Project Journal: Versailles Sacque: Finished Shoes!

After the many coats of paint I shared about already, there was one final coat that I convinced myself had to be the last because I needed to move on and finish decorating my Kensingtons. After that I went ahead and put on a matte acrylic finisher as suggested by Lauren at American Duchess. I then made the holes for my buckles using this tutorial also from American Duchess. The shoe buckle tutorial was invaluable and made the process incredibly easy!

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Finished?

I told myself the shoes were done, but I still wasn’t entirely happy with them. I think perhaps I was not satisfied because I had painted my shoes a color I’ve only really seen in cloth shoes rather than leather. But I moved on… and then this shoe-remake popped up on Pinterest and I was captured by the idea of adding metallic lace trim to my shoes to finish them off.

And so I went on the hunt on eBay, settling on this. It was a reasonable price and arrived quite speedily. As in the inspiration re-make, I used hot glue to attach the lace to the shoes. It was easy to work with and is generally reversible if I decide to change the shoes sometime in the future (though that’s pretty unlikely…) I think the trim suits my dress fabric nicely and it was narrow enough to follow the curves of the shoe without too much hassle, even on the latchets (which were the trickiest parts).

I also considered creating a design for the toe box area of the shoe, but decided against the idea once I realized how tricky it would be to get something I like. The lace doesn’t do tight curves easily and all the ends would need to be finished if I used non continuous pieces of trim, so all the ideas I came up with were going to be time intensive or poorly executed. I decided on simplicity.

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Ta da!

Now when I look at my shoes I have a smile on my face. They finally feel done and like they make sense! Yay–cross that off the list!

  • Panniers
  • Petticoat
  • Robe a la francaise (with a subset of trimming)
  • Hair
  • Shoes
Product links in this post contain an affiliate code, which provides a small benefit to my shoe fund. This does not affect my impressions and reviews of this product.

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Project Journal: Versailles Sacque: Chameleon Shoe Progress

This month has been super crazy busy for me and progress on my Versailles Project has therefore been quite slow. Aside from thinking about my hair the only other real progress I have made is on my shoes, which have been painted with about 10 coats of paint as I’ve tried to make up my mind about what color I want them to be.

The process began after my materials were ordered and assembled: unpainted ivory Kensingtons from American Duchess, 3 colors of Angelus leather paint, and scraps of my changeable silk fabric. The plan was to go for dark turquoise/teal. (I did tape off the heel cap and the inside part of the latchets closest to the vamp with masking tape to keep things tidy. Then I got bored and stopped taping.)

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I’ve referenced two American Duchess resources during the process so far, which included prepping my shoes as suggested and mixing water into my paint for more even layers of color. (Well, I forgot to add water to the first coat, as you’ll see, but I remembered after that!) This blog post and this information page are the two resources I just mentioned.

Here was the first batch of paint. Lots of dark green with a small bit of turquoise and gift box blue.

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I was doing quite well taking pictures of my paint mixing as a record as I started, but then as I kept doing more and more layers and getting frustrated I slacked on the picture taking. I did make a sample card with little swatches of all my paint colors as I went along, though I didn’t take notes on how I achieved each color, so I’m not sure it will be very useful in the future.

Here are the results of the first two coats of paint. The shoe on the right was the first layer, for which I was so excited I forgot to add some water… oops! The color was more green than I wanted, so for the second coat I added more turquoise paint to the mix. The result is on the left.

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I stopped with the two coats of paint, but wasn’t sold on the color–too bright. Fast forward a week and I tried again, painting the shoes in multiple layers between paying attention to other house tasks, like cooking and baking.

First is the shoes after two coats, then after I tried a darker blue, then after I decided they didn’t match and tried a lighter blue, then after I decided they didn’t look like a plausible 18th century color and needed to be a bit more grey…

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(Oh yes, on the second day of painting I also used some white and black and dark grey paint to mix in as well). Unfortunately, after all that I still wasn’t happy!

I did one final coat you’ll have to wait to see and then put the shoes away to consider if they grew on me over time or not. That was about two weeks ago. I haven’t had time to work on them in that time, but I think I’m mostly happy with the color and frankly I’m running out of time, so the color they ended up with will likely be the color they stay. When I have time I will be applying a matte finisher as suggested in the American Duchess links and then figuring out attaching the buckles.

