Monday, 23 March 2015

17th century stays, mostly

I haven’t updated in two months, which must be some kind of famous first. I have had the flu, which effectively benched me for three weeks and has left me sluggish and very non-productive for the three weeks that came after.

I have written an article for Foundations Revealed about 17th century stays. Great fun but let me tell you, it is a black hole. I think I can safely say that nothing specific have been written about stays and that period, so I have found my information in small bits and pieces all over. It’s also extremely annoying when you read scholarly works that states that stays WERE NOT WORN before 1680 which is just plain wrong. I also found that I had to cut it and just focus on extant stays and bodices and not at all on paintings and pictures which I had originally planned. I’m not sure when it will be published, but it will be in April.

I am sewing, but very sporadically. I have come so far in the cursed banyan for J that I only need to hem it. It will be so nice to see the end of that project. I am also making a toile for a pair of 17th century stays. I’m basing it on the pink stays in V&A and using my 18th century stay pattern s as template, which means a lot of redrafting. My friend Lithia helped me, I simply donned my stays, put on a fitted toile and Lithia drew that pattern pieces on it and fixed the shoulder strap.

It looks rather messy…

I have now made a new pattern and am currently sewing boning channels in it. I have to make a boned toile or I am sure it will be something wrong with it. It’s a bit of a challenge as the pink stays were clearly made for a slender lady with an average bust, and I am more rotund and has definitely not an average bust size. We’ll see how it looked when I try it on. I have my fabric ready, anyway, a pale green-gold satin with dark green ribbons.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Plastique Fantastique pique nique

Jean Hagen in Singin' In the Rain (1952)
If you ever feel the need to don a shiny white 18th century wig and dig some poly satin and panne velvet, then you should come to Stockholm on August 22. We are planning to have plastic fantastic party, 18th century style, where bad taste is the best. Princess seams, back lacing, modern corsetry and, most important of all, bad wigs, are for once a must. I for one want a pink wig.
Lucille Ball in Du Barry Was A Lady (1943)
A festival och ginormous wigs and maids in mini-skirt.

As for clothes I haven’t decided yet. Some years ago I made a pair of 18th century stays in black PVC that I have never worn, that would probably fit the bill. (I had a new stay pattern to try out and I wanted to test sewing in PVC). But what to wear with it? I have PVC left for a petticoat, but perhaps I should try to match J who wants a suit in purple panne velvet? Decisions, decisions…


Ebay do spit out one lovely after another, doesn’t it?

Empress French Marie Antoinette 18th Century Royalty Enigma Costume Wig

Thy Wicked Court Costume Wig Adult Colonial Gothic Marie Antoinette Ghost 18th C

Friday, 26 December 2014

Looking back and looking forward

2014 is drawing to an end and it is time to see what I accomplished this year and what I plan for the next. Looking back I realise that I have finished fewer projects than I thought, but I won’t fret. Especially since I don’t know when I will want to sew again. In early December a close relative died, very unexpectedly and my family and I are still reeling from shock and grief and for the moment I don’t want to sew at all. Meanwhile I’m cleaning my sewing room and sorting through projects.

Finished in 2014

1780’s brown linen stays.

18th century plain linen cap

1770’s blue silk stays. (Unfortunately I don’t have a better pic yet.)

Embroidered stomacher

Small 18th century linen cap with lace ruffle. You can see it on the pic above.

1940’s skirt in brown silk noil.

Of course, I started a few projects that I haven’t finished this year, so my UFO list is suddenly quite long again:

1740’s black wool jacket. Almost done, but I need to attach the basque and the cuffs.
Silk banyan for J. Also on homestretch.
1630’s purple bodice. Setting sleeves and needs a stomacher
Late 15th century brassiere Working on the toile.
1630’s plain linen collar Need to make a few more pleats, then sew together the pattern pieces.
The embroidered polonaise. My oldest UFO. Let’s hope that 2015 will see it finished!
Gustaf III’s national gown in white. The bodice is done, the petticoat needs to be decorated and then there is the gown…
1916 skirt. Needs waistband, buttons and hemming.
Regency stays. Another oldie…
1940’s raincoat. Another “almost done” project
Faux fur. Need to put ibn the lining.
1940’s wool jacket. Still working on the toile
1940’s dotted rayon dress. I made a mistake at the neckline. If I can collect myself and put that right, the dress will be finished.

