All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Sew

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”  William Morris, 1834-1896

I’ve spent the past week in a bout of serious de-cluttering and re-arranging spaces. As a result, things get thrown all over the place as they are re-grouped and put into their new, or former, place.

The room formerly known as “the office” is now “the Creative Space” which just happens to have a desk in it. I have better access to my cutting table and all the sewing stuff is slowly migrating to a single room.

However, the dining nook – the place where my machine resides – is serving as a temporary sorting station. So I haven’t done any sewing, either machine or hand, for at least a week.

And it’s starting to irk me just a bit. I have a number of things in progress, as usual, and I’m itching to get to them. A few more days should do the trick, then I can get back to creating and doing a better job of keeping up this blog.

See you all again…soon!

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Your Weekend Wow!

Another dress from a period of time I’m just starting to explore. I cannot imagine embroidering silk with metallic thread – the time, the patience, the experience needed to embroider at this level. It is a fabulous piece of workmanship. I do not know  which bride commissioned this dress, nor did I find any detail photos, but she obviously came from a family of tremendous wealth. The train alone must have weighed a ton.

Wedding Dress, 1850, silk embroidered with metallic embroidery.

Wedding Dress, 1850, silk embroidered with metallic embroidery.

Wedding Dress with train

Wedding Dress with train

Your Weekend Wow!

This dress is such a “wow” I couldn’t wait any longer to share. It must have been absolutely stunning in candlelight.

Evening gown, ca. 1840's, satin lined with tulle, floral embroidery in metallic threads, tulle and ribbon trim.

Evening gown, ca. 1840’s, satin lined with tulle, floral embroidery in metallic threads, tulle and ribbon trim.

Evening gown, ca. 1840's, satin lined with tulle, floral embroidery in metallic threads, tulle and ribbon trim.

(Unfortunately the image is a little blurry, but it’s the only one I could find.)

The Dress ca. 1840, side view

A Cure for the Regency Bonnet Blues

1795 - 1825 Regency Bonnet

1795 – 1825 Regency Bonnet

Before going to bed last night I looked through even more 1795 fashion plates looking for help/inspiration. On the plus side, I saw where and how to place the ribbon ties. But the sheer number of styles and variations is astounding. I want to stick with the foundation bonnet I already have, and it was difficult to find one that fit the bill, other than the one above. Which is of minimal help.

Fortunately, my plea for assistance was answered. Thumbs up for the pleated band around the base of the crown, so I’ll stick with that.

And Liz (at http://www.thepragmaticcostumer.wordpress.com) had a link to a wonderful fashion plate illustration that was exactly the type of thing I’d been looking for but could not find. (How did I miss this?!)

1795 Gallery of Fashion

1795 Gallery of Fashion

As you can see, the yellow bonnet with the  green bow is identical to mine. And I must say that decoration looks like a lot of fun. The ginormous bow is too much (in a good way). I’m not quite sure how the handkerchief-looking thing goes over the bonnet and becomes the ties, but that’s easily overcome. So I’m going to play around with it and see what happens.

I also like this look, although it’s from 1814. I like the placement of the feathers. Long feather plumes were the style in 1795, however, and these are quite short by that standard. But I’ll play with it as well.

1814-Walking-Dress-Bonnet

1814-Walking-Dress-Bonnet

Always experimenting, always learning. And lovin’ it.

Regency Bonnet – opinion, please

Austentation Jane Austen Late Georgian Early Regency Straw Bonnet - Plain.

Austentation Jane Austen Late Georgian Early Regency Straw Bonnet – Plain.

Who thought it would be this hard? I’m having a devil of a time deciding what to do with the ribbon on this bonnet.

I don’t want to do plain ribbon, so I went through hundreds of images and photos of bonnets and there is evidence of folded ribbon used on bonnets. So, good. But I could not determine the pattern of the folds. Not so good. I went through Pinterest looking for examples of ribbon folding and found quite a few inspiring pieces, like this one:

(photo copyright Threads Magazine)

(photo copyright Threads Magazine)

But I don’t think that’s appropriate for 1795.

The ribbon with which I fell in love is a gorgeous, true emerald green. But it is wide, just under 3.5 inches. Yesterday I played around with folding patterns. (One virtue of polyester – pins don’t leave holes.) But everything I tried looked wrong. The ribbon doesn’t gather well. Eventually I folded it in half lengthwise and started playing around with folding again. In the end, I went with a simple, one-inch wide fold. By some miracle, the folds aligned perfectly in the back so it looks continuous. (The blue-green color is not right, it really is emerald green.)

But I’m not sure I like it.

Every time I look at it I think of a straw boater, not a Regency bonnet. On the other hand, it’s not finished. I want to add a white ostrich feather that gently curves over the crown from left to right. And a little something, don’t know what yet, at the base of the feather. And, of course, the ties.