Product links in this post contain an affiliate code, which provides a small benefit to my shoe fund. This does not affect my impressions and reviews of this product.

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Project Journal: Versailles Sacque: Meet Mr. Panniers

There are five big checkboxes on my related-to-the-trip sewing to-do list before my trip involving Versailles in May:

  1. Panniers
  2. Petticoat
  3. Robe a la francaise (with a subset of trimming)
  4. Hair
  5. Shoes

This week, I checked the first item off the list!

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“Take that, Mr. Panniers! You are totally and completely done!”

I think part of the reason I feel so triumphant is that I really had to wrangle these to make them bend to my will. I started back in 2013 or 2014 when I decided to join the 18th Century Court Gown Sew Along. At that point, I made the decision to use the Simplicity pattern (#3635) and $1/yard lightweight and tightly woven mystery fabric from my stash.

At first, everything seemed to behave: I cut out the pieces and started sewing. Then I realized I didn’t have time for the project and so I let the panniers languish until earlier this year when I pulled them out again to finish them so I could use them as a base for my Versailles Sacque. Perhaps it was the languishing that caused Mr. Panniers to take on a personality and want to thwart me when I got back to him this year…

It started with perfectly amiable sewing. The waist casing and drawstring were without event. And then, boning! There was twisting, and warping, and curving inwards, and all sorts of bad. The lower three bone channels eventually cooperated, but those angled top bones? Nope! No cooperation from them! (Yes, check my picture, there are no angled top bones. No, I’m not trying to trick you.)

The bones curved in on my bum and front side so badly that it made the panniers look like a jelly bean! Not what I was aiming for. My solution was to unpick the channels across the front and back (not the sides) and make one continuous horizontal bone channel like those below it. (That’s why you can’t see angled bone channels in the picture.) But the fabric is a very tight weave and does not easily forgive pin or needle holes, so you can still see the angle I originally stitched as directed by the pattern if you look closely.

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Mr. Panniers was much more cooperative with the new horizontal channel across the top. Whew! And ok, I have to take some responsibility for the problems because I’m confident that some of the struggle was due to my choice of boning–1/2″ wide zip ties about 18″ long that I masking taped together to get the lengths I needed. I have to pack this guy, and having bones that don’t weigh a lot (like metal) and won’t break (like cane or reed) was high on the list. The bones are simply overlapped in the channels, each of which has an opening, so the plan is to remove them (and label them) for packing, then reinsert them once I’m unpacking the whole ensemble in France. Anyway, the zip ties were coiled in the packaging and didn’t want to change their shape, which is why the angled bones were curving in towards my body and why the whole thing is so bent on warping if not carefully and delicately handled.

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Here’s a look at Mr. Panniers interior. The white ribbons are suggested in the pattern to help keep the shape. They’ve all been adjusted to my body shape (tedious, but worth it–sewing these on and fixing that angled bone channel problem were the things that kept this from being finished a month ago!).

As you can see, in terms of materials and construction, Mr. Panniers aims for the right shape as the goal. To that end, I appreciate that with my overlapping bones I can easily adjust the size at any point by overlapping the bones more. I find that this pattern is a bit too trapezoidal for my taste, so I’ve overlapped the bottom bone a little extra to make the skirt hang more vertically from about the knee down.

Needless to say, the bones are staying in and Mr. Pannier will be resting flat and collapsed until I need to pack him, so that for any fittings, etc. no more wrangling will be necessary.

(Side question: Does anyone know when it would be appropriate to use singular ‘pannier’? Would that be appropriate for referring to one of a set of two pocket hoops, for example?)

Side note: this is officially the last post that will be tagged 1770 court gown, since that project has now morphed into the saga of the Versailles Sacque and accessories.

Variety Please: Regency Ribbon Sashes

In modern interpretations of Regency costume, there is a widespread use of what I am going to call the “ribbon sash.” By this I mean a length of ribbon, in a contrasting color to the dress and not used to trim any other part of the dress, tidily tied or sewn under the bust, and terminating with long hanging ends. I understand that this style provides an easy way to adorn a dress of any color or add color to a white dress, but I believe that the style is much too often used relative to the occurrences we see of them being worn in portraits, fashion plates, and built into extant gowns. I would like to encourage all of us to have variety in the ribbon sash styles we wear with Regency clothing.

