Monday, September 30, 2019

Historical Sew Monthly 2019 - October - Details!

Historical Sew Monthly 2019 - October - Details!
Sometimes the little things really make something fabulous.
Focus on the details of your garment to create something that just
gets better the closer you look.
The Dreamstress

This Challenge is all about the details and something I believe in passionately!  Sometimes those details are about the accessories.  Sometimes those details are about the wearer.  And sometimes those details are built into the garment itself and this is where I focused in creating my 1914 Dress à Corselet.

The pattern was a pdf download and print-at-home from Mrs. Depew Patterns on Etsy.  I wrote a post with some tips I've learned using the great resource that is pdf patterns.

The pattern was based on an original French pattern.  It had not been tested but I was willing to take on the challenge for what I saw as a very stylish design and perfect for several Edwardian dinners I was attending in September and October.

My design was inspired by a pair of American Duchess shoes, Seabury, based on a pair with the Newport Historical Society.  I had a piece of beautiful lace remnant with just a bit remaining after I had created a hat, a gold silk satin remnant, and a gold silk dupioni remnant.

The design on the Seabury shoes has the most beautiful colors and I had an idea to recreate the design for the corselet on the gown.  Using the Spoonflower website, I created a repeating image of the shoe design and had it printed on faux crepe de chine.  If you aren't aware of Spoonflower, let me introduce you:

The final cost was $20 for one yard but as the focus of this dress, I thought it well worth the investment as I was saving by using remnants for the remainder of the dress.  The fabric arrived and I was thrilled!

I had already decided on using pearl accessories that I had discovered in a glass jar at a flea market (yay!) and thought it would be beautiful to add some detail to the Spoonflower fabric using gold paint and glass pearls.

Sadly, the fabric remnants I wanted to use were not suitable to the drape and construction of the entire dress but happily I found a chocolate brown crepe back faux satin on sale and forged ahead.  The pattern had the original instructions, which were minimal, but as I worked I wrote my own instructions for next time.  There will be a next time as I can see a beautiful day dress from this pattern!  The dress is constructed as bodice with corselet and hobble skirt with gathered tunic overskirt all sewn into a one-piece dress that slips over the head and closes in the side seam.  I added ties to each side in place of the illustrated belt and used pre-made tassels which I embelished with pearls and beads.  More details!

The last detailed piece of the dress was the Medici collar and I wanted it to be another focus piece.  I cut the lace in a mirror image for the front facing of the collar.  Millinery wire comes already covered and as I had previously used it in the wire-framed brim for the hat made with this lace, I knew it would work well for the collar support.

I'm fortunate to own an extant blouse which I have studied numerous times to learn certain historical techniques.

It proved perfect for studying the collar stays for my new collar.  I used the same millinery wire I used on the edge and bent it with my 3-in-1 beading tool.

The extant blouse collar stays.

My recreated stays.

With the edge wire sewn in place and three stays created and sewn in place, I added a scalloped edge lace to the underside of the collar, basted the open edge, and sewed it to the dress.  I added the same scalloped edge lace to the sleeve edges and have also added pearls to the lace cuffs to hold the lace in place.

These are the accessories I selected and those gorgeous Seabury shoes!

But even without the accessories, the details of the dress are a treat:  lace Medici collar, lace and pearl cuffs, pearled and tasseled ties, and pearl and gold embellished corselet.

The October Challenge was "to create something that just gets better the closer you look".  Here is my completed 1914 Dress à Corselet.

Historical Sew Monthly

The Challenge:  October - Details!
What the item is:  1914 Dress à Corselet
How does it meet the challenge:  Detailed collar, cuffs, corselet, and ties.
Material:  Crepe back faux satin
Pattern:  Depew Patterns on Etsy 1914 Dress à Corselet #3123
Year:  1914
Notions:  Laces, glass pearls, millinery wire
How historically accurate is it?  Original French pattern and instructions, synthetic material
Hours to complete:  24 hours
First worn:  Downton Abbey Movie Celebration Dinner September 2019
Total cost:  $70

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Historical Sew Monthly 2019 - September - Everyday

Historical Sew Monthly 2019 - September
Everyday:  It's not all special occasion frocks.
Make something that would have been worn or used every day.
The Dreamstress

As I continue my journey of 18th century dressmaking, I realize how much I need to practice the simple hand sewing of the era.  It takes time!  I'm sure with practice it will take less time, but now it is painstakingly s.l.o.w.  So practice I must!

I've made an 18th century pocket and have linen left from that project and I decide to make a simple kerchief out of a scrap.  Good practice and very simple, right?  Oh yes, but the research rabbit hole I fell into was anything but!  So first just a few historical insights.

The kerchief, handkerchief, handkercher, or hankie, has evolved over hundreds of years for personal hygiene, as garment decoration, and even as an accessory in folkdances.  There are collectors, books, and handkerchiefs printed with everything from cocktail recipes to dance steps.  Amazing!

The poet Catullus mentions cloths used for utilitarian purposes such as wiping one's brow or general purpose cleaning as early as the 1st century B.C.

King Richard II of England, who reigned from 1377 to 1399, is widely believed to have invented the cloth handkerchief, as surviving documents written by his courtiers describe his use of square pieces of cloth to wipe his nose.

My grandmother was born in 1897 and I remember her being very particular about her handkerchiefs and storing them in a wooden box on her dresser.  She always had one with her, tucked into her dress belt or in case she wasn't wearing a belt, into her bra strap at her shoulder and just peeking over her collar.  I was made to carry one in my pocket as a child.  Although I don't know when I stopped using cloth, I am always sure to still carry a packet of Kleenex with me.

At the end of this post I will share two wonderful resources I found with details and reference about this incredible piece of cloth and its uses over the years.

My research tells me that linen was a preferred use for the handkerchief in Rome and used to wipe sweat from the faces of the wealthy.  My linen scrap is perfect.

The first thing I do is square up the weave by removing one thread from the cloth which shows me the perfect cutting line.

The edges are turned up 1/4" and basted.

Then the edges are turned up again to a 1/8" hem and hemmed with a whip stitch.  At this point in my learning I can only get 12 stitches to an inch and I'm told 16 is better.  So tiny!

And I can only do that with some help - my trusty magnifying glass.  So very very tiny!

It's finished!  Front and back photos of my finished project. Not much to look at now but I'm taking an online embroidery class and will add something special later.  For now, I'm thrilled and I show my husband.  He can see I'm happy and promises to organize a parade for me.  :) 

 The 18th century accessories I've acummulated now includes a proper handkerchief.

These are the two links to resources that have interesting background on the lowly little handkerchief:

Achoo! Bless you! Need a handkerchief?

Historical Sew Monthly

What the item is:  Handkerchief
How it fits the challenge:  An item used everyday.
Material:  Linen
Pattern:  None
Year:  Many eras
Notions:  Thread
How historically accurate is it?  Accurate material and technique.
Hours to complete:  6
First worn:  18th century event in 2020
Total cost:  Made with a scrap from another project