Terminology, a post by Atelier Nostalgia

The world of historical costuming is replete with confusing, redundant and often misleading terminology. I myself am guilty of calling anything from 1800 to 1820 as “Regency” although it’s not technically correct, as I’ve discovered.

This post by Atelier Nostalgia is re-blogged with her written permission and I hope it helps you as much as it’s helped me figure out which era happened when. Click on the link to go directly to the original post, or you can read it (quoted in its entirety) below.

In a lot of writing (blogs, books), specific terminology is used to refer to certain eras. These terms most often originate in politics or art, but are also used to define certain ‘periods’ of dress history. I’ve also noticed that sometimes, different terms are used for similar periods. And then, of course, there’s the language thing, where terms in different languages are different. They might even denote slightly different periods, because the terms refer to political periods of that particular country. A good example is the ‘Regency’, which is used to refer the period of the regent’s reign in the United Kingdom. In Dutch, we’d call this period ‘Empire’, which refers to the reign of Napoleon. But the political Regency and the reign of Napoleon only overlap for 4 years. And the term ‘regency’ is also used to refer to the period with a certain style of dress, which doesn’t have the same boundaries as the political regency.

So I’ve decided to try to make a glossary of terms. I’ll try to start with the English terms, and then add a list of the Dutch ones (which I’m slightly less familiar with, as most of my resources are in English). I’d love to extend this list further, so if there’s anyone who has additional terms, or terms specific to another language please let me know! (also, let me know if I’m mistaken! I’m basing this mostly on personal experience, art history classes I took almost 10 years ago and Wikipedia, so correct me if I’m wrong)

I’ll make an attempt at a chronological timeline. This means that the history, art, political and fashion terminology is all slightly mixed-up in the same list. I hope it doesn’t get confusing! I’ll also only describe terms used to describe certain era’s. Many people also just refer to the decade (’50’s) or century (18th century), which is a lot more self-explanatory, so I’ll leave those out here.

