Monday, January 30, 2012

Updating the Silk Sacque

To avoid the extra cost of creating a new gown from scratch, many gowns in the 18th were restyled to suit the latest fashions. (Hallie has a great series of posts about that on her blog, Sign of the Golden Scissors.) When creating my silk sacque I wanted a gown that dated to about 1750. The gown was made with large wing cuffs, a matching silk petticoat, and no trim. I have worn the gown a few times now and while I still like the simplistic look of the 1750s, I would really like to update the gown. 
I plan to remove the cuffs and replace them with sleeve flounces. So far I have only succeeded in finishing the new stomacher. Eventually I will add matching trim the gown skirts and petticoat. The inspiration for my stomacher came from this example at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. As there are no events coming up anytime soon when I might be able to wear my updated gown, I've not been in any hurry to finish it. It's nice to have deadlines to finish a project but at the same time I enjoy not being rushed. 

The overall look that I hope to achieve is seen in the images below. I love the serpentine trims of the 1760s. I will probably only have one tier on my petticoat instead of the 3 seen in the yellow gown from the MET. 
MET 17.120.210

MET 1996.374a–c



Here you can see the trim for the new stomacher pinned in place. I found that extra long quilters pins were helpful in holding the trim in place. I used pinking shears to cut fabric strips about 1 1/2 “ wide then ran a long gathering stitch down the middle. I played with the fabric for a while to get the look I wanted. 


To make the circular trim I used the same technique but placed my gathering stitches along the edge of the fabric strips. I gently pulled the thread gathering the fabric to create each circle. The short ends of the fabric were then sewn together and the circles tacked to the stomacher. To create the different sized circles I varied the width of the fabric. Below you and see the finished stomacher. Also my new stays! (well new as of about 2 years ago anyway. ;) )

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Green Silk Sacque

So I had the chance to go through some pictures of my old projects. I've decided to post some of them here and give a little tutorial of each. Some of these will go back a couple of years, but what the heck. The first project I want to share is my green silk saquce. 

My silk sacque was begun in one of my first Hive workshop. When I made the decision to make this gown I thought I would be in way over my head. Although it was challenging, I was happily proven wrong. The workshop guidelines stated that 18th century sewing techniques would be used and that the attendees would be encouraged to sew the entire gown by hand. Yikes! Nothing to fear though. The instructors were very helpful and a lot of fun to work with. 
After an introduction on 18th century gowns and sewing techniques, we set to work fitting a mock up for the bodice. After that we cut out the lining for the bodice and the large panels that would make up the gown back. If I remember correctly, my fabric was around 58” wide. The panels were carefully pleated and attached to the lining back. The tricky part was creating the hidden pleats under the main box pleats. The fabric is tacked in place from the neck edge down a few inches to hold the pleats in place while the rest of the fabric is allowed to hang free. To give the bodice a fitted look, a row of stitching is carefully hidden under the pleats just shy of the center back.  


The bodice fronts were draped using pieces of silk roughly 30” x 20”. I can’t remember now if the robings were made separate or not. My gown was designed to be worn over a small set of pocket hoops. So the measurements for the gown skirts were taken from the waist over the hoops and down to the floor. The gown skirts are faced with a light pink silk. My gown has a slight train so the facing is roughly 4” wide at the front and tapers to about 10” or 12” inches at the back. 


The petticoat is made from two panels of silk pleated to fit a separate waistband made of linen/cotton tape. There is a box pleat at the center front and ties in the back. This was a personal choice; I normally make my petticoats so they can be tied front and back. 


The silk for this gown came from Decorative International Silk, Inc. At the time their taffeta was $12 something a yard, now it’s closer to $20. It can be very difficult to find good silk for less than that now. When the silk arrived in the mail it was no where near the color it appeared online! (The color online looked more like the image of the petticoat but in person the silk is more blue/green.) As the workshop was only days away and I couldn’t return the fabric I went ahead and used it. I actually really like the color now but wasn’t so sure at the time. Lesson learned – always ask for samples!  

Below are a few more pictures of the finished gown. I had a chance to wear during one of my trips to Colonial Williamsburg. My boyfriend and I went to a concert at the Governor's Palace. Wearing the gown and seeing it in candle light was a real treat. :) I hope to have different pair of shoes to wear with it in the 
future. 






