The Simple, The Complicated, & The Continent Part III

I’ve already shared photos from the actual purpose for my visit to Denmark last year, which you can read about in Part I and Part II of this series. These next pictures are a few moments from our sightseeing adventures. Some of excursions were afternoons off during the dance week (we had to get a break in sometimes!) but most of these are from after the dance week ended.

One afternoon during the week, we joined some of the other dance week attendees on a tour of the countryside around the area where we were staying. I was lucky enough to be in a car with a lovely local person who was able to share all sorts of interesting information and answer all of our questions. We stopped at multiple places… historic homes, a bird sanctuary, an estuary, and a deer park, to name a few. This photo was taken near the bird sanctuary. I’m trying to imitate the windmill that is over my left shoulder…

Outside one of the historic homes (built in the style of castle, which was rather fun!) there was a lovely courtyard with gorgeous blooms. I didn’t match quite perfectly, but I was in the same color palette.

It was a quaint place to ‘practice’ one of the more whimsical dance choreographies we learned, especially as the three of us happened to be wearing red and matching the trees above us.

After the dance week we stopped for a very rainy day in Odense, the birthplace of Hans Christian Anderson. I learned lots of new information about him and his life at the Hans Christian Anderson Museum. It was extensive, containing information about his personal life and upbringing, his clothing, places he lived, his writing, and more.

I was particularly struck by this quote. Thread is so relevant to me in a physical sense, but I also find peace in the idea of a thread that runs through my life and makes sense of each little piece in a way that I can only see when I look behind me.

After our quick stop in Odense it was on to Copenhagen. Soon after our arrival we noticed a Scottish pub near the city center. Two of us, in particular, are very attached to Scotland and Scottish things, so we had to check it out. Plus, it advertised live music! We were hoping for Scottish music… but instead got a guy playing pop songs on his guitar. Still amusing, just not what we were hoping for.

One evening we took a sunset boat tour and caught this lovely view of Amalienborg Palace, the home of the Danish royal family.

Our accommodations were quite close to Tivoli Gardens, so it was easy to spend multiple evenings there. Tivoli Gardens was Walt Disney’s inspiration for the creation of Disneyland. We rode some rides, watched some shows and fireworks, and enjoyed the decadent lights.

Another stop was Christiansborg Palace, which is an extensive collection of buildings serving a variety of purposes for the Danish government, the royal family, and for sharing history. I wanted to get this picture just for the perspective of how large these doors were!

To go inside, we were required to don shoe covers. Here we are, ready to go!

The architectural details were beautiful, as you would expect for a building with this much national significance. I would be happy to hang out in rooms like these!

I’m always a fan of gorgeous libraries. This one has a balcony. So fun!

Also, a Mirror of Erised? What do you see when you look in the mirror?

The Theatre Museum at The Court Theatre is right near Christiansborg Palace. We enjoyed looking around the audience boxes, the backstage areas, the displays, and showing off some of our Danish minuet dancing on stage.

After a few days spent in museums and palaces we wanted a little something different and decided to go to the zoo. I enjoyed the penguins and bears (no surprise!), including a polar bear! Sadly, Mr. Polar Bear seemed pretty bored by himself in his enclosure. I watched him swim back and forth, back and forth, pushing off the walls in the exact same place every time he passed. Maybe (hopefully) he was quite happy and enjoying his swim.

There was one obviously happy polar bear, though. I enjoyed this one as well!

Well, that’s the end of the trip. Thanks for sharing the memories with me!

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The Simple, The Complicated, & The Continent Part II

In Part I of The Simple, The Complicated, & The Continent, I shared casual pictures from the mid-19th century dance week I attended last August. Now it’s time for the (mostly) more elegant pictures of the formal balls from the week. You’ll see why I say mostly elegant… there are some silly pictures, too!

