Vernet Project: Witzchoura Images

As a quick recap, I started my witzchoura research journey here, being confused about how the word was spelled. After sharing that with you, I moved on to look at basic witzchoura definitions and then further witzchoura references, but I haven’t really shared images of witzchouras with you yet, so that’s what this post is going to focus on.

Out of the thousands of pins on my historic clothing Pinterest boards, the images below are the only ones I could find that specifically mention that they show a witzchoura. (Never fear, I’ll be looking at not-quite-witzchouras in a future post.)  If you know of any other images that specifically name the garment shown as being a witzchoura please let me know!

I find it interesting that two are yellow and two are blue. Also interesting that all the furs that are depicted are textured or downright weird (like the first one with the flower-fur… what is that?). However, in terms of materials there is variation: one of merino (wool), one of reps (could be wool, silk, or cotton, according to the OED), and two of velvet (fabric content unknown, though wool, silk, or cotton would seem to be likely).

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Costume Parisien, 1812
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Costume Parisien, 1813
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Costume Parisien, 1818
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Costume Parisien, 1820

A Turban Fillet, 1811

A while ago now, during the Journal Journey Into La Belle Assemblee series, Natalie over at A Frolic Through Time brought two similar ball/evening hair styles to my (and her other readers’) attention. These styles for October 1811 were pointed out by Natalie as being perfect for someone to attempt for a Regency event and I thought “Oh! These are neat! And they would go so well with my pearl trimmed 1811 Elusive Blue gown. Perfect!” So I saved the link to the post and have been meaning to go back to it for the last few months.

After returning to that inspiration earlier this year and comparing the two styles in Natalie’s post, I decided on a turban fillet (see end of post for a definition). February’s HSF/M Challenge #2: Blue was the perfect kick I needed to get to work. While I technically submitted finishing the trim on my elusive blue dress for the challenge, I also finished my turban fillet slightly after the deadline. I enjoyed having a small project: it was a nice change from the usually long and complicated projects I often take on and am constantly in the midst of.

Here, then, is the fashion plate to which I am referring.

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No. 1. EVENING DRESS. A sea-green crape dress, vandykcd round the petticoat, and ornamented with large beads; a full drapery over the shoulders, and confined in to the back with a pearl band, ornamented round the neck and down the back with beads. A full turban fillet tapered, worn on the head. Pearl necklace, white kid gloves and shoes.

And here is the finished result of my labors.

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Side.
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Back.
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And the full ensemble.

I attempted to follow the detail of the hairstyle from La Belle Assemblee, down to the curls around my face (lots of extra work since all my hair is long!) and the little braid on the side. It was a puzzle to figure out and enjoyable to wear.

The question is, how did I get the turban fillet to stay in place on my head? Well, I thought of making a gathered tube wound with pearls, as Natalie proposes below, but decided to make my turban fillet have a flat back instead for multiple reasons. #1: there has to be a seam somewhere, so why not hide it intentionally? #2: I only had so many pearls, and winding them all around a sample tube used them up far too quickly so that I would never have reached the end and still been able to have pearls. #3: the angle of the pearls when winding them around was very challenging and I couldn’t figure out how to arrange them pleasingly. #4: “why waste pearls against my head?” I thought, when they’re going to be slightly uncomfortable and slippery there anyway?

So here is what I came up with: a length of fabric about 40″ long, wrapped around a strip of hi-loft poly-fill batting (not period, I know, but easy and free!), turned under and sewn down on the back, gathered across the top, with rows of pearls sewn on at intervals, and finished with loops on the back every few rows of pearls in order to secure the whole thing to my head. The entire thing is hand sewn. I have no idea how you would use a machine to assemble this the way I did!

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The top is the front of the turban fillet and the bottom is the back.

And yes, I was able to wear this to a Regency ball in April!

* Natalie notes the following about the description “turban fillet”. Please check out her post to see both fashion plates she refers to.

Turban fillet. For a change, just what you might imagine: a “fillet” is normally a narrow ribbon or wire wound round or encircling the head, while a turban is a, well, a turban. In this month’s evening dress hairstyle, we have a length of fabric well gathered to make a narrow, round, gathered tube, wound round the head. The turban is wound with pearls for extra measure. Handsome and I hope that someone will take up this style for a ball before long! The ball dress plate uses a similar design; it encircles the head more like the fillets we remember from Medieval fairy tales, but ironically, the effect is more turban-like to my eyes than the evening dress example, yet isn’t called a turban. Fashion, fashion.

