Thursday 30 October 2014

Black 1740's jacket

After much debating with myself I decided to make the 1740's jacket that I mentioned here, in black wool. There is something neat about it that I like, though to be fair, I am going to a ghost themed 18th century party on November 15 were more somber dress is welcomed. So far it has been quick work, so I guess a setback is due soon. The stomacher is finished, the sleeves as well and I'm putting the last stitches in the lining of the bodice very soon. I need to finish the pieces for the basque (they are half done) and then attach them to the bodice as well as set the sleeves. After that it is just the cuffs left.  The jacket is in fairly lightweight wool twill which I inherited from my grandmother. The bodice will be lined in black linen, the basque, sleeves and cuffs in black silk taffeta, which are the same materials used in the lining of original jacket. The front of the bodice, the basque and the cuffs are also interlined with black wool felt. also something from my grandmother. Everything in this project comes from my stash, which is quite satisfying.

Everything cut out. Or so I thought, but of course the cuffs has to be cut out four times, not two. Duh!

I plan to wear it with my black taffeta petticoat, the same fabric I use for the lining. As it can be nice to have some colour I also plan to make an extra stomacher with some colourful embroidery. I have been lacking an embroidery project for some time and I think a stomacher will make for a nice manageable project. After some searching I fell in love with this stomacher from The Metropolian.

Stomacher, Metropolitan Museum
It is dated to the first quarter of the 18th century which will make it a little early, but I have decided to ignore that and imagine it has been inherited. I like the design and I like that it is mostly in chainstitch, which will make it a quite quick project. I haven't opted for copying the stomacher, obviously, but I tried to follow the design quite closely.

I have decided to use the same colours, there are 12 (at least) different shades in the original, but I will make it in wool yarn. If I can get into an embroidery-flow I hope to have finished the stomacher on November 29. We have decided to go to Finland for the Christmas ball at Suomenlinna this year as well. We had a great time last year, but being on an island was a bit chilly, so a wool jacket would be rather nice to wear. You can find information of the ball in English here.

I realise that I suddenly seem to be part of a trend- people are suddenly making 1740's jackets all over. All due to Outlander I am sure and I don't mind. I love the 1740's and wouldn't mind it it will get a bit more love, even if it might not be the most flattering period for my figure.

Close-up on the embroidery.
Other sewing news; I have finished a small cap with pleated lace to go with the jacket. I'm still struggling with J's banyan, but it is slowly progressing. I'm also redey to set the sleeves on the 1630's bodice.

Saturday 11 October 2014

What ordinary people could wear in the 18th century

Carl Michael Bellman by Per Krafft, 1779
Carl Michael Bellman (1740-1795) is probably one of the most important cultural personalities in Sweden. He wrote a number of songs, many of them revolving around a set gallery of persons, most which can be identified as real persons. In the late 18th century Stockholm these very unglamorous people dance, fight, make love, get sick, die, enjoy picnics or have children, in short, doing the things everyday people have always done. The songs vary a lot in tone, some are rowdy, some achingly beautiful. I could write a lot about the songs in general, but this post is just about one of the things that makes Bellman’s’ poetry such great snapshots of 18th century life, the clothes. In most songs there are descriptions of the clothes, glimpses of cut and colours worn by people who weren’t on society’s highest levels. The examples here are just a few of them, but I hope you will enjoy them. All the examples are taken from the collection called Fredmans’ Epistles.

Epistle n: o 13, dated to 1770. At a ball, a young woman, Jeanna, is wearing a salopp and red shoes. A salopp was a short cape, often cut round, in silk or some other lightweight fabric with no sleeves, but with slits for the hands and with or without a hood. Father Berg who is one of the musicians,  is wearing a striped banyan and is generally very old fashioned in attire according to the text with shoes “like those the forefather’s wore”, a neckcloth of leather, a wide belt and a cut, or cauliflower,  wig.

