Anonymous asked: Where do I rent a victorian Pram?
Unfortunately, I have no idea, but I am pleased and honored that this is the type of blog that you’d ask that sort of question. :)
I hope you find a lovely one! If I ever end up with a baby, I will definitely be investing in one for walks about town.
‘Jason and Madea’ by John William Waterhouse
Portrait of a Lady with a Book, Next to a River Source, by Antoine Vestier, 1785
I just can’t resist the sheer stripey silk goodness of her gown. Brilliant.
Nice sleeve puffs!
Francis the sweet pit bull, helping me cut out the fabric for my Lord of the Rings-inspired gown. :)
I’m loving this blog post on black chemise gowns!
And check this out: Regency-era mourning and funeral mementos!
I did some work on the pattern for my 1830s/40s shift/chemise today, based on the Workwoman’s Guide instructions from 1838.
I decided that instead of reproducing the Workwoman’s shift exactly, I wanted to alter the instructions slightly to copy a shift identical to the pattern below, an 1835 shift from the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London:
First, I read the Workwoman’s Guide instructions, which are in yards and “nails,” an antiquated measurement that is about the size of an index finger from the tip to the largest knuckle, aka 2.25”. There are 16 nails in a yard (36”). I translated all the nails/yards measurements to inches, to get an idea of the size of the various pattern pieces I would need to cut out.
I decided to make the second-smallest size. Interestingly the Workwoman’s Guide lists the sizes from the largest to the smallest. What a change in perspective from today!
I then cut out small pieces of extra fabric, to mock-up how the shift would go together (note: pieces are not to scale):
Here you can see the gores that are cut out from the top of the shift, which are sewn to the bottom to make a triangular/polygon type of shape.
The Workwoman’s Guide helpfully gives the measurements for the shoulder straps. I decided that rather than follow the WG’s instructions to make a single piece of fabric into a shift, I would alter the pattern to include separate shoulder straps, sewn onto the straight seam at the bosom and back. I also decided to make the sleeves puffy and sewn to a band at the cuffs (band not present in the model below), rather than straight sleeves like in the Workwoman’s shift.
You can see how it all fits together:
Below I’m sewing on the last part, the gores underneath the sleeves:
And the pattern-mockup is finished. Now I’ll go about making a human-sized, hand-sewn version (without all the raw edges ;) !
Whenever I’m making a pattern from measurements only, I always find it’s easier to work out the confusion in half-scale, or even quarter-scale. Easier to work with, easier to sew, etc. You can use this technique to do flat pattern-making from any standard book you’d find in fashion school. It saves a lot of money on fabric! Then, when you have the pattern figured out and you understand it all, you can make it in a bigger size and make only minor adjustments.
Next up: sewing the real thing!
Time for a new historical reproduction project! For frugality’s sake, I’m using an old bedsheet to make my next 1840s shift, which I am hand-sewing as a part of the Historical Sew Fortnightly’s first challenge, “Starting Simple”! (Hey, it’s kinda like calico, sort of! ;) But honestly I just love the idea of re-using cloth rather than throwing it out. Besides old bedsheets are super soft and comfortable). My goal is to sew the shift exclusively by hand, using period-accurate stitches that are detailed in the Workwoman’s Guide.
I’m just figuring out the sizes and whatnot now (yes… I’m a bit behind schedule for the HSF challenge, which is due tomorrow!). It seems like a great project to do while I wait for the black acid dye for my Lord of the Rings dress to come in the mail from Dharma Trading Co.
Following is a collection of resources to sew an 1830s/40s shift (aka chemise), following the directions in the Workwomans Guide from 1838.
Workwoman’s Guide, by A Lady — illustrated plates and written instructions:
A great page of 1830s shifts and drawers, including a link to a diagram for the Workwoman’s Guide shift superimposed on an 1830s shift in the MFA Boston collection:
Some great construction notes on shifts from this period and slightly earlier:
In the course of making my gown, I’ve found these resources to be helpful. I’ll be adding to them as I continue working on the gown, as well, so watch this space!
Vat Dying silk with acid dyes:
Reproductions and studies of Arwen’s mourning gown:
How to wear a veil:
And finally, a nice collection of reenactment images including many beautiful gowns:
I gave in to a long-standing urge to make a Lord of the Rings-inspired dress after seeing The Hobbit last weekend! Of course like everyone else, I love Arwen and Galadriel’s various dress designs the best (and the Elven outfits in general).
I decided to make it easier for myself by basing the gown on a pre-made pattern (figuring that I’ll save my pattern-making efforts for historic reproductions. :) I used Simplicity 4940, which is kind of a generic “elven costume dress” kinda pattern that came out after the first trilogy of movies.
So far I’ve made up the basic pattern, leaving off the weird collar/yoke thing, in some cream-colored silk dupioni that I had lying around:
I’ve ordered some black acid dye from Dharma Trading Company, because of course my elven dress needs to be some sort of a gothic elf. ;) Once that’s dyed, I’ll put on the finishing touches — some ribbon and trims at the neck probably, decorations at the shoulders, etc.
The pattern calls for a zipper at the back of the dress. While I like the ease of getting in and out of a dress via zipper (after historic reproductions, you take conveniences seriously), I think it might look nicer if it were laced up in the back instead (with an invisible zipper on one side under the armhole). I might try to make a faux lace-up back, with machine-sewn grommets kind of like I did on my wedding dress. Front-lacing gowns are actually more historically accurate for medieval kirtles (not that this is intended in any way to be related to an historical garment, nor is it a kirtle), but I actually think I prefer the lacing in the back, aesthetically.
I also did some research on headwear that would go with this dress. My current hairstyle is quite “punk rock” and wouldn’t really suit the look, I don’t think! That’s ok — veils and circlets to the rescue! I think something like this would look great:
But of course, in black to match the dress. ;) Looks like it would be easy to make, too.
What do you guys think?
Princess Irulan and her entourage, Dune. David Lynch, 1984.
I love the costuming in this movie. Very 19th century Russian. Inspiring!