  • Viking/Norse
    • 793–1066
    • Political term
    • In 793 the abbey in Lindisfarne (England) was destroyed by Normen, signalling a period of over 200 years of exploration (and attacks and raids) from Vikings. The end is set to 1066, when the Norse king Harald III was in England. It should be noted that several other areas stayed under Norse rule longer (such as Scotland and the isles). I’m not very familiar with Viking costuming, so I’m not sure if this term will refer to any dress falling within the period, or if it’s used specifically for the dress worn by the Vikings themselves, or of their conquered peoples.
  • Medieval
    • 500-1500
    • History term
    • The medieval period covers a long period of a 100 years. Of course, within this era, there were many changes for clothing. Most often though, these are simply referred to by their century and location, making things easier.
  • Gothic
    • ca. 1100-1500
    • Art term
    • The term ‘Gothic’ refers to a certain style in art, specifically the latter half of the Middle-Ages. Of course, it is now also used to the modern clothing style involving loads of black, but that’s another story.
  • Renaissance
    • ca. 1450-1650
    • History / Art term
    • This term is used to describe the period between the Middle-Ages and ‘Modern time’. Generally, it is defined by an age of progress in art and science. Many countries have their ‘own’ renaissance, of which the start and end dates vary. They generally lie between 1450 and 1650 though. There’s also a lot of variation in European dress styles, so location matters!
  • Tudor
    • 1485 – 1603
    • Political term
    • This term refers to the rule of the Tudor family as kings & queens of England. Within fashion history, this term is often used to refer to the period between 1485 and 1558, because in 1558 queen Elizabeth ascended the throne. Most people would use the term ‘Elizabethan’ period for her reign within the Tudor era.
  • Elizabethan
    • 1558 – 1603
    • Political term
    • Referring to the rule of queen Elizabeth. She was the last of the Tudor monarchs, so with her reign the Tudor reign was also at an end.
  • Jacobean
    • 1567–1625
    • Political term
    • Referring to the period of reign of king James IV (for Schotland) and James I (same person, as king of England from 1603). This latter date coincides with the start of the Stuart era, as we’re talking about king James Stuart here.
  •  Stuart
    • 1603 – 1714
    • Political term
    • Referring to the rule of the house Stuart in England. Generally speaking, this term refers to the 17th century, as it almost wholly coincides with it.
  • Baroque
    • 1590 – 1725
    • Art term
    • Another art term, the Baroque spans the 17th century and a little more.
  • Rococo
    • ca. 1700 – 1785
    • Art term
    • Overlapping slightly with the Baroque, from which it sprung, the rococo is named after the ‘rocaille’, the shell shape used so often in its decorations. It ended quite abruptly near the end of the 18th century as politics changed and a new-found interest in the classics gave way to Neo-classical art.
  • Georgian
    • 1714 – 1830
    • Political term
    • Referring to the reign of four successive ‘Georges’ as kings of England. In fashion history, this term is mostly used for the earlier part up to 1811, as that’s when the (overlapping) Regency started, and that term is used. I’ve never seen it used for the period 1820-1830 (after the regency ended) in a fashion context.
  • French Revolution
    • 1789-1799
    • Political term
    • The period of the French revolution, in which the people turned against the establishment and which meant the end of the monarchy in France. Dress was quite an important thing in France in those days, and during this period there’s a sharp shift away from the opulence of before into clean and simple lines, which was no-doubt helped along by the hatred of the aristocracy at the time. There’s also a lot of red, white and blue in French fashion at the time, which were the colors of the revolution.
  • Neo-Classical
    • 1765–1830
    • Art term
    • An ‘opposition’ to the drama of the Baroque and Rococo, Neoclassicism was inspired by the re-discovery of the ancient Greeks and Romans. This started to show in dress around 1785, and strongly influenced the rise of the waistlines and slim, white dresses worn in the early years of the 19th century.
  • Regency
    • 1811-1820
    • Political term
    • The term ‘Regency’ refers to the period in which George IV held the regency for his ill father, George III. In historical fashion, this term is used a lot, and generally refers to a slightly broader time span to comply with the styles in clothing. Generally, I’ve seen it used for the period 1795-1825, when the high waistline and slim silhouette was popular.
  • Biedermeier
    • ca 1815 – 1848
    • Art term
    • Although the start & end date refer to political events (congress of Vienna – Revolutions of 1848), the term Biedermeier refers to a German/Austrian art style. It is used to refer to fashion mostly from ca. 1820 to 1840, or the period between the Regency & the Victorian era. I suspect the term came into use mostly because there’s no English political term covering this period except ‘the end of the Georgian era’, which is confusing.
  • Romantic era
    • ca 1800 – 1850
    • Art term
    • Romanticism was an artistic and intellectual movement in which the glorification of nature and history was important. There was a renewed historical interest, and an emphasis on emotion and the individual. In dress history, I see this term used mostly to refer to the 1820’s, 1830’s and 1840’s. This is probably because the period 1800-1820 is generally defined as Georgian/Regency and from 1850 on as Victorian, so ‘Romantic’ in turn means the bit in the middle for which we didn’t have a proper name yet.
  • Civil-War
    • 1861 – 1865
    • Political term
    • There’s been many civil wars through-out history, but in historical costuming this term is mostly used by Americans and refers to the American Civil War. There’s a lot of re-enactment groups in the US for this era, so also a lot of people interested in this period, and therefore a lot of resources available!
  • Victorian
    • 1837 – 1901
    • Political term
    • Referring to the reign of queen Victoria in England, this era covers most of the 19th century. This also makes it confusing, as dress changed greatly between 1840 and 1900, so the term ‘Victorian clothing’ can be used to refer to a large range of different clothing styles.
  • Crinoline/Hoop era
    • ca. 1855-1865
    • Fashion term
    • Finally a term actually referring to fashion! The expanding skirts of the 1840’s and early 1850’s were supported by loads of petticoats. In 1856, the wire/metal hoop skirt was invented to support the ever-growing bell shape. In the 1860’s, it changed into an elliptic shape and eventually transformed into what we now call the bustle.
  • Bustle period
    • ca. 1865-1890
    • Fashion term
    • This term is used for the period within the Victorian era when so-called ‘bustles’ were worn. Taking many shapes and sizes over the years, the general goal of the bustle was to increase the fullness of the skirt in the back. (or: to make your but look bigger). Generally, 3 different periods can be distinguished. Ca. 1865-1876 is the Early bustle era. Skirts are still slightly round at the hemline, and bustle expands out from the natural waist backwards. From ca. 1876-1882 bustles shrank to almost nothing (say, a small pillow), giving from to the ‘Natural Form’ era. But from ca. 1882-1890 the bustle returned and grew bigger than ever. This is the Late bustle era, the main difference with the Early one being even more emphasis on the back, and the bustle expanding out from a little lower, say the start of the hip bones. Around 1890, the bustles had shrunk again to nearly nothing, this time for good. (Well, for now at least!)
  • Edwardian
    • 1901 – 1910/1914
    • Political term
    • Referring to the reign of king Edward of England, who reigned from 1901 to 1910. Broadly speaking, it is often used for the first 14 years of the century, from 1900 to 1914. This is when the first World War started, and brought many changes to society.
  • WWI
    • 1914-1918
    • Historical term
    • World War I. Also referred to as ‘the Great War'(in English, at least for the Netherlands, if we refer to ‘the war’ its WWII)
  • (Art-)Deco
    • ca. 1920-1945
    • Art style
    • A style of art following on art-nouveau, which marries traditional crafts motives with the new technological possibilities. I’ve mostly seen this as referring to the 1920’s and 1930’s, which might have something to do with the lack of a proper other style term for the inter-war period.
  • WWII
    • 1939-1945
    • Historical term
    • World War II. This war started when Germany invaded Poland in 1939. For me, WWII has always has 1940 as start year, because the Netherlands were invaded in that year. The US got involved in 1941 with the attack on Pearl Harbor.
  • Vintage
    • ca. 1920-1990’s
    • The term vintage is generally meant to be ‘anything old’, but usually any clothing from pre 1920’s will be labeled ‘antique’, and not vintage. Most often, ‘vintage’ is used to refer to clothing between 1940’s and 1970’s, but as time goes along this might change. (In 20 years, what we wear now can be considered vintage). This term is the odd one out, because it is generally used to specifically refer to actual items which were made in the past. Reproductions are generally named vintage-style, or retro. I find that in costuming circles, most people make a distinction between historical, being anything up to ca. 1920’s, and vintage being anything between then and 20 years ago.

