Friday, December 7, 2018

1676 Gown-in-Four-Days-ish

The theme of this post should definitely be #whenyouworkatamuseum.

My museum focuses on the first quarter of the 17th century about 99% of the time. Every now and then we get thrown a curve ball by the powers that be and are asked to do something outside of our usual time frame. For example, we're going to have a new "4-D" film experience in our galleries and it was decided it would be cool to have it be about Bacon's Rebellion in 1676, a little-known but rather interesting occurrence in early Virginia history. My colleagues and I in the historical clothing department had largely written off the project because the production company the museum hired would be doing the costuming themselves. Well, long story short, they needed last minute extras, so Britney and I did the crazy thing of making 1670s outfits for ourselves in less than a week so we could help with the filming. My friend Julie was in charge of the women's costuming for the project and was glad for some relief from being asked to make half a dozen 1670s gowns in a very short time frame (yay film!). All told, I made my gown in 4 full work days and a couple evenings at home. It's mostly machine sewn, even the eyelets because we have an awesome attachment for our Bernina 1008 machines. But since it was for film and no one would see this up close, it didn't matter!

Making this gown in that kind of time frame was ridiculous, but it totally gave me the bug for the 1670s-90s and I desperately want to make my own gown with more correct techniques in the future (this one technically belongs to the museum). Luckily I now have a perfectly-fitting pattern and a copy of Patterns of Fashion 5 (!!!) to help with construction. Even so, I think it looks darned good for a rush job! I find the bodice to be extremely comfortable and it's just a very flattering style and silhouette, even with the crazy hair.

The gown consists of a boned bodice ("smooth-covered stays" according to POF 5), a petticoat, and an over-skirt. Everything is silk taffeta and the trim is vintage real metal lace that had been sitting in the shop for ages because it's really too fancy for what we do here. To get dressed, I put on my shift (and stockings, shoes, etc) and then a plain under-petticoat and the pale blue silk petticoat over that. Next the bodice goes on, lacing in the back. The over-skirt was pleated to a tape which ties in the front under the center point of the bodice, with the skirt covering the tabs of the bodice that go around the waist.

The wig... Oh, the wig! I love this thing. It's the super cheap "Boogie Babe" wig you can get on Amazon for like $15 bucks and it's awesome for how cheap it is! I bought it on Britney's recommendation for late 1790s stuff but it very handily became a 1670s style for the filming so I didn't have to curl my own (ridiculously long) hair.

We did take a bunch of pictures on set in costume but we technically can't share them until the project is finished some time next year. Thankfully my dear Katie was willing to take pictures for me when she and her husband visited us for Christmas. I love how they turned out! So here is the 1676 gown of madness...

Sunday, November 4, 2018

It's a Cloak! It's a Mantle! It's... A Pelisse!

I've had an 18th century pelisse on my to-do list for a while, and an outdoor event in Philadelphia was the perfect excuse to finally do it. Back in July, I got some changeable silk satin from the garment district in LA for his project. I decided to take the fur off of my early 19th century pelisse and reuse it because it would be quicker and cleaner than cutting up the other vintage fur coat I have. I made the pelisse in just a couple days (when I should have been working on a commission). It was pretty cozy even in some very brisk autumn weather!

So what is a pelisse? Isn't that a coat-dress worn for outerwear in the early 19th century?


But in the last half of the 18th century, it refers to a particular style of cloak-like outerwear that is often trimmed in fur. Interestingly, it's the English in the early 19th century who use the word "pelisse" to describe the coat-dress worn for outerwear by women and the French use the word "redingote" to describe the same thing, while using "pelisse" to still refer to the 18th century cloak-like outerwear (and the winter coat of hussar style uniforms). Confusing, I know! But using the correct terminology can help us have a better understanding of period clothing by allowing us to think about the clothes the way the original wearers and makers would have.

Garsault gives instructions for making a pelisse in his 1764 publication L'Art du Tailleur. Reading through how a pelisse is cut and constructed tells us how it differs from cloaks and mantles in the 18th century. The pelisse is made up of rectangular panels that are pleated to fit the neckline (they also have gores added to the bottoming the panels to increase the hem that are cut from the top of the rectangles, like 18th century shifts). Extant cloaks, on the other hand, are cut as slightly-more-than-semi-circles that can have some gathering to fit the neckline. Garsault's mantelet is short and the bottom edge is shaped to dip in front and come up over the elbows.  Pelisses in images tend to be about hip length or slightly longer, and Garsault's measurements produce such a garment. Other common features of pelisses are a large hood falling over the shoulders and slits in the front for the wearer's arms. Below are just a few examples; you can see more on my Pinterest board.

And without further ado, here's my pelisse!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Fall/Winter 2018-2019

I can't believe that all of the events I wrote about in my January post have come and gone! My fall and winter are already full of events, some of which need sewing and some of which need writing and performing. Silly me, thinking I'd "take it easy" for the rest of the year... ;-)

My sewing plans are as follows:

  • second set of clothing for contract museum work (shortgown, petticoat, kerchief)
  • French farthingale and silk bum roll for a presentation at Agecroft Hall
  • 1787 Eliza Hamilton gown for the Museum of the American Revolution--more on this later!
  • finish cotton print short sack and petticoat, cover hat for event at MoAR
  • remake my 1815 spangled ball gown for the RSV Victory Ball
  • early 1840s "Jane Eyre" dress, bonnet, cloak, and petticoat for Victorian tea/Christmas at Agecroft
  • Dress-in-a-weekend program at MoAR--more on this later!
  • fancy dress-ify my black 1860s evening gown for Victorian 12th Night
  • 1530s gown for SCA 12th Night

Elizabeth Shuyler

Explore SceneInThePast's photos on Flickr. SceneInThePast has uploaded 5829 photos to Flickr. 