Candle light concert at the Governor's Palace

Friday, January 20, 2012

Thrift store mission

So my visit to various thrift stores last weekend was successful... well sort of. I didn't find any of the items I mentioned in my last post. No hats, I was sad. While I did find a red wool coat I liked it wasn't quiet what I wanted. I did however meet a woman in one of the shops wearing gorgeous fur coat.

So what did I come home with you might ask? Shoes! Umm several pairs of shoes actually. The first, a pair blue and white polka dot wedges, only cost $3.00 from the Salvation Army and will be perfect when/if summer ever gets here. How could I say no?


At another shop I found a nice pair of 1930s style shoes. Made in Greece! And a pair of brown and white saddle shoes. I think everyone needs a pair of saddle shoes. :) I'll post a pictures more soon.

Not vintage but these were another pair too cute to pass up.
 I also bought a cute little jacket and a pair of US Navy wool pants. The pants are really comfortable, despite all the buttons, and are great for New England winters. They will make a nice pair of dress pants to wear to the office.
This pair is from Maine Military Supply.

Friday, January 13, 2012

On a mission...

It's been snowing/raining all morning and the roads are currently a mess. It made for some interesting drive at 6:00 am this morning, that's for sure! But the little bit of blue sky and sunshine I see out my office window are giving me hope. I'm planning on visiting a few thrift stores and antique shops this weekend and I have a mission! I'm on the look out for a few vintage items; new hat (1940ish), and a new wool coat (preferably 1940s or 1950s). Here's kind of what I'm looking for. Unfortunately, this one sold in 2009. Sad.
1940s coat from DearGoldenVintage
Also on the look out for something 1930s.

1930s white crepe dress, DearGoldenVintage
What I don't need is any more fur ... unless of course its a hat, because I NEED one to go with the mink coat I bought this summer. :)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Trending - 18th Century Shoes

Last summer I was fortunate enough to be able to take a shoe making workshop with Mr. Walker, one of the shoe makers at Colonial Williamsburg. (More on the workshop later. If interested, Diary of a Mantua Maker has some excellent posts about her shoe making experience here.)

In doing some shoe-related research since the workshop, I started noticing a trend in a particular type of fabric used in 18th century shoes. The fabric is silk with a small diamond, or spotted, shaped pattern to it. I have counted at least six pairs of shoes, mostly in ivory, made from this type of fabric. But I'm sure there are many others out there.

Manchester City Galleries, 1947.918
MFA, 43.1724 a,b
MFA 44.531a-b date, 1780-85
 It may be hard to tell in the images here, but these examples all have that small diamond pattern. I have found that many online galleries, such as the MET and MFA, have fabulous zoom features. Here is a good upclose image of the diamond pattern, actually more like spots in this example. It's also a nice closeup of the detail on the toe. The design appears to be worked in small sequins, or "spangles", instead of embroidered with silk thread like the examples seen above.
MET 13.49.30a, b
MET 13.49.30a, b
One of the things I find fascinating about these shoes is that they all date to the second half of the 18th century or later. There are definite distinctions in each decade of the 18th century, as there is are in every century. In the 1770s and 1780s smaller prints and stripes became fashionable. No more large floral styles of the 1740s and 1750s; although you do see many examples of gowns restyled using older fabric. (Hallie has some great posts about that here, here, and here.) It makes sense then that the fabric for shoes would follow that of the gowns they would be worn with. Another trend I have noticed in these later 18th century shoes, is a complimentary color being used for the heels and straps. Here are two examples. I adore the black and pink!
Manchester City Galleries, 1968.71
V &A, T.472&A-1913
Here is another example in a lovely mint green. Very simple but very pretty too.

Shoes
MET 2009.300.4373
Eventually I will finish my own pair of 18th century shoes. (And blog about them.) For my first pair (I do plan on making more than one pair, someday ;) ) I selected a blue worsted wool. The wool is much easier to work with than silk for an inexperience shoe maker. Or so I'm told and more than happy to believe. :) Any costumer who has worked with silk taffeta can tell you it can be a bit fussy at times! In any case, if I do decide to reproduce any of the above example I think I've already found the perfect fabric.

