Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fully-boned 1760's stays in progress

Here we go again. I might have said I've had enough of stays for this year but now I've been making new stays for mid-18th century costumes. I based the pattern on the oldest pair of existing stays in Finland and you can see them here. The original is made out of 8 panels of pale brown linen (plus shoulder straps) and the 5mm wide boning channels are stitched in blue silk thread. With two small black-and-white photos of the stays in Dress of Gentlewomen in Finland in the 18th century by Riitta Pylkkänen and the one blurry photo from the web, it was a bit hard to imitate the boning pattern precisely. However, it's quite close to Garsault's  fully-boned stay pattern featured (for example) in The cut of women's clothes by Norah Waugh.

As usual, I mix both modern and period methods for construction. First, after cutting all the pieces, I stitched all the boning channels by machine.

Then I sewed the panels together.

And then inserted the bones (cable ties) into the channels. There are 140 bones altogether.

More w.i.p. photos coming later on as I progress... :)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Versatile Blog Award and a short sewing hiatus

Just to let you know, I'm not sewing at the moment. Our bedroom is currently under renovation, which means that all of my sewing supplies have been removed from the sewing corner for a while. I really hope we'll be done with the renovation before the end of the week because I'm still very inspired by the last event and would love to start making some new things for my 18th century wardrobe. As I haven't been able to sew, I have been drafting some patterns. For example, I just finished patterns for a 1760's fully-boned stays and for another 1780's robe à l'anglaise for a friend.

About a week ago I was happy to notice that nominated me with the Versatile Blogger Award. I really wasn't expecting to receive another award in such a short while after the Liebster Blog nomination. Anyhow, I'm very honored to receive another one and very happy to hear someone would find my blog worthy of this award.
Accepting this honor means I need to:

1) Thank and link back to the person who nominated you.
2) Paste the award to my blog.
3) Tell 7 thing about myself.
4) Nominate 15 other blogs.

And now, seven things about me. I'll try to keep them sewing-related...

1)  As kids, my friend and I drew a pirate comic and we wanted to know more about the Golden Age of Piracy. I was more into naval history than fashion history back then. As time passed I got more and more into historical clothing and finally started sewing historical costumes at the age of 15. My first dress turned all alright for something that's your first piece of clothing that you have ever sewed but it was far from being a real 18th century costume. 

2) I sewed my first 18th century corset about half a year after starting sewing. It was an awful thing but the fit was surprisingly good... for someone who has sewed only one garment before.

3) The first fashion history book I borrowed from the library was The Chronicle of Western Costume by John Peacock. Browsing through all the periods, I found 18th century the most appealing.

4) At first when seeing Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette in the movies I did not like it. Later on I started enjoying the movie because of the costumes and music. (I can't get enough of that soundtrack.) Nowadays Marie Antoinette is still one of my favorite 18th century movies even if you can easily tell some costumes are quite far from being historically accurate. 

5) My purple robe à la polonaise was the first costume that I was truly happy with. Though, it no longer fits... *sigh* 

6) Sewing 21st century clothing is mostly boring to me. I have sewn many modern garments as I took my studies in modern dressmaking but I still prefer to sew historical costumes. I secretly weep in my mind every time I have to replace zippers or shorten jeans. 

7) I probably spend more money on my costumes than on my everyday clothing. I rarely buy new clothing and I'm not interested in shopping anyway. Fabric shopping is another story, though! ;)

I'd like to nominate the following blogs...

Thursday, October 4, 2012

1780's striped robe à l'anglaise at Kuninkaan päivä

This post is mostly about photos of the gown because I already explained the construction and other detailed stuff about it in the earlier post. For once I got some pretty nice photos of the outfit from the day, which was really great because usually I end up having only a couple of blurry photos as I get back home from events and I really don't feel like posting those on the blog.

Photo: Mika Seidler

The next few shots were taken during the 18th century fashion show...

Photo: Teemu Laukkarinen

You can see the front quite well in the picture below. The zone front with tabs was inspired by the striped robe à l'anglaise at Met.

