Your Weekend Wow!

I can’t imagine wearing these, but they are simply wonderful – in every sense of the word.

Woman’s bobbin lace glove. Milan, Italy, about 1650–1700. Linen bobbin lace. Double ruffle along top and half one side of glove. Remains of faded stiff pink ribbon bows (trimming). Dimensions: 39 x 20 cm (15 3/8 x 7 7/8 in.). Museum of Fine Arts,  Boston.

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And another fine example of linen bobbin lace gloves, also Italian.

Bobbin lace gloves, Italian (Milan), 18th C.

Bobbin lace gloves, Italian (Milan), 18th C. (Source unknown.)

More Victorian Summer Dresses!

This one if for Deb and everyone else who loves an Early Bustle Era summer dress. I’ve been meaning to post this all week, but things got a little crazy. Better late than never!

Summer dress ca. 1869 From 'Impressionism and Fashion' at the Musee d’Orsay.

Summer dress ca. 1869 From “Impressionism and Fashion” at the Musée d’Orsay.

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Summer dress, 1872-74 From the Musée du Costume et de la Dentelle via BrusselsLife.

Summer dress, 1872-74 From the Musée du Costume et de la Dentelle via BrusselsLife.

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Summer dress, French, ca. 1872. White cotton batiste in small floral print, silk ribbon. Photo Stephan Klonk. Art Library, National Museums of Berlin, via Europeana Fashion. (Very similar to the first dress, but different.)

Summer dress, French, ca. 1872. White cotton batiste in small floral print, silk ribbon. Photo Stephan Klonk. Art Library, National Museums of Berlin, via Europeana Fashion. (Very similar to the first dress, but different.)

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A blue and white striped gauze summer gown, circa 1870, the bodice with square neckline, flounced sleeves, peplum trimmed with blue satin, blue ribbon belt with later added bow.

A blue and white striped gauze summer gown, circa 1870, the bodice with square neckline, flounced sleeves, peplum trimmed with blue satin, blue ribbon belt with later added bow.

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Dress, 1872. Light blue cotton, broderie anglaise, grosgrain ribbon in light gray silk. (Too bad they didn't display it with a proper bustle.)

Dress, 1872. Light blue cotton, broderie anglaise, grosgrain ribbon in light gray silk. (Too bad they didn’t display it with a proper bustle.)

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 Organdy American, 1870s. (Apologies for the it blurry photo, it was the only one I found.)

Organdy American, 1870s. (Apologies for the it blurry photo, it was the only one I found.)

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Day dress ca. 1869. From the Galleria del Costume di Palazzo Pitti via Europeana Fashion.

Day dress ca. 1869. From the Galleria del Costume di Palazzo Pitti via Europeana Fashion.

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Summer tea gown. (No other information or source material available.)

Summer tea gown. (No other information or source material available.)

Your Weekend Wow!

I’ve been out of commission for a couple of weeks and haven’t been able to do much of anything, including staying on top on my dear blog. Happily, things are getting back to normal and I’ll be able to catch up soon.

Meanwhile, it’s summer and up here in the Northern Hemisphere it is hot, hot, hot. So this delicate, sheer dress caught my eye as a perfect antidote to layer upon layer of silk and cotton. It’s just so very…summery!

Dress, French, ca. 1872. Cotton and porcelain (I assume they are referring to the buttons). Photos and information from The Met, metmuseum.org.

Here are the Met’s description and comments:

The 1870s was a period of marked romanticism and whimsy in fashionable dress. Much like the picturesque paintings of Renoir that depict such confectionary creations, both day and evening gowns were highly ornamented and often executed in delicate, feminine textiles. Though eveningwear was marked by décolleté necklines and lavish silk satins and taffetas, day dresses were made more modest with austere fabrics like cotton or wool. While many women owned walking and traveling dresses which afforded slightly greater moveability, also quite common was the summer day dress that was to be worn to an afternoon tea or reception.

This garment, emblematic of warm weather day dresses of the period with its sheer printed cotton and delicate lace trim, is a particularly pristine example, and notable for its clear revival of eighteenth–century aesthetic sensibilites. The late nineteenth century, abetted by the luxury and progress of the Industrial Age, recalled distinctly, both in its textiles and in the etiquette that surrounded fashionable dress, the notorious material excesses of the third quarter of the eighteenth century. The wealthy classes of the late–nineteenth–century showed a particular respect for the formalities of fashion. While their garments were not nearly as ornamental and their entertaining circles not as elitist, the decorative effects of late nineteenth century afternoon reception dresses such as this one unarguably echoed the lavishness of the eighteenth–century gown, most notably here in the sleeve and neckline.

