Chintz in the Fries museum – color & pattern

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

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Seriously, I could look at this all day

 

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

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

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

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

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

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Young girl’s jacket in red ground chintz.

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Dark brown ground on a girl’s dress

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Blue ground sleeves

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

 

 

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

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Detail of a skirt.

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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Back of a Wentke for heavier mourning.

 

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

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Wentke for lighter mourning.

 

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

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

 

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

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Detail of sleeves from Hindeloopen with leaf gold.

 

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

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

 

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

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Indian chintz, flat flowers and asymmetrical placing.

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

Chintz

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

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

A short definition

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

 

This is Indian chintz:

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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:

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

 

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

Chintz, ca. 1775, India. Collection Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

Chintz, ca. 1775, India. Collection Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

 

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

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

 

The rise & fall in western Europe

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

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

 

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

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

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

Chintz fabric by Oberkampf, 1770–75, MET museum

 

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

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

 

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

Interiors

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

Schloss Hoff, in Austria, built in 1725

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

 

Clothing

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

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Emanuel de Witte, 1678

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

Baby Jacket, probably re-made from a skirt.

 

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

rok:

Chintz skirt

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

Jacket. Fries Museum

 

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

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

Short chintz cape. ModeMuseum Provincie Antwerpen

zonhoed:

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

 

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

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

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

 

Regional costume

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

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

Hindelooper bridal costume.

Coat (Wentke) #Friesland #Hindeloopen:

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

 

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

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

 

Process

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

Red chintz Anglaise, Museum Rotterdam

 

Sources

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

The book:

Sits, Oost-West relaties in Textiel

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

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

Published in 1987, no reprints

Authors:

Christian Jorg – V.O.C. in India

Frits Scholten – A journey of chintz in 1701-1702

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

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

Frits Scholten – The interior ‘in the Indian manner’

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

Hanneke van Zuthem – Farmers and Citizens in cotton

Ebeltje Hartkamp-J0nxis –  Motives on chintz and printed cotton

Bustle cage

When I started my 1870’s corset, it was mostly as a patterning exercise. But halfway through the patterning, I decided to start a new project, namely a 1870’s bustle dress! So I decided to fully finish the corset. Of course, I now also needed a bustle cage. I already had the pattern for the Truly Victorian 101 petticoat with wire bustle. It suited very well, as it’s a wire bustle with additional ruffle overlay so you don’t really need an extra petticoat. (Although it never hurts of course)

The pattern went together really well. It’s also remarkably light to wear, and it folds up really well. No problem moving and sitting at all, definitely reccomended.

I forgot to take any in-progress pictures except of the cut fabric.So instead, some images of the finished bustle!

From the front. My only mistake was making the waistband way too long and I didn’t want to unpick it, so I just fold it over till it fits.

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The back. Ruffles galore! I’m getting better at folded hems…

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And of course, the most important part, from the side! Really looking forward to making a dress to go on top of this! A post about the plans is coming soon.

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Edwardian Skirt & Petticoat

It’s done! My high-waist Edwardian Skirt is done, and with it the petticoat to go underneath.

Both the petticoat and skirt were made with the 10-gore skirt pattern from Truly Victorian. I made the base of the petticoat first, to test the fit. After slightly correcting the fit at the top (it was a bit too wide, otherwise it fit very well), I cut off the top part to make the petticoat sit at the waist. I added a drawstring to close it, and moved this closure to the front.

After hemming, it was time to add some trim and ruffle. I chose to add a broad strip of bobbin lace and one row of ruffles. There’s 2 meters of fabric in the ruffle alone, cut in 4 parts and sewn together, so 8 meters to gather and hem. I used a small rolled hem at the top and bottom, and gathered and sewed the ruffle to the underside of the lace.

The finished petticoat:

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The hem of the ruffle.

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The lace:

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The cord and closure

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In the mean time, I also started working on the skirt! Cutting the fabric was quite scary. I bought the wool in Edinburgh, so no possibility of getting more, and tartan wool isn’t the cheapest of fabrics. I used black cotton for the lining.

 

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Cutting the wool. I now know my living room is 5 meters long, it fit exactly… I spent quite some time laying out the pattern pieces, trying to get the plaid to match at the waistline.

 

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I didn’t take a lot of progress pictures, so a quick walk through. The first step was to flat-line the lining to the wool. After that, I made the placket for the closure and sew on all the hooks and eyes. A quick (dark) phone picture of this step:

Then it was time to sew all the panels together. Always the most fun, because it’s quickest and it now actually looked like a skirt!

Next up was making boning channels and inserting the bones and sewing the whole result to the seam allowances. Less fun, and loads of hand sewing. I used plastic boning, mainly because I’ll be wearing this over a corset anyway and it’s a lot cheaper than steel.

Next up, finishing! The top was finished with bias binding. Stitched to the right side by machine and turned over and hand-stitched down.

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The last step was the hem. After trying on the length with the petticoat, I sewed hem stiffener to the bottom. Then I cut a broad bias strip from black cotton and sewed it to the hem as facing. Finally, I hand-stitched the hem-facing down. And we’re done! Technically, I finished the last hand-sewing on the 2nd of January, but as I did all the other work last year, I’ll count it as a 2015 project.