Photo: Teemu Laukkarinen

I didn't wear many accessories with the gown. I really wanted to have a red ribbon round my neck but unfortunately I left it at home or lost it at the dressing room, which wouldn't be a surprise as the dressing room was so full of everyone's costume parts and other things.

I was moving so some parts are a bit blurry...

Photo: Mika Seidler

I definitely should have had a huge and poofy neckerchief to complete the pigeon profile but I'll make one some other time. I'm thinking about something with ruffles like the neckerchief on the Met gown...

Photo: Teemu Laukkarinen

After the show...

Photo: Mika Seidler

Then I went out for a short stroll because it got really hot inside after the show. Thanks to Mika Seidler I also got some photos of the dress outdoors. First off, here are a couple of shots I took from outdoors. The only decent photos I got from the event anyway... Below, musketeers with mamaselli Tirpukka (from Tirbuck) and Gouvernante Astrid (from Pohjan sodasta Suomen sotaan - elämää 1700-luvulla) wearing an early 18th century mantua with fontange headdress.

Katariina Augustintytär (from Before the Automobile), wearing her beautiful riding habit. It was so nice to meet her again. 

And then, some more shots of my striped robe à l'anglaise...

The huge bum pad gives the dress a very nice swayback profile at the back.

The hem is trailing...

The hedgehog hairstyle is all my own hair. Credits to baroness von Mannheim (from Couture Mayah) who made my hair look good and thanks to her I also learned how to do this hairdo on my own.

For the evening I wore the dress with white petticoat with small stripes, added a few feathers to my hair and tied a belt with buckle round my waist. As you can see, the attempt to lift the train with strings failed because the hem is so long. However, I'll fix that with a third string and loop.

Photo: Jarno Manninen
Final thoughts:

Overall, I'm happy with this dress and it has to be my favorite from my own gowns so far. However, looking back at the photos of the original gown I realize there are many differences between the original(s) and my dress. The differences don't bother me but I'd still like to point some of them out. Firstly, the stripes of the original dress are probably a couple of millimeters wider than the stripes of my dress which are about 1 cm wide.

Photo by Rebecca Thelin, via Flickr.

The purple stripe color is definitely of different shade. The purple of the museum dress seems more reddish than the stripe color of my gown which is a purple much more towards blue. It's really hard to tell what kind of purple the original is because it's quite different in different photos I've seen of it. When it comes to colors of photos, so much depends on several things, such as the lighting of the surroundings. And I assume some of the photos are probably edited - for example, take this photo and compare with this.

Photo by Loren Dearborn, via Flickr.

Also, the back side of my dress is quite different from the original. Firstly, the stripes form a slightly different pattern. In order to imitate the pattern of the original I probably should have draped the gown. However, I don't have a dress dummy so I couldn't do that. Secondly, I now realize the curve of the waistline at the back of the dress is much more radical in the original dress, whereas my dress has a more smooth line there. Also, the pleats at the waist are probably even tinier than the pleats of my gown.

Photo via Flickr.

There are probably a lot more differences but I'm not so keen on listing everything here. These were just the obvious ones. Again, I'm not so bothered by them anyway. :) What I'm still slightly bothered about is that the dress doesn't fit perfectly next to the armscye at the backside. It still wrinkles for a bit even if I tried to alter the fit during the mock-up fitting and bodice fitting. I suppose there's still some extra space at the armscye and that I'll have to pinch in a little at the armscye where the wrinkles appear before I make a new dress with the pattern. Or lower the armscye for a bit. Or do both. You'll hear more about it some time in the future. Until then...


Fashioning Fashion, European fashion in detail, 1700-1915 by Sharon Takeda, Kay Spilker and Kimberly Chrisman-Cambell
Fashioning Fashion exhibit video
Fashioning Fashion exhibit virtual panorama
Fashioning Fashion exhibit photos by Loren Dearborn
Fashioning Fashion exhibit photos by Rebecca Thelin
Robe à l'anglaise (LACMA) photo I from Fashion is poison blog

Other striped gowns:

Thanks to everyone who allowed me to post their photos on the blog! I'm ever so grateful! :) Special thanks to Maria Nordback for arranging the Kuninkaan päivä event and to baron and baroness von Mannheim for hosting me during the weekend. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Striped robe à l'anglaise - construction and inside-out photos

I finished the striped robe à l'anglaise early in time for last Saturday's event. It was finished two days before the day I had to leave for the train that took me to the place where the event was held. I will post more about the event itself later on. Anyhow, today I got around to take some pictures of the gown on the floor for you to see. I did take photos of the fittings etc. but I didn't really have time to post on the blog until today. So here we go...

