Friday, 18 April 2014

The 1910's Suit-A-Long

Wearing History is hosting a sew-along for a 1910's suit. It is only just starting, so it's not too late to hop on. Of course, I wasn't to add anything new to my sewing schedule, especially as I have just spent two months being ill and all my sewing has fallen behind. But I also want something from this time period, so I have decided to make a change in plans. There will be posts on Wearing History's blog and there is also a Facebook-group.

Part 1: Suit-A-Long! Let’s Go!

Part 2: Suit-A-Long. What fabric do I buy?

The pattern is one of Wearing History's reproduction patterns and can be purchased both as paper pattern as well as an E-pattern. The original is from 1916. There is a possibility to purchase just the jacket or skirt, or both together.

I want to use fabrics I already have in my stash and I know I have enough black wool for both jacket and skirt. However, I want to make the skirt in another colour. At first I thought stripes as that was very popular, but I don't have any striped fabrics at home. I do have some nice blu-grey linen and I think there is enough to make the skirt. I really hope so. I would like to make some details like collar and belt on the jacket in the same linen and I am also thinking of attaching some soutache braids to details and skirt for added visual effect.

1910's dress

Edwardian jacket
1909 extant blue suit, closeup of jacket soutache trim

Gown, 1910-1913

Skating jacket, 1895

Of course I really need a proper corset for the 1910's, but for now that will be on hold. The jacket is loose fitting and I think I can get away with using a generic underbust corset until I have time to make proper underpinnings.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Costume mysteries of the 17th and 18th century

I think anyone who look at clothes on the Net finds them, these odd or mysterious items that doesn't look quite like anything else. Or when the photos are so bad and the information so scant that you are just dying to know more about them. Here are my favourites.

Nordiska museet in Stockholm have long been my favourite culprit when it comes to teasing us costume nerds with bad information. Nordiska's collections are huge and they have very little money, so one can understand why just about 1/3 of their collection have found their way into the online database and not all of them have photos. It's very annoying nevertheless, especially as Nordiska has some clothes that seem to be pretty unique and really should be shown off for the world.

A gown from the 1690's in white, embrodered silk and black lace, stomacher in white embrodiered silk and petticoat in black lace. What is going on here? Carolina Brown in the book Mode, Kädedräktens historia i fem sekler, calls this a mantilj (mantilla) and it is really shaped like a shawl. there are no sewn sleeves, for example. Nordiska gives no information at all about this gown, and if it is dated correctly and hasn't been re-made later, (impssoble to say from a black-and-white photo) then it is something unique. I have never seen anything like it. Have you?

I think this is a mantua, dated to the early 18th century. It's in silk, but what about colour and, a picture of the front!

Embrodeired jacket, waistcoat and petticoat from the 18th century. The only information is that teh jacket has been shortened. But wh want to know more, don't we?

A childs gown from the 1660's. It can actually be found in the online database, but with no more information. Not to mention that that they have another 17th century child's gown, without a picture. 
LACMA has this 17th century ecclesiastical lay figure costume. And that is all they let us know.

Here the Museum of Fins Arts Boston (which also have a terrible search function ion their database, delights us with this description of a gown from around 1700:
"Blue silk damask brocaded with polychrome silks and metallic yarns in stylized floral motifs. High round neckline with small rounded wrap collar. Coat closure with two welted pockets; vertical and horizonal darts in bodice; metallic fringe at front line. Full-length sleeves with metallic cording ruching bands at elbows, asymmetrical slit cuffs. Skirt fullness gathered by deep inverted gore at dropped waistline. Cording ribbon randomly applied at side seams."
And annoys us with not showing any pictures of the front.

This picture is said to be a 17th century dressing gown. I would love it to be that way. However, it seems to originate from this page and as you can see it shares room with clothes that looks like they are modern reproduction with a mantua from the Metropolitan. None of the pictures are sourced properly. My gut feeling is that this is a not from the 17th century.

