Saturday, March 31, 2012

March Maddness - Mad for Plaid

I can't believe March is over. Where did the month go?

Looking back over my posts this month I realized I never did a “color of the month” for March. So here it is! Ok, so plaid really isn't a color but I've decided to highlight it this month anyway instead of a single color. Plaids are great because they are a combination of many colors! Here are a few lovely examples for you to enjoy!

Men's clothing.
Man’s Frock Coat, c. 1820 from LACMA
Man’s Two-piece Lounge Suit, 1875-1880 from LACMA

V&A T.722-1974
 Let's not forget those kilts! Who doesn't love a man in a kilt? ;)

Satirical print, ca. 1815

More Kilts
Women's clothing.

MET 1971.47.1a, b
Bonnet MFA 51.659
Kyoto Costume Institute AC4628 83-21-1AB

Photo c. 1890s

Green silk MFA 53.2222a

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Searching for Purple and White

As I'm in the process of making myself a new 18th century gown, I though I would share a bit of my research as well progress on the gown itself. Which, um, I haven't actually started as of yet. The fabric is however, washed, dried, and ready to go!

A few readers may be familiar with Don N. Hagist's book, Wenches, Wives and Servant Girls: A Selection of Advertisements for Female Runaways in American Newspapers, 1770-1783. It is a great resource. Below are a few examples from the book of purple and white gowns mentioned in run away ads. The ones in bold sound closest to my fabric, which by the way, I learned is a reproduction based on a textile in the Colonial Williamsburg collections. I believe the fabric is still available through the Mary Dickinson Shop in CW.

"a purple and white calicoe gown", p 48
"a coarse purple and white chintz gown", p55
"a callicoe gown, striped with a little purple flower", p 72
"purple sprigged callico gown", p 101
"one callico long gown, purple and white", p 129
"a dark purple and white calico long gown", p 154
"purple and white gown", p 181
"seven yards of new stamped linen, a purple and flower stripe", p 222

"Long calico gown with purple and white flowers" - Pennsylvania Gazette, October 4, 1764
"Large flowered purple and white short gown" - Pennsylvania Evening Post, September 21, 1776

CW collections  - Acc. No. 1992-139
An article from the Boston Evening Post, dated November 4, 1771, describes a ship wreck somewhere of the coast of New England. " ...  she had a roller for shipping an ensign staff, a number of white shirts and a purple and white calico gown hanging on her quarter rails, & and her quarter deck entirely gone." Apparently the weather was so bad that the crew who made the discovery were not able "to make any other discoveries."

The images below are samples of original 18th century textiles. The are from the Threads of Feeling exhibit and can be viewed on the Threads of Feeling Facebook page.

‘Purpel and white flowered cotten’. Cotton printed in small floral designs. Foundling number 11337. A boy aged about xxx, admitted 25 January 1759. Named John Hammersmith by the Foundling Hospital. Apprenticed 26 July 1769 to Mr Maycock, farmer of Thornton, Cheshire.

Threads of Feeling Facebook page
'Spriged cotten’. Cotton printed with sprigs and dots. Foundling number 13287. A boy aged about 21 days, admitted 30 June 1759. Named Hannah Carter by the Foundling Hospital. Died 17 February 1760.
Threads of Feeling Facebook page
Cotton or linen fabric printed with a leaf in green and black on a shelled background. Foundling 15387, a girl admitted 2 January 1760. The note reads: 'This child was born the XX December and Christien'd the XX Jan, by the name of Sarah Harbeson. She has had the Breast and tis humbly hop'd it will be continued as will not in all probability live without it.'

Threads of Feeling Facebook page

Thursday, March 22, 2012

"Spotting" Handkerchiefs in Art

This is a continuation of yesterday's post on handkerchiefs. I've done some searching online and have found several images of spotted handkerchief in period art work. I should note that this search was for examples of handkerchiefs worn by women, and not men.

One of the earliest images I came across, and one of my favorites, is A City Shower, 1764. The original is in the Museum of London but you can find copies of it in online art stores. This is a very pretty example of a handkerchief with a "Red Ground and spotted with White". It looks as though this handkerchief is a large square worn folded in half. Lots going on in this image - pretty handkerchief, bib apron, quilted petticoat, and pattens! I really want a pair.