The finished gown... overall! As you can see the skirt part is a lot longer that the front because I wanted this dress to have a long train. Have I told you how much I love trains? They're definitely not practical and as I started making this I knew people would step on it a gazillion times - I was right. However, the hem took very little damage during the event and it doesn't really show at all. No dirt, nothing. That was a pleasant surprise.

Without the petticoat...


The back-side of the dress. I'm glad I took the time to tweak the back side to make it as similar on both sides as possible (stripe-wise).

And now, the construction: I started by sewing up the whole bodice together. Note there are zone front seams on the outside of the dress but it was unnecessary to have those seams in the lining as well. Also, there are bones in the center front edges and in the center back and center back side seams.

After the bodice was made, I added the rest skirt panels and pleated the upper edges with the help of needles and stitched them together with back-stitch by hand. The pleats are quite tiny, approximately 4-3 mm wide.

In the photo below, the pleats are pinned to the bodice. Leo is super social and he always loves to hang out with me whatever I do. I just have to be really careful about what he's doing while I'm sewing and he's around... Luckily he just mostly sleeps... Oh, and he does love being photographed, too, unlike our another cat that dislikes the flash-light. Leo really tries to photo-bomb in most of the pictures I take at home...

Back from cats to the gown construction. In the photo below, the pleats are sewed to the bodice.

The stitches are basically visible on the outside of the gown but they're so tiny you can barely see them.

The pleats were ironed towards the hem. The tape loop is for gathering up the skirt. It's there purely for practical reasons - I have to be able to lift up the train for dancing.

The whole hem was sewn by hand. Original dress hem for comparison.

Picture via Flickr.
At this part, the whole dress was finished except for the sleeves. I made a mock-up for the sleeves and tried it on with the dress itself. I could have tried the sleeve mock-up much earlier while I was trying on the bodice mock-up but this way I thought I could save time.

 I was happy and relieved to notice that the sleeve mock-up fitted surprisingly well. The only part I altered was the elbow that was a bit too pointy. At this part I had also added the hooks and eyes so the dress could be closed easily for the sleeve fitting.

Then I just cut out the sleeves in both lining and dress fabrics and sewed them up. I didn't take photos during the final check fitting. I had some problems fitting the shoulder part on my own but eventually it went alright. You'll be able to judge the shoulder fit when I post pictures of the gown being worn in the near future. Here's the inside of the finished bodice with sleeves and hook and eyes.

A closer shot of the inside of the bodice...

The back of the dress with sleeves...

And front...

All of the visible stitches in the outside of the dress are sewn by hand. 

Again, the sleeve of my dress and the original sleeve for comparison...¨

Photo via Flickr.
The hem is really long. There are two gores (one on both sides) to make the skirt even fuller. I couldn't take a picture of the whole hem because there's not any place in our apartment with enough free space on the floor. You can get an idea of the length of the hem from the photo below...

I thought I'd prefer the petticoat without any decoration. However, I added the ruffles in the end because of three reasons. Firstly and mainly, the ruffles give more volume to the skirt of the gown itself. Secondly, I thought the petticoat was a bit dull with noting on it and, thirdly, the ruffle part shows where the skirt of the dress ends and petticoat starts. Otherwise they would just blend in and the gown looked almost like it was a round-gown. The ruffle panels were pinked in the same way as my earlier petticoat... 

Aaand, that's pretty much everything about the construction and fittings... Woah, this turned out to be one really long post... Here in the end I'd like to thank Rebecca Thelin for allowing me to post her pictures of the original gown from the Fashioning Fashion exhibit