When looking at portraits, fashion plates, and extant gowns, you do find the sort of ribbon sash I described in the beginning of this post, but you don’t find them in anywhere near the same proportion with which they are used today. You do see these types of sashes, but it is a small proportion of the styles worn and you see a variety of other sash styles, too. I would like to share a variety of ribbon sash styles with you and encourage you to pick one of these less used styles if you decide to wear a ribbon sash yourself or if you have the influence to encourage others in their own ribbon sash wearing. By expanding the styles of ribbon sashes worn, hopefully we can all more accurately represent clothing worn in the Regency period.

Generally speaking, there are 4 large categories of ribbon sash styles. I’ve included an example image of each style underneath the accompanying description and I’ve included links to other good examples (below the four sash style descriptions) so you can look at them for more ideas.

1: The Ribbon Sash (as described in the beginning of this post): a length of ribbon, in a contrasting color to the dress and not used to trim any other part of the dress, tidily sewn or tied under the bust, and terminating with long hanging ends approximately 24″-36″. It is very rare to see this style used in a fashion plate or painting with the termination of the sash in any location other than center back.

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Henri François Mulard, Portrait of a lady, circa 1810

2: The Short Sash: a length of ribbon, in a contrasting color to the dress and not used to trim any other part of the dress, tidily sewn or tied under the bust, and terminating with short hanging ends approximately 6″-18″. I have seen this style with the termination of the sash in center back, center front, and  occasionally off to one side of the front.

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Costume Parisien, 1817

3: The Belt Sash: a length of ribbon, in a contrasting color to the dress and not used to trim any other part of the dress, tidily sewn or tied under the bust, and with very short hanging ends or without hanging ends at all. This style is sometimes plain or sometimes adorned with a buckle or bow. The buckle or bow with short ends is often at center front.

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Portrait de Laure de Berny ca. 1810 by Henri-Nicolas Van Gorp

4: The Trim Sash: a much more common variant of any of the first three sash styles. Any of the first three sash styles can fall into this category if the sash matches and coordinates, in a harmonious fashion, with trim elsewhere on the dress (neckline, sleeve openings, or hem).

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Costume Parisien, 1812

All of these sash styles are seen with different styles of termination. I’ve most often seen a variety of bows as well as tidy arrangement of loops. Often, the belt style seems as though the belt sash is actually sewn to the dress, but for the sake of options, I can easily see a ribbon sash made with a closure such as hook and eyes so the sash can be easily added or removed from any outfit. It’s worth noting that there are a substantial amount of images showing ladies from the front who appear to be wearing a ribbon sash of some sort. The trouble is that we often can’t see what’s going on in the back, so we can’t know with certainty what style of ribbon sash is actually being represented, though we can make educated guesses.

Here are more examples of each of the sash styles shown above:

1: The Ribbon Sash

Portrait of a lady, ca. 1810: ribbon sash on a white dress (ties in back)

Costume Parisien, 1813: ribbon sash on a white dress (ties in back)

2: The Short Sash

Auguste-Amalie de Baviere, ca. 1815: short sash (ties in front)

Costume Parisien, 1817: short sash (ties in back)

3: The Belt Sash

Laure de Berny, ca. 1810 (bow in front)

A young woman wearing gloves in a park, 1813

Anna Maria Magnani, 1814 (bow in front)

Woman knitting in a blue dress, ca. 1819 (bow in front)

4: The Trim Sash

Dress, ca. 1810, The Met: belt sash

Dress, ca. 1810-1811, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag: belt sash

Costume Parisien, 1812: belt sash

Costume Parisien, 1812: belt sash

Dress, ca. 1810-1815, Rijksmuseum: belt sash

Family Portrait, 1813: short sash (ties in front)

Of course, these are only a starting point. My pinterest boards have hundreds of pins from the 1800s and 1810s that you are welcome to look at for other ideas. Keep the contrasting ribbon sashes in mind, but don’t forget that you can make sashes out of your dress fabric, too (see below). Sashes made from self fabric are quite common. Look around and see what you can find that inspires you. This Regency Portraits board has a lot of great images showing all sorts of sashes as well.