A City Shower, 1764, Museum of London
If you look closely at The Old Ballad Singer, 1775, the women on the right seems to be wearing a handkerchief with a dark colored ground and some kind of white pattern. It's hard to tell. I couldn't find a better close up of this image.

In the portrait of Martha Saunders, also dated 1775, we find a handkerchief with a dark ground and simple white spots.

Martha Saunders, 1775
We find the opposite in The Tenant's Daughter, 1796. A handkerchief with a white ground and dark spots. We can only guess at their color.

Haines and Son, London. 1798
Here is a close up of Spring, 1779, by John Collet. It's a lovely example of a blue handkerchief spotted with white. I like how the handkerchief matches the gentleman's coat. :)

Spring, by John Collet
I don't have an exact date for this next image, but I believe it's from the 1770s or early 1780s. Unfortunately I don't know the artist either. I found the image on Sotheby's several years ago but did think to save any additional information. (If anyone has information on this painting, please let me know.) Anyway, it's another nice example of a red (brownish red) handkerchief with white spots. LOVE that green bonnet and matching green mitts! She looks a little overdressed for harvesting hops. Reminds me of George Stubbs' painting of the Hay Makers.

For additional information on spotted handkerchief please see Paul Dickfoss' article, Spotted Handkerchiefs!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Colorful Handkerchiefs and "some evil-minded Person"

I wanted to share with you all a recent find I made in America's Historic Newspapers. I thought this was rather timely given Hallie's recent posts on handkerchiefs. This advertisement for stolen goods is from the Boston Gazette, February 19, 1770. That "evil-minded Person" sure had good taste in accessories.

The Boston Gazette, February 19, 1770
How about that list of colors? Red with white, white with red, and purple with white. Anyone "spotting" a trend? Sorry, bad pun I know :)

I have a ringer for one of those red and white handkerchiefs - "Red Ground and spotted with White" You can see a similar spotted handkerchief worn by a young girl in the mezzotint, A Girl Singing Ballads by a Paper Lanthorn in the collections of the MET. A further search in the historic newspapers revealed several more hits for spotted handkerchiefs.

If you're interested in purchasing a colorful handkerchief of your own, check out these from Time Travel Textiles. They come in four different designs and a whole rainbow of colors.

Time Travel Textiles

Monday, March 19, 2012

Case of the F*#% its! - I bought new fabric

Every once in awhile this happens and can't be helped. I'm sure there are many of you who, like me, enjoy making new historical costumes and can sympathize.

You want to make something new to add to your historical wardrobe. But you're on a budget and really shouldn't be spending money on fabric, notions, etc. This inevitably leads to the should I/can I debate about trying to justify your possible purchase. You find yourself making frequent visits to that certain online fabric store so you can drool over that perfect fabric, imaging the awesome garment you want to make.

You ask yourself:
"What makes this fabric better/different than what I already have waiting in the stash?" 
"What's the smallest amount of fabric I can order and still squeeze out that gown?" 
                                                  "Do I really need to buy more fabric?"
                      (This last question is of course silly, and can often be completely ignored. :) )

You say:
                            "Well I've been good and haven't bought new fabric in X amount of time."
                                           "I do have that special event coming up this summer."
                              "I have a birthday coming up so it could be a present to myself."
                                                           "I deserve something new!"

Finally you say "F*#% it!" And buy that new fabric.

That's just what happened to me. I've been eying this fabric from Wm Booth Draper since it was added to their website last fall. I was good and even ordered a sample of the fabric first to make sure I liked the weight and scale of the design. And that was months ago! Last week I finally ordered enough to make a new gown, which I fully admit I don't really need but really want to make. It's a nice weight and drapes beautifully. I can't wait to get started!

