Tag Archive | silk

Another year, another CoBloWriMo

Jumping back on the bandwagon that I seem to be so good at falling off… With a year’s worth of thanks to Mem of Star and Scissor, I’m very excited to making a fresh attempt of blogging this August with the start of CoBloWriMo. What’s that you ask? A month-long spin on NaNoWriMo but just for COstume BLOggers.

The upside of not getting around to writing anything since last June (as in 2016) is that I truly have plenty of costuming attempts, events, and successes to catch up. As am often writing at the midnight hour, and logic may or may not be a factor, I’m going to work backwards through my costuming endeavors as I do this catching up. And if I get lucky, everything will make an appearance and perhaps I’ll even get some new costuming done this month, too!

Doing my best Anne Elliot at Lyme impression, since I happened to have a picture-perfect sea wall available!

So… first up, some details from a Dress Like a Georgian Day outing with friends M.J. and E.S. in historic Newport, RI in very early July. The lovely Mrs. S of Sew 18th Century invited some friends to join her for a picnic and tour of the historical neighborhoods and it was such a treat! We picnicked at Battery Park which was overlooking the water and adjacent to a boat ramp that allowed us to walk in and get our feet wet if we wished. In an odd turn of events, the weather was unseasonably cold for July … a mere 74 degrees or so, and as luck would have it, I had decided to wear my favorite ivory wool gown.

What I was especially thrilled to show off was my newly recovered antique parasol… with tassels! I even made a matching reticule. Now to understand how exciting this was for me, you must realize that I am terrible about finishing accessories. Terrible, I tell you! I’m happy to make undergarments and gowns all the day long… but bags, bonnets, and bunches of other little things? Who has time?

This particular parasol most likely dates to about 1870-80s – as it’s not quite so tiny as many mid 50s & 60s examples but not as large as later versions either. I’m still not sure what the handle is made from – it’s not wood, plastic, or bakelite but the jury is still out on other possibilities. It was purchased via ebay with a matte black silk cover in poor condition and fringe of 4″ deep black lace. I do plan to recover it in black and reuse the lace, which was in near-perfect condition, but wanted to try a temporary cover first.

I’m not one to use muslin very often so I dove right into my box of silks and found a remnant of peacock blue silk taffeta. After a few tests, I drafted a triangle shape that was close to the original black cover pieces and set about sewing eight pieces together to try the fit on the parasol frame. The first attempt was absurdly small, but the second attempt yielded a better fit and is what you see in the photo. The best part? TASSELS. Dear me… tassels are my new everything! Eight tassels on the parasol, one on the reticule – all handmade, and in fact I think the last two on the parasol were finished while picnicking.

But all this tassel and parasol excitement has me a bit tired, so I’m stopping here and will be back tomorrow with more details on the peacock parasol and reticule in all their glory!

 

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Plimoth Jacket Memories

While this is likely to be subject of many more blog posts to come, I couldn’t let the day (or night) go by without writing at least a few words about the rather amazing memories that were recently dredged up! Why is that, you wonder?

Because of this:

plimoth jacket combined

Swoon! It’s not often that my breath is taken away by a historical costume reproduction, but in this case, I pretty much stopped breathing when the lovely interpreter & jacket model Natalie walked into the room wearing this stunning garment. And with no pun intended, I’m pretty sure you could have heard a pin drop in the room – that’s how awestruck we were.

embellishing17thcdressNow to back up and tell a bit more of the story! This past weekend, Saturday and Sunday to be specific, I celebrated my birthday in a rather fabulous way by attending the Embellishing 17th-Century Dress Conference at Plimoth Plantation. There were two full days of workshops and discussions and demos of all sorts of techniques – both English and Native – and all the teachers and presenters were fantastic. An extra bonus was getting to spend the weekend with my friend, Jenni of Historically Dressed– it’s always so much better to share costuming adventures with friends!

The workshop focused heavily on details related to the embroidered jacket project that was completed in 2009: The Plimoth Jacket – A Paradise of Silk and Gold. This 3+ year project was a tremendous effort that eventually involved over 200 volunteer stitchers, dozens of lace makers, several technical and historical experts, and thousands of yards of silk thread.

plimoth leaves

I worked on the wings of the jacket – which is pretty exciting because it means it’s easy to spot my stitching on the finished piece! My detached buttonhole stitching is still looking good nine years later ;o)

But let’s back up even earlier to when the first embroidery stitches were added to the jacket… June 2007. I  was one of about 10 stitchers who attended the first volunteer session and who had the privilege of being the inaugural embroiders on this amazing jacket. Can you tell I’m still excited about this? I hope so… because then you’d understand why when this conference was announced and included the opportunity to see the jacket… I was all in!

Sadly, it seems that most of the story and blog that traced the progress of making the jacket seems to have disappeared from the web but some traces can be found by searching the Internet Archive or doing an Google Image search.

