Friday 19 April 2013

Sewing plans

The Embroidered by Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin, 1736
April is more than halfway through and I feel the need to reevaluate my sewing for this year. I started out aiming to not start any new projects, but only finish off all my already started ones. That hasn’t been an absolute success. I have finished two of my old ones, the Edwardian blouse and the late 18th century hat, but I have also started two new ones, the covered stays with sleeves and a 1930’s evening gown. As I managed to get the flu, the evening gown didn’t get done for the party I had planned it for, and is right now on hold. The stays with matching petticoat have to be finished in May. I have also started two projects that were planned, J’s wild man’s dress and the piemontaise.

The To do-app has been a very good help. It’s easy to see what I have planned and it’s easy to change priority of projects. As of now my A listed projects are these:

18th century: The covered stays and petticoat in pink brocade. I’m currently covering the stays, which is the most finicky part. The sleeves are probably quite straightforward and I can sew petticoats in my sleep. Only they take forever to hem.

The pink A-line jacket I started years ago. It still only needs a stomacher and as I plan to wear it in May, it has a deadline as well.

The 40’s wardrobe: Raincoat with two sides, the two fabrics needs to be attached to each other.

Brown jacket. I’m making adjustments for a second fitting

Other historical costumes: A dark purple 1640’s gown

Other sewing projects: Checkered skirt. Needs buttons and hemming.

The idea now is to really, really not start anything new the rest of the year. So many of my projects are in the almost done-state and if I set my mind to them and finish them, I will feel terribly accomplished. For example, the blues stays only have a couple of hours work left on them, and the embroidered polonaise is more than halfway done as well. But as it has been a lot of 18th century for the past months, I plan to concentrate more on my 40’s wardrobe now. I have one white and one dotted dress that are almost done, for example.

Late 18thc. sewing box with straw work and parquetry
I don’t want to get myself any more hard deadlines either; there have already been too many of them this year, and after May I will try to work without stressing out. I’m still going to try to fit in as many projects as I can into Historically Sew Forthnightly, but f I won’t make it, I’m going to let it go.

One damper on my sewing this year has been sore neck and shoulder, at times it has been so painfully that I haven’t been able to sew. This is only my own fault for not taking breaks and moving. The last month I have re-started my Pilates and try to do 30 minutes of it every third day. I have also started to time my sewing and take a small break after one hour of sewing to move a little, My shoulders and neck has got so much better in just a few weeks, so evidently I do something right.

Thursday 11 April 2013

Late 18th century hat

I have actually finished something! I had planned to finish it on Monday so it could fit in into Historically Sew Forthly, but I didn’t quite made it and then it took a few days before I had time to take pictures. It is a hat, as you can see. The base is a cheap masquerade felt top hat. I removed the plastic bands and steamed the brim to get it a bit flatter. It is covered with green dupion with a pleated brim. The sides of the crown are cut on the bias for the stretch factor. The crown is wider at the base and the band is stretched there and eased on the top. For visual effect I made the seam on the crown diagonal and put it on one side instead of mid-back. The decoration is an irregularly gathered strip of pink taffeta.

The hat is made to match a pink jacket and petticoat with green trim. It has been on the “almost” finished stage for way too many years, but I have decided to get it ready for the big party in May. It only needs a stomacher… The piemontaise will be put on hold, though. I realize that I won’t have time to make it as I want it, so it will be the pink ensemble for the day and the stays with sleeves for the evening.
The original hat

The inspiration for the hat comes, in general, for the kind of top hats that can be seen from the late 1780’s onward:

Detail from The Squire's Door after an engaving by Benjamin Duterreau after George Morland, 1790.

Journal de la Mode et du Gout, September 1790.

Journal des Luxus, 1791

Wednesday 10 April 2013

What a child should wear in 1712

The Enraged Musician by William Hogarth, 1741
A comment from Kendra on my post on leather stays made me do a search for them on Google books and actually found a few, very few mentions of them in British texts. In 1758 there is a note on poor girl being issued leather stays when they are admitted to an Asylum. I did a search for leather bodice and found a description af a country wench in her leather bodice from 1771 and then, a rather facinating list on the cost of clothes for children in a British charity school in 1712. Girls are then supposed to be provided with a leather bodice with a stomacher. But the whole list is worth a post, I think. Being charity this is what is considered the minimum of clothes a child, aged 7-12 should wear. A quite useful guide for 18th century re-enactors with children, I think, the quality would be better for a richer child and he or she would have more underwear, but the basics are here. I kept the spelling.