Your Weekend Wow!

OK, enough with the embroidery fetish already. This weekend’s dress is one you’ve probably seen before, but I simply adore it and have from the first time I saw it. I love the changeable silk and every single meticulous detail. It is in my heart and always will be.

This 1840’s green changeable silk dress was acquired from the Tasha Tudor Historic Costume Collection and was later offered at auction by Augusta Auctions, where it fetched $18,400.00 USD. I may not be able to “play” at that level, but I can surely lust after it from afar.

Here is the auction catalog description. All photos courtesy of Augusta Auctions, Inc.

Ribbed silk taffeta woven with light green and gold in opposing directions, collarless deep V neckline, long fitted sleeves, ruffled caps laced with tassled cords, sleeves lace with cord above wrists, fitted bodice ending in shallow center front point, pleated, ruffled and cord trimmed fabric radiates from center bodice point to shoulders, full gathered skirt trimmed with two vertical rows of self fabric bows down center front, piped seams, full glazed linen lining, (minor spots) excellent.

the green dress 1

the green dress 2

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the green dress 4

the green dress 5

the green dress 6

Your Weekend Wow!

I’m still feeling the love for embroidery that summer always brings out in me. This one is especially eye-catching with a dramatic use of bold color on black. And it’s from the 1940’s which is fashion era I like but about which I rarely post. I love the clean lines and that subtle little ruffle of netting at the front neckline. It’s from The Met and, again, the information is skimpy.

American 1940’s Cocktail Dress by Hattie Carnegie, Inc. Silk. Length: 36 in. (91.4 cm). Accession number: 1994.153. All photos courtesy of metmuseum.org.

1940's dress front

1940's Cocktail Dress, Hattie Carnegie, Inc.

1940's dress, embroidery detail

The 18th Century Chemise – Update

Well, I got a bit sidetracked for a few days and didn’t get much sewing done. Poor little chemise, just sitting there in pieces, waiting for some attention. But now all of the main body seams are done, except for the side seams which go in after the sleeves are set. I’ve got the marking, sewing and trimming for the hand sewn French seams down to a science so my speed is definitely picking up while the results look better than ever. I’d show photos, but they’d only be of more straight seams and you’ve already seen those.

So now it’s time for the sleeves and their square BFFs, the gussets.

I originally intended to put in a plain sleeve: gathered at the cap, full and flat through the body, then gathered into a banded cuff at the hem. However I don’t like the feeling of bulk under layers of clothing and I’m not sure how a full sleeve on a chemise would feel under a more streamlined sleeve of an 18th century bodice. And then I found this:

A woman's shift of linen, England, 1740 - 1780. VandA Museum Number T.25-1969.

A woman’s shift of linen, England, 1740 – 1780. V and A Museum Number T.25-1969.

It’s a sleeve of a chemise from the time period I’m trying to recreate. I like the notion of having the fullness pulled in by all of those pleats and then sewn flat, but I’m not about to make myself crazy trying to wrestle a zillion teeny, tiny pleats around the entire width of the sleeve. Nope, not gonna happen. But perhaps I can modify the sleeve I do have into something similar.

That’s the experiment for the upcoming week. I don’t have any more linen, so whatever I come up with has to work without ruining the sleeves I’ve already cut. No pressure, right?

Your Weekend Wow!

It’s summertime and the livin’ in a lot of places is hot or humid or both. So what’s to be done if you need a sweet little dress that won’t leave you feeling as if you’re melting? Think vintage!

I first found this on Pinterest and immediately wanted to know more. I traced it back to its origins and discovered it was originally posted on a blog that’s no longer active and was offered in auction on eBay back in 2011. But it struck me as the perfect party dress for summer. I love the smocking detail – especially the surprise block on the back neck. The openwork/pulled thread leaves are wonderful.

I’m not sure about the date. It looks to me like it could well be later than the ’20s, but I don’t care. I’d wear it in a heartbeat.

Here it is, along with the original description by blogger Mmmost, who seems to have last posted in 2013. The photos are hers.

I found this beautiful vintage 1920s dress at an estate sale in Colorado Springs last week. I looks like a typical cotton day frock of the era until you get up close and inspect the hand work. It is completely hand embroidered and smocked. But what really impressed me was the openwork stitches in the fabric to form the leaves. Whoever made this dress had an enormous amount of time and really good eyes to create this masterpiece!