 

Dutch:

  • Gouden Eeuw 
    • In English: Dutch Golden Age
    • ca. 1600 – 1700
    • A period of growth in trade, science and the arts in Dutch history. It is generally thought of to have started around the same time as the founding of the East-Indian Trading company (1602-\). 1672 was the ‘disaster year’ (war, with political and economical consequences), after which the decline started.
  • Empire
    • In English: Empire (we’d pronounce it the French way though)
    • ca. 1800 – 1815
    • Art term
    • Technically this is a term used to refer to the French neo-classical interior style made popular by Napoleon. In practise, it is also used to refer generally to the reign of Napoleon, of which the exact days are shown in the next term.
  • Napoleonistische tijd
    • In English: Napoleon’s time
    • 1804-1814/5
    • Political term
    • The period of Napoleon’s reign as emperor of France (and multiple other regions, including the Netherlands). Napoleon abdicated in 1814, to briefly return in 1815.
  • Belle époque
    • In English: Beautiful Era (another term borrowed from the French)
    • ca. 1870-1914
    • Historical term
    • Generally, this term is used to refer to the era of progress in France (and surrounding countries) around the turn of the 19th to the 20th century. It ended with the start of WWI.
  • Interbellum
    • In English: Inter-war period
    • 1918-1939
    • Political term
    • The inter-war period, between WWI and WWII. I haven’t really seen this used often in costume history, although it might be used in a context for which it’s relevant that it’s a period between wars.
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Better: slow but sure.

je suis malade

Getting over this whatever-it-was is slow going. You’ve probably noticed the dearth of posts. That’s because my hand-eye coordination is still re-tuning itself. Knitting helps and I’ve been doing a lot of it. But my hand sewing is a bit too shaky for the look I’m after, although it’s improving steadily, and my machine sewing tends to drift from a straight line unless I focus every bit of energy and concentrate. Then I’m exhausted after 20 minutes and frustrated.

In general, I start my day feeling like this:

A couple enjoys an old fashioned zipline on a weekend afternoon. (1923)

A couple on an old-fashioned zipline. (1923)

It doesn’t take long before I’m feeling like this:

"Whaaaa?"

“Whaaaa?”

And by late afternoon:

Sick person going to Lourdes to take the water.

