Friday, February 27, 2015

It's Crewel Work! - Stomacher and Petticoat Border

Did you know that February is National Embroidery Month? I didn't either until recently. Just the perfect reason to share these two projects.

As promised here are some photos of my finished 18th century crewel embroidered stomacher. For those unfamiliar with the term, a stomacher is an article of clothing, an accessory really, that filled the front portion of gowns throughout much of the 18th century. The stomacher is pinned to the front of the wearer's stays. The open fronts of the gown are then pinned to the stomacher. There were no zippers in the 18th century and women's clothing, with few exceptions, lacked buttons. Everything was pinned or tied into place.

This stomach was started many years ago at a Hive sewing workshop organized by the wonder Ladies of Refined Taste. The kit for the stomacher contained a piece of vintage linen with the pattern per-drawn, wool embroidery floss, and vintage linen for the backing. I used a wooden embroidery hoop to hold the fabric as I worked.

Once the embroidery was finally finished it was time to trace the finished shape of the stomacher. I used one I made before as a guide. I was careful to trace the pattern larger to allow for seam allowance. When I was happy with the shape I cut the linen. I did the same for the backing. The edges were turned in about a 1/4", pressed, and slip stitched together.

Tracing my pattern. I use the same stomacher for my purple and white gown and my cross barred gown.
Back of the embroidery

I really have no idea how many hours went into this. When I started working on the stomacher back in January I only had a very small section left to embroider. I think it took less then an hour to complete that. It was probably another hour to trace and stitch the two pieces together. If I worked straight through I could most likely complete another project like this in a weeks time.

Another crewel work project I've been working on off and on again for a few years is a border for a petticoat. Mine is based on this one at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. There are many surviving examples of 18th century crewel work. Happily many of them are from New England. To create this border I downloaded an image of the original. With some help from my dad we enlarged the image as best we could to its actual size of 10 1/8 inches x 65 1/16 inches. The resolution wasn't great but it was enough to see the design. My dad printed it out for me at his office. (One of the advantages of knowing someone with access to printers used for making drafting blueprints.)

Petticoat border American (New England) 1758.  Accession Number 40.571 Boston Museum of Fine Arts.
Petticoat border American (New England) 1758.  Accession Number 40.571 Boston Museum of Fine Arts.
I had to trace over the printed design in pen to darken it as the resolution wasn't great. Using a light box I traced the design onto my linen fabric. I also used a brown colored pencil to mimic the color of the ink or charcoal that would have been used originally. The colors on my border differ slightly from the original as do some of the flowers but that is mostly due to tracing the design from a lower resolution image. The photos online at the MFA now are a much higher quality!

The book, Eighteenth Century Embroidery Techniques, was helpful in deciding what kinds of stitches to use. The vines are embroidered using a back stitch. Most everything else is done using a short and long stitch. According to Winterthur's  American Crewelwork: Stitches of the 17th and 18th Centuries, "The work of the average needlewoman of Colonial times shows only three or four stitches in any one piece." (p2)    

Same examples, like this one at the MFA, are embroidered straight onto the petticoat. More often it seems a separate border piece was embroidered and then added to the finished petticoat. My guess is that was done so that the embroidery could be removed easily and saved or reused should the petticoat need to be rework, recycled, or discarded. The designs are mostly floral but you see lots of animals too. This petticoat border, attributed to American Catherine Woods Brigham, includes butterflies, birds, trees, squirrels, stag, dogs, rabbits, and even a little house! Occasionally you will see people too.

Set of fragments of a petticoat border. American mid-18th century. Attributed to Catherine Woods Brigham (American, born in 1733 American) Accession Number 25.186a-b Boston Museum of Fine Arts.
I still have a lot of work left on my border and I apologize for the lack of pictures. There is one whole panel that still needs the design transferred before I can begin the embroidery.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Big Closet Clean Out!

My new sewing machine has arrived!!! I'm super excited because this means I can sew ALL the things! Over the weekend I figured out how to use the special foot for sewing button holes. My old machine just couldn't do them any more. I have a couple blouses plus my plaid jacket that are so close to being complete. They just need button holes. Now I can do them, hooray!