And although I have been back to Plimoth Plantation several times since 2007, it was a huge treat to return for another does of hands-on history. And while it’s true that much of the staff has changed during the past nine years, everyone involved (then and now) went above and beyond to provide a fantastic experience. So thank you, Plimoth Plantation, Jill Hall, Tricia Wilson Nguyen, and countless others who made the jacket project a reality nearly a decade ago, and thank you also to Demetra and Dan Rosen, Kristen Haggerty, and the many other staff members who made me fall in love with 17th century costume all over again during the past few days.

P.S. If you’re keeping track, I’ve been a bit behind on my CoBloWriMo-ing due to the traveling and conference, lol! However, I thought today’s prompt – Give a progress report on your current projects – was oddly fitting even if my current project stretches back nine years! It’s also a good time to mention that the conference gave me the chance to meet and stitch with Mem of Star and Scissor… who is also the driving force behind CoBloWriMo!

P.P.S. My head is literally exploding with other non-embroidery information learned this weekend and with ideas for future costuming. So many more blog posts to follow…

Late 1820s Day Dress

So although my mind is still spinning with thoughts and memories of revwar reenacting and 1770s dressmaking, I particularly like the Day 5 CoBloWriMo prompt (write about a favorite project you’ve done in the past) and it brings to mind a very plain day dress I reproduced a few years ago.

osv 1820s

Posing (and even smiling) in the Towne House Garden Arbor at Old Sturbridge Village. And yes, I have fixed the hem since this picture was taken!

The blue-grey cotton dress in the photo is loosely copied from one in the collection of the Andover Historical Society.

front detail sm

Detail of the original silk dress with interesting pleating at waist and sleeves.

The original dress dates to right about 1830, maybe a tad earlier, and is made of lightweight brown silk taffeta. My favorite construction detail is the skirt pleating with the stacked box pleats.

From a fashion history standpoint it straddles the 1820s & 1830s by being able to hang relatively straight rather than being gathered all around the waist. The skirts of both the original and the reproduction do form a slight bell shape if enough petticoats are worn or displayed underneath to give it a more 1830s feel.

The detail at the top of the sleeves is more typical of the 1830s with rows of parallel knife pleats to control the fullness before being released into full gigot sleeves.

For my repro, I was a bit limited on fabric and was also trying to create an 1825 appropriate look for a particular event I was attending. I reduced the fullness of the gigot sleeve and skipped the pleating at the top of the shoulder but I did retain the false cuff detail. My false cuff falls straight across the sleeve rather than at an angle like the original, but I still like the overall effect.

sleeve detail

Sleeve detail

Only the bodice of the original dress is lined and it’s a lightweight unbleached linen or cotton that acts as support for the fan pleating/gathering at the waist and neckline. The neckline on the original is piped as are the back bodice seams. It closes with hooks and eyes at the center back with only the lining being fully closed. The silk fabric is gathered in such a way that it meets when the lining is hooked shut.

I did the same (lining, piping & back closure) on my cotton version. The fabric I used has much greater drape than the original and may in fact have some rayon or even silk blended in. I don’t recall purchasing it with that knowledge but after years of wearing it, I’m not convinced it’s 100% cotton. In any case, it’s been one of my go-to dresses for working in an 1820’s historic house, attending events at Old Sturbridge Village, or going to other big-sleeved costume outings!

osv chickens

Sometimes I even get to hang out with chickens while wearing it! And for the record, this is probably the best detail shot of that bonnet that I have ;o)

Lo and behold… an actual mantua!

Corwin dress

Yet another foray into the 17th century… this time circa 1692. This costume was made for display at the Witch House in Salem, Massachusetts. The museum is the only structure in the city of Salem that has direct ties to the infamous witch trials of 1692 and was the home of the Corwin family. For those that know their history, Judge Corwin was one of the trial judges at the time and his wife, Elizabeth, also lived at the house. The mantua is displayed in the bedchamber at the museum and is intended to add to the interpretation of the wealth of the Corwins, particularly that of Elizabeth Corwin. Previously widowed, she had close ties to the Boston merchant scene, and inventories and records from the time show that she had extensive and enviable material possessions. No puritanical grays and browns for her!

The mantua is made of silk damask (the color is to die for… cameras just don’t do it justice!) mounted on a linen bodice lining and all the finishing was done by hand. This was actually completed a few years ago but I do have a vague recollection of machine sewing some of the long skirt seams. Then again with the extensive skirt draping… I may have ended up hand sewing it all. Guess I’ll have to go visit again and double check! The petticoat is silk taffeta pleated to a linen tape at the waist and the sleeve ruffles are hand sewn of fine white linen.

This is still one of my all-time favorite projects and one I’d love to make a copy of for my own wardrobe!