Monday, September 4, 2017

Welbourne Plans

Before I start, I want to apologize for a long and rambling post.  It's not a fun post with lots of pictures and projects, just mostly me trying to organize my thoughts on what I need/want to get done before Welbourne next month.


This October, I have the opportunity to go back to Welbourne Plantation in Virginia.  This will be my second year in Welbourne and I am so excited to go back!  It was so much fun last year and I learned a lot.  And now that I have an idea of what Welbourne is like, I want to be more prepared for this year.

Last year, I remade everything from the inside out.  Absolutely everything was either redone or made new.  I made extra underpinnings (since this was a 3 day event and usually I do 5 hour events, extra underpinnings were a must) and fixed up generally everything I brought.  This year, I'm not as concerned about that, but I feel the need to go through everything and do 'touch ups' as needed.  I generally like to go through all my stuff once a year anyway, and decide what I still like and want to (and can) wear, touch up things that need to be touched up, clean items that are dirty or spotted, make lists of what needs to be replaced or mended, starch all my petticoats, etc.  I've decided that right before Welbourne seems to be a good time to do all of this.

My list this year is just as extensive as last year; it's just mostly fixing things and and making more accessories than actually dressing out.

Starting with footwear, I have slippers and boots that will need to be cleaned and polished.  My boots are Fugawee's Victoria and are about 5 years old.  Through all the red dirt of Liendo and generally muddiness of other places I visit, they are quite dirty and dull.  The slippers are American Duchess's Bronte slippers in cotton sateen (not leather).  I want to eventually get the leather ones as 'dancing slippers' and keep the cotton sateen ones as house slippers.

My stockings are all in great condition-I have plenty of pairs of both silk and cotton stockings that I can bring.  Since it will probably be cooler in Virginia, I plan on bringing mostly silk stockings with maybe a cotton pair or two as backup.

I still have plenty of chemises and drawers from last year.  I did manage to rip a small hole in my favorite pair of drawers that will need to be mended.  Also, my favorite chemise has a small rip as well.  Other than that, basic underpinnings are a go.  My blue corset is in perfect condition so no work there.  If I decide to bring along my white corset as a backup, the back will need to be extended and new eyelets put in.  I have plenty of petticoats but I remember last year being quite cold so I have considered making a quilted petticoat.  I have plenty of left over fabric from my 1870's dress that I could use if I get to this project.  Welbourne hasn't quite decided on a target year, but we've talked about having it be 1860 again as it makes traveling from out of state (such as us Groces, travelling from Texas) to Welbourne much more reasonable as an impression.  If so, I'll bring my 1850's hoop.  Underskirts are covered.  They don't get as much wear as the rest of my underpinnings.  I have used the same three for all six years I have been doing living history and they are still going strong.

Starting with morning outfits, I will wear my normal wool wrapper all three mornings.  This year, I am determined to finish both the broderie anglaise petticoat as well as the house slippers that match the wrapper.  It's been 2 years.  They need to be done.  The house slippers are nearly done.  I just have a little bit of needlepoint to do on the last slipper then it will just be putting them together.  I have a sole all ready to go and I'll probably line them in some scrap silk.  The petticoat is far from finished but hopefully the work will go quickly.  I also want to have a morning cap completed.  I have one, but I don't like how it sits on my head so I want to do another one.

I will have Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoon at Welbourne.  If the target year really is 1860, I can still get away with some very 1850's things  like pagoda sleeves, basques, and larger collars.  I think Friday I will wear the blue shot gold silk dress with rosettes.  I set the skirt on wrong and the rosettes aren't quite even so I will need to fix that before Welbourne.

For Saturday, I was thinking about making up the ice blue and ivory stripe dress.  I need more strictly early and slightly pre-war dresses in my wardrobe (most of mine are 1862-1864 or 1855-1858) so I thought it would be a nice idea to have something that was a good go between, around 1859-1861.  Here's the fabric as a reminder:


 And what I'm thinking as far as design:

Minnesota Historical Society dress ca. 1856-
1859.  I want to use the sleeves.
Museo del Traje ca. 1855-1860.  This will be the
bertha when I get around to doing an evening
gown.


Metropolitan Museum of Art, ca. 1858-1859.
I love the double skirt option!
Susan Green Historic Clothing Collection, ca.
1860-1865.  I'm using this as bodice inspiration.









































So the essential plan is for a low bodied gown that is slightly V-ed such as the Susan Green gown.  There will be a pelerine much like the one from the Minnesota Historical Society gown to cover up for day.  I want a double skirt, which is found in fashion plates up through 1861, which means that I will have to railroad the stripes (have them horizontal instead of vertical).  That will require some playing with the fabric since the stripes go the opposite way on the fabric itself.  I'll have to cut things differently than I am used to but it should work.  I want the gown to be front opening, even with the low necked gown (the brown MET dress is a front opening evening gown) and use vertical self fabric fringe to trim the sleeves, double skirt, and pelerine.  I'm thinking glass buttons down the front (perhaps in a nice black).  I'm excited to see it come together!