Woman's cape, c. 1775. Museo del Traje

I'm not completely sure, but I think this is the kind of wig father Bergström is wearing:

Charles-François Pinceloup de la Grange by Jean-Baptiste Perronneau, 1747

Epistle n: o 16, dated to 1770. Father Bergström is playing oboe while wearing a banyan, open to show breeches in leather (probably chamois leather) and the neckcloth is unbuttoned, but he is keeping his hat on. Caisa, one of the maids at the bar “Ormen” (The Snake) is wearing shoes with white heels that have been re-painted. She is also laced into stays.

Epistle n: o 59, dated to 1770. At the bar “Lokatten” (The Lynx). Two women, not of the best class, are described. The first is called a troll with a black flannel petticoat, no stockings and worn out shoes made of taffeta with a woven pattern of flowers. She is also wearing earrings with red stones of a model called boucles de nuit, a round stone on top of a tear shaped one, with two smaller stones set on each side of the point where the two larger stones meet. The other woman is wearing a calamanco bodice over a petticoat in yellow damask and no shoes. Calamanco was a thin wool fabric in bright colours, often striped and glazed. It was very popular for bodices and waistcoat in Sweden in the 18th century, though it was illegally imported from England through Norway.

Bodice in calamanco, 1760-80

Epistle n: o 28, dated to 1771, is all about Ulla Winblad, the most important woman in all the epistles, sometimes described as a muse, a goddess, or a common prostitute. In this song she is definitely the latter, she is walking through the narrow streets of Gamla stan, the oldest part of Stockholm, trying to escape the police, and she is dressed in a black jacket, laced very tightly and with some kind of decorations. She is wearing many petticoats and a hat with a veil as well. She is also wearing suede gloves. The real Ulla was a woman called Maja-Stina Kjellström and this song have a parallel in her life were she was arrested in 1767 for wearing a  red silk cape, which poor woman wasn’t allowed to wear, though she was acquitted as she could prove she worked for a silk manufacturer.

18th century jacket in silk, Lund, Sweden

In epistle n: o 33, dated to 1771, Ulla is having a lot more fun; she is taking a boat trip to the part of Stockholm that is called Djurgården, which in the 18th century was largely unpopulated.  She is wearing a sun hat with rose-red ribbons. We are not told what she is wearing on her upper body, but we are told that it is very figure hugging and that she is tightly laced. She is also wearing a corsage at her breasts. Her petticoat is made out of nopkin, a cheap lightweight fabric that could be made of linen or cotton. The petticoat has a ruffle and she is also wearing an apron. 

The steps on Skeppsbro etching by Elias Martin (1739-1818), 1800
The woman in the middle is supposed to be Ulla Winblad.

Sample of nopkin fabric, dated to 1731

Epistle n: o 66, dated 1773-81). An unknown woman, very possibly Ulla is being painted. She has dark hair in curls that are bound with a pearl string. She is laced and her breast is high and she is wearing a cross made of rubies which flashes as she breathes. Her jacket is made of crimson red fabric and she is wearing both flowers and gauze around the neckline. She is also carrying a fan. The painter eventually gets quite exited by all this beauty, especially after painting in her nipples behind the gauze.
Quilted taffeta jacket and petticoat, 1780-85, Collections Galliera.© EPV / J-M Manaï, C Milet

Epistle n:74, dated 1773-80. Madame Bergström, the owner of a bar is being painted. She is obviously quite wealthy, even if she belongs to the middle class. She is wearing a “bindmössa” a small hard cap which is still part of many traditional costumes in Sweden. It is made of green silk moiré and is decorated with silver lace. Underneath the cap she is wearing a "stycke" piece of finely pleated linen which goes down the sides towards the back. Her hair is braided with a rose-colored ribbon. She is wearing ruby earrings and a neckerchief with narrow stripes in yellow and green, which opens up at the front to reveal her breasts. She is also wearing a gold chain wound several times around her neck from which an emerald is hanging. She is wearing a jacket and petticoat made of white silk taffeta and shoes made of gold brocade. She is also very beautiful with black eyebrows, blue eyes, a red mouth and very white skin.

