Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Working women in late 18th century Sweden

It’s not quite true that I haven’t been sewing this year, I have worked on a couple of small cap and embroidery projects. But that is just about what my energy level has been up to. I haven’t blogged much either, but hopefully both sewing and blogging will work better for me now. So I thought you would be interested in seeing some of Pehr Hilleström’s (1732-1816) painting of working women I have seen this summer. Most were seen at an exhibition at Sven-Harry’s art museum and two at Julitta manor house. The picture quality is reflected by the fact that most were taken with my mobile phone.
Some of you may remember that one of my costuming pet peeves is when a garment is dismissed just because it wasn’t worn at one particular place. The costume world is, for good reasons, turned toward England, France and North America, but there are a number of regional clothing differences and the working woman’s clothes often reflected that. For example, the dreaded sleeveless bodice and shift combo, was actually a perfectly acceptable for a peasant woman in Sweden during the 18th century. And coloured caps were also worn, something I was once told didn’t exist during the 1700s. This laundress is wearing a bodice that seems unboned and a simple shift. Her blue cap is what in Sweden is known as a “bindmössa”. It’s a cap made of a coloured, often expensive fabric and in the 18th century it could cover the whole hair or just be placed on the back of the head. It often was (and is) stiffened. It’s still an important feature in many Swedish traditional costume. Originally this cap was worn over a white linen cap, but in the 18th century the cap was worn on it’s own. It could, however, be worn with a “stycke” (meaning piece) made of fine linen or lace and attached to the cap in a way which made it look like a separate cap was worn underneath. A ribbon bow was often attached to the back of the cap.

A "bindmössa" could be worn by the middle classes as well. Bellamn mentions the rather wealthy Madame Bergström who is wearing a cap made of  green silk moiré and  decorated with silver lace. Underneath the cap she is wearing a "stycke" On the picture below you can't see much of the actual cap, but you can see the "stycke"

This woman has very nice cuffs, I Think. She's not wearnig a cap, but a "klut", a neckerchief folded into a triangle and wrapped around the head.
As is this woman

Another bodice, this one clearly unboned. There are several extant ones and they range from being completely unboned, having bones in strategic placed up to half-boned.
Of course white caps were worn as well

These close-ups are from a large painting showing a party outside Svartsjö castle, showing a variety of clothes. Lots of stripes!


Monday, 24 August 2015

It's plastic and it's fantastic

The party where historical accuracy is anathema. A couple of friends and I have been talking of having a plastic 18th century party for ages, and this year we finally managed one! We were about 20 brave souls who dived into the wonderful world of plastic, PVC and polyester and a very good time we had.

I took a lot of care into my makeup and wig. Note the attention to the oh so important details like a lot of eyeshadow, visible hairline and rosebud mouth. There was some drama when I realised that the glue to my false eyelashes had dried out, but I decided to be brave and go anyway.
Crushed velvet is underrated- I think J looked great in his breeches and waistcoat. One of these days there will be a matching coat, but I think wearing the waistcoat open like that added panache. The wig was styled after watching Amadeus. I had hoped to make myself a red velvet gown as well, but time didn’t permit it. Luckily I had a dead dinosaur in the attic and paired it with a pair of PVC stays I made years ago when I wanted to try out a new stays pattern and test sewing in PVC. Nice to finally have an opportunity to wear it.

The guests approached their inner bad taste in different way. Some, like me and Lovisa, went for correct shape in the wrong material. She won our costume Contest.
Some looked like they were ready to be extras in an Adam Ant video.

Plastic bags came to good use.
As were old curtains, back-lacing and a complete disregard for proper lacing.

Gentlemen did the right thing and either skipped the coat or the waistcoat.
Bright colours were THE thing.
We also had inflatable plastic pigs for the proper La Petite Trianon-feeling.

Johanna was the most elegant, I think. Wearing a battleship on her head was actually pretty elegant. You can see more pictures here. And Åsa, who sadly couldn’t come, show her outfit here. And here is a whole slew of fantastic pictures by Helen.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Social media and the myth of perfection

Wearing History posted about media and social perfection recently. It's easy to think that those who post beautiful pictures lives life that are constantly perfect, so she gave us a challenge:

Do a blog post, gathering images from your blog, Facebook, and Instagram feed and share what was REALLY going on.  You don’t have to go into detail.  But let’s just take a moment to be raw and open and honest so that we can connect on a less-than-glossy level.
I tend to avoid the cameras when things are bad, but I have a few.
Deep inside an untreated depression.
Unemployed and dealing with the aftermath of divorce and depression.

One month into an unusual kind of pneumonia. It too seven months Before I got a diagnosis and spent all that time short of breath, coughing, fatigued and with odd temperature spikes.
Several months into the same pneumonia.

Sveltering heat.

Reeling from the shock of the unexpected death of a realtive.


Saturday, 11 April 2015

Article on 17th century stays

Last year I wrote two articles on 17th century beauty for Your Wardrobe Unlock'd and now I have written a new one for Foundations Revealed. The subject is 17th century stays, a woefully neglected subject. The article focus on extant stays and boned bodices and if any conclusions on construction can be drawn from this rather scant pool of garments.

If you subscribe to Foundations Revealed, you can read the article here.

I hope you will enjoy it! I didn't know how little that was written about this subject until I tried to read up on it, so I really hope I managed to make it interesting!

Now I just need to transform what I have learned into a pair of stays of my own!

A Young Woman at Her Toilet with a Maid by Gerard ter Boch, 1650-51, Metropolitan Museum

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

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