On Sunday, I figured it would be a good time to break out my velvet basque and perhaps the black and gold plaid skirt.  I'll have to try on the skirt to see if it still fits but otherwise that outfit is a go.

For evening, I will have Friday evening and Saturday evening.  I am definitely bringing the purple chantilly gown.  I really need some pictures in that gown.  I'll probably wear that one on Saturday's dinner since it is the fanciest of the two.  I'll need to refit the bodice so that it fits better.  For Friday's dinner, I want to make a fichu to cover the blue and ivory silk.  I have two options:

Godey's Lady's Book, January 1861
French fichu from 1859

I already have all the lace for the French one but not the silk ribbon and I have all the velvet ribbon and Swiss edging for the Godey's fichu but not the fabric.  I might make up the lace one first and see how I like it.  I think it will look better with the silk than a cotton would.

I also want to bring along my riding habit and all its accessories.  The family that lived at Welbourne were equestrians and the plantation is now a retirement home for ex-race horses.  We usually go down and feed them apples and veggies every day and perhaps I could get some pictures of me in the habit.

I have a period nightgown, but it is canton flannel and I really want a pretty lighter one, perhaps tucked this time.  It won't be seen by anyone so it is really low on the priority list.

In addition to the other dresses, I was going to bring my black wool so I have an extra dress to wear just in case.  That means that I will have to reinforce that belt so it doesn't fold under itself like it did at Liendo.

In other textiles to bring, I'll probably bring all 5 shawls (the two Russian wool shawls, the two original wool shawls, and the one original Chantilly shawl). In addition, I want to make some new bonnets.  I love the soft crown bonnets I see all over Godey's and I have one that I absolutely LOVE!  I have lots of silk scraps that are just big enough for a bonnet.  I couldn't quite decide on which to use so I think I may make five new bonnets.  I only want two of them for Welbourne.  The others I will make up with the scraps and if I don't end up wanting them, I'll put them up for sale.  I love making bonnets because they are so stinking easy to make-they just take a lot of time.  It's all hand sewing, which I love to do.  And I love decorating them.  I just ordered ribbon ties and some flowers from Timely Tresses last night so when those come in, I should be all set.

I want to make a new parasol and a new fan.  I really need a parasol for the 1850's that could also carry over to the earliest part of the 1860's.  Something with long fringe.  I'm still looking for a good inspiration.  I have a plan on how to recreate one without an original frame so we'll see if it works.  I also am in need of a new fan.  I want a fancy one for evening, with spangles and tassels such as these originals:




I've made fans before but not this fancy so I'm excited to work on it.

Little projects that I would like to get done before Welbourne include: putting a new battery in my pocket watch so it is ready to go, making a few new hairnets, and making a few evening headdresses since I really don't have any.


Project Plans summarized:
-Clean and polish boots
-Wash slippers
-Mend embroidered drawers and plain chemise
-Extend white corset and put in new eyelets
-Quilted petticoat, if time allows
-Broderie anglaise petticoat
-Berlin work wrapper slippers
-Morning cap
-New morning cap to go with wrapper
-Reset the skirt of the rosette dress
-Make ice blue stripe dress
-Fix black and gold plaid skirt
-Refit lilac and chantilly bodice and make a tucker
-Fichu for dinner
-Re-sew darts on riding habit
-Nightgown, if time allows
-Reinforce blue belt
-2 Soft crown bonnets
-Parasol
-Fan
-Fix pocket watch
-Hairnets and headdresses

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Star Dress: A Fairly Faithful Reproduction

I rarely copy original garments exactly.  I usually pull bits and pieces from different photographs, originals, etc.  I'll pull sleeves from one gown, accessories from another, trim from a CDV, hairstyle from a fashion plate, etc.  However, when I saw the 'star dress' from the Museum of London, I knew I wanted to recreate it as closely as I was able.

http://collections.museumoflondon.org.uk/online/object/82161.html
http://collections.museumoflondon.org.uk/online/object/82162.html

Beautiful dress, no?  I have spent 3 years (searching 3 countries and 4 states) trying to find fabric for it.  As I mentioned in a previous post, it doesn't exist.  You can find blue with white stars, white with uneven blue stars (not appropriate), red and white with blue stars, etc.  I did end up finding a white with navy stars fabric but it was in no way fine enough for this project.

