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

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