On the Wednesday of the dance week we had an informal ball at the school. In terms of dancing, it went generally well. We’d had two days of dance classes and we weren’t completed exhausted yet. Everyone looked lovely so it was fun, as always, to admire other people’s ensembles. We were informed that the social custom of Denmark is to only post photos of other people if you have their permission, so I don’t have too many photos I can share of the informal ball, in particular. It’s a reasonable custom, I think, just quite different from what we’re used to in America. It really is the Wild West of willy-nilly picture posting here! Maybe the Wild West village on the grounds of the school made more sense than I thought…

So here I am dressed for the informal ball. My hair was frizzy and big by the evening of the day so I decided to run with it! Big round hair is perfect for the 1858 anyway. I wore Georgina, with her evening bodice. Actually, all of the Americans wore our mid-19th century cotton ballgowns (many of which you can see in this past post), which quite impressed many of the other attendees. We were told that fabrics like these are difficult to find in and around Denmark.

After another two days of classes, the week ended with a formal dinner and ball. We were bussed to the town where these events were to be held (and it was quite an adventure, getting all the large dresses onto the tour buses and into the seats!) and then did a small walking tour of the town before dinner. A new friend snapped this photo of me traipsing across the street after getting some photos taken. I chose my matching crocs to wear around the town before going into dinner and the ball, but I didn’t think anyone would see them!

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Dinner was lovely and then it was time for the ball. It was quite exciting to be attending a formal ball on ‘the continent!’ It sounds so fashionable in a 19th century way!

The ballroom contained actual candles! These are forbidden in many of the halls I normally get to dance in, so that was a nice novelty. They were especially lovely as the light faded outside.

Our hosts provided us with dance cards, which had a convenient hook for hanging the dance card off of a belt or waistband. In my case, the belt on my dress was perfect!

The ballroom was rather small for the number of people we squashed into it, but I suppose that is probably rather accurate for some events in the 19th century. It did mean that the room became quite hot, so I spent a fair bit of time enjoying the lovely garden outside.

As you can see, I wore Eleanor, my plaid silk ball gown. It was a good choice for traveling and it was fun to be elegantly simple in my clothing choice.

Capturing the photographer in a photo! Isn’t it lovely how well their dresses coordinate with the colors in the garden?

Why was I lifting my skirt so scandalously? I think to see how high I could easily lift my leg in my dress. Or perhaps to check my balance? Doesn’t really matter, does it? Silly photos are fun!

I did get permission to share this photo of me with two new friends. Our colors coordinated so well and that uniform was absolutely stunning! And it had fur on the cuffs. Such soft fur! I bet it was boiling hot, but it was also quite dashing!

Unfortunately, by this point in the week we were all brain-dead, so the room in general didn’t do a great job of executing all the dancing we had been working on without many mistakes. That felt like rather a let down, sadly, as it would have been nice to dance at a ball on ‘the continent’ with perfect execution. I guess this gives me another reason to go back and try again some day!

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Posted in 1850s, 1860s, 19th Century, Hair Styles, Victorian Clothing, Vintage Dancing: 19th Century, Wearing Reproduction Clothing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Simple, The Complicated, & The Continent Part I

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that I am sometimes quite slow at getting around to posting things. This post is about a trip I took last August, but better late than never, right?

So last August, I was able to travel to Denmark in order to participate in an international vintage dance week focused on 19th century dances and in particular, a variety of complicated quadrilles. It was quite the mind workout, being in classes for six or so hours each day for the week and trying to keep track of which figure from which quadrille we were working on at any given time.

Part of the title of this post comes from one of those mind-boggling class sessions, when we were working on a complicated quadrille that had one figure with a simple variation and another figure with the same variation in a much more complicated fashion. The way I’ve remembered those figures is by calling them ‘the simple’ and ‘the complicated.’

The dance week was hosted at an arts school a few hours train ride from Copenhagen. It was a lovely spot, right on the water and set on a hill.