Here are some great examples of dresses with sashes made from self fabric (meaning that fabric used in the dress was also used to create a ribbon sash look):

Désirée Bernadine Eugénie Clary, ca. 1810: long sash

Costume Parisien, 1810 short sash (ties in front)

Costume Parisien, 1811: short sash (ties in front)

Costume Parisien, 1811: short sash (ties in front)

Costume Parisien, 1812: short sash (ties in front)

Costume Parisien, 1814: short sash (ties in back)

Costume Parisien, 1817: short sash (ties in back)

In looking at my pinterest board covering 1800-1809, I do find that there are some very cute sashes then, too, that are relevant for a potential sash look. In  this period it seems that most sashes match the trim used on the dress, though it is not an absolute rule. I’ll include a few examples of this sort below, so you can look if you’re curious.

Costume Parisien, 1799: short sash (ties in front)

Costume Parisien, 1800: short sash: (ties in front)

Costume Parisien, 1800: trim ribbon sash with long ends

Young Woman Drawing, 1801: short sash (ties in back)

La Belle Assemblee, 1807: trim ribbon sash with long ends

Costume Parisien, 1808: belt sash

Felicite de Durfort von Merry, 1808: belt sash

Charlotte Bonaparte, 1808: belt sash

For the record (and because I always forget!), the official “Regency” is referring to England during the years 1811-1820, following the Prince of Wales being named regent for George III in 1810. In France, the Napoleonic Empire spanned the years 1804-1814. So there is some overlap between Empire and Regency, but not a whole lot. (And just to add another date to the mix, the Federal period in America roughly spanned the years 1780-1830.) For the purposes of this post, I’m using the word Regency to specify the 1810s, but my points about variety in sash styles are relevant for the first decade of the 19th century as well.

As a final note, let me encourage you to use color in Regency dresses (color in trim as well as color in the fabric), especially in those dresses intended to represent the 1810s rather than 1800s. By the 1810s, not all dresses were in white tones, as they were much more predominantly in the first few years of the 19th century. Colors were used often, some of the colors even being rather vivid in tone (don’t get too carried away with very bright colors, though, because chemical dyes weren’t invented till the middle of the 19th century). Check out these great resources that describe and show colors used in the Regency:

Colours used in the Regency and Georgian eras

Regency Colors and Fabrics

HSF #1: The Make Do Shift

The first challenge of the Historical Sew Fortnightly (HSF) 2014 is Make Do And Mend. At the start of January, none of my in-progress projects qualified, unfortunately, and while I wanted to get started on the right foot for the HSF 2014 and not miss the challenge, I also didn’t want to make something just to make something. I don’t need more stuff with no purpose and it’s hard to stay motivated on a project if you’re doing it “just because.” So I racked my brain trying to think of what would work for the challenge and be useful, without taking too much time. I settled on the idea of turning a gifted partially finished linen man’s shirt into an 18th century shift suitable for the mid-to-late 18th century. That just happens to be the period my 18th century court gown will be from at some point this year. Useful! I made an 18th century shift a few years ago, but it’s actually late 18th century/Regency, with short sleeves, which really isn’t appropriate for the rest of the century. This new shift will sort of work for the entire century, though the sleeves aren’t really full enough to be entirely accurate for the first half.

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1750-1790 shift

All of the seams are flat felled. The neck is narrow hemmed. It’s pretty accurate, though I did have to add center front and center back seams, which is not usual for these garments. Those seams are due to the fact that the shift was super wide after I cut it out because I had to deal with the neck opening of the partially sewn shirt, and that was gathered into the neck, so was super full. There was just way more fabric than was needed, so I seamed it and kept the extra with the other scraps I had. I’m sure they’ll get used someday! It’s very nice, light linen.

The facts:

Fabric: Linen reused from a partially completed man’s 18th century shirt.

Pattern: I used Mara Riley’s 18th century shift draft to cut my pieces, though I had to make some adjustments given that I didn’t start with fabric yardage.

Year: Loosely 1750-1790.

Notions: Thread.

How historically accurate?: It’s 100% hand sewn using 18th century stitches and cut in the manner of an 18th century shift, so lots of points for that. I probably should loose a few points for using polyester thread. The only other odd thing is that I have seams up center front and center back, but they did piece a lot in the 18th century, so it’s not totally out of the realm of possibility, given that this challenge is Make Do and Mend. I give it 90%.

Hours to complete: 10-15 maybe? I didn’t really keep track.

First worn: By the hanger. I probably won’t wear this until I have more things to wear with it!

Total cost: Free!

HSF #26: Curtain Along Jacket, Finally!