Going to Lourdes to take the water.

I try to be patient with this *tap foot, tap foot, tap foot* while my body heals. Today has been a really good day and the worst has definitely passed.

The knitting is going pretty well now. My stitches are even again. I can do math for the patterns in my head.

I’ve been hoarding collecting 1930’s prints to make a simple quilt for my bed, and I feel good enough to re-start my machine swing on that. This one will be pretty simple and I don’t need to completely finish the top to polish up my skills. Not to mention this will finally get me going on something I’ve been putting off for a long time (hard to choose a pattern, decided to go easy on myself).

In addition, I started English paper-piecing a reproduction of an 1840’s quilt. It’s going to take a while, but there is no rush – I’m just doing it because I’ve always wanted to try and now I have the patience for it. I’ve already cut the fabric hexagons for the next panel, so I think I’ll work on that for an evening or two to get my fine hand-eye motor coordination back up to snuff.

And then it’s back to business.

The top portion of my Edwardian petticoat for HSM #6 is mostly done. Happily, the worst of the fiddly bits are finished. Before all this happened I’d purchased some lovely pink jacquard-weave ribbon for the beading lace. After lace meets ribbon, I’ll start hand-finishing the armholes. Then it’s make a tube, sew on a ruffle, gather the top edge and sew the whole thing onto the bodice portion. After that it’s just a matter of using hooks-and-eyes up the front for an easy closure.

Hmmmm. Probably shouldn’t have said “easy”….

A Nifty Little Doo-Dad that Makes My Sewing Life Easier.

It’s a bird! It’s a Plane! It’s a….what?!?!

This bit of sparkle has been in my office for longer than I care to remember. I really never used it much, but I felt there was something more to it than I was appreciating, some overlooked potential I was missing, so I never got rid of it. Then, the other day, lightning struck.

It’s a page holder. Now where could I really use easy visual access to instructions while my hands are busy? (No, not that!) Hmmmm…. Aha!!

HSM Challenge #3 – Stashbusting: Sing a Song for the Sontag

1827 portrait of Henriette Sonntag by Franz Xaver Stöber (Albertina - Wien Austria)

1827 portrait of Henriette Sonntag by Franz Xaver Stöber

Henriette Gertrude Walpurgis Sontag (or Sonntag), Countess Rossi (3 January 1806 – 17 June 1854), was a beautiful German operatic coloratura soprano of international renown. The sontag is alledgedly named after Henriette, who is said to have brought this style of a shallow, front-crossing shawl to the attention of fashionable Victorians.

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) defines a “Sontag” as “a type of knitted or crocheted jacket or cape, with long ends which are crossed in front of the body and tied behind, worn by women in the second half of the Nineteenth Century.” Oddly, although there are a great many portraits of Countess Rossi, there are no portraits or photographs of her wearing such a garment (and I looked).

(My personal conjecture? Perhaps a garment like this was part of a stage costume she wore, devised by a creative costume mistress, in an especially outstanding performance which inspired women to emulate the style. It’s a notion full of flaws, but I like to imagine an opera company’s costume mistress as the unsung heroine of a long-lasting fashion movement.)

Instructions (“receipts”) for sontags (also called “cache coeurs”, or “bosom friends”) are found in many women’s magazines from the 1860s onwards. In fact, they are one of the first styles of shawl to be written up in modern pattern form.

Sontags are very good at keeping the upper body – especially the bosom – warm. As a result they are often worn by re-enactors and living historians. I’ve been wanting to make one, but kept coming up with the same pattern or two that “everyone” uses. Being me, of course, I wanted something different. Something to keep both my back and my front warm. Something that had instructions I could understand.

Then, a while back, I stumbled upon this.

1860 pattern for knitted sontag

1860 pattern for knitted sontag

Colleen Formby took this original 1860 pattern and “translated” it into modern knitting instructions, complete with yarn and needle equivalents, photographs and directions on how to make the “ermine” spots on the edging. Ms. Formby holds the copyright, but it’s licensed for individual use.

I love the checkerboard knitting pattern and the addition of the faux ermine spots. I like the way the back is completely covered. I also like that the ties wrap around the waist completely and tie in front, instead of tying in back.

