Vernet Project: Making Progress

Our group’s early December deadline to finish sewing our Vernet Projects is fast approaching! Thank goodness we’ve had all year to work on these–mine has been quite a project with all the hand sewing and patterning and learning new skills. Of my five pieces, one is totally done, two have less than three tasks left to be finished, and 2 are still about halfway completed. It won’t quite be furious sewing, but I do have to keep at it to get it done in time. For now, here is proof that I’ve been making progress!

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Starting December 7th, you should check in often with the group on Facebook to see each recreation released side by side with the original Vernet fashion plate. It’s going to be really, really amazing to see these crazy and beautiful fashion plates in 3D form!

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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

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?

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!

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).

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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:

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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.

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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!