Vernet Project: Merveilleuses & Incroyables

Really exciting things are secretly brewing amongst an international group of historical seamstresses, tailors, and costumers. They are strange, beautiful, unusual, fun, just plain weird, and detailed… and they are coming to life in 2015!

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Join us on Facebook and look forward to more tantalizing posts here and around the historical clothing and costuming blog-world as we research, sew, and prepare to unveil this amazing project in December 2015. Do you Vernet?

A Floral Headband For Annabelle (Returning Heroes Ball 2014)

Not too long ago, I was again able to be part of the annual Returning Heroes Ball hosted by The Commonwealth Vintage Dancers. I decided to wear Annabelle again this year, even though I’d worn her last year, because I’d just worn Evie and Belle at the 1860s Dance Weekend in November.

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Annabelle at Returning Heroes Ball 2014.

Each time I’ve worn Annabelle, I’ve been slightly disappointed with the various incarnations of flower hair wreaths I’ve attempted to match her: the first wreath and the giant mass of flowers. So this year I decided to try again to see if I could get something I like. There are quite a number of evening dresses decorated with flowers right about 1860 and many of them are depicted in fashion plates and portraits with matching flowers in the hair. Here are some examples: 1859 fashion plate, another 1859 fashion plate, a third 1859 fashion plate, 1861 fashion plate, 1861 portrait, 1862 fashion plate, and 1863 fashion plate. For this new incarnation, I decided to try a different style from what I have for my other two evening dresses (Belle has a crescent and Evie has a hair wreath).  The style I settled on I’m calling a headband. It creates a halo around the face and extends down towards the ears, but does not connect across the back of the head. Instead, the hair must be interestingly arranged to fill in the back of the head. Here’s an example of the headband style using flowers that match the dress from 1862. And here is the fashion plate that Annabelle is based on which shows a headband style hair wreath worn with the dress.

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Here is Annabelle’s new floral headband. 
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Back view of my hair style. I needed something dramatic to fill in the base of my head. I wanted to do a sideways oval surrounded by rolls, but that didn’t work out and this is what I ended up with. I was dubious at first, but I think it worked. (It’s hard to see, but there’s one big central roll/puff and one smaller one above and below that.)

In addition to my new headband, I was also able to wear my new ca. 1860 corset and my still rather new purple paste jewels (a matching collet necklace and drop earrings) from Dames a la Mode. They worked wonderfully with my outfit (of course, I did pick the purple knowing it would match multiple outfits…!) and I enjoyed wearing them again.

The ball was lovely, as usual, and filled with well dressed people and more uniformed gentlemen than we have seen in recent years. The dancing was well executed and the intermission boasted a lavish spread of refreshments that both looked and tasted scrumptious.

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Bowers, during the Grand March.
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Bowing at the end of a polka.
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One small portion of the refreshments table.
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Looking lovely and dashing.

You can see more pictures of the event at Raven’s Plaid Petticoats blog post about Returning Heroes.

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 #20: Finally Finished 1822 Walking Dress

…It’s only been a year! Or pretty close to a year. I posted an overview of my early 1820s project last November. The project included a petticoat, 1824 ball gown, 1822 walking dress, muff, tippet, bonnet, and chemisette. Some of these things are still in the UFO pile or on the to do list, but I’m super pleased that this post is about the completion of the 1822 walking dress!

The image below is my inspiration for the now complete walking dress. I wore it last December to go caroling outside before Fezziwig’s Ball, but at that point my time had run out and though the construction was complete there was no trim. Below the image of my inspiration is an image of the walking dress as it looked last December with no trim. And below that is an image of the now completed walking dress with trim! It certainly fits me better than the hanger, but you’ll have to wait a few months to see it on me.

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Promenade Dress. Ackerman’s Repository. December 1822.
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December 2012. Unfinished early 1820s ensemble.
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Yay! All the trim is on!

Before I share some close ups of the trim and construction, let me share the facts:

Fabric: 4-5 yds of dark pink wool, 4-5 yds of ivory super soft and thick cotton twill, 1/2 yd-ish of lavender polyester velvet, 1/2 yd-ish of lavender silk shantung,  and a bit of canvas for the collar.