I would also love to know more about the 17th century clothes found in graves in Turku in Finland, especially a really lovely striped gown. Go and read the whole article for photos! In general costumes preserved at small museums with a limited budget gets very little attention. I am sure that there are a lot of costume treasures all over Europe that are just waiting to be discovered!

Monday, 7 April 2014

The (un)wired cap

My cap is done and though it turned out OK, it did not turn out the way I wanted it. It doesn't matter much, though, because I need several caps and the way this one turned out, it works very well for some of my clothes. I was aiming to make a small wired cap, suitable for the period 1740-60, the research can be found here and here but as you can see it isn't that small and more suitable for a lter period where a wired brim doesn't seem to have been popular anymore. So I decided to just starch the brim and leave it as that. My original plan was to make the wired cap with a lace brim, but decided on linen because I found that I had no leftover lace at home, so I'm not sad, now I can make it the way I wanted it to begin with. As I starched the brim, it did stand up a little on its own anyway.

I based my pattern on the shape of this cap on Duran Textiles, but made it smaller. Not small enough as it turned out, though. The band was cut out from what remained of my fabric, it got to be about 80 cm long, and when hemmed, 6 cm wide. Both cap and brim were then hemmed as narrowly as I could, which turned out to be about 3 mm. When I made my 17th century shirt I got the tip to lightly starch the fabric before hemming it and that made the process much easier.
The edge of the crown was gathered down to 36 cm and the brim pleated to the same measurement. Then I arranged it on my ironing board, roughly mimicking the shapr of the crown, you can see the pins holding it down.

Then I ironed it so all the pleats got flat, removing the pins as I went. After that I starched the brim as heavily as I could.

The last moments were to whipstitch crown and brim together and pleat the back. I wore it for the first time last Saturday when I held a lecture on 18th century makeup at Kristinehovs malmgård, an 18th century manor house in Stockholm. I paired it with b´my blue and white striped 1790's gown. The lecture was held in the Animal room, which holds an owl on the clock, a parrot on the lamp, mice on the floor and butterflies and birds on the walls. Here I am pointing at the bird's nest.

Close up on the bird's nest. The wall paper is a copy of an 18th century one found in the theatre at Drottningholm's castle.

The Challenge: #7 Tops and toes
Fabric: Lightweight linen
Pattern: Self-drafted but heavily influenced by one of the patterns found at Duran Textiles.
Year: Last half of the 18th century.
Notions: White sewing thread in silk, starch.
How historically accurate is it? Pretty accurate. The pattern isn't original, but it is hand-sewn and constructed in a similar manner to extant caps.
Hours to complete: 14
First worn: April 5 when I held a lecture on 18th century makeup.
Total cost: Don't know as I used linen scraps.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Extant 18th century caps

The actual sewing on my cap is done, now I have to sew in the wire and see if my idea on how to do actually work when it is applied. Very exiting... You can see a previous post on the subject here. I have also found an article on just earlier 18th century caps at A Most Beguiling Accomplishment. Here is also a few extant caps. None of them are wired, but wire must have been easy to remove so you could wash the cap and perhaps it was also removed to change the look of the cap.

Three lace caps. The first is just dated to the 18th century, but I think it is quite correct to assume that it should be dated to around 1750.

Flemish cap, 18th century

French cap ca. 1750
Belgian cap ca. 1740
Cap, probably American, 1750-1799

Cap, 1751-1800

Cap, 1750-1800

Cap, 1775-1800
Cap, 1775-1799

Mourning cap in pleated silk and black crape
Cap, 1785–98

Saturday, 29 March 2014

18th century wired caps

Detail from a portrait of an unknown lady by Ulrika Fredrica Pasch, 1770
All my sewing projects have been on hold for the past couple of weeks as I have had another bout of bronchitis coupled with a tummy bug. I really, really don't recommend that! I'm basically well now, but still weak and tired and it says something that I haven't even done the tiniest amount of sewing whatsoever. And as I still don't feel up to do anything big, I have decided to make an 18th century cap. Small, needed and quite fast. Perfect.

