Last fall, I had the opportunity to take part in a presentation focused on the clothing of middle and upper class African Americans in Providence, RI around the turn of the 20th century (you can see photos of and information about this event here). In order to generate some promotional materials that incorporated both of the presenters (as opposed to having separate photos of each of us), my co-presenter, Lady Estelle Barada, suggested that we schedule a photo shoot together and so we spent a beautiful, sunny summer morning traipsing around a state park, accompanied by photographer David Cruz.
The outfit I chose to wear, my 1904 Anne of Green Gables Ensemble, has been a difficult outfit to photograph in the past, especially the blouse with its white-on-white lace trim and the subtle changes in the direction of the stripes. Given that challenge, I was extra excited when I saw the results of David’s work. He clearly captured the small details of our clothing, including the blouse details!
There are many wonderful photos from our shoot and I enjoy the captivating liveliness that each photo shares–you can just image that movement will continue as soon as you blink or look away.
On the outfit front, I love how comfortable my ‘Anne Ensemble’ is. I had no difficulty tromping through tall grass, climbing over rock walls, sitting on a picnic blanket, and more!
I was also pleased with how my hair turned out. I was able to achieve Edwardian volume around the face while maintaining a side part that gave me two separate poufs on the top/side of my face.
I’m very grateful that David graciously gave permission for me to share these photos with you. As always, please do not share these photos without appropriate photographer credit and a link back to this source.
Five years ago (yikes, where did the time go?!?), I made ivory gaiters. They were made to wear over heeled shoes, giving the look of two tone boots. Unfortunately, the ivory gaiters I already have don’t work for the the 1896 cycling ensemble on my sewing table! Ivory gaiters would show dirt and be rather impractical for the sporting look, so I decided to make utilitarian black ones for this outfit.
I used the same pattern as for the ivory gaiters with only a few modifications: the top edge curves in a bit more over my calf and the back heel is longer so it stays on top of my shoe (in my blog post about the ivory gaiters I share about how they were riding up over my shoe–I solved this with a little piece I added in after the photos were taken, but for the new pair the pattern was cut longer instead). It was lovely to have a pattern ready to go!
I’m pleased that I squeezed this small project into 2018. I can count it for the HSM Challenge #12: Neglected! This challenge is sort of a catch-all for making something that fits into a previous challenge either from this year or a previous year. I chose the September 2018 challenge, Hands and Feet, for this December challenge.
Just the facts:
Fabric: About ¼ yard slightly stretchy black cotton.
Pattern: Created by me.
Notions: Thread, ¼” and ½” cotton twill tape in various widths, and plastic buttons.
How historically accurate?: 90%. The look is right but the materials are a mix and match of right and modern.
Hours to complete: Approximately 5.
First worn: Not yet!
Total cost: $5 for the buttons. The fabric and twill tapes were in my stash!
These are constructed in the same way as my previous pair. The seams are covered with ½” twill tape, the edges are bound with ¼” twill tape, there is a strap (in this case made of the exterior fabric), and then buttons and buttonholes finish it off.
The great thing about my gaiter pattern is that they work for a few different decades. The ivory pair was made for a 1917 outfit, but I feel perfectly confidant that the pattern works for the 1890s and 1900s as well. I’m looking forward to trying these on with my cycling ensemble once that is far enough along to put all the pieces together!
Over the summer, my dance group was invited to create a turn-of-the-century atmosphere for a weekend on Bakers Island, off the coast of Salem, MA. Today, the part of the island we were on is managed by Essex Heritage and is home to a lighthouse, but for our visit the idea was that visitors to the island could get a sense of what the island would have been like over 100 years ago when there was a large hotel located there.
We didn’t actually dance, but we played historical games and activities and explained our context to the visitors. They came upon us along various paths during their walking tour.
I wore my 1904 Anne of Green Gables ensemble. This time, though, I had a new belt and I got my hat to behave. It’s supposed to flip up in back, but was misbehaving last time I wore it and was flipped down in back. Boo!
The new belt is green silk covered with the same lace that I used on the skirt. The green isn’t a perfect match to the skirt, but I like that it coordinates without being too match-y. Taking a photo of it also allowed us to capture the subtle lace detail and woven stripe in the fabric of the blouse better than we did last time, which was a bonus outcome.
In between tours, we took some group photos around the lighthouse and the light keeper’s house. The light keeper’s house, in particular, provided us with some really adorable photos. These were provided to us by the light keepers, who keep their own charming blog (currently about their stay on Bakers Island this summer) which you can view here.