Pattern: Adapted from my 1822 green ball gown pattern, I think. It’s pretty much exactly the same except that it has a higher back, collar, and sleeves. The ball gown pattern is based off of a pattern in Janet Arnold.

Year: 1822.

Notions: Pink and lavender thread, polyester batting in the hem, and hooks for the waist.

How historically accurate?: Very, having used modern materials and a few very nice looking modern fabrics . The pattern is from Janet Arnold, so you know it is good on accuracy and the trim scale and pattern is taken from a fashion plate from 1822. As a historic costume I give it 98%.

Hours to complete: Oh goodness… I’m sure the main construction took at least 40 hours and the trim took probably 50ish hours to cut, press, and hand sew. I didn’t keep track at all on this project.

First worn: To Fezziwig’s Ball in December 2012, though with trim it will debut at Fezziwig’s Ball in December 2013!

Total cost: $40 perhaps?

Ok, now for the trim and construction shots.

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Top of the sleeve. First I had to sew the bias into a tube so the raw edges would be finished and the bias could “float” without having to be sewn down all along the edges. Then I tacked the bias tubes in a zig zag then crossed and tied other zig zags to get the finished pattern.
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The front. The pattern looks very much like an oak leaf to me. The bias is stitched in a tube with the raw edges showing on the back, then the edges are stitched down all around to create the pattern.
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The sleeve. The bias is stitched on the same way as it is on the front. The motifs are sewn on the front of the arm rather than the outside.

I actually had forgotten that I’d taken these construction shots. In fact, I had totally forgotten the method I had used to construct my sleeves until I saw the picture again! These pictures where the wool looks more pink than maroon show the color best. It’s really much more vibrant, and much less brownish, than some of the pictures make it look.

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The canvas pad stitched into the collar before sewing the pieces together.
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The top of the sleeve before the gathered sleeve top was sewn on. I didn’t want to waste wool where it wouldn’t be seen, so it stops part way up the lining, then the gathered cap is sewn on and hides the raw edge of the wool.
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The lining is stab stitched to the wool at the cuff.

And just in case you want to read more about my entire project from the early 1820s, here’s a link to that category of entries on my blog. As I continue to finish up other bits and pieces I’ll keep adding them to that category, and it’s neat because the category filters only those posts so there’s a nice continuity.

Surrender!

…to the costuming peer pressure…

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The short explanation of the crazy is that Kendra, of Demode Couture, has started an 18th Century Court Ensemble Sew-Along. The longer explanation of the crazy is written by Kendra herself, here on her blog.

I’m talking about it on my blog because I’ve submitted to the indirect costuming peer pressure and joined in! (You should too…) I’ve got my fears about my participation (I spent about two days debating my decision to join in!): I’m unlikely to have a relevant event to wear a court gown to (unless I make one!), I’m not super confident in my ability to get 18th century “right” yet, and I don’t want to spend mounds of money on this project (which you could so easily do!).But… I want to participate! So, I’ve found some cures for my fears and committed, in a thoughtful and careful way, to the crazy.

This is the gown I’ve decided on. It was a hard choice! But it’s a good choice for me, because I’ve already got pink silk in the stash that I bought back in January with the intent of making “an 18th century something” perhaps, so that takes care of the bulk of the materials (and the cost). So I’ve just got to procure the trim materials and accessories. I’ve already found the things I want, but I’m going to wait a bit to purchase them and get started on the sewing, so stay tuned for more posts about that in a few months!

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Grand Duchess Maria Feodorovna by Roslin, wearing the Star and Badge of the Order in 1770. (I’ve also seen this dated as 1777.)
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Slightly different version of same painting. Included in an article about Women’s Imperial Court Costume In Imperial Russia.

I also considered these other gowns, but decided against them in the end.

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Robe de cour from Les Arts Decoratifs

I love this robe de cour! It looks more like fancy dress than a court gown to me. I can imagine it as “Snowflake” or “Winter” or “Snow Queen.” I seriously considered this one… but I don’t have any of the appropriate materials in my stash right now, and the cost of the materials I wanted to use was more than I wanted to spend on this project. So I’ve added this to my list of “things I eventually want to sew.” I can even envision it as fancy dress in the 19th century with a different skirt shape… a bustle gown, perhaps? I just love that the triangles look like icicles, and the diagonal trim looks like snowflakes… It’s pretty ridiculous!