Actually, I need more than one, a small one that goes for the earlier 18th century and a big one for the later decades. However, I will make a small one now. I have had my eyes on a style that seems to have been popular 1740-1770, or so, where the ruffle is standing out like a halo around the face and is often called wired caps. After looking at ever cap of that kind I realized that even if they have the halo effect, there are several styles to this kind of cap. It is never easy, is it? I strongly suspect that caps were never ever a set style, but rather something you made up as you went, borrowing style elements from where it pleased you. Of course, geography and current fashion trend are influences that lay heavy on you.

A basic cap has a rather simple construction, there is the crown and the band at the very minimum and very often a ruffle. Some also have lace lappets that hang down the back. Extant examples show that the whole cap could be made of linen or lace, or a combination of materials. As crown, band and ruffle could have a variety of shapes, which must have been a very easy way to obtain different looks. For some useful information and free patterns, see links at the end of the post.

I'm uncertain if all caps that stand out from the face are wired. Some may very well be just heavily starched. The first picture at the post and the ones just below here, are clearly wired. At first I thought that the lace was pleated, but thought that may be the case on some, I also think that it is mounted on a wire framework. It looks like pleating at the first glance, but the lace pattern would be broken if there were pleats.

This cap looks like it is pleated, on the other hand. You can also see what looks like wire running through the middle and top.

Detail from a painting of an unknown woman by Benjamin Branting Nilsson
Detail from a portrait of Countess Maria Eustachia Porporato by Maria Giovanna Clementi La Clementina
Detail from a portrait of Annushka, a serf from Siberia by Ivan Argunov, 1767
In the company of a lot of fake pearls.

Many caps have this little dip in front, which is probably a lot easier to maintain if the edge is wired than just starched and shaped.

Detail from a portrait of a noblewoman by Donat Nonotte, 1760
Detail from a portrait of Madame François Buron by Jacques Louis David, 1769
This one doesn't look so stiff, so perhaps it is just heavily starched, but I also thik that it may be a wire encased inside the white ribbon.

Detail from a portrait of Dorothea Sopia Thiele by Anton Raphael Mengs, 1744
Detail from a portrait by Pietro Rotari

A few black lace caps. I assume that this is a widows mark as the women wearing black caps seems to be middle aged.

Detail from a portrait of Empress Maria Theresia of Austria by Jean-Étienne Liotard
Detail from a portrait of Madame Sophie by Franz Bernhard Frey, 1766
Detail of a portrait of an unknown lady by Louis Tocque

Caps that I think are just starched and not wired. Perhaps.
Detail from a portrait of Portrait of Madame Restout by Maurice Quentin de La Tour, 1738
Detail from a portrait of the child Nicole Ricard by Maurice Quentin de La Tour
Detail of a portrait of Kristina Sofia Sack by Gustaf Lundberg

Caps that are tied under the chin.
Detail from a portrait of Theresa Concordia Mengs by Anton Raphael Mengs, 1745
Detail from a portrait of Rosamund Sargent by Allan Ramsey, 1749
Detail from a portrait of Madame Lenoir by Joseph Siffred Duplessis, 1764
Detail from a portrait of Mademoiselle Salle by Maurice Quentin de La Tour

Detail from a portrait of Countess de Rieux by Maurice Quentin de La Tour, 1742
Generally these caps seems to be made of lace and not plain linen. The front are sometimes cut into two separate halves, sometimes in one piece. The nes tied under the chin looks softer and may not be wired at all and they are more often pleated. I haven't decided if I'm going for a cap with a lace front or one on plain linen, but I will make it pleated and just reinforce it. Duran Textiles has several free cap patterns, so I will use one of them as a template.

Several links to extant caps collected by The 18th Century Notebook can be found here.

Commercial cap patterns:

Wired cap pattern

Cap patterns from Nehelenia Patterns

I haven't found anyone who has made a wired cap, but here are a few other cap tutorials of interest:

A Frolic Through Time has made an adorable dormeuse cap, part 1 and part 2 and part 3.

A Fashionable Frolic's round eared cap.

Couture Maya has made several caps.

Art, Beauty and A Well-ordered Chaos has a step by step tutorial for making a cap.

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