My new machines was a rather large investment for me but was totally worth it. But paying for that plus the normal expensive of a new home owner I'm feeling the financial pinch. So combine that with my New Year's goals for clearing away the clutter and things I don't use/wear any more. What you get is a massive closet clean out. I still have a few things listed on Etsy if anyone is interested. I have not added any of the items below yet but most likely will in the near future. I have lots more pictures so please feel free to send me a message if you need more information. I'm happy to ship most places worldwide and will consider reasonably offers on all pieces.

Up first is this truly awesome 1950s striped lounging robe/dressing gown. It's so Lucy Ricardo! Who wouldn't want to lounge out home in something as stylish as this? It's made of colorful striped rayon with black lapels and sleeve cuffs. It  has shoulder pads, one side pocket and is unlined. The stripes form a gorgeous chevron pattern in back on skirt. There are thread belt loops, but the belt/sash is missing. A couple of hooks keep it closed without the sash. There are 3 pleats on either side of the skirt at the waist. The label reads "Peer."

Condition - Very nice with only a few flaws to note. There is a small spot and a few pin holes on the bodice, and a 1" stain on the skirt. (see pics) I have not tried to clean this but spot should come out with proper cleaning. Has thread belt loops, but the original belt/sash is missing.

Measurements (measured flat) Ties could be added to the waist to accommodate a larger waist and bust size
Waist - 13" across (Hooks can be moved slightly to adjust fit although I think this is best for a 24" to 27" waist measurement if worn closed. Size somewhat flexible if worn open)
Armpit to Armpit - 19" across
Armpit to Sleeve Cuff - 16"
Waist to Hem - 39"
Collar to Robe Hem - 54" (I'm 5' 2" and it's a little long on me but perfect with a pair of boudior slippers)
$75.00 + shipping

This dress has the most charming novelty print and is made from a medium-weight rayon crepe. The dress has a v-neckline, shirring at sides of bodice and shoulder seams with cap dolman sleeves, fixed waist with original self-fabric covered belt. (Belt in poor condition). Skirt is a full bias-cut. There is a metal zipper at back of neck and at left side. Large shoulder pads which look odd on my dress form. Hem is slightly uneven in front. I believe this was a homemade dress, no label. Sold as is.

Condition - Good vintage condition for it's age. The structure of the dress is sound but there are flaws to note. There are some staining/discolored areas. The worst at the shoulders, sleeves, and hemline.There is a faint blackish line on the back of the bodice. Some of this should come out with a good cleaning. The belt is in poor condition with soiling throughout and the backing is cracking and separating. Belt could be salvaged by adding a new backing by someone who wants to take the time. So many belts become separated from their dresses, and although this one is in poor shape it's nice to still have it with the dress. I have soaked the dress once in cold water (no soap or other cleaning agents) and much of the discoloring and storage soiling has come out but there are still noticeable areas. Could use another good long soak with Woolite or other cleaning agent. Still a great print and design! Hopefully someone will be able to give this gal new life. I have TONS of additional pictures, please ask.

Bust - up to 36”
Waist - up to 27”
$82.00 US + shipping

I purchased this mustard yellow 1940s dress last month but sadly it's too snug to fit comfortably on me. So sad because I adore this color! The dress has a great wrap detail on the bodice front, 3/4 length sleeves with nice ruching detail at elbow, and 6 little buttons and button loops up the back of neck. Side zipper in good working condition and two short waist ties. Dress is unlined, no label but is well made. Over all in very good condition but please see notes below. Color was hard to photograph but I think the first picture show it best.

Measurements - Best for a 32-33 inch bust and 25-26 inch waist but no bigger. Dress does have a generous side seam allowance so it could be let out.

Condition - Very good. There is one tiny hole on the front left skirt, hardly noticeable. I noticed one tiny spot where a seam was starting to open but that's a very easy fix. There are two faint lines and a whitish spot on the skirt. There also appears to be some kind of white residue under the buttons, possibly from dry cleaning? I'm not sure. These issues are not very noticeable but worth mentioning as they were not noted before when I purchased the dress. I think a light wash or trip to the cleaners would take care of them. I have TONS more photos so just ask if you need to see more.
$85.00 + shipping

Anyone need vintage shoes? I have several pairs that either don't fit or I just don't wear. I really wish this pair fit because they are pretty amazing. They are listed on Etsy but I'm open to offers.