Behind the scenes, we needed to arrive before the visitors to set up. Given when boats were available that meant we had to arrive the day before the visitors. There aren’t any indoor accommodations we were able to take advantage of, so it was camping in tents for us. I’m not really a camping kind of person, but thankfully other people had tents to share. Between the modern equipment and food that we needed as well as the historical clothes, games, and amusements, we had quite the pile of luggage for two days and seven people! Here we are waiting for the boat back to the mainland.
A new adventure complete! The croquet set is still in place but the players are gone! Maybe someday there will be others (or maybe us, who knows?) to once again bring history to life on this island.
I had a chance to wear my 1899 Elusive Blue Dress at the end of last year plus the opportunity to take some wintery-feeling photos in it. This dress is so fun to wear–elegant and swooshy! Plus, the big hair of this period is just what my hair loves to do. So in the spirit of my post in 2016 sharing a more summery turn of the century ensemble, enjoy this Winter Gibson Girl Vignette!
In 2012, I made and wore a c.1900 green skirt and straw hat at Newport Vintage Dance Week. I had plans to make a blouse as well with it but ran out of time and wore a 1913 blouse I already had instead. I wasn’t terribly pleased with the whole look, so I didn’t ever focus on it in a blog post, though I did include it in my overview of the dance week.
Since then I’ve worn the skirt a few times, but haven’t been able to for the last few years because (and this shouldn’t be surprising given the subject of my last post) the waist was too small!
Thankfully, I had two things going for me that made changing the waist size quite simple. First, I had extra fabric. Second, when I’d originally made the skirt the waist circumference was a few inches too big for the waistband, so I took a tuck on each side of center back. Now all I had to do was let out the tucks and extend the waistband with my extra fabric!
It took me years to finally get around to doing it, but I’m glad I did, because I really like this skirt and it’s fun to remember the lovely wading adventure we had back in 2012 while I was wearing it! What gave me the final push to do the change was the opportunity for an early summer picnic, for which I had clothes but really wanted to have something new. Who hasn’t experienced that desire?
More About The New/Updated Ensemble
The picnic provided some lovely backgrounds to take documentation pictures of all the new and updated pieces that form my Anne-inspired ensemble! I ironed out all the wrinkles in the skirt ahead of time… and then sat on picnic blanket before taking pictures, so the back pictures have a rather wrinkly bum.
The Blouse Inspiration
In addition to wanting to update the skirt, I’ve also had that blouse to go with it on my to-do list for years. Instead of going back to the blouse plan from 2012, I started over with new inspiration. (Never fear, the unfinished blouse from 2012 is still in a box waiting for me to go back to it… someday.)
The new inspiration came directly from the scene in Anne of Green Gables when she’s walking down the lane with Gilbert and his horse (just before she gets mad and whacks him with her basket!). I’ve always love her silhouette and decided a blouse with a similar shape would suit the green skirt nicely.
I researched blouses from this period and decided on the year 1904 for my blouse. I was particularly inspired by this ivory c. 1905 blouse, this black c. 1905 blouse, and this blouse that The Met dates to 1899-1902. The idea to play with the direction of the stripes and to have curling lace trim (mimicking embroidery) was taken directly from this page from The Ladies’ Home Journal for April 1904 that Lauren of Wearing History kindly shared on her blog. Other views of some of these blouses as well as other inspiration are gathered on my Pinterest board for this project, here.
The Blouse Construction
My blouse is made of an ivory cotton that is woven with narrow stripes. In the center front panel the stripes are horizontal, while on the rest of the blouse they are vertical. The blouse is trimmed with lace appliqués in the same pattern as the Ladies’ Home Journal blouse from 1904. Unfortunately, all of the subtle ivory on ivory details are hard to photograph.
The blouse is mostly machine sewn and uses French seams except at the armholes, which are left raw. It is finished by hand and closes up the front with concealed hooks and thread bars. There is a twill tape channel for a drawstring at the waist to help control the fullness and the pigeon front.
The silhouette was looking a little deflated for a 1904 pigeon breast look, so I tacked ruffles down the front seams to help fill out the blouse. It’s subtle-but-useful method and was easy since I already had the circular ruffles in my stash.
The Hat Inspiration
The most direct inspiration for my hat was this image from 1903. While I decided against feathers, the general trim placement as well as the poofs under the back of the brim are present in my hat.
There are more inspirational hats here, on my Pinterest board for this project.
The Hat Construction
The hat in the 2012 version of this ensemble was an admirable idea in theory, but not execution. (I was displeased enough that it was remade into my 1885 Flower Pot Hat in 2015.) However, I had another of the same straw base that I decided to remake for the new Anne ensemble.
In 2012, I had used the second straw base to make a Regency bonnet, another project I wasn’t entirely happy with (this is not the right type of straw to get a good bonnet shape). All that needed to be done was removing the trimmings from the hat and taking out the stitching holding the wire around the edge… and I had a straw hat blank ready to be remade into a new hat!