And the best part is I can use it for the HSM Challenge #3, since I already have everything needed to make it in my stash, including period-correct colors in period-correct yarn (both content and weight) with period-correct (i.e., wooden) needles. It’s also a project I can do whilst packing/unpacking, since it doesn’t demand a lot of space – if there’s a chair/bench/stool/pillow where I can sit, I’m good.

Here’s a link to pictures of the same pattern done by an Australian historical sewer/knitter. As you can see, her sontag turned out looking very nice indeed. (Love the Dorset button!)

It’s getting easier and easier these days to find reproductions of extant patterns, which is good, but most of them are only copies of those originals and have sparse or confusing instructions, which is not so good. So I was thrilled when I come across a vintage pattern that is in contemporary terminology – not changed in any way, just translated into something understandable. Thank you, Ms. Formby, where ever you are.

Sadly, Henriette, Countess Rossi, only lived to the age of 46. She died from cholera in 1854 while on tour in Mexico. Every time I wear this sontag I’ll think of her – the woman with the beautiful voice who lent her name to such a practical garment, yet died so young.

Regency Gown Workshop and a Great Fabric Info Link

It’s time to shift gears and head back to Regency fashions. Flipping back and forth through the centuries like this can make my head spin, but it also makes for variety.

This coming Saturday, I will be attending a SITU-University Round Gown Workshop. Somewhere in Time Unlimited – Seattle is a great costuming group and our members’ interests cover all aspect of costuming genres. The University meetings are instructional and cover a range of needs and interests. And they’re always great fun.

Nora Azevedo in her Regency Round Gown pattern. (Oregon Regency Society)

Nora Azevedo in her Regency Round Gown pattern. (Oregon Regency Society)

On Saturday we will have Nora Azevedo, from the Oregon Regency Society spend a day teaching us the ins and outs of making a Regency gown using a pattern she’s developed. Just the tutorial I need! The instructions are to bring you Regency undies (so we will be dressed for proper fitting) and at least 5 yards of 45″ fabric.

As for determining which fabric, I found a fabulous resource. The Oregon Regency Society has a Northwest Chapter and I’m a member. The latest entry in the chapter’s blog is “Telling your Regency story with colour (sic) and fabric.” It covers colors, tones, prints – the works.

Best of all, it is chock full of visual examples: color palettes and prints and all sorts of visual references. No more wondering what “vibrant rose” or “muted greens” mean – you can actually see the color. Not only is the range of colors is much larger than I’d imagined, it contains some colors I love but thought were excluded. Yay!

The elbow is still pretty achy at times, but this is an opportunity I don’t want to pass up. (Note to self: throw some aspirin in the bag, too.) Photos and report to follow.

PS – My 18th century outfit hasn’t been put aside. I just need to go slow because my elbow hates staying tightly bent and pretty stationary while I do the handwork.

Original, Revival, or Costume?

'Superman Returns'

Superman Returns, Brandon Routh costume

You’d think it would be easy to recognize a true costume when you see one, like our famous friend here. However, in the world of historical dress/costuming it’s not so clear-cut. And when you’re in the process of learning the basics, it’s even more frustrating.

Sure, you can find just about anything online, but its mere presence is irrelevant to the accuracy of the information tacked onto it. When I make a mistake and mess up my knowledge base it’s my problem. When I pass that mistake along it becomes a problem for a lot of other people. And I don’t like that. So how on earth can one figure it out?

Sometimes you get lucky and the item at hand is so well known that it can’t be foisted off as anything other than a costume.

Rose's gown in 'Titanic'.

Rose’s gown in ‘Titanic’.

Other times it’s just so fanciful that it has to be from a film.

'Spartacus'

‘Spartacus’

And then there are times when the costume is so well done that only the fact of a color photograph gives it away…unless it’s on a mannequin. Then it gets a lot harder.

1912, Les Modes (Paris) Tailored suit for the afternoon by Linker & Co. & Kate Winslet as Rose in Titanic Costume design by Deborah L. Scott

1912, Les Modes (Paris) Tailored suit for the afternoon by Linker & Co. & Kate Winslet as Rose in Titanic Costume design by Deborah L. Scott

ca. 1810-1820, metmuseum.orgMy prior debacle was a great lesson. I’d found it on Pinterest (my new motto – viewer beware) labeled “ca. 1810-1820, metmuseum.org.” Unusual Regency-era gown? Nope – designed and created in 1967. A reader kindly pointed out my error and I deleted the image from my Pinterest Regency board. It’s still making the rounds as a Regency original, though. Now that I know a bit more about the clothing of that era it’s fairly easy to see that it’s not Regency. But as a relative newbie, I still get caught out.

