, so my first step was to cut a cardboard base and tape it together. I took of the top after the first attempt, finding it a little too high to be flattering. The second top was lower and wider, and I used this one to continue. First hat making step was to cut out the hat in buckram and sew it together, as well as sewing wire around the brim for security and shape. This took a while, as I did it all by hand, but it resulted in a finished brim and top.

foto van Atelier Nostalgia.

Next up was covering. I don’t really know how to do this properly, so my method is probably not the best, but it worked okay. I first cut the shape for the top parts and stitched the crown to the border until it fit the top. I then stitched the fabric down on the ‘seam allowance’ of the top part. Next I covered the brim by stitching the lining to the top fabric together for half of the circle. I pulled the fabric over the base, and stitched the rest in place by hand. I finished by stitching the top and the brim together. I now had a bit of buckram showing on the underside of the brim though, so I covered that up with a bias strip of cotton. It’s not super neat, but it works, and when decorated and worn you can’t see the slightly messy bits.

I decorated the hat with a bit of silk trim I had left over from my skirts, and a very big silk bow at the back. I debated adding black feathers to the side as well, but the ones I have were slightly too big, sticking up straight into the air when wearing the hat. So in the end I left them out.

foto van Atelier Nostalgia.

The second piece of accessory was a false gilet for under my bodice. I got this idea from the 1870-1871 dress in Patterns of Fashion. By making an ‘insert’, you can adapt the bodice to be more fitting for outside wear. I based the pattern on that of my Regency chemise, because I already knew that’d fit me. Don’t know if it’s the correct shape for a Victorian one, but I suspect they wouldn’t have changed too much. It has a slit in the center front which closes with hooks and eyes, and faux buttons just like the bodice. It stays in place with little loops and ribbons at the bottom. I opted for making loops in the back and ribbons in the front, which is a technique I know from some Dutch traditional wear. My regency chemisette has ribbons both front and back, but it is much more difficult to close as you can’t keep one side in place while tying the ribbon on the other side. This method works much better, although I again don’t know if it’s period. When it was done, I decided to finish it off with a big bow. It’s removable, and just clips on in the closure. I do think it really finishes the look!

foto van Atelier Nostalgia.

The final accessory actually got underway back in January, when I saw this wonderful tatted bag.

Tatted lace handbag with silk lining, American, ca. 1905-15, KSUM 1989.91.1.:

My mother has picked up tatting a while back, so I immediately showed her the bag. Her first reaction was ‘Pretty! Shall I make it for you?’. Of course I wasn’t going to say no to that! She made the reproduction from the picture, but in black thread to match the black details on my bag. The only thing I did was to make a simple silk (lined in cotton) back to go inside the tatted cover. She finished the work early this month, and it might be my favorite part of the entire outfit!

foto van Atelier Nostalgia.

 

1870s Day/dinner Bodice

After I finished my 1870’s ballgown, I started thinking on making a day bodice to go with it. A fair number of existent dresses come with a bodice for day and one for evening. This way you basically have two dresses for different occasions, but only need one skirt! As skirts take up a lot of fabric, they would also have costed quite a lot. Having two bodices means you get more use out of it. For me, making my own dresses, it means I only need to make an extra bodice to open up a whole array of occasions to wear the skirts.

An existent example of day/dinner/evening dress combinations.

My design for the bodice was based around a couple of things. First, I knew I wanted a low, square neckline. These are more for dinner, or visiting dresses than for outside walking. However, you can add a gilet or chemisette to fill in the neckline and still wear it outside (as shown in the first existent dress of this post). I like versatility, so wanted to go this route. Because I owned the Truly Victorian 400 pattern, that decided the shape of the front, and I also used the peplum back.

This resulted in the base bodice! I flatlined the silk in white cotton first. Then I sewed the main seams and the darts. That’s where it went slightly wrong, because I hadn’t pinned the darts properly. After sewing, it became apparent that the silk had shifted and not all fabric was caught in te darts as should be. So, out came the seam ripper, and I took them out again. To prevent this from happening again, I first basted the darts this time. This fixed the problem. You can see how far off I was in this picture, the old puncture marks are where the first dart was, while the basting is a couple of mm inside the line of where it should be…

After getting this fixed, I could put in the sleeves and finish all the edges. The center front is finished by folding over the silk to the inside, the top and bottom I finished with bias binding. This was a first for me, before I always turned over the outer fabric to the inside. However, I’ll say that the bias facing is definitely easier, as it goes along the curves way better, so I’ll probably be doing this in the future!

The finished plain bodice:

foto van Atelier Nostalgia.

And an inside view. All the seams are tacked in place to prevent fraying.

foto van Atelier Nostalgia.

For trim, I had some lace left I’d used on the over skirt. I was further inspired by this dress:

Wedding dress, English, ca. 1869-70. Two pieces. Blue silk grosgrain with white lace trimming around edge of bodice and cuffs.:

I really love the cuffs, which seem to be fake, made out of trim only. I ended up making my fabric trim slighlty narrower, but it was made using a similar technique. I tried out something new for this trim, so the seams on the end of the fabric wouldn’t show. Don’t know if this is period, but it does give a nice result! It is best used for narrow trim though, as it’ll eat fabric when you make it very wide.

I started cutting strips of fabric, a little over 2x as wide as my eventual trim would need to be. I wanted 3cm wide trim, so I cut 7cm strips. I then folded the strip and hemmed the edge with a narrow hem. The next step was to iron the strip flat, so that the seam was in the center. I then sewed gathers along the top and bottom edge of the strip. And the final step is to gather the strip both top and bottom!

foto van Atelier Nostalgia.

 

This trim still has a raw edge on the back, but as I’d be sewing it to the dress both top and bottom, this didn’t matter overly much. You could, in theory, turn the strip inside out before ironing and gathering. Mine were rather narrow though, so it would’ve been a bit of a pain and so I didn’t bother.

With the trim made, it was time to plan where to put it! I knew I wanted the cuffs and lace and trim around the neckline. Ideally also around the bottom, but I didn’t know if I’d have enough lace for that. I pinned the cuffs and neckline first, to see what was left.

 

 

In the end, I didn’t have enough lace to fully go around the bottom. I did really want it there as well though, if only to visually separate the bodice from the same-colored overskirt. So I ended up cutting the lace in half horizontally, and stitching the fabric trim on top to hide the edge. This makes for slighly more narrow lace at the bottom, but it worked! After pinning down everything, I spent a full day stitching it all down top and bottom. My fingers were rather sore afterwards from stitching through all those layers of densly woven silk. The result is definitely worth it though!

To finish the bodice, I covered some buttons with black silk I had a little of. The bodice closes with hooks and eyes, so the buttons are just there for visual interest. They do really add a nice touch I think!

Finished:

foto van Atelier Nostalgia.

foto van Atelier Nostalgia.

foto van Atelier Nostalgia.

And some detail shots:

foto van Atelier Nostalgia.

foto van Atelier Nostalgia.

foto van Atelier Nostalgia.

Let’s hope it stays dry this weekend, because there’s an event I’d love to wear this to. Pictures with the whole day-version of the dress will follow when that happens!