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Your Weekend Wow!

Who’s up for a little fun and a lot of color? This Italian jacket (casaquin) and petticoat, ca. 1725-1740, is a riot of crewel embroidery in fanciful shapes and images. It’s all linen, both fabric and embroidery. Isn’t it wonderful the colors have remained so vibrant? All photos from The Met Museum (metmuseum.org). Accession number: 1993.17a, b.

DP274861

DP274862

The site description reads as follows:

This informal dress is transformed by the fanciful crewelwork, or wool embroidery, on a linen ground depicting exotic figures representing the Four Continents amid exuberant flowers, fruits, and birds. Among the architectural elements are small pagodas, which came to symbolize the Far East in the European decorative arts. The exotic structures became part of the European design vocabulary after Johan Nieuhoff published his illustrated catalogue of observations on Peking in 1665. The theatrical character of the embroidery may indicate that this dress was meant to be worn to a masquerade, a European social event in which exotic and idiosyncratic costume reigned supreme.

Your Weekend Wow!

I almost passed over this simple-looking piece until I realized what it was. What it is, as you probably recognize, is a stomacher. This one is from the Met Museum. It’s British and made of cotton ca. 1700. Accession number: 1974.194.1.

metmuseum.org

metmuseum.org

But what I at first thought was a lovely, faint fabric design turns out to be very fine quilting done in a mirror-image design. To give you an idea of how small these stitches are, the entire piece is only 16 inches (40.6 cm) tall.

metmuseum.org

metmuseum.org

I wish the Met had photographed it with side lighting so the stitch definition would stand out better. It must have been both subtle and eye-catching.

Here is another example of a quilted stomacher, this one from a later time – 1730-1750. It also is from England, made of linen, linen thread, silk thread, hand-sewn and hand embroidered. Museum number: T.209-1929

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The V&A Collections

The V&A website offers an excellent description of stomachers:

A stomacher is a decorative panel of fabric, usually triangular in shape, worn to fill the space between the front edges of a woman’s open gown. The stomacher formed part of the ensemble of fashionable women’s dress from the 1680s to the 1780s. This example incorporates whitework embroidery, quilting and cording. In the latter technique, parallel lines of stitching have been filled with short lengths of linen cord, inserted from the back of the fabric. The bold design includes flowers, leaves, pomegranates and shells. As quilting and cording were popular techniques for petticoats and informal jackets, this stomacher may well have been part of a matching ensemble.

I can’t imagine how stunning a matching ensemble of a quilted and corded petticoat, stomacher and jacket would have looked.

The quilting on the earlier stomacher really appeals to me. I’m working with fine linen at the moment and now I’m tempted to try quilting a small bit just to see how it behaves. Maybe a small quilted pocketbook or coin purse? I do have a few scraps lying around…

The 18th Century Chemise – lengthening and side gussets

This week’s progress on the chemise consists of two elements: a decision and a discovery.

First, the decision. Once I had the neckline hemmed, pressed and stable I popped the chemise on over my head to check the length. It came to just below my knee, which would have been acceptable, but I wanted a bit more length. The size of the neck opening was perfect so I decided to forego adding a ruffle and used the last bit of extra fabric to lengthen the chemise by adding a strip at the hem in both the front and back. I had to cut the strips from the selvage edge, which contained two holes that looked like an accident of manufacturing. I was able to bypass the largest of them, but couldn’t avoid the smaller one and it will need mending. I figure it just lends a bit of an authentic air.

hole

Second came the discovery. The more I work with this lightweight linen, the more I like it. It’s still squirrely stuff, but I’m getting used to it. One of my biggest challenges in hand sewing with this fluid fabric has been keeping my seam lines straight. As the fabric shifts around in my hands the seams end up looking as if they’ve been sewn by someone on their fifth pint of lager while crammed into the corner of a rowdy pub. Not the look I’m trying to emulate.

I kept thinking that what I really needed was a line to follow. About two seconds later it occurred to me that if I needed a line I could add one – in chalk. I shake my head at how the simplest of solutions sometimes elude me.

In any case, the line kept the stitches straight. And once I was no longer struggling to maintain a straight line I could focus on taking smaller, even stitches.

tiny stitches

following the line

The result was french seams that look as nice as if they’d been sewn by machine and I couldn’t be more pleased. This is the front right side gusset seam, which also shows the extended length.

side gusset 2

So the side gussets are in place on the right side of the chemise. Next week, the left side gets its side gussets. Then…the sleeves.