Your Weekend Wow!

You rise in the morning and, after a little yawn and a bit of a stretch, it’s time to go down to breakfast. It’s not necessary to dress fully for the day…not yet. One only needs to pop on something appropriate for the family, morning table and household duties until the social day begins. Something a bit like this.

Natural Form era (1877-1882) morning dress from Augusta Auctions, which provided this description: 1-piece, princess lines, trimmed w/ cream bobbin lace, low bustle back, CF thread-covered buttons, side pockets, trained & ruffled skirt, Back 32 inches, Waist 25 inches, Center Front Length 57″, Center Back Length 70 inches.

Sold at auction in 2014 for $210 USD. (Yes, really.) All photos by Augusta Auctions.

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Your Weekend Wow!

When it comes to plaid, I’m hopeless. I love it – the bigger and the bolder, the better. So how could I resist this stroke of 1830’s brilliance? Despite a sleeve shape that tends to annoy my eye, it’s a visual knockout. Don’t know that I’d ever wear something like this, but what fun!

Silk dress. 1830, British. Accession number: 1971.47.1a, b. The Met Museum.

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Your Weekend Wow!

Today, a sparkling evening gown from the House of Worth. I chose this dress for two reasons: 1) it’s made for someone who had a “normal” figure and 2) the museum provided lots of photos which show construction details in clear close-ups, which is rare. The last one, which shows how the sequins were applied onto the fine gauze/net, blows my mind. This is another gown that must have been stunning in the muted light of evening parties. All  photos courtesy of The Met Museum (www.metmuseum.org). I wish they were in crisper black and white and not so sepia in tone, but so it goes.

Evening dress, House of Worth (French, 1858–1956), 1906. Silk and cotton. Accession number: C.I.50.1.4a, b.

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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.)

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.

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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.

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1940's Cocktail Dress, Hattie Carnegie, Inc.

1940's dress, embroidery detail

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.

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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…