Happily, it’s early on and changes are easy. Perhaps I should use plain ribbon after all and let the feather(s) be the fun part. (I’m leaning heavily toward this option.) Any thoughts or suggestions?

Update

You may have been wondering what’s been going on. I haven’t been posting as much, but I’ve not forgotten. I’ve been having a bit of excitement on the health front and my energies have been needed there. But I think that’s all good now, so it’s back into the fray, so to speak.

Here’s what’s been going on in my historical sewing world.

Whilst cleaning up/out my closet I discovered my old corset and was thrilled. It’s the first/only one I’ve made and I like it a lot. It’s very comfortable and I’d been pretty upset that I lost it. But no more.

I re-measured myself and dialed up the dress form as best I could. I bought the dress form before I knew anything about them and bought a size too small. The waist works, but I can’t get enough bust or hips. So I have to pad underneath the corset. Which makes for a weird-looking dress form, but who cares? Here “I” am: chemise, padded corset, and the 1887 Imperial Tonure (TV#163), which really supports a lot of weight and does it well. (The odd-looking thing on the corset is a dragonfly applique that is covering up a huge snag I made in the brocade. Live and learn.)

I’ve fallen seriously behind in my 1880 Bustle Dress class and, through a series of miscalculations on my part, cannot make the dress I’d planned. So I went to Plan B and started with an underskirt of pale pistachio green with tiny white dots, found deep in the stash.

I didn’t particularly love the fabric, but it makes a great underskirt. Here it is, pinned to the petticoat on the dress form.

2014-05-26 16.07.48b

It still needs a waistband and hemming. I’ve found the fabric I want to use for the bodice and overskirt, or maybe a polonaise, but can’t afford it at the minute. So things are kind of “on hold” for this dress.

In the Late Georgian/Early Regency department, the bonnet situation is looking up. I found some wide ribbon in a gorgeous emerald green that I’m going to use around the base of the crown and for the ties. There’s a ribbon folding pattern I found on Pinterest that will work quite nicely to dress it up just a bit. I don’t think it’s going to need anything else. It’s polyester, but doesn’t look it so I think it will suffice.

I also finally found some heavy-duty metal eyelets that I can use for the long stays. They are exactly like grommets, with the setting die and everything, so should work just fine. Especially since the goal of the long stays is to straighten you up and display the girls, not cinch you into an impossibly tiny hourglass.

I’m feeling the need to get something finished – anything. So I’m going to fold ribbon and do up the bonnet. Then go back to the long stays and finish those. Will I get them done by the end of the month? We shall see.

Your Weekend Wow!

I’m not usually the lacy, frou-frou type. Some women can wear it and they look great. I end up looking like a terrier in a tutu – just plain wrong. But this caught my eye and I’m in love with the “in your face” romantic nature of it all. I’d wear this in a heartbeat.

White tea gown with Valenciennnes lace, ca. 1899. White cotton lawn with lace high neck and bands in a pattern of loops and bows, having a band of polychrome embroidered roses at lower bodice, sleeve and skirt. Sleeves and skirt have scalloped inserts of tucked pink cotton beneath embroidered bows, lower skirt ruffled in three bands.

White tea gown with Valenciennnes lace, ca. 1899. White cotton lawn with lace high neck and bands in a pattern of loops and bows, having a band of polychrome embroidered roses at lower bodice, sleeve and skirt. Sleeves and skirt have scalloped inserts of tucked pink cotton beneath embroidered bows, lower skirt ruffled in three bands.

The Honiton Lace Victorian Wedding Gloves

Thanks to bmary, who spurred me on to look for more images of the gloves I posted for Your Weekend Wow, I kept digging and just found the original source. Yay!

They were sold by Em’s Heart Fine Antiques and Vintage Linens for $250.00 USD. All photos are copyright of Em’s Heart. Here is how she described them:

Unused and hand made of Honiton lace, these are cream in color and will fit a small to medium hand. Rare. Perfect. Offered as found. 18″ long X 5.75″ wide at widest point  3.25″ across the opening for your fingers.

Prepare to have your mind thoroughly and properly blown!

Victorian antique Honiton lace wedding gloves1

Victorian antique Honiton lace wedding gloves2

Victorian antique Honiton lace wedding gloves3

Victorian antique Honiton lace wedding gloves4

Victorian antique Honiton lace wedding gloves5

Victorian antique Honiton lace wedding gloves6

Victorian antique Honiton lace wedding gloves7

I hope whoever the lucky buyer was appreciates the piece of historical art and craft they purchased…the lucky devil.

Jealous? Moi?

PS – For a mind-blowing look at what heights of art the makers of Honiton lace could reach, take a gander at this:

Sample of Honiton Lace circa 1870 from the Allhallows Museum Collection (www.honitonmuseum.co.uk) Photo copyright The Allhallows Museum.

Sample of Honiton Lace circa 1870 from the Allhallows Museum Collection (www.honitonmuseum.co.uk) Photo copyright The Allhallows Museum.