At least 13 UFO’s in other words, though many of them have little left. Seven projects was started during 2014, so bad me. When I want to sew again I plan to finish the 1740’s jacket first and then continue to work on at least one UFO. The goal is to not have 13 UFO’s around at the end of 2015.

Plans for 2015

Too many, I’m afraid.

J’s mid-17th century outfit.

The 17the century sewing challenge, which I actually have to make an effort to do, as I started it all up… I need to make a shift, bodice, petticoat and the chignon/cap.

Then there is The Manuscript Challenge. This will be a late 15th century outfit. I have started on the supportive underwear that I feel I need, but then there is a shift, kirtle, loose sleeves and headdress to make. And hose, shoes and belt…

The Dreamstress is holding The Historical Sew Forthly again this year, only this year it is Monthly, instead, so only 12 challenges. I’m in two minds here. I love the idea but I have dismally failed to keep it up. But with only 12 challenges it may feel more do-able. I need to go through the challenges and ponder a little here.

What I would love to make as well is to make the petticoat for the 1630’s purple gown, a 1916 jacket to go with the skirt and an early mantua.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Read my article on 17th century hair

Earlier this year I wrote an article for Your Wardrobe Unlock’d about the “spaniel ear hairstyle” that was hugely popular in the 17th century. I have now posted in on Madame Isis’t Toilette, so this is a shout-out for you who doesn’t follow that blog but are interested in the 17th century.

Part 1covers the history of the hairstyle and some 17th century hair care advice.

Part 2: step-by-step instruction for how to create the hairstyle.

I sent a mail to the woman I bought the wool yarn for my stomacher from to show her the result and she posted a very nice post about it at her blog Broderibloggen.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

The embroidered stomacher

I finished the embroidered stomacher last week and all in all it took almost exactly a month to do it. But then I was ill for two weeks and didn’t have energy for any other kind of sewing. So the black jacket the stomacher was made for, that one I still not finished. It looked quite good with my old green velvet gown, though. Last Saturday we went to Finland for the Christmas ball at Suomenlinna and we had a good time this year as well. We also had time to see a Hilleström exhibition on Sunday and a walk in Helsinki.

One of these days I’m going to make the planned velvet petticoat for the gown, but hey, it is only seven years old! It is really made for a panier rather than pocket hoops, but the former is such a hassle to travel with. You can, however, see a picture of it worn with a panier on this post at Fashion Through History. I need to wear it with yet another petticoat, though.

For once I remembered to have a Picture taken of the back.
I’m really, really, really pleased with my stomacher! I had great fun making it and there is a certain danger that I will only make stomachers from now on… Well, perhaps not, I have promised J to make an embroidered waistcoat for him. Here are a few pictures of the finished embroidery and a few progress pictures taking with my mobile phone. There have been virtually no sun throughout November, but when the light gets better I plan to take some better close-ups.

With Merja from Before the Automobile and Sanna from Rococo Atelier.
The stomacher I was inspired from and my original drawing can be seen here. Then I draw the design on a piece of silk organza, using water proof ink. The organza was then basted to the back side of the wool and the basting lines provided outlines for the embroidery.

I contemplating using a tambour hook but then I would have needed to frame it and I wanted a project that I could carry with me, so I decided on chain stitch instead. The yarn I used is called Mora redgarn that I bought from Just as the design isn’t an exact copy of the original stomacher, the colours aren’t exact matches either, even if I tried to get them as similar as possible. It was a very nice yarn to work with.

The vermicelli-like design in the background is made in back stitch.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Embroidery and jacket update

After two weeks of sewing I need to attach the sleeves, basque and cuffs. I have the day off tomorrow when I plan to sew that, apart from the cuffs which will have to wait. I have also done quite a lot of the embroidery- so much fun! I think I may be finished in two weeks after all.

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