The Americans that I was traveling with were particularly struck by this sight down a hill behind the school. The students were studying America’s Wild West in history and had built a mini town on the grounds, including a saloon, jail, and other buildings. It wasn’t quite what we were expecting in Denmark!

There were lots of cute little nooks around the school. We took this photo to document our arrival and later discovered that this door led into the chapel, though I don’t think it’s often used.

Getting ready for classes involved wearing polka dot socks…

And recovering from classes required some stretching. As I mentioned, the school was on a hill, and we found that walking up the hill slowly and with large steps was a great calf stretch. Despite looking silly, it felt great!

In the evenings and on breaks we would lounge around, listen to our live musicians (yes, even for classes, which was neat!) who would play concerts for us, or go sightseeing.

One day we found Harry Potter trivial pursuit in the common room. It sounded like fun, and then we realized it was in Danish… We’d all been working on our Danish but certainly didn’t know enough to actually translate the cards. A bit of internet searching helped, as did the google translate app, but I dissolved into absolute tears at one question, which somehow appeared to include the made-up word parnoodle. I believe it was actually asking what kind of owl Draco Malfoy owned (an eagle owl, if you’re curious). Google tells me that eagle owl in Danish is hornugle. I don’t really remember how we got to parnoodle, but it was hysterically funny at the time and continues to be a running joke.

That’s a good introduction to the trip and a good place to leave off for Part 1. Next will be a post about the more formal parts of the dance week–the balls!

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Orange Boven Pelisse At A Promenade

These photos are rather belated in being posted, as they are from a Regency event that occurred last September, but better late than never, right? The event was a promenade, for which we had beautiful weather with temperatures that were just right for this type of event. It’s a bit cloudy today, so these blue skies look extra beautiful to me.

I took the opportunity to wear my 1814 Orange Boven pelisse ensemble (which includes the pelisse and matching hat as well as the chemisette and my Vernet petticoat). I also carried the red & gold reticule I posted about back in 2014. It was only the second wearing of this finished ensemble and the first one where I actually wore it to promenade in outdoors rather than being indoors. I’m happy to report that it’s great for its purpose–comfortable, suitably warm, and with the ability to blow in the wind nicely, as you can see.

It was lovely to meet some new people at the event. We had lots to chat about as we wandered down towards this lighthouse: sewing, clothes, accessories…

It was quite an enjoyable afternoon. I believe this event will be held again this year, so I hope to have an equally lovely experience in a few months.

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Posted in 1810s, 19th Century, Accessories, Hats, Regency Clothing, Wearing Reproduction Clothing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

c. 1860 Crinoline Size Comparison & Tutorial

Back in October of 2016, I made a new, smaller crinoline (also called a hoop skirt) than the one I’d had for about the last 10 years. I thought it would be great, and it was… in terms of shape. Unfortunately, the new crinoline had a fatal flaw: the channels for the hoops were too wide for the slippery-ness of the hoops and therefore all the tapes would slide to one side while being worn, causing the hoops to drop down and create a trip hazard for the wearer. I had loaned these to a friend at a ball and was horrorstruck as I realized the problem and she attempted to dance without realizing the problem. It was such an awful feeling! We solved the problem for the night, but I resolved to fix the hoops before wearing them again and I learned a good lesson about trying out new garments myself before loaning them! I’ll get to my solution for the sliding hoops in a bit, but first I’ll start at the beginning.

The new crinoline was an experiment to see if I could use the hooping from a cheap Amazon hoop skirt like this to create a cage crinoline with smaller dimensions than my usual crinoline, the super-cupcake, which has a decidedly high fashion silhouette. The answer to that question is ‘yes’ it was easy to reuse the hoop steel from the Amazon crinoline to make a cage crinoline.