"Bindmössa", dated to 1767
"Stycke", dated to 1780-1820

Epistle n: o 80, dated 1789-90. Ulla Winblad is invited out to the countryside just outside Stockholm. Fashion is changing and Ulla’s petticoats are radically narrower than they used to be. She is wearing a jacket made of Nankeen cloth, a lightweight cotton fabric imported from China and made from a yellowish kind of cotton, though there were also cheaper dyed imitations. She is wearing a neckerchief and her she is no longer wearing shoes with a white heel. She is also making herself a flower wreath.

If you are interested in listening to Bellman in English there are two albums by Martín Best available at Spotify. To Carl Michael With Love and Songs of Carl Michael Bellman

Carl Michael Bellman by Pehr Hilleström, 1781 or 1790

Thursday 2 October 2014

The tale of the cursed banyan and other sewing projects

The pattern, a manteau-de-lit, bed-gown from garsault 1769.
Lack of posts about sewing doesn’t equal not sewing at all. I’m trying to finish J’s banyan that I cut out two years ago. When I pulled it out again I couldn’t remember if I had abandoned it because I didn’t have enough fabric or if it was for another reasons. As it turned out, I do have enough fabric, but as the lining has a more narrow width than the shell fabric, there is a lot of piercing going around. Very period, very boring. Actually, I rather feel that this project is cursed because despite being such a simple garment, nothing goes right with it. First I managed to put in the gussets on the shell fabric (lovely thunder blue taffeta) the wrong way. Then the piercing on the lining was a total hassle as it is lightweight silk satin and therefore slippery. When done, I realized that I had measured the piercing on the sleeves too short and needed to put in another piece. And managed to cut those without seam allowances. Sigh. Well, at least the shell fabric and the lining are now ready to be sewn together. I wonder what will go wrong next…

I had planned to make a 1940’s blouse in green silk noil to have with me for our trip on the Orient Express on October 13 (and I look forward to it very much, we are flying to Venice, which I haven’t visited before and take the train to Paris.) However, it turned out that it wasn’t enough fabric for the pattern I wanted and lost heart about the whole project.

I’m slowly working away on the 1630’s bodice. I will start to put in the sleeves now and then it is just the stomacher left. I am also sewing on the collar; it is my “pocket project”, which I usually have on my bag to stitch on when I’m stuck somewhere like a doctor’s office or on the train.

Working on a toile for the 15th century brassiere, I’m just about to tackle the cups.

On November 15 there will an 18th century party that I can actually go to. Apart from out of doors summer events I haven’t had the chance for that since December last year when we went to Finland, (and we will go again this year, yay!). And suddenly I feel that I want to sew something 18th century, more precisely a little jacket. It ought to be a fairly quick project as I have a good basic bodice pattern. I want to make this c. 1740 jacket from The Snowshill Wade Costume Collection, patterned by Janet Arnold in Patterns of Fashion 1.

I have wanted to make it before and even went so far as to draft the basque and sleeves, and I feel confident enough to cut the toile from the lining, thus saving even more time. The only problem I have is to decide which fabric to use. I don’t want to buy fabric, but I have enough fabrics in my stash to make it difficult to choose. At first I thought of using a piece of silk brocade, but on inspection it looked much too modern. I plan to wear it with a black taffeta petticoat and I have enough fabric to make a matching jacket, which will give me a complete black ensemble. But then I thought that I don’t have anything really warm in my 18th century wardrobe, so why not wool? Only, I have wool in black, white, dark green and red and I just can’t decide. I think all colour could go with a black petticoat. What do you think?

I do wish, of course, that I could get my mitt on the brocade it was originally made of. So gorgeous!


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