For a hat block, I used a shallow glass bowl covered in tin foil and plastic wrap. I wet the straw base in the bathtub, then used a paintbrush to cover the straw with a layer of my sizing (a bit of elmer’s glue dissolved in water–no formula, I just winged it). I set the hat out in the hot sun to let it dry, holding the edges down with spice jars to keep it from blowing away. (Can you tell I just wandered into my kitchen to see what I had that would work to help me with this hat?)
I tidied up the edges of the hat with scissors, bound the edge of the straw with narrow strips of tulle to keep the straw from fraying, and then reshaped my wire and resewed it around the edge of the hat. I covered these edge treatments with a binding of ivory silk satin, trimmed the hat, and I was done!
In order to achieve my desired pigeon breast silhouette of 1904, I needed some omph in the back in addition to the ruffles inside the blouse in the front. I tried wearing a small bum pad (about 10″ wide), but then my hips looked sunken by comparison. I determined I needed a new bum pad that would fill in both my hips and backside to help create the illusion I was aiming for.
I also made a new belt to go with this ensemble. I wanted something a little more V shaped in front and a little less dramatic in terms of color. I actually reused the lining from the previous iteration of my new hat to make a new belt. The two shades of green don’t quite match, but they also don’t offend, so I’m pleased.
Instead of a traditional Gibson Girl hair style, I tried a style more like this, with a center part and poofs on each side. It was a bit squashed by my hat, but I was quite pleased with it overall. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any perfect shots of just my hair style. I’ll have to try it again someday and get hair pictures.
In September, my friends and I had a last picnic of the season to take advantage of the summer weather before it faded into fall. Along with other picnics we’ve had in the past, we again met up in the Boston Public Garden with our picnic blankets, food, drink, and croquet set.
We’d decided on a turn of the 20th century theme for our clothing and I took the opportunity to dig a 1903 outfit out of the closet that I don’t think I’ve worn since 2012, at Dress U and Newport Vintage Dance Week. It’s an orchid lawn skirt (and a bolero I didn’t wear this time) and a white silk and cotton lace blouse.
This wearing, my hat had been re-trimmed in a more pleasing fashion than when I wore it in 2012 (in fact, all the lovely millinery flowers are only pinned on so it’s easy to change, not that I’ve bothered since I put the flowers on about two years ago) and I had practiced my Gibson Girl hair in January and now know how to achieve the look with minimal effort.
I was very pleased with the result! Next time I plan to wear a hat with a Gibson Girl style I’ll put the opening of my hair pad at the top of my head rather than the bottom, and likely leave a little space to make the front a bit more flat so my hat doesn’t tilt up. Where’s the fun if I don’t learn something new every time I wear historical clothing?
I mentioned in my last post that I am the happy owner of a pair of black American Duchess Seaburys. What I didn’t mention in that post is that I am also the happy owner of a pair of dove gray Seaburys!
I bought the black ones first, around Christmas-time, and picked that color because of the versatility of black shoes. Once I received them and was able to fully appreciate the gorgeous materials, elegant design, and sturdy construction I started raving about them to friends. During one conversation in particular, I managed to inadvertently talk myself into buying the dove grey Seaburys as well… They’re being discontinued and are such lovely shoes with such a distinctive shape that they’re worth having in two different colors.
I’ve only worn the gray ones once so far, when I decided to wear them with modern clothes to the ballet. I found them to be just as elegant for modern dress as for historical dress, which was great! It’s hard to find gorgeous modern heels that meet all my various criteria.
I decided to try this pair without the shoe clip bows. The gray silk gleamed and the custom designed brocade was much more obvious in this color than in the black, as I expected.
In fact, there were three of us at that event wearing black Seaburys. The nice thing is that they looked elegant and unique on each of us. Emily, in the center, got creative with hers and changed out the removable bows for vintage shoe clips… and it blew my mind!
The idea of shoe clips with different decorations for Regency shoes is standard to me at this point, but I had never considered the idea for 20th century shoes. I loved the look ofEmily’s and immediately came home and started searching for some that I liked so I could vary my shoes more. Since then, I have acquired two different pairs of shoe clips. Now I need places to wear them!
The gold buckle ones are my favorite of the two styles. I love the color and the curved edges! The rhinestone ones are a nice bit of bling, but aren’t quite as exciting as the gold. I haven’t tried them on my grey Seaburys, but I’m curious if they might match better. I also like them flipped over so the rhinestones spread over the toes, but wearing them that way would require some finagling, since the clips on the back would be upside down.