I could have had it custom printed onto white fabric but I had trouble finding a place with a voile sheer enough for the project.  Not to mention that custom printing is expensive.

I still wanted the dress.  Therefore, I bought 10 yards of Indian voile on Etsy.  It came in super nice and fine-perfect for what I needed.  I wish I had bought more for other projects the stuff is so nice!  Also on Etsy, I bought a star stamp.  Mine is 2 inches across.  It looks like the original may be 1 1/2, but there are no measurements.  I did my best.


Finding ink was a problem.  The fabric ink pads didn't work.  I went through about 5 ink pads before finding one that worked.  The color was a little bit more navy than I would have liked, but it worked and it didn't bleed so I used it.


The process was fairly simple.  I measured out the stars so that they would be 5 1/2 inches apart tip to tip.  I put them in the same design as the original (rows).  Some I had to stamp 2 or three times to get enough ink on it.


It took a fair while.  It got easier towards the end and I was just cranking them out but it was still a lot of work.  It turned out nice, though.


My next step was making the dress.  This really takes no time at all.  I've done so many of them now it's just second nature.  I have my own pattern that I have drafted and I know how to make it up so it was super simple.  I lined it with a nice 200 thread count cotton since I didn't have any cotton sateen on hand.  I did half high lining like the original.  I considered adding some lace to the top of it but then remembered that I'm trying to do a faithful reproduction so I ended up leaving it be.  I only did hooks and eyes up to where the lining ended.  The top will be closed with a brooch.

The skirt is unlined, just faced with more of the 200 thread count cotton.  I did not add a pocket because I felt it would be too see through.  I know original sheers had them, I just didn't see it working out.  I might go back and add one later.

The sleeves are bishop, much like the original.  They are fitted to the arm hole but fuller on the bottom.

The collar and cuffs I had embroidered using an 1850's pattern from Peterson's Magazine.  I didn't do the full collar, just the top part with the flowers and the beading.  I tried putting a plain collar on the dress but because the dress is so plain to begin with, it didn't look right so I felt I needed to add some more detail.




To top it all off, I made a sash to go with the gown.  Mine is made of silk habotai (8mm) because I couldn't find any silk taffeta in navy that would get to my house in time for me to make the sash before Liendo.  I thought about using a ribbon, but couldn't find a thick enough ribbon that didn't look totally synthetic. I used 1861 Godey's to help me with reproducing the sash.


It's not a stitch for stitch reproduction, but it is the closest I have come to copying an original and I feel pleased with the result.


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Restoration of a Post War Parasol

About a year ago, I purchased a lovely post war Chantilly parasol.

Parasol as it stood when I bought it

The handle and finial are bone and the rest of the frame is brass.  The parasol is covered in a thin brown taffeta, lined in a cream china silk, and then covered with Chantilly lace.  The whole confection is quite lovely.

Anyway, after I bought it, the silk split so I needed to recover the parasol.  I bought some thin silk on Ebay that was only a shade darker than the original.  It's a bit thinner than the original silk, but since it would be covered by the lace, I figured it really didn't matter.

Original cover on top of the new fabric

I bought some off-white lining on Ebay, as well.  It came in white, not off-white, but I used it anyway.

Original lining next to the fabric I used to line the parasol

First, I took off the original lace, silks, as well as the handle (it comes apart in 2 pieces!) and finial.  Here are all the pieces uncovered:












I used one of the brown silk panels to make a pattern.  I used the same pattern for the cover and lining.  Then I sewed the 8 pieces together for both the brown and white fabric.  After that, I used some scalloped scrapbooking scissors (also from Ebay!) to cut scallops around the edges, just like the original.


I free handed these, and found I was much happier than when I chalked out the pattern.


The brass on the handle was quite dirty, so I mixed together some baking soda and lemon juice and rubbed it on with an old rag.  Let me tell you, that mixture is amazing!  I couldn't quite get a clear picture of it, but you can see the brightness and then the near blackness that the brass was:


After that, it was all downhill.  I simply sewed on the lining, then the cover.  Finally, I put the Chantilly on and screwed all the bone pieces back on.


Monday, June 19, 2017

There's a Bee in my Bonnet... Veil

I am a HUGE proponent of veils.  I love them.  They are so clever and pretty.  Veils work on same the principle as our modern sunglasses, to shade the eyes from the glare of the sun.  Personal experience speaking-they really do work!  Plus, they can be so pretty-both put over the face and thrown back over the bonnet when not in use.