I’ve even been fooled by undergarments, for heaven’s sake.

Petticoat for under Mina's Red Bustle Dress in Dracula

Petticoat for under Mina’s Red Bustle Dress in Dracula

Here are some of the “mistaken identities” making the rounds, with their incorrect identities included, in case they’re tempting you to err as I did.

This one is very popular…

'Regency-era gown'.

‘Regency-era gown’.

1910 Edwardian gown designed for Madame De Bittencourt for a fancy dress Regency ball

1910 Edwardian gown designed for Madame De Bittencourt for a fancy dress Regency ball

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Regency styles seem especially rife with confusion. An empire waist does not a Regency dress make. The early 1910’s saw a revival of Regency style and quite a few of them sneak through as originals to the untrained eye (including mine).

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This gown is not from 1870 – the first clue is its Natural Form – and not an extant Victorian garment. It’s the silk gown worn by “Countess Olenska” (Michelle Pfeiffer) in ‘The Age of Innocence’. 1993.

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"White off-the-shoulder evening gown - circa 1860s"

“White off-the-shoulder evening gown – circa 1860s”

Movie costume, 'Il Gattopardo'

Movie costume, ‘Il Gattopardo’

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Modern-made 1850s style purple silk dress - worn by Maggie Smith in 'Washington Square'.

Modern-made 1850s style purple silk dress – worn by Maggie Smith in ‘Washington Square’.

WASHINGTON SQUARE, Maggie Smith, Albert Finney, 1997, (c) Buena Vista

WASHINGTON SQUARE, Maggie Smith, Albert Finney, 1997, (c) Buena Vista

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This one is seen in a great many places as ‘Regency gown with open robe of warp printed silk. Late 1790s or early 1800s’. In actuality, it’s a costume from the film “Immortal Beloved” – a re-creation of a style from approx 1795 -1800. (source: Tirelli Costume.)

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Those are the ones I see the most often. But so many more await to trip the unsuspecting novice. Oh, dear. Hover over the image to see its real identity.

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And I must confess, every so often there is a film costume that manages to melt its way into my heart and I don’t care whether it’s absolutely, or even mildly, period-correct or not. I love it and I want one. (And Johnny Depp’s Ichabod Crane, too.)

Fabrics for Historical Costuming – a re-blog to share

I found this fabulous post, written yesterday by A Damsel in This Dress. It’s an excellent, concise review of period-appropriate fabrics and contains great links to suppliers. I’ve bookmarked it and will be referring back to it for a long time.

A Damsel in This Dress

IMG_00001607

We all know that very often it is the fabric that makes The Dress. A wisely chosen set of materials will bring out the beauty of the design, will enhance the tailoring – or even hide some dressmaking mistakes.  A less than perfectly sewn dress will look amazing if the fabric is right – and a fantastically well stitched creation can be badly marred by a poor fabric choice.

Naturally what fabrics we chose differs – all depends on the purpose of the garment. If it is a one off frock cobbled together for a friend’s fancy dress party,  you may not want to spend a lot on expensive silks; however if you are planning  a creation that you are going to wear a lot, or if you strive for authenticity, the correct fabric choice is essential.

In this post I shall mostly concentrate on the historical accuracy and will…

View original post 1,301 more words

Toile #2, Part One: Research

(original source unknown)

(original source unknown)

After the debacle of Toile #1 one thing was clear. I have no idea of the specifics I’m trying to reproduce. I have a 15-yard bolt of unbleached muslin, so I can cut pieces to my heart’s content. But I’d rather not see Toile #28, if you know what I mean.

Since the best defense against ignorance is education, I headed for my sewing library to find some answers. I have two areas that are hindering my progress: constructions details and fitting.

For details and seam placement I pulled:

  • Costume in Detail, 1730-1930 by Nancy Bradfield
  • Patterns of Fashion, c. 1660-1860 by Janet Arnold, which had just arrived in the mail. *happy dance*

For instruction on fitting and alterations I went to:

  • The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting by Sarah Veblen
  • Fitting for Every Figure by the Editors of Threads Magazine
  • Pattern Fitting with Confidence by Nancy Zieman.

