Isn’t this a cute fashion plate??? My favorite thing about it is her bright red shoes! My second favorite thing is that her bright red shoes match her red bodice! So cute!
First, this makes me want to wear colored shoes to a Regency ball. Often you see black or white in fashion plates, and our dance troupe tends to wear white to perform and also to balls out of habit, so without even thinking about it I usually pull out the neutral colored shoes… BUT! Extant shoes come in all sorts of colors, although maybe not quite as bright as these red ones. You can see some of them on my pinterest page here: Shoes: 1790-1829.
Second, that red bodice reminds me of this one that Natalie Garbett made for the HSF. Is it possible that this red one, like Natalie’s, is a separate piece from the dress? That would allow for more wardrobe options, certainly. I’m going to go on the assumption that it is, and congratulate this young lady in the fashion plate for being so coordinated and versatile in her wardrobe.
So… I’ve got a new dress to wear to an upcoming Regency ball that doesn’t really need a separate bodice to jazz it up. Do we think I can wear I can wear fun colored shoes without a separate bodice? I think probably yes, given that there are lots of extant colored shoes and I know of other images that show colored shoes. And now I have an excuse to wear colored shoes with a white dress! Fun! Maybe I need to make a separate bodice, too?
This link contains an affiliate code, which provides a small benefit to my shoe fund. This does not affect my impressions and reviews of this product.
When I first thought of buying Kensingtons, I was set on painting them yellow, either a lightish shade of yellow or medium yellow, like the images below.
But then I started looking at fashion plates… Some of them had very cute yellow shoes, but there were also some that had pink shoes that caught my eye. I love pink things… so I started thinking about painting the shoes pink.
First, fashion plates with cute pink shoes from the 1770s and 1780s.
Second, fashion plates with cute yellow shoes from the 1770s and 1780s.
Then I went back to looking at extant shoes and thought “perhaps two-tone shoes?” Either yellow with pink accents or pink with yellow accents… perhaps like the ones below? Here’s a fashion plate showing two-tone shoes, and there are more extant examples a little farther down in the post.
Another thing, I’ve noticed that many of the extant shoes I see are cloth, not leather. Well, the Kensingtons are leather, so that’s what I’ve got to work with (and I like it in a way, because the shoes will be much more durable). So then I started thinking about what I need to do to capture the 18th century in leather shoes that already have the right 18th century shape. I took a close look at the details in these next photos and analyzed what I saw.
If that isn’t enough examples, you can see more on my pinterest board: Shoes: 1770-1789. The details that strike me are: the binding around the ankle opening and latchets (often in a contrasting color) and the 3D quality of the trim and fabric of the shoes… the decorations are not simply painted on, but sewn on. That’s hard with leather, but glue is a good alternative to stitching.
I’ve seen other styles of painted and decorated historic shoes on my costuming friends. And at American Duchess, Lauren has done multiple posts and tutorials about 18th century shoes that she has painted and decorated.
What materials to use for decorations? Lauren used what looks like cotton bias tape, and on later Regency shoes narrow grosgrain which comes in a wide variety of colors. But the extant shoes look like they are bound with silk, so that’s what I’m going to aim for.
“What will I wear these shoes with?” is an important question I asked myself. “Well, everything I own from the 18th century until I buy another pair of 18th century shoes,” I answered. In the works right now are a taupey-brown silk petticoat, blue wool petticoat, Waverly mineral felicite jacket, and creamy quilted petticoat (you can see most of these fabrics in this previous post). In the future, I’m inspired by a purple and yellow color combination, as well as green and pinkish/red (these colors all in the fashion plates above!).
I’ve been ruminating over this decision for months so I make a choice I’m really happy with. I had all these options to think about: pink, yellow, both… It was tough. But I finally made a decision to go simple: yellow with champagne silk binding and champagne heels (saving pink for later, or removable ribbons, or other accessories). The latchets might also get pained champagne, I’m undecided on that point. Do you have thoughts about that? (More opinions is always better in these situations, you know!) I’ve got the paint from my Astorias, so that was easy… and the silk ribbon has been ordered! More to come soon!
One thing I actually did finish for the recent ball was the muff and tippet. For visual reference, the picture below shows the garments I’m discussing.
What is tippet, exactly? Merriam-Webster defines it, thus:
1: a long hanging end of cloth attached to a sleeve, cap, or hood
2: a shoulder cape of fur or cloth often with hanging ends
So, how did I make my tippet? First, I cut a piece of high loft polyester batting the length and width that I wanted. (I know they didn’t have poly batting in the 19th century… but it’s super warm and sometimes just worth it!) Then I cut a piece of my faux fur that was double the width of the batting plus an extra 3/4″ or so on each side as well as about 1″ longer on each end. I centered the batting on the wrong side of the fur, wrapped the fur around to the back, turned one edge under, and pinned. The ends of the fur I just turned up and under the other pinned bits. Then I whip stitched that folded edge down using pretty large stitches. The stitches disappeared in the fur… and voila, tippet! Too bad I didn’t take pictures of the construction!