You see, the super-cupcake looks great with the right circumference of skirt and the right environment (high fashion daywear or a ballroom); however, under a cotton day dress I wanted a more subtle, practical, reasonable shape. I have to admit to liking a big skirt though, so a reasonable crinoline for me still has a larger circumference than what it might be for others. Also, at 5’6″ I am taller than the average woman, which allows me to carry off a larger circumference while staying within reasonable looking proportions. (For more thoughts on practical sized crinolines, Maggie May has shared useful research and an equation to help determine crinoline circumferences.)

Here’s a comparison of my two crinolines worn with cotton dresses: the super-cupcake is on the left and the newer reasonable crinoline is on the right.

Interestingly, the dimensions of these two crinolines aren’t terribly different. The lowest hoop is only about 8″ smaller  on the new crinoline. The biggest difference (and what alters the silhouette most) is that the new crinoline has a more tapered shape in the upper hoops.

I’ve provided the following size chart in an effort to help those who might be making or adjusting their own crinolines. Even if you don’t want to deal with all the vertical tapes, you can use these dimensions to adjust the hoop sizes in a ready-made modern crinoline to achieve the same effect.

Interestingly, both of these crinolines have the same vertical tape length that is short enough to keep the bottom hoop decidedly above the floor. The lowest hoop on these is about at my mid-calf height. This keeps my feet from getting tangled–especially useful while dancing! In order to keep my dresses from folding under the bottom hoop as I move, I have a cotton petticoat with a substantial ruffle around the hem which provides stability for the dress worn on top. You can see the length of the super-cupcake on me as well as the ruffled petticoat that I wear over both crinolines in this post.

Here are my two crinolines next to each other while the new one was still in progress. They have an overall similar construction (although I did simplify the new ones, using fewer hoops and fewer vertical tapes).

My old crinoline used ivory twill tape for the vertical supports. There are actually two layers of it that are hand sewn together to make channels for the hoops, creating channels along the lines of those seen in this 1859 hoop skirt patent filed by James Draper of New York (while the hoop circumferences are not provided in the patent, the silhouette of Draper’s hoop skirt is similar to that of my super-cupcake). This method used a ridiculous amount of twill tape, so I came up with a way to make the new channels that would use only one layer of twill tape for each vertical support. More on that in a moment.

The old crinoline’s hoops are made from cotton covered steel that was in a ribbon form originally. I had cut each ribbon in half (and over time, the fabric covering started to fall off, which caused me to painstakingly wrap each hoop all the way around with thread to make it more durable–a caution to anyone else using this to make a crinoline, although I’m not sure where you’d source this type of material these days as I believe this type of ribbon wire is no longer being produced). The fabric covering combined with the narrow channels in the twill tape means that the vertical ribbons only slide when I want them to, but that they otherwise stay in place nicely.

For the new crinoline, I machine sewed tucks into a single layer of twill tape to create channels for the hoops. You can see those tucks in the photo below.

I also machine sewed the vertical tapes to the twill tape waistband, because why not–I was machine sewing anyway. The waistband is two layers of twill tape sandwiched together.

That’s basically it for the construction before the awful incident of loaning them out. I cut the hoops to be the dimensions I wanted, slid them through the channels, and used the plastic joiners that had come with crinoline to secure the ends. Done! Or so I thought…

After realizing that these hoops were going to slide horribly, I went back to research to figure out how this problem was solved in the past. What I noticed are little metal dots on each join of hoop to vertical support. That makes so much sense! I wanted to add these to my hoops but I didn’t know what to call them while searching for materials.

It took me a little research to figure it out, but I did and now I’ll share that with you. They are called spots! Once you realize that then a whole world of spots becomes available to you. Decorative ones, bronze, copper, nickel, black… so many options! I got plain domed copper from this seller on eBay and am very happy with them. They’re easy to apply with a pair of pliers and seem quite durable. Now my hoops and tapes stay in place–no more sliding around!

And here is the finished result of the spots on the reasonable crinoline. I like the look as well as the practicality. I’m planning to add gold ones to the super-cupcake as well, for looks more than anything else.