Wm Booth Draper
Purple floral prints show up again and again in newspaper ads of the 18th century. They are described repeatedly in runaway descriptions as well as in the Foundling Museum's Billet Books. Hallie has some nice posts about the billet book on her blog and another post here on purple linen.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Another Pink Robe de Style

Another fantastic pink robe de style! This dress was recently sold by Carolyn Forbes Textiles and Antique Fashion.
Carolyn Forbes Textiles

Carolyn Forbes Textiles
The description from the website reads -
     "Vintage 1920 Whimsical iridescent pink silk robe de style dress. - Coquette! whimsical and festive iridescent pink silk party dress dating to the late teens early 1920's, done in the robe de style. With overlapped v front and back with dropped waist that sits snug on the hips, with tight smocking of the skirt here. Grand fluffy silk bow with streamers on one side. Full skirt that is longer in the back, with the addition of appliqued multi pointed star shaped medallions each side of the skirt accented with a center floral done in tinted ribbon work, deep interior facing of iridescent blue silk. Fancy and definitive of a short period in early 20thc fashion, probably French no labels. ..."

The large bow on the hip is indeed whimsical, as is the silk ribbon flower on the skirt. The bow reminds me a little of the one on my own pink robe de style. I really like the smocking detail on the drop waist. The hem is lined with a light blue/gray silk which I think makes a really pretty contrast. The fact that the skirt is longer in the back then in the front is not all that unusual. You actually see that quite a bit in 1920s fashions.

Carolyn Forbes Textiles
There are additional pictures of this dress on the Carolyn Forbes Textiles and Antique Fashion website here. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Research and Inspiration Page Updates

I just wanted to let you all know that I have updated my Research and Inspiration Page. I have added a whole new list of books, a few additional links to museums, and new sources for fabric. I've added a little bit here and there since I started my blog but this is the first big update.

Most links for books will take you to but there are other places you can purchase them. Burnley and Trowbridge, for example, carry many of the 18th century costume/fabric books. Also consider inter-library loan!

Have suggestions for additional resources? Just let me know and I'll add them!
Who Wore What?: Women's Wear, 1861-1865, by Juanita Leisch (Author), Thomas Publications (PA); 1 Ed edition (April 1995)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Mitts and Gown Trimming Workshops

Another excellent set of Hive workshops this past weekend! It was a very busy day at the Major John Buttrick House in Lexington, Mass. There were three workshops taking place - making an 18th century hand sewn shift with Sharon Burnston, trimming a gown and constructing mitts with Hallie Larkin and Stephanie Smith.

MET 11.60.232a,b
The gown trimming workshop was very informative. Using silk scraps we practiced different techniques used in making 18th century trim - pinking, ruching, box pleating, and gathering. We also made rosettes and bows and briefly discussed options for adding cuffs and sleeve ruffles. Our examples made in class will be mounted on a board to use as references for our individual future projects. We had a chance to examine an original silk stomacher and a set of sleeve flounces trimmed with fly fringe. What I found particularly useful was the discussion of trims that were available in the 18th century and how we can best replicate them with the resources we have available today. Like it or not, when it comes to certain kinds of trim, even the most accurate costumer may have to compromise. Finding trim that is made of something other than poly can be really difficult. I've seen a few options that were 100% silk but they were very costly.

The workshop covered the importance of having a plan before you begin trimming your gown. Take a look at original examples, either surviving garments or period art work. Don't make stuff up! Decide what design will work best for you, your fabric, and the time period you want to represent. Some fabrics will pleat or gather better than others. Most of our silk brocades, for example, will not hold a cut edge so they will need to be finished. Making a sketch of your gown with different trim ideas will give you a good idea of what your finished gown will look like.

A helpful hint  - make a paper template to use as a guide for S curves and large amounts of trim on your gown skirts and petticoat. I wish I had known that when I made my ivory gown. It would have saved some aggravation in figuring out how much fabric to use. Pleats and gathering will take up a lot more fabric then you may think!

MET 32.35.1a, b

Close up of box pleats MET 11.60.232a,
MET 26.56.2a–c
The most difficult part of the trim class was learning to make fly fringe. The technique is not all that hard but the silk floss was so slippery and liked to stick to everything! It also was prone to knotting easily which is both good and bad. Good because making fly fringe involves tying lots of little knots, but bad because if you're not careful you will have knots in your silk floss where you don't want them. The silk floss we used in the workshop came from the Japanese Embroidery Center

Here is the fly fringe I started making in class.
The afternoon workshop was constructing a pair of mitts. A must have accessory! For a look at the original pair those in the workshop were patterned after take a look at Hallie's post - Mitt Madness. Black silk with yellow silk embroidery! I'm making my mitts out of a lovely light weight linen. They will have yellow silk embroidery and yellow silk tips just like the originals. All that herringbone stitching is time consuming but I'm looking forward to having a fashionable pair of mitts when I'm done. I don't have pictures of my mitts but hope to post some soon.

Other examples of 18th century mitts
Raspberry silk - MFA 43.1969a-b
Blue silk mitts - MET C.I.44.8.8a, b 
Red silk mitts - MET C.I.44.8.7a, b

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Elsa Schiaparelli Hat from 1940

Let's take a closer look at that fabulous, drool worthy, blue and white hat by Elsa Schiaparelli.

This hat from 1940 is made from a straw base with a blue and white striped cotton covering. A matching blue and white striped bow and a red silk carnation complete the hat. Looks like there may be some kind of bow attached to the underside of the hat as well but it's hard to tell in the picture provided on the MET website. A black elastic helps secure the hat to the head. This is a common feature on hats meant to "perch" on top of the head. This kind of fastener is very discrete, especially if it matches your hair color.

MET Accession # 2009.300.1837
Description of the hat from the MET reads...
        "Red, white and blue are colors often used in nautical flags, and Schiaparelli has playfully interpreted those colors in this sailor-inspired doll hat from her summer 1940 collection. The traditional sailor hat has an even crown and is usually made of straw, but this feminine design, made of a jaunty striped cotton and straw, has a sloping crown, upturned brim and a decorative carnation, which throughout history has symbolized true love and affection. Red, white and blue are also the colors of the French flag and as World War II approached Paris (Paris would fall to Germany in June 1940) this hat could represent Schiaparelli's subtle salute to the French nation."

Here are some close ups of the bow and hat brim. I believe the striped fabric around the brim has some kind of stiffener in it. Possibly some milliners wire but it looks to have more structure than that. Perhaps a piece of basket canning or something similar? The image below also shows how finely woven the straw base of the hat is.

This last image is a nice view of the silk carnation. It looks so real doesn't it? This really is a perfect little hat for summer. Makes me wish the warmer weather would hurry up and get here.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Liebster Blog Award

I had a nice surprise today when I checked my email. Elizabeth from Sew 18th Century awarded me the Liebster Blog Award! I'm truly honored.

I had never heard of the award before so I did a little digging on line. My understanding is that the Liebster Blog Award recognizes blogs with 200 followers or less. Liebster supposedly  means "dearest" or "favorite" in German. The award is a way to recognize and support smaller, up and coming blogs. As part of the requirements for receiving the award, winners need to pass along the honor to five other blogs. A couple of the blogs I was going to list (Struggle Sews a Straight Seam and This Old Life)  have already received the award. A belated congratulations to you!

So here are my five picks:

Fashionable Frolick - I had the great pleasure of working with and getting to know Ashley and Rebecca last summer. We took an 18th century shoe-making workshop together. Their blog shares their adventures in historic costuming and visits to historic sites. Ashley and Rebecca's attention to historic details is outstanding!

Munich Rococo - Writers Alisa and Adam blog in both German and English! Their blog is a great mix of both historic and vintage fashions. I LOVE Adam's gold silk banyan!

Stuck in the 18th Century - Kristen is a graphic artist, photographer, museum planner, and now 18th century re-enactor. Her blog documents her journey learning period sewing techniques as well as some great posts on original 18th century clothing.

1940s Style for You - I love1940s fashions! This blog is full of great images from 1940s magazine, knitting projects, and more. I'm envious of those who knit. It's something I would love to learn but I know I'll never have the time.

A Cat Among the Pigeons - Do you like fashions from the 1930s? This lovely lady certainly does! Her blog shows some of her great 1930s outfits.

Here are the rules for accepting the award:
• Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.
• Link back to the blogger who presented the award to you.
• Copy and paste the blog award on your blog.
• Present the Liebster Blog Award to 5 blogs of 200 followers or less who you feel deserve to be noticed.
• Let them know they have been chosen by leaving a comment at their blog.

I enjoy reading your blogs and thank you all for sharing your sewing experiences. Thank you again to Elizabeth for awarding me the Liebster Blog Award. :)
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