The muff was slightly more tricky, not because of construction details, but because I agonized over what color lining to use! (To construct the muff, I made two tubes, one out of fur and one out of silk lining. I stitched one end of each tube to the other, turned the whole thing right sides out, inserted a tube of poly batting (warm!), pulled the lining through the middle, and pinned the open side of the fur to the silk, with the fur edge turned under. Then I simply whip stitched it like I did the tippet.
But before I could make the muff, I had to pick the lining color! Did I want it to match my walking dress trim (and be lavender?) Did I want to pick a color from a fashion plate? What colors were used in fashion plates? So many questions! I determined that of the muff linings I could see in fashion plates from that general period, there were three recurring colors: pink, blue, and white. Here’s what I came up with, image-wise:
So pink came in with 3, blue and white tied with 2 each, and then there were an assortment of unknown/other. But I didn’t like the idea of pink with my dark pinkish wool (you can see what that would look like in the December 1822 fashion plate: that’s the inspiration for my walking dress), so I settled for the light blue, which I think is delicate and softly Regency. Also, I had just a small amount of that color silk, and it’s a color that doesn’t really complement my skin, so I wasn’t likely to use it for a bonnet or something similar… but with a muff most of my skin is hidden! You can see the predominance of white fur for the muffs in these fashion plates (one of the reasons I chose white fur for the muff and tippet). There are brown, too, but a lot of white! 7 out of the 11 I included are white. Well, there you go. That’s my rationale for the muff and tippet.
Well, I’ve got the green silk ball gown sewn together. That’s good, because the ball is fast approaching. There’s only a week to go! Eep!!! I’ve finished the padded hem, but I still need to have someone mark center back for me so I can put closures on. And I haven’t set the neckline yet, either, because I’m waiting to see how it looks with the back actually closed… So far every time I’ve tried it on the back has just been hanging open, because I can’t actually reach that part of my back by myself. Never fear, though, I’ll be seeing friends this weekend who can help with marking the back for me! Yay!
I’ve been furiously hand sewing, working on the skirt appliqués on the ball gown. These are my first priority. In part this is because they’re already started (and it would look silly to have only a fraction of them done) and in part this is because the hem decoration is pretty essential for 1820s dresses. This is how I’m making the appliqués.
Right now the motifs really remind me of pineapples, a common motif in appliqué quilts (as a quilter as well, I appreciate the overlap between related interests). I’m sure once the centers are added they will look more like flowers and much more like the fashion plate. Each motif is 11″ tall and the repeat is 12″.
As I continue to sew these, I’m thinking about the sleeve appliqués. Currently, I’m stumped. I was going to sew my motifs on in the same way as the skirt, but I also made my sleeves pretty gathered… so I’m not sure how to nicely hide my seam allowances while also keeping the gathers looking un-squashed. I want the sleeve appliqués to sort of float on the gathered sleeves… I’m still brainstorming on how to make that happen. Perhaps I’ll stitch the seam allowance to the back of the base and then hope that the gathers mean you won’t see the base past the 1/4″ seam allowance that gets turned? If you have ideas, I’d love to hear them!
Well, as you recently read, I have a 9 month sewing plan to get me through May of 2013. It’s not set in stone (which means that mostly I keep adding to it, not taking things away…), but it gives me a great overview of what I need to accomplish and by what month. Deadlines really help in getting things completed!
The first major portion of the sewing plan is an ensemble of clothing from about the year 1823. I’ve been doing lots of looking at fashion plates and extant clothing from the early 1820s, in books and online. Here’s a link to my pinterest board: 1820-1824. I had so many pins in the 1820-1829 board that I had to separate the decade, so I also have a separate pin board of 1825-1829.
The 9 month plan includes the following pieces: petticoat, ball gown, walking dress, muff, bonnet, and chemisette. I’ve added one more thing since the plan was created: a tippet to match the muff! Before I explain why I want these items (ie, where I plan to wear them!), let’s look at my inspiration for the items themselves!
What is all of this for, you ask? I plan to wear the whole ensemble in December when I attend Fezziwig’s Ball, a 19th century ball hosted by the Commonwealth Vintage Dancers in Salem, MA. Since it’s a ball, I’m sure you understand why the petticoat and ball gown are required! But why the outerwear? Before the ball begins, ball-goers have the opportunity to go caroling around the streets! It’s really fun, and usually pretty cold. I need to stay warm, hence the wool walking dress, tippet, and muff. The chemisette is to fill in the collar of the walking dress, and the bonnet is really icing on the cake to help pull the whole ensemble together! As an added bonus, later this winter my friends and I hope to go ice skating in 19th century dress, so this will also be my ice skating outfit!