The verdict is that after wearing Seaburys multiple times in different situations, I can say with certainty that they are stunning shoes. They’re quite comfortable for standing around and light walking, with a well balanced, elegantly shaped heel. I have a narrow foot and I am pleased that these pumps stay on the back of my heels without a problem and without extra assistance. I wouldn’t plan to walk too far in mine especially outdoors, partly because the uppers are silk and I wouldn’t want to ruin them with scrapes and scratches.
For dancing, however, these are not the most comfortable shoes. They work pretty well, but as with most heels, my toes started to feel a bit pinched and tight after a few Charlestons and my feet were much more relieved to take off the shoes after wearing them while dancing vs. wearing them while just standing. Also, with nylons, I was more afraid that while dancing my heels might slip out of the back of the pumps.
But as I said at the beginning, these shoes are worth raving about. Both the solid silk and the silk brocade are gorgeous, Lauren created an incredibly elegant design with an attractive toe box and beautiful French heel, and they are sturdy and carefully crafted.
Unfortunately, Seaburys are no longer being produced. However, the new American Duchess Amelie shoes have the same gorgeous silk exteriors (without the brocade). They have a lower heel but are still a unique, historical shape, and they come in a variety of beautiful colors in addition to black and silver.
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.
I’m excited that the 1880s corset I made last summer is finally, actually, finished! I got around to adding the finishing touches, lace and ribbon around the top, over the fall. Now there is nothing left to sew, and, after two wearings I can say with confidence that there are no little alterations I want to do! Yay!
The first wearing was in August last year, with my 1885 frills and furbelows dress. The second wearing was in January this year, under my new 1899 evening gown. Both times I found the corset to be extremely comfortable to wear. And in January, I was able to get pictures of the completely finished corset! So, without further explanation, here is the corset in its finished form. (If you didn’t get to read all the intricate details of the patterning, construction, and steaming process, you can see all past posts here, in the project journal.)
The super frilly petticoat was a great prop for these photos! (I’m much better at looking natural rather than awkward when I have props!). It’s from 1903 and was finished in 2011. I’ve worn it many times but have never taken photos of it on me. It’s entirely silk, with two layers of flounces, both made of multiple gathered circles and edged with wide lace in a scallop pattern. It closes with a silk ribbon that threads through the waistband in manner described in Authentic Victorian Dressmaking Techniques. It’s decadent to wear–it makes rustling sounds, has great body, and when you take it off it stands up on it’s own! I can’t remember how many yards of fabric went into this petticoat, but I know it was a lot, with all the circles in the flounces!
Awesome petticoat aside, this corset is pretty decadent to wear, also. Silk, tons of curvy seams and bones, perfectly fitted, lovingly, painstakingly, and beautifully sewn… what’s not to like!
Thanks to the usual camera toting culprit for doing a corset photo shoot with me in the midst of getting dressed for a ball! You know who you are.
(As a side note, it’s a challenge to take historical clothing underwear pictures that look reasonably like historical photos and images but don’t go into the modern lingerie photo direction. See the inspiration here and here? I tried this as well as the standing pose in the second link, but awkward really describes the outcome. But I think we did pretty well in the end. It’s amusing to feel these photos are revealing when I’m quite dressed by modern standards… Do you feel the same way about taking pictures in your historical underwear?)
I was very pleased with my hair for the 1890s ball! One of the reasons I liked the idea of an 1899 dress is because it is close enough to the turn of the century that a Gibson Girl hair style made sense. My hair loves cooperating in poofy styles, so this was perfect!
I created the super poof using a pad made from one leg of a pair of tights. It’s stuffed with cheap “wizard beard” hair that would otherwise have gone in the trash. Being stuffed with synthetic hair, the pad is pretty warm. And I did struggle a bit to get bobby pins through the tights–I need to add loops to the ends for next time I think. Aside from those things, though, the pad was perfect!
I also created a new hair ornament to finish off the coiffure. I had originally thought of bleaching the ostrich feathers to create an aigrette*, like this, but decided that I liked the ostrich feathers as is and didn’t feel like dealing with bleach. There are two feathers: a grey and a white. I found that the white helped create definition for the grey on my dark hair. The sparkly bit is a cheap eBay brooch. I sewed the feathers to it and then used the pin part to bobby pin it in place on my head.
Success! Look at that haughty Gibson girl look (like this)!
*An aigrette is a spray of feathers from an egret. Confusing!
Last weekend was a whirlwind of events and that means I’ve got lots of pictures to share! The pictures will be coming in small-ish groups. I do hope you’ll be able to vicariously enjoy the nice weather and fun through them.
The first event was a low-key turn of the 20th century picnic in the Boston Public Garden. You might remember that last year we did a Regency picnic in the same place? We were out to have a good time and get some fresh air without worrying about 100% historical accuracy, hence the low-key part of the description. So without further ado, pictures!