Early 1860s Black Evening Gown

This was my favorite outfit for Costume College this year, and I felt like it deserved a blog post! I'm also hoping to get back into blogging more regularly. I've got some exciting projects planned for the rest of the year and I want to share them with you!

So this gown I actually made two years ago, but the bertha was never quite what I wanted and the bodice ended up being a smidge too small. I bought another two yards of the fabrics--silk/cotton blend satin from Robert Kauffman--to make a new bodice and bertha. I also became the recipient of dozens and dozens of yards of vintage chantilly lace about a week before Costume College, and it was perfect for the bertha and headdress. I'm contemplating continuing the trim on the skirt all the way around as well. This dress is already pretty luxurious, so why not go all out?

I knew I wanted a black evening gown, but I had to contend with some "rules" surrounding black for young women. Namely that it just wasn't done because it was considered unbecoming for young women who should be in white and light colors, and that it wouldn't have looked well with the lighting of the time. But the large quantity of black formal gowns in portraits, fashion plates, and extant garments on women about my age encouraged me to make the gown anyway. And I'm probably not a "young lady" by 1860s standards anymore, as I'm married and pushing 30. ;-) So if I was in my late teens or early 20s, I probably would stick with a frothy tulle confection in light colors (but I already made that dress). I'm also not considering this a "ball gown" meant for dancing. It's an evening gown for formal evening occasions.

So here's some of my inspiration images. There is also a description of a black evening dress from a fashion magazine. My Pinterest board has all of the images I've collected, from the 1840s-60s to give a good range and show that they aren't as uncommon as one might think.
"Princess Louise (1848-1939)", Albert Graefle, 1864; Royal Collection Trust 400765

1861 Marii Sawiczewskiej by Leopold Löffler 

Contrast-weave box-pleated pleats  CIVIL WAR ERA BALL GOWN BODICE W RUFFLE PLEAT TRIMS
Bodice from eBay

Peterson's 1861
and the description: 

So with that, I present my gown! I'm so happy with how it fits and looks. The only thing I want to change it to make the bows on the skirt out of velvet. But that's it! And I'll be changing it up slightly for a fancy dress party in January, so look for this gown again in the future.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

2018 Plans

It's going to be a busy year...!

*Jane Austen Evening: I'm wearing my embroidered gown!

*Burnley and Trowbridge shift workshop:I'm teaching this one again, so I need to get my handouts in order...

*Burnley and Trowbridge sack gown workshop: I'm assisting Brooke Welborn with this workshop. I can't wait to learn from her! 
*MOH fashion show: I need to make an 1890s skirt to go with the jacket of my bicycling outfit to make a "normal" daywear outfit. I'm one of the organizers for this and providing a lot of garments for it. Need to make sure they're in good repair and wearable!
*Francaise dinner?? I probably don't have time for this but I really want to go... And I have a new sack gown started!

*Agecroft performance: I'm doing a first-person performance and I'm very excited to put my theatrical and creative writing skills to use! I'll need to finish my 1616 bodies, make alterations to 1616 gown, and make a lace ruff and cuffs, bum roll, vizard... And memorize the show!
*Ft Fred: I'll be shopgirl for Burnley and Trowbridge which means I need clothes for 4 days! There's no telling what the weather will be this far in the future... This event is notorious for crazy weather! I'll probably be altering my brown wool gown and making a second wool petticoat.

*CW Garden Party?? It's so expensive but it looks delightful and it's in my backyard...

*Tailored to a New World Conference: try not to lose my mind while running this conference again! My 1616 gown will be wearable for this though, so that's exciting. 
*JA Summer Program at Chapel Hill: I'm giving a lecture at this! There will be a masked ball but I will probably just wear my spangled ball gown and be some sort of flower fairy...

Costume College: 1530s or 40s Tudor gown for the Gala. I doubt I'll have time to make anything else specifically for CoCo, but that's okay! There are lots of things that I can wear.

Corsets and Cravats 1860s Symposium: I'm giving a lecture and teaching two workshops! There are a couple social events in the evenings at which we are encouraged to dress in period clothes, so right now my plan is to make a black Swiss waist and white corsage

After that... I don't know! Which is fine with me! Well, I will probably go to Gettysburg Remembrance Day, but this is quite enough to think about for now! :)

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2017 Sewing Year In Review

I was a TERRIBLE blogger this year! It's just so much easier to share pictures on my Facebook page and Instagram, and I haven't had it in me to do any serious construction or research posts. Hopefully that will change this year!

Even with my continuing wrist and thumb issues, I sewed a bunch of things in 2017. The biggest project was my embroidered Regency gown, which I never got pictures of in France! Hopefully that will change at the 12th Night dinner this Saturday, if it doesn't get canceled due to snow... Being part of the imperial court at Malmaison was a dream come true, but definitely used a lot of my sewing mojo. I haven't been able to get in a good groove since then although I still made many little things after that.

So without further ado, here's what I made in 2017:

*1860s half mourning dress

*1560s gown, kirtle, partlet with ruff, cuffs, and hood (This needs a new hood and a photo shoot with the ruff and cuffs properly ironed!)

*Late 1770s stays

*Bernhardt early 19th century stays

*Madder-dyed wool petticoat with upperbodies

*The Embroidered Gown! 

 *1807 Ensemble for Malmaison: striped muslin gown, striped silk pelisse, organdy chemisette, bonnet, and a new shift

*Dimity gown, checked linen apron, and striped linen petticoat

*Dark fairy/witch/Hecate/Halloween gown

*1918 outfit

 *1840s Cloak

 *1860s corset and drawers

*Black silk mantle and pink silk petticoat

*Green silk calask and cream wool mitts