In August for each of the last eight years, I have been blessed to be able to enjoy an annual trip to Cape Cod. By this point the trip feels just like going home: I know the places I like to go, that I like to eat (and they recognize me, even though I’m only there one week out of the year!), that I like to shop… and I only deviate from these things when I want something new–a sense of adventure.
Well, a few years ago I was encouraged to visit a new store, which I did, and since then I have returned on every visit to the Cape. What store, you ask? Vintage In Vogue. This unique vintage clothing store is run by the wonderfully passionate Maureen Leavenworth. Truly, Vintage In Vogue is a unique vintage store. Maureen really cares about the stories behind the items for sale and she takes the time to share those stories with you when you are interested in an object.
The store is full of fun things like shoes, hats, jewelry, furs, patterns, fashion plates, and of course, dresses. There are some pieces from the 19th century, as well as many items from the 20th century. There is also has a whole area devoted to vintage wedding gowns and accessories. This year as I was poking around looking at the fun things… I found a few things I decided to take home with me.
First, a 1950s vintage Vogue pattern!
Then, a fur collar, separate from any garment that it once adorned.
And, lastly, a framed fashion plate from 1894!
I was very pleased with my finds. The pattern and fur collar have been put on the far back burner, but the 1894 lady enjoys a place of prominence on top of my dresser. I know that doesn’t sound very glamorous, but she has a light above her that I can turn on so it looks like she’s in a spot light, and she’s in a place where I see her every day as I’m getting dressed. It’s kind of perfect for me and my interests, actually, to see an image like this each morning.
We took a rather in-depth look at my new 1912 evening gown. Now, on to the second 1912 ensemble that I also wore during the weekend: day gown and hat!
This gown is constructed from silk charmeuse. The skirt is a single layer in addition to the overskirt panel in front. The bodice has a foundation of the same white cotton as my new evening gown. Mounted on to that cotton are (from the neck down) layers of ivory silk charmeuse, ivory silk flat lined with fabulous ivory colored diamond lace, black silk velvet, and black silk charmeuse. The overskirt panel is trimmed with matching silk velvet and the belt is constructed of the same. There are small buttons on the overskirt velvet trim (because, really, the Edwardians just loved adding buttons everywhere!). Because the back bodice mirrors the front in its style (which unfortunately I don’t have a picture of right now…), I had to be crafty with my closures. The dress has two places that open with hooks and bars: the left side from just under the arm to a few inches down the hip and the left shoulder seam around the neck to the center back of the collar. The effect is a form fitting dress that looks like it was magically donned. The side closure is straight forward, with the foundation layer hooking first, to take the tension of holding the dress tight, and the outer charmeuse layer hooking over that simply to stay closed. Again, the foundation is essential to achieving the elegant, effortless exterior. The neck closure is a series of hook and bars that turn different directions to accommodate the seams: front to back at the shoulder, hooks that hook up on the collar to attach it to the back neck, and hooks going sideways on the center back of the collar.
In addition to the gown, I also constructed what I call the “mushroom” hat, which you can read more about in this previous post. I created the pattern for the hat, which is basically just a shaped brim with circular side band. The side band support the crown, which is a circle that is pleated to create that “mushroom” shape. I love the hat! It lends such an air of Edwardian drama and elegance to the look! And I am so pleased the the “mushroom” shape worked out!
Hm… Patterning this dress… Well, the general skirt shape is from Janet Arnold, but it is adapted to have two symmetrical box pleats that terminate at the top in delightfully detailed seams (which I really, really need pictures of!). The bodice pattern was draped with many references to my inspiration image. I created a basic shape for the bodice and then cut in into the different pieces (ivory silk, ivory silk and lace, black velvet, and black charmeuse) so that each piece would fit together perfectly. The belt is slightly shaped but doesn’t actually have a pattern.
The dress is inspired by this image from a 1910 issue of the magazine Bon Ton.
In the end I made a few changes: I added a train, discarded the white under sleeves (I made them, I tried them, and they just didn’t work! They pulled the bodice in all sorts of weird ways… Maybe if the were not so tight they wouldn’t pull so much? I am fine with having gloves cover my lower arms, anyway.), and drastically scaled back the beading. Perhaps you’ll remember my plan to bead this dress? Well, the beading was drastically scaled back because I didn’t like the beads I bought as much as I thought I would (they are rectangular and larger than I thought… not seed bead-y at all), I realized I didn’t want to devote as much time as it would take to do the amount of beading I originally intended, I didn’t have enough beads to bead all four panels as much as the one panel I completed and I didn’t want to buy more beads, and I didn’t like the beading motif I had created, nor was I inspired to change it. You can see that I did leave one outline shape of beading on the bodice in the velvet section, but the rest was scrapped. That one line is repeated front and back (symmetry, you know). I did actually complete the overskirt top panel, but decided not to use it after my scaling back plan was complete (you can see it, below). I’m going to keep the beaded panel and see if it finds its way onto another project one day… I would still love to do intense beading on a garment, but I’ll have to pick a different one, because it wasn’t measuring up to my expectations for this dress.