The HSM Challenge for March is Protection – make something to protect yourself (from weather or injury) or your clothes (from soiling etc.). I had intended to make a Talma Wrap, but at nearly the last moment decided to tackle another UFO. So I pulled out the makings for a Late Georgian fichu and dove in.
I love the fichus. They are such versatile accessories: you can wear them over draped the bodice of your gown, tucked into the bodice, or wrapped around the bodice. They are usually white, but may also be in colors. They can be plain or embroidered or plastered with lace.
Women wore fichus for centuries for warmth, modesty and just plain fashion.
The Oregon Regency Society’s blog is a great place to learn about all thing Regency, including clothing. Here is their take on the many ways to shape and wear a fichu:
My décolletage is six decades in the making, so I want a fichu that will both protect my skin from the sun and wind, and conceal that tiny bit of crepe-y texture that is starting to show. One of my favorite looks from the Late Georgian period is this day dress, so I also want a fichu that can be worn tucked in (as in ORS #1) or left out (as in ORS #4).
Here’s how it came together. I used some fine white netting from my stash and cut it into a square with 36 inches on each side. It’s squirrely stuff and tends to shift and move every time you touch it, so I measured and cut one side at a time. I found some white lace trim which had potential, although it also had some very modern-looking flowers woven into the pattern, but I figured I could get around that.
I started by sewing the trim along the edge of the netting on two sides of the square. It was extremely difficult to sew by hand, so I resorted to using the machine in order to preserve my sanity.
Once the lace was in place on the first two sides, I folded the square into a triangle and used the machine again to sew the second two edges of netting to the first two edges. That gave me a nice, surprisingly flat triangle. Then I trimmed the edges of the netting back so the lace made a clean-edged trim.
Then it was time to deal with those modern flower motifs. The just don’t belong to the era so they had to go. I cut them out with cuticle scissors, one flower at a time. Each flower was attached at four points along the trim. There were 68 flowers that had to go, which meant a total of 272 careful little snips. To make sure the clipped areas don’t unravel, I used the point of a pin and dotted each with a tiny dab of FrayCheck.
Lastly, I went around the lace edges with a hand-sewn buttonhole stitch in order to hide the machine stitching. Goodbye 2016, hello 1795!
And that was that! Now I have a nice, sheer fichu to wear with a number of Late Georgian or Early Regency gowns and I couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out. Here are the particulars:
The Challenge: Protection – make something to protect yourself (from weather or injury) or your clothes (from soiling etc.).
Fabric: fine white polyester netting with a soft hand and a nice drape
Pattern: none – just a square folded into a triangle and edged in lace
Year: appropriate for Late Georgian or Early Regency
Notions: cotton/poly lace trim, thread, FrayCheck
How historically accurate is it? The pattern is accurate but the components and construction are not. I’m allergic to silk so had to use polyester netting. I attempted to sew the lace edging on by hand the could not get it applied so that it lay flat and straight, so I ended up using a sewing machine. The lace had modern design components, which I removed. The end result is a piece which looks historically accurate, but is not accurate in its making.
Hours to complete: approximately 6-7 (clipping out those flowers and sealing the cut edges took a while)
First worn: not yet worn
Total cost: $3 for the lace trim, everything else already in my stash