I began with one rectangular veil and one demi-moon veil, both done in net.  You can also choose to make a veil out of crepe (for mourning, generally) or even silk gauze or like fabrics (these can be done in colors!  I've seen period references to brown and blue (mostly) but also to other colors like green!).  Generally, veils were either rectangular or demi-moon shaped, as so:

Rectangular veil; MFA Boston
Demi-moon bonnet veil; Metropolitan Museum of Art

Netted veils were netted as veils, usually; i.e., they were not dotted net with an attached edging.  The edging and the dotted part were a single piece that was made.  Sadly, the only way to get a real veil like this is to use an original.  However, one can approximate a period veil.  It will never be 100% authentic, but when is anything we do 100% correct?  We still use modern fabric, made with modern machines, dyed with (generally) modern dyes, from modern sources (whether silk worm, breeds of sheep, or modern varieties of cotton and flax).  Our goal as living historians is merely to get as close as we possibly can to what 'they' did.  Most of us understand that we will never be 100% correct.  We can only get close.

Anyway, to approximate a netted veil, you will need 1/2 yard of point d'Espirit (dotted netting), 1 3/4-2 yards of beading, a little less than 4 yards of lace edging, anywhere from 1" to 3" wide, and about 2 yards of black silk ribbon about 1/4" wide.  This will make two veils.  The links I did provide are where I usually get my supply.  I would suggest black for any lace veils as black does it's job (protecting your eyes from the sun's glare) a lot better than white.

The process is simple-cut the point d'Espirit in half and then into your desired shape (rectangular or demi-moon).  Be sure to look at originals to get the veil's sizing right for your era.  Ebay is awesome because they tend to do measurements more than most museums.  Trim out the bottom and sides (for a rectangular veil) or across the curved surface (for a demi-moon veil) with your edging.  Run the beading across the top then run the ribbon through the beading.  This is to gather up the edge of the veil to fit your bonnet or hat.  I generally pin my veils on with a simple straight pin.

It was these directions I followed when I made the bee veil.  Of course, I added some beads in the shape of bees and flowers to the material list.  The original had flowers and bees made from straw veneer and was not made from dotted netting.  It was plain black netting (which is cheaper, but I wanted a guide to be sure all my flowers ended up in the right spot).  I could not find straw veneer bees and flowers, and since I did not want to use plastic, I used gold beads.  I bought them off Etsy.  They do make the bonnet a great deal heavier than before but the effect is lovely and it is not so heavy as to be cumbersome.  Here is the completed bonnet veil (worn on the completed 1870's hat):






Monday, June 5, 2017

The Rosette Dress

It is always a privilege and a pleasure to go to Leindo each month.  I enjoy it so.  My plan this month was to wear the lilac shot silk evening gown so I could get better pictures but then I realized I had forgotten to take pictures of the rosette dress last month so I wore that instead.  I'll be in Ukraine next month and possibly in a wedding in August so my next day at Leindo could possibly not be until September.  Scary thought!  I plan on getting the star voile dress stamped and done before then so I can wear that.

Anyway, I posted pictures before of how I made the rosettes on this gown, so I thought I would share some completed photos of the gown.



I wore the gown with an organdy collar and matching undersleeves (You can find the whitework edging and beading at Farmhouse Fabrics, just search lily of the valley and scroll down to the Swiss embroidered organdy beading and edging.  I get most of my whitework from Farmhouse Fabrics-they have a good selection and it is all good quality and natural fibers.).  I put some black silk ribbon underneath the beading on the undersleeves like these original 1850's net undersleeves off Ebay:


I didn't wear a brooch because of the rosettes, but I did wear a pair of "micromosaic" earrings.  Okay.  They're really vintage floral cameos, for which I have not found documentation (floral cameos, that is.  Cameos were usually in human and *occasionally* animal forms).  I call mine micromosaic because they are reminiscent of micromosaic earrings of the time which did come in floral patterns.

My "micromosaic" earrings and brooch
Here are some examples of original micromosaic jewelry sets:

Spaniel earrings and brooch, c. 1860 from Ebay

Italian Roccheggiani Dove earrings and brooch, c. 1860 from Ebay

As for the dress itself, the rosettes have already been shared.  The sleeve caps were supposed to be pointed but it didn't look right so I folded the points up and made a sort of geometric design with them.


They are more even than the picture suggests.

On the bottom of the sleeve, I put strips of velvet ribbon and some covered buttons, just like in the original gown.


I also put more velvet on the bodice.


Close up of the organdy whitework collar.

I'm not sure what I will do next.  I have a while before I do anything else so I'm not pressed for time.  I have LOTS of fabric to keep me busy, though.