The theme of the final HSF challenge of 2013 is “Celebrate”:

Make something that is celebration worthy, make something that celebrates the new skills you have learned this year, or just make something simple that celebrates the fact that you survived HSF ’13!

This challenge gave me the inspiration to finally finish my Mineral Felicite jacket!

Here’s the story… I bought the fabric over a year ago, but didn’t really start thinking about the project until this summer. I made a mock-up of my chosen 1760s pattern and thought I’d sorted out the fitting issues, but after I’d cut and sewn the real fabric I had many more unexpected problems! I was discouraged, but recieved some really wonderful opinions about what I should do to proceed from you lovely readers. I decided to go with a stomacher front jacket with self fabric pleated trim around the neckline/front opening and around the cuffs on the sleeves, like this jacket at the Met. Then, back in September, the HSF inspired me to make a stomacher to match my jacket for challenge #19. After that, my jacket languished, because I really wasn’t very excited about finishing the sewing for the other decisions I’d made and the alterations that needed to be done to make the jacket the way I wanted it. But I really wanted to finish the jacket in this calendar year. And that brings us to the present, with the jacket finally completed. Yay! I am SO ready to celebrate that this jacket is finally done!!!

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Front. The pleated trim easily hides the pins used to attach the stomacher!
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Back. It’s wrinkly and without a waist on the hanger. You’ll just have to believe that it looks better on a body!

The facts:

Fabric: Almost 2 yds Waverly Mineral Felicite printed cotton and 1yd (I think) peach linen

Pattern: Heavily altered, but I started with the 1760-1790 jacket pattern in Janet Arnold.

Year: Well… 1760s is what I was aiming for in the beginning.

Notions: Thread and cane boning.

How historically accurate?: 60%. This definitely falls in the historic costume category of my wardrobe. The Waverly fabric is in the spirit of the 18th century, but not accurate, though the linen is accurate as are the methods of construction. The trim is based on extant garments but not specifically reproduced. The jacket is 100% hand sewn.

Hours to complete: So many! With all the problems and alterations and re-sewing I completely lost count.

First worn: Has not been worn yet.

Total cost: $30 maybe? I don’t remember exactly what I paid for the fabrics.

Hopefully, I’ll get some more pieces of an 18th century ensemble done at some point and get pictures of the jacket on me. Don’t hold your breath, though, it could be awhile!

HSF #19: Mineral Felicite Stomacher

First, I want to say “Thank you!” to all of you who provided me with your thoughts and insights about my Curtain Along troubles. I took all of the things that you mentioned and reconsidered my jacket, coming at last to the conclusion that a stomacher would solve a lot of my problems. Of course then I had to decide if I wanted my jacket to lace over or pin to the stomacher and how I wanted to trim the new design (ribbon or self trim)… for now I’ll leave you in suspense on those two points, because the point of this post is to share my completion of the stomacher, as it fits into the HSF Challenge #19: Wood, Metal, Bone.

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Just the facts:

Fabric: A bit of left over Mineral Felicite print from the jacket (it sure is a good thing I had extra!), small bits of leftover peach linen from the jacket lining, and a bit of leftover white linen from another project for the interlining.

Pattern: Made by me and referencing Costume Close-Up.

Year: 1760s-ish.

Notions: Thread and cane.

How historically accurate?: 90%. Accurate fiber contents, though the print of my Mineral Felicite isn’t perfectly accurate. I may not have used the exact stitches that an 18th century garment would have. Also, I feel like I’ve seen stomachers that are boned, but when I was looking for this project I couldn’t find any of them. So I might have made that up. But it will make my stomacher lay so much smoother than without boning, so it’s worth it.

Hours to complete: 6.

First worn: Has not been worn yet.

Total cost: Free since everything was from left overs.

Ok, now here’s the amusing part. As I mentioned in my last post about the jacket, I have only small scraps of the lining linen left. I could have backed my stomacher with a non matching linen all in one piece… but I decided to piece together my matching scraps for the back. It’s a little crazy looking, but it will match the sleeves and amuse me. Actually, I wouldn’t have had enough scraps if I hadn’t reused some of the bits I cut off from the front when changing the line to fit over a stomacher…

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See what I mean? It’s a bit crazy. Oh well. You can see the three bones that run vertically up up the middle of the stomacher. Anyway, work on the jacket has now been put on hold so I can complete some of the other upcoming HSF challenges, but I hope to get back to it soon.