So, some more pictures!

First a comparison of with and without petticoat. I hadn’t finished the hem yet on these pictures, but you can see the difference the petticoat makes!

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The closure:

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One of the bones and the facing at the top:

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And at the hem. The hem-stiffener is underneath.

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The whole thing! I quickly put my blouse on top for the effect. (I was lazy and didn’t do any underpinnings for the blouse, sorry!)

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My only regret on the skirt is that the center-back doesn’t line up. I matched up the pattern pieces, but made the mistake on doing it on one side of folded fabric. Turned out the fabric wasn’t lying completely straight. The other panels are fine, but one of the back panels was off. Ah well, better next time.

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It’s still very pretty though…

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Cotton flowers

Aside from my historical projects, I also sew more modern stuff for my regular wardrobe. Mostly I make skirts and dresses, I rarely wear any pants, and I love skirts! They’re also so easy to make, which makes them really gratifying. I recently started several projects with regular printed cotton fabrics. I’ve found I really love it, even though it sometimes creases a bit, it’s lovely fabric to work with. For my skirts, I’ve found that if I line the skirt with lining-fabric it also falls really nice and doesn’t cling to my legs. All photo’s are taken with a petticoat by the way, a-line tulle for the dresses, and my cotton bell-shaped one for the skirts.

This was one of the first cotton projects. I just loved the fabric. It’s very summery, and very cute, and I couldn’t resist. The pattern was Vogue – 8701. It’s a very nice pattern, and went together well. I do have to say that it’s better for ‘special occasion’ dresses than for ‘everyday wear’ dresses. The bodice sits beautifully when standing still, but when moving my arms it shifts a bit and I have to pull it back into place again.

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I found the fabric for these next two skirts at the market. I hadn’t planned on buying anything, but I couldn’t resist and the price was very good. The red skirt is a circle, the other one a pleated rectangle. The white lace I bought at a market for 2 euro, and I still have about 25 meters left… A bargain!

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The next fabric was also spotted at the market. I originally wanted to make a dress from this pattern, but with a wider skirt:

Burda, Dress with Petticoat 09/2014 #111

 

I didn’t think I had enough fabric to make a full dress, so I decided to make the skirt of plain black with just a flowered border. I ended up making a circle skirt with the bodice from the pattern, and omitting the collar and sleeve collars. I really love the dress, and it seems to fit me better than the model in the photo! I didn’t have to make any alterations to the bodice either, so I might use it again in future projects. I’m really starting to like dresses with sleeves as well, so you can wear them in other seasons then summer ;). I lined the skirt with lining fabric, and the bodice with black cotton because that feels nicer to the skin. The one mistake I made was that I didn’t pre-wash the fabric. The cotton shrunk more than the lining, making the skirt lining a bit baggy. I eventually sewed a seam between the black and flower border in the skirt to make sure it didn’t show.

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In the end, I did have quite a lot of fabric left, enough for another skirt! I really love the fabric, so I was very happy with this. The skirt is again a simple rectangle pleated to a waistband, but this time with a ruffle attached at the bottom. It gives a nice touch.

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This last skirt was made from cotton bought in a quilt-fabric store. I love quilting cottons, they’re such good quality and gorgeous prints, but not the cheapest. I decided to treat myself with this fabric. The lace at the bottom is made in a lace-museum, with the original cotton bobbin-lace making machines.

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White cotton – Underwear

I had a productive weekend, and made 2 new (under) garments. One is a new petticoat for over my 1860’s hoop, the other an Edwardian shift.

I started with the petticoat. My old one was quite heavy and seemed to do some weird things with my hoop dimensions, compressing it. As it was also not very period correct, being made of black polyester, I decided to make a new one. The new one isn’t quite as full, as I only had 3 meters of fabric, but it should do the job.

It consists of 2 rectangles, the first gathered to the waistband and the second gathered to the first. I started with the first rectangle, and put it on my hoop to measure for length.

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I then drew a line along the 2nd full hoop (so not the half-circle ones). I sewed the bottom strip along this line, and actually ended up with a petticoat which is pretty even along the hem! It’s just a bit short, due to lack of fabric, but with a velvet over-skirt (which is quite heavy), that shouldn’t be a problem. If I’ll ever make a new skirt for over this hoop with less volume, I might need to make another petticoat as well though.

 

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The second thing I made was an Edwardian shift. I used the Truly Victorian Edwardian underwear pattern (top left is the shift):

Edwardian Underwear

 

 

I ended up skipping the lace along the arm holes, and just made a small seam there. It has lace along the neckline, and 4 pin-tucks in the front and 2 in the back. I pieced the back, because I was using left-over fabric and couldn’t fit the whole thing without a seam. I quite like it, there’s just something about white cotton, lacy underwear.