Off White Silk Figured Taffeta from Renaissance Fabrics
It's available in a couple of colors but the ivory could be dyed to any color. I've ordered from Renaissance Fabrics before and really like their silks.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

More red for January

This English reginode dates to around 1810. I can't remember which museum this is from, will have to double check.
 Examples of children's clothing in red!
Little red dress, about 1850, from a local museum
Little red dresses from August Auction

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Color of the month - RED

Even though it's January, I'm still feeling a little Christmas-y. So thought I would select red as my color of the month. My plan is to choose a different color each month and showcase a few vintage and/or antique items. I know a few other bloggers out there have done the same thing and I've really enjoyed their posts. The Diary of a Mantua Maker has great blog about red clothing here. She has covered other colors as well.

Red is striking, bold. And accessories like a belt, shoes, or a hat in this color can certainly make a statement in any wardrobe. There is a lot of symbolism associated with the color red; most notably as a symbol of power or love. In Greek mythology a red rose was the symbol for the cycle of growth and decay, but also for love and affinity. King Louis XIV wore shoes with red heels as a sign of his power. This of course set a fashion trend for red heels. A trend that continues today with the feud between Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Louboutin. Here is an interesting article about the history of red textiles.

20th Regiment of Foot, 1745
Red dyes made from madder root and cochineal, a type of Mexican beetle, were used for British military uniforms as early as the 1600s. The red uniform was officially adopted in 1645 with the passage of the New Model Army ordinance. The term "redcoat" is and was, associated with British soldiers who fought in the American colonies during the American Revolution. While the British Army today no longer wears red coat for normal duty, it is still worn for ceremonial purposes by some regiments. The Coldstream Guards at the Tower of London for example wear the scarlet coat. As an 18th century re-enactor, I'm particularly fond of the British red.

In terms of modern fashion, red can be a summer color as well as for winter as seen in these two examples from the MET.
Coat from the MET - Elsa Schiaparelli (Italian, 1890–1973)Date: winter 1935–36

MET Beachwear Claire McCardell (American, 1905–1958)Date: ca. 1957

In the form of accessories, red is worn for both day and evening wear.
MET evening coat, 1927








MET, 1940





And who could resist this pair of vintage 1940s red alligator platform shoes on Ruby Lane!! And speaking of ruby, let's not forget the most iconic pair of red shoes out there in the fashion world - the ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland as Dorothy in the 1939 movie, Wizard of OZ. I want a pair for myself!!


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A New Blog for the New Year!

Happy New Year everyone! After reading (and really enjoying!) several great blogs on historical costuming and accessories, I have decided to finally create a blog of my own. I’ve been collecting antique and vintage clothing since I was in high school. I began making historical clothing about the same time when I became interested in Civil War reenacting.  Now I mostly attend 18th century events so the majority of my sewing and clothing research is dedicated to that century.  However, I’m growing ever more fond of the 1870s, the 1920s, 30s, and 40s. Perhaps it’s because clothing and accessories from the 20th century are easier to come by, and more wearable. I think that there is something truly elegant about early 20th century fashion!
I recently purchased a fabulous 1940s wool suit from a local vintage shop which then led me to search for the perfect hat to go with it. I found one on Ruby Lane! Now I’m on the lookout for gloves, shoes, etc. Oh Dear! 
As a general rule when looking for original vintage pieces, I tend to look for items that I can actually wear. Or if not in wearable condition, like the 1860s silk day gown I own, at least close enough to my size that I can draft a pattern from it to recreate it. I’m beginning to branch out a little more in my collecting and go for things I might not have purchased before because I wasn’t interested in a particular time period or an item was not in my size. I still buy what I like, but I’m finding that I can learn a lot from vintage pieces even if they are beyond wearing or even displaying.  Here is a great article from the website Vintage Textile about collecting vintage clothing. Some really great tips!
With this blog I hope to be able to share some of the things I have learned by studying and recreating historic and vintage clothing and show a few items in my own collection. I look forward to and welcome your feedback!






 Not the best pictures but here are two images of my 1940s Daniel Green slippers
  And two more image just for fun... I found this black pair somewhere on the internet, can't remember where but they are identical to mine except for the color. They even have their original box!


There is another pair in ivory listed here on Ruby Lane.
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