Saturday, April 23, 2016

Instagram Update

I'd been working on my 1780s Dutch print gown but had to set it aside to finish a commission for a museum. While I don't take commissions from private customers (I know better than that now! I genuinely dislike it...), I do make exceptions for museums. The gown just needs sleeves cut, sewn, and attached, and then it's done! The tiny pleats were a headache and they aren't as even on the inside as I would like, but the outside looks great and that's what matters, right?

Yesterday a bunch of the materials for my secret (?) Gala gown arrived! I'm so excited to start this, but commission first...

Other things occupying my mind and my time have been taking more time and care in my outfits and appearance. Some recent favorites...

Monday, April 18, 2016

Canary in a Coal Mine

I bought seven yards of this silk satin because the price was good, but I had no idea what I was going to do with it.

Then Crimson Peak came out. :)

So someday... hopefully in the not-too-distant future, I'll make a gown inspired by Edith's!

Check out this FIDM blog post for some AMAZING detail and in-progress shots of the iconic costumes.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Handsewn Late 1770s Gown For Sale!

Completely hand sewn gown from the late 1770s in a reproduction cotton print. Bodice measures EDGE TO EDGE 35" bust and 26" waist. You will need to have measurements SMALLER than this to fit into the gown as-is (front edges overlap and are pinned shut). However, I also have 2 yards of this fabric so you can alter it as necessary, or add trim! This gown has a matching petticoat (you will not receive the white petticoat in the first picture).
$300 + shipping
$20 for 2 yards of fabric

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Interpreting 1860s Mourning at The Mariners' Museum

Longtime readers and friends might know that I have an obsession professional interest in studying 1860s mourning clothing. I first presented on the topic at the millinery symposium at Colonial Williamsburg in 2014, and have been continuing my research in my "spare" time. I was thrilled when I was asked to present again at The Mariners' Museum's Civil War Event, Battle of Hampton Roads in March. Along with giving my lecture, I set up an interpretive display of mourning items I've made or collected over the past year or so. 

One of my main motivations in studying and interpreting 1860s mourning is that there are a lot of misconceptions about the topic. Some of the most prevalent are that every black dress/bonnet/veil/brooch/cap/etc was for mourning, and that all women were absolutely required to follow prescribed mourning customs and did so regardless of their circumstances. What I've discovered in my research is that process of mourning and the clothing or accessories worn for mourning were actually deeply personal, and the extent to which a woman followed mourning customs was greatly informed by her economic situation, the community she lived in, and her personal beliefs and feelings. I'm hoping to write an article on my research in the not-too-distant future, so I won't go into much more than that in this post, although I'm happy to answer any questions you might have. I've chosen to focus my area of study on the years 1850-1869 because practices and fashions change quite a bit throughout the century, and I don't believe in lumping them all in under "Victorian mourning."

My display was made up of original cartes de visite of women in full mourning, including a few widows identified by their widows caps; reproduction full mourning bonnet, veil, and collar; an original hair brooch with the name and death date of the deceased; mourning pins from At the Eastern Door; Lincoln mourning cockades; reproduction jewelry from The Victorian Needle; an original mourning envelope; a reproduction belt buckle from Aldridge Clothiers; printed cotton fabric suitable for half mourning (which I started a dress from); and a reproduction half mourning bonnet. 

Full mourning bonnet covered in crape. Fiddly to work with, but well worth the effort to get something that's "right"!

Almost the whole display.

The light mourning side of the table:

The full mourning side of the table. Forgot I had a shawl in there too!

Crape full mourning collar with original hair brooch and repro buckle in the background.

Reproduction Lincoln mourning cockade made from crape and silk ribbon. Original mourning envelope.

My original hair brooch. 

The back is engraved, "Jessie Ewart died 22nd May 1863."

I had hoped to finish the half mourning cotton dress AND make a new full mourning dress, but I ended up devoting my time to making a new cage crinoline, petticoat, and reworking my half mourning silk dress. My hope for the next time I can set up this display is to have both of those dresses finished and available to be displayed. 

I had some excellent discussions with visitors, but the most interesting conversations were those I had with small children. At first I wasn't sure how I was going to talk to small children about death. Would their parents be offended? How much would a small child (say, under 10 or even under 5) really understand about death? So I turned the conversation to "How do we remember people?" and "What things do you do when you're sad or miss someone?". That ended up being the ticket, and my little visitors responded well. I'm really looking forward to setting up this display again and hope that I can do so sooner than later!

Along with having my mourning display set up, my friends had a display set up for a women's sanitary fair and were engaged in reproducing a flag in the collection of the Mariners' Museum. I was able to put a few stitches into it, and although we didn't complete the flag, we were still able to present it to Mr. Lincoln on Sunday afternoon. Chelsea, who came to help stitch the flag, was gracious enough to share some of the pictures she and her husband took during the weekend. 

Busy stitching!

Chelsea and I were sleeve sisters!

Fixing and fluffing is very important.

Presenting the flag to Mr. Lincoln.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Half Mourning Dress of WIN!

Longtime readers and friends will remember this dress from 2014, when I went back to Greenfield Village in Michigan to see Tim Eriksen in concert to see ktlovely and attend one of my favorite Civil War events. I was not happy with how the dress turned out, but instead of trying to sell it as soon as I got home (my usual MO) I was actually determined to rework the dress.

And I am so happy I stuck with it! I absolutely love the dress now, even if it's not the fanciest or flashiest thing out there. It's well made and well fitted, and I can put it on and not fuss with it the rest of the day. I finished and wore the new dress for an event at The Mariners' Museum, where I had an interpretive display set up of original and reproduction mourning items and gave a brief lecture. The next post will be about my display and the event itself, so stay tuned!

The first thing I wanted to do was cut a new bodice. The original bodice didn't fit quite right and I wasn't happy with the double points. Also, the trim was fraying like nuts because I cut it on the wrong grain! So I reused the bodice back and cut new fronts out of the black and white checked silk. I toyed with the idea of entirely new sleeves but ended up just putting double puffs on the sleeves I had already made. The style is very pretty and it saved me time! I used buttons and buttonholes to close the bodice, since I can now do buttonholes in my sleep when I used to dread them (thanks sewing-for-a-living!). The buttons are antique black glass, inspired by the buttons on this extant dress. This time around, I went with a very simple trim: a lovely black fringe. While the lavender trim of the first version was nice, I was really feeling a more subtle direction for this version. And as with all trim, I can always change it later!

The next change was to lengthen the skirt, which was just a bit too short for my taste. I added about 5" to the top of the skirt. The plaid doesn't match but I find it charming, since plaids don't always match on originals and I think it adds that element of realism to the dress. I also added 20" to the circumference of the skirt because Michael and I worked together to make me a new cage crinoline! I finally splurged on the Needle and Thread kit, which is truly an awesome reproduction. Everything is a perfect copy of originals! I knew I wanted something bigger than my previous cages, which were always 108". My new cage is 116" and that bit of extra circumference really makes a difference. I am very happy with the shape and silhouette the cage gives. I'll do a post on the cage itself eventually, along with the new petticoat I made to go over it. 


The rest of the images are here.

A few detail shots...

The antique buttons:

The buttonholes:

Sleeve construction. The sleeves are flatlined in cotton and then the bottom few inches are faced with the silk.

Double points, piped:

Back single point:

The center back of the skirt is gauged (cartridge pleated) to take up fullness.

The side back seams are topstitched by hand. Finger for scale

The dress laid out.

The skirt is faced with cotton and a wool hem tape applied at the bottom.