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Posted in 1850s, 1860s, 19th Century, Costume Construction, Costume History, Hand Sewn Elements, Hoops and Bustles, Patterning, Undergarments, Victorian Clothing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

1864 Evie Hair (Returning Heroes Ball 2018)

In March, I again had the pleasure of attending The Commonwealth Vintage Dancers‘ annual Returning Heroes Ball (you can read about other years I’ve attended here). I decided to wear Evie, my 1864 ballgown, simply because it had been a year or so since the last time I wore that particular gown.

In order to change things up I did two things differently with this wearing: I wore different earrings and did my hair differently. Small changes, but it makes wearing an old dress feel new and exciting!

I don’t think I’ve ever worn these earrings for mid-19th century events before (only for things later and earlier than this period), though now that I’ve tried it I think they work quite well. I made them from triple drop earrings that I bought from a modern store (I forget now, but I think it was New York and Company). I just took off the bottom drop and attached them to clip hardware. They catch the light and sparkle nicely.

1860s and earrings together reminds me of the scene in Gone With The Wind in which a straggling soldier try to steal ‘ear bobs’ from the house. Not that these look at all similar (and luckily my story ends on a happier note than that scene), but a GWTW reference generally makes me smile.

I was going to do a simple hairstyle (my usual go-to c.1860 style with a center part and the hair in a low mass at the back of my head), but as I was getting ready I chanced a look at Pinterest and got excited about trying a more complicated style than I usually do. In particular, I liked the puffed fronts on some of these styles from 1864 and the curls on the sides like some of these from 1861.

I sort of mashed these two looks together, using small rats to puff the front sections of hair and a curling iron to get smooth curls for the sides. My hair is getting to be so long that I had to pin the hanging curls up to shorten them! The rest of my hair was just twisted and pinned on my neck without too much attention paid to it. I was running out of time and knew I’d be adding my hair piece on top, which would cover most of the back of my hair anyway.

I really like the end result for this particular dress of mine. I feel it compliments the hair piece and the silk dress nicely. Isn’t it lovely when all these little details come together to create one cohesive end result? Yay!

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Posted in 1860s, 19th Century, Hair Styles, Hoops and Bustles, Victorian Clothing, Vintage Dancing: 19th Century, Wearing Reproduction Clothing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Dressing Gown & Slip c. 1935

I made this robe about four years ago, for the same film that I made the 1934 Metallic Evening Gown I posted about recently. Like that dress, this robe and the accompanying slip were made and never worn, and so have spent the last four years languishing in my closet.

When I had the opportunity to attend Gatsby On The Isles in 2016 I thought it would be a great opportunity to wear these pieces for breakfast on the second day, and also to get some photos!

The robe is inspired by the silhouette of these robes from 1936. The pattern started life as Burda 7627, which I adapted to get the shape I wanted: a longer skirt with more fullness and sleeves with a little more flare. The slip is inspired by slips in this image from 1934. The pattern for this is actually the same as for my evening gown from 1934, just cut off around knee height and with a different strap situation.

The robe is made from a polyester jacquard. It’s not lined, just faced with more of the same fabric on the edges. The slip is made from polyester charmeuse and edged with lace. Both garments are entirely machine sewn.

I thought it would be fitting to pair these garments with my beautiful silver American Duchess Seabury shoes. These shoes are excellent–a unique historical shape, comfortable, sturdy for walking and dancing, and with gorgeous, lustrous silk exteriors. I even wear these in my modern life–they’re a quirky, elegant shoe to wear for a dressed up event.

On the other hand, I don’t have the opportunity to wear this dressing gown that often (I mean, I could wear it around the house as a modern person, but I don’t, generally speaking), so when I do wear it I really enjoy how elegant and put together it makes me feel. It’s fun to have historical comfy clothes in addition to the day dresses and evening gowns!

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Posted in 1930s, 20th Century, Costume Construction, Patterning, Undergarments, Wearing Reproduction Clothing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment