Monday, December 17, 2012

Two Really Are Better Than Just One!

In September 2012 I posted up a blog post on "Two are Better Than One" talking about how in Victorian times it was not unusual to see two bodices that matched one skirt.  I have attached a link to my blog post:

Myself, Right, with my friend,  Ms Cindy P, 2012 President of the San Diego Costume Guild
Dinner Bodice
So, with that thought in mind, I ran into a similar situation, and opted for the same solution.  I had seven yards of  a dusty rose fabric, and two yards of a wool blend plaid.  I went with five yards for the skirt (including pleating), and then 1 1/2 yards for each of the bodices.  That left me with a half yard for the bonnet. 

Same skirt with a Plaid Day Bodice
I was able to achieve two different looks, one dinner and one day bodice; and both of the bodices worked with one skirt.  I find it very interesting to find myself in some of the same predicaments that ladies long ago may have found themselves in, and then using their vintage solutions for my modern day dilemma!  Enjoy!


Friday, December 14, 2012

Picture Perfect 1887 Christmas Gown - Pretty Dress of the Day Challenge

I pulled the pictures of this 1887 Bustle gown off the site "TimeTravelersAntiques", which was a gown that had been sold in the past.  I have mentioned how many gowns go from private owner to private owner and are never seen again, and this is a perfect example of such.  It is just too pretty not be be shared with the world at large.  I love this look, and it would be so easy to recreate!  A sleeveless Christmas Red Velvet vest with skirt sides and back train, over a simple Ivory silk satin foundation skirt and matching blouse.  Enjoy!


1950 Crinoline Project

I realized I did not post up a pic of my 1950 Crinoline project.  It was super easy and fast as I really needed to only gather the top fabric and attach a set-in waistband.  This crinoline was the one I selvaged from the vintage wedding gown I made my Raisin and Plum Bustle gown from!  The overall length of the crinoline is 27" long, which goes perfectly under my 1950s day dress (see my prior post: A Blast to the Past  When I was looking at this crinoline I noticed it actually had five panels that were gored - good heavens!  Who does this?  Have you ever worked with stiff crino?  It's a combat sport!  I was lucky to get away with mild abrasions on my prior crinoline attempt!  So, when I saw the paneling, I knew I was going to save it.  Someone had worked really hard putting this vintage beauty together, and it should be saved. 
What I also loved was the ribbon trim on the bottom hem.  So pretty and feminine.  So, it was the work of a moment to pull it all together!  Enjoy!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

An 1870 Pretty Pink Plaid Day Gown

A year or so ago I asked my Aunt Dot if she would like to try a knitting challenge.  She said yes, and I showed her the pattern for these knitted patterned undersleeves from 1865.  They are made of fingering weight mohair yarn in a light purple.   This is a super fine - super thin yarn.  It took her a couple of months, and she told me later that she was cursing my name as there where 200 stitches per inch!  They turned out great and are super warm and soft, not itchy at all!  I worn them this weekend with my most recent sewing project, an 1870 Ensemble. 

1870 Brown Silk Day Gown - two piece
I had seven yards of a cotton/rayon dusty rose moire taffeta, which matched perfectly with the two yards of a poly/wool plaid, both of which were in my stash.  This 1870 brown silk gown is my inspiration.  What drew me to this was the clever way they used the rushing to imitate an apron/bustle combination.  As I did not have enough fabric to actually make my apron/bustle, I used the same trim treatment illusion!  I also liked the pagoda sleeves at 3/4, so my knitted undersleeves could be seen and appreciated!

This is my finished ensemble.  It took about seven days to complete from cutting to wearing.  I used the Burda Foundation skirt (see my prior post "Burda Foundation Skirt") with my prior Civil War bodice patten (see "Flirting around with Civil War Fashions").  Lastly, I used self fabric trim to keep costs down.  Total expense was approximately $30 for everything, but as all the fabric, buttons, and thread was already in my stash, technically it did not cost me anything!
Lastly, I topped it off with an 1870 Bonnet in the matching dusty rose moire taffeta.  The bonnet is 75% hand-sewn, and 25% machine sewn.  The bonnet took approximately five hours start to finish.  Enjoy!

When Imperfections Are Perfect...

I am sharing this post, not to be criticized, but so that other folks may learn from my mistake. 

I had purchased an amazing 35x120 silk shawl from a lady in England.  It was in almost perfect condition with only a couple of snags, but there were also a couple of stains, and they bothered me.  I wanted it to be perfect!  So, I checked around and found the highest ranked Dry Cleaner in Orange County.  I talked with them about my vintage shawl and what I wanted cleaned.  They assured me at length that it was certainly something they could take care of.  I left feeling reassured and confident that when I picked it up in three days, it would perfect!  Now, I know that vintage clothing, in most museums, is never really "cleaned" per se, more spot cleaned if a cleaning is even needed.  But, I thought to myself, this shawl is in such great shape it should be able to survive a mild cleaning with our modern products.  I was very much looking forward to picking it up!
In retrospect, I can not stress to you the level of my dismay when I returned to pickup my vintage shawl, only to see it in tatters.  Apparently the heat techniques just fried the silk to brittle nothingness.  If you flicked it with your finger, it would shatter or tear.  It literally was falling apart in my hands.  I was so saddened by the destruction of this gorgeous shawl, I could not even write about it for a couple of months.
So, today I can say that I wish I had been happy with my lovely vintage shawl just the way it was.  That it's tiny imperfections were what gave it that authentic look and feel.  I wish that I could have simply realized that this shawls imperfections were perfect just the way they were, then I might still have it with me.     

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Something Old, Yet Something New To See

I mentioned in one of my prior posts about how so many amazing garments are still located in personal, or "Private" collections, of which most of us probably own several vintage items ourselves.  This gown is in a private collection owned by Ms Helen Larson.  Fashion Institute of Design and Marketing has been desirous of purchasing this collection for their museum for some time.  To support that effort, FIDM occasional has fundraiser teas and other events.  This photo, and attached link below, is from their most recent presentation.  Just wanted to share.  Enjoy!

1816-1817 Regency Gown owned by Princess Charlotte of Wales
"19th century gown worn by Princess Charlotte of Wales. The dress is printed with symbolic imagery: roses (for England), shamrocks (Ireland), thistle (Scotland), myrtle and acorns (marital flora), as well as multiple ‘Star of the Order of the Garter’ badges—all suitable for Princess Charlotte, heiress to the British throne, and newly married in 1816. Kevin methodically traced the ownership of the dress to members of Princess Charlotte’s household, making it one of only a handful of garments with provenance attributed to this popular princess." - excerpt from FIDM Monarchy Tea

Pretty Dress of the Day Challenge - Let's All Promenade!

This 1889 Promenade Ensemble is just beautiful.  The contrast between the fabric color and the trim simply draws your eye and holds it.  The sheer amount of detail work at the bodice is breath-taking!  The elegant curve of the bodice at the waist, flows perfectly to the hip, and then drops to the hem to again draw your eye to the decorative trimming that abounds thereby.  This trim work is known as "Soutache" =

1889 J. Redfern Promenade Ensemble

A soutache is narrow flat decorative braid used in the trimming of drapery or clothing. In clothing soutache is used to conceal a seam.  In military uniforms a particular width or color of soutache is used to indicate rank, particularly in a hat. In athletic uniforms a contrasting soutache is used to outline numbers or players' names.  Soutache is often woven of metallic bullion thread, silk, or a blend of silk and wool. In the 20th century soutache began to be woven of rayon and other synthetic fibers.  (Thank you Wikipedia)

This soutache is also beaded at certain locations for a little extra sparkle.  I would love to know how this bodice closes in the front.  It is hard to see in these photos.  I was almost thinking a side closure with lacing - can you see it?  How do you think it is closed? 

1889 J. Redfern Promenade Ensemble w/matching bonnet