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1795 – Caroline, Princess of Wales

Then there’s this absurd looking court gown from the very end of the 18th century. I love the periwinkle color, the tassels, and what looks like chain (wouldn’t that be fun to figure out!) edging the poofs. It’s pretty silly. But again, I don’t have any appropriate fabrics in my stash…

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Robe de cour from Les Arts Decoratifs

I like this last one, too, although not as much as the first two. I feel like this would be a great use of an iridescent shot silk, at least for the green part. I like the fur trim, and the gold, but I’m just not overwhelmed by awesome-ness.

The choice was made more difficult by the fact that other people have already “claimed” certain court gowns they want to make, and the idea is that no two dresses are the same. (So I might have had more options, but they’d already been claimed!) You can see what other people have picked and keep track of all the court ensembles being made on Kendra’s blog: Demode Couture. There are at least 30 people participating so far and lots of pretties have been chosen! These are my favorite gowns from among the ones that are already claimed.

18th century court gown. It’s so cute!
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18th century robe de cour. How to achieve those fantastic waves? But I do love this one!
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18th century robe de cour. This one has great waves as well! Lovely.

Kendra already did a post on 18th Century Court Gown Basics that’s a great introduction to this oddly specifc class of garments, and I’m sure more information will be coming over the next year from all of the participants.

1815 Tree Bonnet (HSF #7)

You know how sometimes the best laid plans are waylaid by life? I had every intention of finishing this bonnet before the HSF deadline of yesterday, but along the way got side tracked by life and made conscious choices to do other things with my time instead of bonnet-ing. Oh well, it happens to the best of us!

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1815 bonnet (the more interesting side).

I made this bonnet to coordinate with my new Regency Tree Gown (which is why I’m calling it the Tree Bonnet). Lucky for me, it also fulfills the HSF Challenge #7: Accessorize and will coordinate with other items already in my closet (such as my 1819 brown spencer). I’ll be wearing the new gown, the spencer, and the bonnet this weekend for the Regency Dance Intensive, along with a lot of other Regency things, so be prepared for lots of pictures next week!

The facts:

Fabric: Silk twill, changeable silk taffeta for trim, and china silk for lining.

Pattern: Created by me.

Year: 1815.

Notions: Four approximately 8″ pieces of sage green polyester ribbon, a spray of wired millinery flowers, about 1 1/2 yds of navy silk ribbon for ties, about 3/4 yd of navy grosgrain ribbon for inner band, buckram for the base, millinery wire, cotton flannel for mulling, tacky glue, and thread.

How historically accurate?: 95% I’d say. There are a few polyester things, but the overall shape, impression, and majority of materials are accurate.

Hours to complete: 28? Hand finishing and trimming takes a long time, especially on hats, because the angles are weird, so it’s a slow process.

First worn: Not yet, but will be worn this weekend!

Total cost: $6ish for the silk twill bit, the green silk and china silk are remnants from other projects, the polyester bits are old and from the stash, the millinery flowers were from the stash, the buckram was maybe $4, the wire was probably $2… so about $12? I didn’t buy anything special for this bonnet, it’s all from the stash! Yay! Go me!

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Close-up of the pleated silk trim and rosette-like decoration. You can also see the pleats on the side band of the bonnet.
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The millinery flowers on the front of the bonnet.
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The more plain side.
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Inside of the brim, looking into the lining and hat band.

This week marks the end of the MpRSW (though I still have one more post to go about that), with the final goal aimed at yesterday, #5: Anything Left! I’d already completed some packing for this goal, and procurement of kite making supplies (yes, there will be a future mention of kites!), but this bonnet also qualifies!

Now let me share some of my inspiration for this bonnet. There are more bonnet images on my 1810s Pinterest page as well.

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From 1815. 
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La Belle Assemblee, Parisian Promenade Hats, July 1816.
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Costume Parisien from 1814.
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Costume Parisien from 1815.

In trying to determine length of ties for the bonnet, I looked to some fashion plates that included people in them. Here are some of the best examples I found.

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1813 afternoon promenade dress.
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Ackermann’s Repository, Walking Dress, April 1817.
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Ackermann’s Repository, Walking Dress, November 1817.
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Walking dress 1815
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EKDuncan – My Fanciful Muse: Regency Era Fashions – Ackermann’s Repository 1819
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Ackermann’s Repository, Walking Dress, February 1818.
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Robe de Marcelline, 1812 Costume Parisien

Well, there we are. I just finished sewing that pleated brim trim tonight, and I am glad to be done! It’s slow and slightly painful on the fingers. But pretty, so totally worth it!