I read through the relevant parts of each a couple of times and studied the variation between my toile and the illustrations, details and dimensions of historical garments.

There were some construction and style differences, which made me wonder if using a pattern designed from what looks like a laborer’s work dress (the original of which was well-worn, poorly patched and roughly mended) factored into it.

Underbust pleats have never worked for me, but I’d decided to make the pattern as given anyway. I did manage to sew one set backwards (facing toward the center front instead of toward the center back), but no matter – I just don’t like the way they look. So I’ll be changing the pleats to gathers, as well as raising the neckline a bit.

I may have to fiddle with the back shoulder and back side seams, but I’m making the easy changes first before I dive in way over my head.

Good thing I can swim…even though at times it looks a lot like flailing about.

My Bodiced Petticoat – a cautionary tale

Back when I first became infected with Regency Fever, I thought I’d devote myself to making outerwear only and purchase the handmade undergarments from Etsy or eBay. I know, I know…not even penny wise, let alone pound foolish. I understand that now, but I didn’t back then.

2014-09-06 11.11.39I found a seller on Etsy who had a good reputation, used period-correct patterns and appropriate fabrics. I could get cotton or linen. There were quasi-customization options: I could choose to have my bodiced petticoat with or without a ruffle, with or without tucks at the bottom and, if so, how many tucks. So I could get exactly what I wanted, made to fit me. What. A. Deal.

I chose to have a ruffled hem with three tucks to help hold the skirt out a bit, placed my order and eagerly awaited its delivery.

When it came I was beside myself – my first piece of Regency wear, the start to another adventure. I tore the package open and…???

I’d chosen cotton, and it was cotton. I know it would be muslin, and it was muslin. I thought it would be white, but it was natural. What?!

I went back and double-checked the description on Etsy. The seller never specified the color of the muslin. I assumed that the cotton muslin would be white. It never occurred to me that a Regency petticoat would be in anything other than white. My mistake, entirely.

It fits perfectly and the construction is excellent. It is comfortable. It is period-correct. It’s just really…creamy and yellow-y. How off can it possibly be, you may ask. Here’s the petticoat next to a sheet of plain printer paper. (By the way, the walls are “vanilla cream.”)

2014-09-06 11.12.11

See what I mean?

When I held my fabric against it, it was as I’d feared – the creamy color showed through the white fabric. As a result, I need to line the skirt to keep the petticoat color from showing through.

Fortunately, I hoard muslin in both white and natural. So, as I write, 5 yards of lightweight, absolutely white muslin are in the wash.

Sigh.

Chemise Update – Half Way There

Between mucking around making grommet holes, the amount of writing I’ve been doing and the handwork on the chemise, my right wrist carpal tunnel is acting up a bit. I’m taking this as a sign that I’d best slow down. However, the chemise is half-finished and that deserves a few photos. The fabric is so soft and light – I can’t wait to wear it.

Right underarm gusset in place, sleeve awaits hemming.

Right underarm gusset in place, sleeve awaits hemming.

I got the urge to work on the neckline, so I did. The last time I was in a real fabric store I bought a spool of very thin grosgrain ribbon and was able to finish it up. All in all, the neckline is thinner and a lot less bulky than the one on my first chemise.

Despite completely understanding the mechanics of the underarm gusset, my attempt at setting it in by machine led to something that was, shall we say, not good. The fabric can’t take a lot of abuse with poking and removing stitches, so I decided to set them by hand. Much better.

Right underarm gussset with sleeve seam sewn and body seam open.

Right underarm gussset with sleeve seam sewn and body seam open.

You may have heard the old saying: “Women dew, men perspire, and horses sweat.” Ha! If it is hot and/or humid my body provides a vigorous response and I become a human evaporation cooler. A lot of costumed events occur during the summer and I don’t want my dresses to suffer.

So, in addition to the underarm gusset, I decided to line it on the inside with a matching piece of fabric. A sort of “Regency dress shield”, if you will. Now both sides of the gusset are identical. I’m pretty sure it’s not period correct, but no one will see it so I’m good with it.

I’m taking a break from sewing today to rest my wrist. Looking forward to reading a good book and lounging about. (OK, maybe some housework…but not much.)