An ACCOUNT of the RATES of Cloathing
Poor Children belonging to C H A R I T Y-s C H O O L S

The Charge of Cloathing a BOY
A Yard and half-quarter of Grey Yorkshire Broad Cloth 6 quarters wide, makes a Coat: 3 s.
Making the Coat, with Pewter Buttons and all other Materials: 1 s.
A Wasitcoat of the same Cloth lined: 3 s. 6 d.
A pair of Breeches of Cloth or Leather lined: 2 s. 6 d.
1   Knit Cap, with Tuft and String, of any Colour: 10 d.
1 Band: 2 d.
1 Shirt: 1 s. 6 d.
1 Pair of Woollen Stockings: 8 d.
1 Pair of Shoes: 1 s. and 10 d.
1 Pair of Buckles: 1 d.
1 Pair of Knit or Wash-Leather Gloves: 7 d.
Total: 15 s. and 8 d.

The Charge of Cloathing a GIRL.
3 Yards and half of blue long Ells, about yard wide, at  6d. p. Yard, makes a Gown and Petticoat: 4 s. 8 d.
Making thereof, Strings, Body-lining, and other Materials : 1 s.J
A Coif and Band of Scotch-Cloth with a Border: 9 d.
Ditto of fine Ghenting: 1 s.
A Shift: 1 s. 6 d.
A White, Blue, or Checquer'd Apron: 1 s.
A pair of Leather Bodice and Stomacher: 2 s. 6 d.
1 Pair of Woollen Stockings: 8 d.
1 Pair of Shoes: 1 s. 8 d.
A Pair of Pattens: 8 d..
1 Pair of Buckles: 1 d.
1 Pair of Knit or Wash-Leather Gloves: 7 d.
Total: 16 s. 1 d.
The Graham children by William Hogarth, 1742

I think it is interesting that girl’s costs more and that there are no warm outwear for either sex. The mention of a  leather bodice is interesting as well. I think they are more like stays, even if unboned they would probably add some stiffness and as a gown is listed, the bodice is probably meant more as underwear. I didn’t know what pattens was, but have now learned now that it protective overshoes. I am stumped on the fabrics for the girl’s clothes, though. Anyone who knows what Ells, Scotch-Cloth and Ghenting are? My guess is that Ells is a wool of some sort and the other two are different qualities of linen, but I’m not at all sure.

EDIT: Rae Arnold kindly provided me with answers: "
Scotch-cloth is another term for nettlecloth, which is linen-like, but from nettle, not flax.

Ghenting is a flax linen woven in Ghent.

The only time I’ve heard Ells used is as a measurement (27–45", depending on the country), never as a fabric description, but Googling "long ells fabric" returns results describing it as a light woolen (possibly "peculiar to Devonshire")"

Tuesday 9 April 2013

Come to an 18th century party in Sweden

Svartsjö Palace. The main building was started in 1734.
On May 9 Gustafs Skål is holding their grand party to celebrate that the society is turning 20 this year. The party will take place at Svartsjö Palace in Stockholm and will start at noon and end one hour after midnight. Much amusements and good food have been promised!

The cost is 675 SKr for members of Gustafs Skål, Wästgiöta Gustavianer, Carlscrona Rediviva, Forum för historisk dans & music and Helsingfors goda borgare. For everyone else, the price is 775 SKr.


The amusements will include a walk in the park with music and something for the body as well as for the mind. Dowager-queen Lovisa Ulrika will invite you for something that has to do with beauty (yes that might include my participation…). Dancing, of course as well as perhaps a bit more naughty amusements as well. A dinner, a play and a number of surprises are also included.


If you are interested, mail: elisabeth.goldstein (at )

A feast to mark that the hay is cut outside Svartsjö Palace by Pehr Hilleström, ca 1780

Personally I think it will be an absolutely fantastic party!

More info (in Swedish) can be found here.
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