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Front

 

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Front-detail

 

 

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Back

 

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Back detail

 

Cotton knee-length petticoat (&pattern)

I’ve been wanting to make a cotton petticoat for under my knee-length skirts for a while. My good petticoat is an A-line, but I have some skirts for which a bell-shape is more appropriate and I like the idea of cotton for petticoats. I’d been looking out for a pattern for a while, because I wanted to get the shape and volume right. Recently, I had a performance with my dance group doing an hungarian piece and got to have a look at the petticoats worn with the costume. I’m not certain if these petticoats are also the traditional type worn, but they certainly give the bell shape.

Not quite as huge as this though (but it is pretty)

Voivodina Hungarians (Kupusina and Doroslovo) women’s national costume.

 

I figured I’d share my pattern with you. The petticoat consist of 3 layers, a top layer and two under-layers. These layers, together with pleats and gathers give the volume.

For this pattern you need to decide on 2 things on your own, namely your waist circumference and the length you want the petticoat to be.

Start with making a waistband for yourself, fitting at the natural waist. Decide on whatever closure you want in the waistband, can be hooks, a button, or another type of clasp (sew this on at the end). My pattern closes only at  the waistband, leaving a slit open in the skirt. This doesn’t matter as it’s a petticoat and therefore always worn under another skirt. If you wish to wear it as an over-skirt, make sure that the slit fully closes or insert a zipper.

The top layer will have the following pattern:

Petticoat

 

So the width will be your waist measurement times 3, the height will be the length you want the petticoat to be. Beware that if the petticoat is very full, the actual length might fall a bit shorter because the skirt stands out from the body. In this case, add a little to your desired length to get the height measure.

This top layer is pleated onto a waistband at the top. Make sure your pleats meet, in that you have 3 layers of fabric everywhere.

I used 1,5 cm pleats, but you can look at what you like visually. I’d recommend smaller pleats though. Sew the sides together, leaving a slit at the top which your hips fit through. Hem the slit.

The bottom two layers of the petticoat only have fullness at the bottom.

This is the pattern for the top part of the lower layers. You’ll need to cut this out 4 times. I recommend making a mock-up first, as this part is more close fitted. The lower measurement is your hip circumference at a point Length/2 below your waist. If your petticoat length is 40 cm, measure at 20 cm below your waist, if it’s 70 cm, measure at 35 below your waist. Be careful if you measure below the widest part of your hips, in this case just take the full hip measure at the widest part. You can add a little ease to the bottom part of this pattern to make sure it’s not too snug. How much can be up to you, but I’d say that 10 to 20 cm is safe.

Petticoat 2

 

Once this is cut, sew 2 of the pieces together at one side. Sew the other side close at the bottom leaving a slit at the top. Make sure you can fit it over your hips when deciding how deep the slit is. Hem the edges of fabric at the slit.

The bottom part of the under-layers is the following (so cut 2, one for each under layer):

Petticoat 3

 

In other words, the height is again half the length you want, so your bottom layers will be the same length as your top layer. The width is based on the bottom length of the top part of the under layer (Hip/2 + ease measurement). For this, take your hip measurement + ease as a base. (Not divided by 2, as now you’re looking at the full hip measurement and not half of it). You can take this measurement and multiply it by a number somewhere between 2 and 3. This decides how full the bottom of your petticoat will be. For a very full one at the bottom, pick a higher number. If you go above 3, it might be a bit hard to gather everything. Gather the top of this piece of fabric, and sew it onto the bottom of the top part of the under-layer.

Final step: hem everything (it’s prettiest if the under-layers don’t show, so make the hem of the upper layer slightly narrower). Trim if you want.

Because I always prefer looking at a garment when figuring out how to make it, here are some pictures of mine (bad phone quality, sorry for that):

The top layer:

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The bottom layer (the weird stuff at the top is the top layer being held up):

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After I finished sewing the layers together and was looking at hemming, I noticed that I’d cut the petticoat a bit longer than I needed. I fitted it with a skirt I had and the bottom peeked out. This could be nice, as the lace at the hem is pretty, but it wasn’t really what I wanted. Instead of taking the hem up, I chose to make pintucks above the hem. So I hemmed the skirt as usual, and then marked and folded my fabric so the entire skirt would be a little shorter. I chose this method because it’s pretty, but it’s also something I saw in the existing petticoats. It makes sense, as clothing was shared by people (or inherited from others), so the length wouldn’t always be right. Having pintucks is an easy way of shortening a skirt so that it can be let out again later. So some more pictures of the finished petticoat:

 

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Done! You can barely see the pintucks in this photo, but you can see that ik gives even more of a bell-shape with the skirt a bit shorter.

 

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The closure.

 

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The hem. I trimmed it with cotton lace. It’s not antique, but made with a still operating antique cotton machine. The two pintucks are 1 cm each and placed 4,5 and 8 cm above the hem.

 

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The first bottom layer. There is one more like this beneath. These layers also have 2 pintucks in the same way as the top layer, but no lace.

 

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This looks a bit weird, but I just pinned the top two layers up so you can see there’s a 3rd one.

 

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And the petticoat with a skirt on top, to show the volume.

 

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And for reference, the same skirt without petticoat.