I need to take measurements of the following items but I'm open to offers. Just let me know. :) The purple and silver dress is a square dance dress from the 1950s/60s and is a larger size. The top is velvet!

These shoes were made in Greece. I think they about a size 7 but need to check.

As is 1940s dress in a larger size. Open to offers.

I have fabric too!

Monday, February 9, 2015

18th Century Silk Beauties

Snow, snow, shovel, shovel, snow and more snow. That's been me life in New England lately. I can't complain too much, it's great for snowshoeing! I had a very productive sewing weekend. My plaid jacket now has sleeves! The hood is attached too. :) All that is left to do is finish off the hem and add buttons and button holes. (Sorry, no pictures at the moment.) I also made another blouse using my Hollywood pattern. It's finished too with the exception of buttons and button holes. Can you tell what I don't like to sew? :)

Anyway, today as I was scrolling through my blog feed and FB I came across a link for a recent French auction. What caught my eye at Thierry de Maigret were these 18th century silk beauties. Gowns and shoes, oh my!

Look at these silks!!

Robe à la française 1750-1760 Source

Robe à la française 1750-1760 Source

Robe à la française 1750-1760 Source
How can you not love this?! How pretty this would be for a spring event! This whole thing reminds me of a very tastefully decorated Easter egg. I just wish there was a front view.

Robe à la française 1765-1770 Source

Robe à la française 1765-1770 Source
 Look at the use of fabric on the side of this gown.

Robe à la française 1765-1770 Source
I'm not a huge fan of peach but this gown with it's stripes and floral pattern is pretty darn delightful. The auction listing also provides a nice view of the petticoat.

Robe à la française 1765-1770 Source

Robe à la française 1765-1770 Source
 Only the front portion of the petticoat is trimmed as that is what would be seen under the gown.

Robe à la française 1765-1770 Source
Another beautiful robe à la française 1770. This one with pretty pink trim and a button front stomacher.

Robe à la française 1770 Source
 And then there are shoes. First this pair with embroidery and spangles!! Ooh spangles!



Here is another great example of 18th century shoes in silk with a diamond pattern. I posted about these before here and here. Light blue and sea foam figured silk shoes seem to have been rather popular. They are the colors I've seen the most.


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge

In my last post I talked about some of my sewing goals for the New Year. One of the things I want to do is sew more vintage separates and use items from my stash. What better way to do that then to take part in the 2015 Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge? The Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge will be co-hosted by Kerry of Kestrel Makes and Marie of A Stitching Odyssey. Be sure to check out their blogs for more information. I didn't know about this last year or I certainly would have pledged. So here we go!

During 2015, I, Emily of Emily's Vintage Visions, will sew up at least six of my vintage or reproduction sewing patterns.
  • Simplicity 2823
  •  Simplicity 4161 
  • Hollywood 1530
  • Vogue 9010
  • Advance 8296 
  • One additional 1940s pattern - not sure which one yet

Here is a look at what I'm working on now and patterns that I know I will be using in the new future. My current project is a hooded jacket using Simplicity 2823. I'm using some lovely wool plaid purchased years ago from the Dorr Mill Store. (Sorry for the crummy photos, I just snapped this quickly with my phone.)

I'm working on two different blouses using Simplicity 4161 and Hollywood 1530. (You can see my first version of Hollywood 1530 here.)

I'll be using Vogue 9010 for an event coming up in March. I just picking up some amazing silk from Delectable Mountain Cloth. I'm also thinking of using McCall 5632 for another 1920s event later in the summer but haven't quite decided so I wont count it for now.

I used Advance 8296 for my wedding reception dress. It has some fitting issues to work out but I like the look of the finished dress so I'm willing to give it another go. I'm planning to use this for my birthday dress this spring.

I'm sure I will end up making more then six patterns by the end of the year but I feel that's a safe number to pledge. I plan on making one new outfit for the Mid Atlantic Air Museum's air show and WWII reenactment in June but I haven't decided what I want to make, hence the pledge for the unknown 1940s pattern. :) With the exception of the silk I just purchased all my fabric for these projects will come from the stash.

What vintage patterns do you plan to sew this year?
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