Reminder, The MpRSW Is Upon Us!

My push to complete my new 1864 green ball gown is complete (more on that soon), and that means a shift in focus to the Regency! It also means that the Mar-pril Regency Sew Weekly goals are upon me. I’ve already completed my project for the first goal, the 1812 blue under dress. Have you been working on a project for Goal #1? This is a reminder to get going, because the due date is tomorrow!

Goal #1 (due March 18): Under Wear Ideas to complete this goal: make from scratch, finish, or trim something worn under another garment, a petticoat, underdress, shirt, or waistcoat could fall into that category, or maybe this is a great opportunity to trim a finished garment already in your closet.

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Don’t forget about me!

This is also your reminder for…

Goal #2 (due March 25): Evening Wear Ideas to complete this goal: an all new garment (gown, breeches, waistcoat, or tailcoat, for example), finishing a garment in progress, trimming an already finished garment, sewing something to keep you warm while on your way to an evening event, or maybe completing accessories to wear or take with you to an evening event.

I’m planning to use this goal as encouragement to fix the rip in my red 1813 evening gown. What progress are you planning?

Project Journal: 1864 Ball Gown Part I: The Plan And The Trim

It’s time. I’ve been wearing Annabelle, my flounced not-so-new-anymore white 1860 ball gown, to all Civil War events for about a year straight, with no relief on the horizon. Not that I dislike Annabelle, I just want options, and a change. I have Belle, a dark blue 1860 ball gown, as well, but I haven’t worn her since 2011, and since most of the women in our dance troupe have blue dresses it’s not likely that I’ll get to wear her soon, and anyway, she’s too heavy for summer, and summer is coming up. So it’s time. Time for a new 1860s gown! Yay!

This gown was included back in autumn of 2012, when I made my 9 month sewing plan. It’s my goal to have it finished by mid-March, for the annual Commonwealth Vintage Dancers Returning Heroes Ball. My inspiration is this fashion plate from 1864 (pictured below).

315_1864_FashionPlateAA
From The Bartos Collection. 1864.

Specifically, I’m going to be making the dress on the left. Or one inspired by/sort of like it. As I’ve been working on it I’ve made changes to my plan, as you’ll soon see. My dress will be green silk shot with gold and with gold silk trim. I bought the silk remnants for the project months ago, so I have had to make my plan work with the yardage I have. The green isn’t an issue, but the gold had to be carefully considered to make sure I have enough for all the trimmings. After lots of math, I realized I didn’t have enough to do all the trim, so I thought about what was visually most important and decided to eliminate the vertical lines of trim, as well as the waist trim. Here is the same fashion plate, with my changes:

480_1864_FashionPlateAA - Version 3

Of course, me being me, I’ve decided to hand sew the entire gown! Yes, sometimes I like my big projects. But I’ve got time (I think). I’ve sewn the skirt and the polished cotton lining and hemmed them, though the skirt isn’t attached to a waistband yet. I’ve sewn the bodice seams, so now it needs boning, and cording, and trim, and closures in the back. And, most importantly, I’ve cut and hemmed the MANY yards of gold trim for the skirt.

IMG_4198
Skirt trim: on top is the zig zag, in the middle is the rosettes, and on the bottom is the ruffle. Not gathered yet, but all hemmed!

Did I mention I’m hand sewing all of this? All of these trim bits on the skirt will be gathered to a ratio of just over 1 1/2 to 1 (that was all that my yardage would accommodate). The zig zag is hemmed on both sides and will be sewn onto the skirt with a band of green silk running down the middle. The rosettes will be gathered in the middle and the raw edges hidden, which is why that bit is hemmed on only one side. The ruffle at the bottom will be bound at the top, which is why only one edge is hemmed.

Hem-age: 13 1/2 yds of zig zag, hemmed on both sides equals 27 yds of hem; 10 1/2 yds of rosette hem (there will be 18 finished rosettes on the skirt, if all goes according to plan); and 7 1/2 yds of ruffle hem. Total hem-age: 45 yds, and that’s just the skirt trim!

I love hand sewing, which makes me excited about that total, rather than bored. And I really enjoy the sense of satisfaction I have when I’ve completed the different pieces of this project, so I can only imagine how great it will be when the entire gown is complete!