How to combine colours – table from 1924

I found this interesting table in a 1924 Dressmaking book. Actually the “Women’s Institute Library of Dressmaking” consists of multiple books, but I only own Volume 2 which covers “Harmony in dress – Beautiful clothes, corsets and dress foundations, silhouettes, colors, fabrics, good taste in dress, millinery and accessories, the dressmaker and tailor shop, european shops”.

This table gives you hints on how to combine different colours in street and evening wear, arranged according to wether they can be used as a second major colour, for accents or only in small doses as trimming. I wouldn’t agree with all the given advises from my modern point of view, but it is very interesting to see what colour combinations were modern and considered interesting  90 years ago. And it can provide help when choosing fabrics and colour combinations to recreate a garment as correctly as possible.

click on the image to see it in full size
click on the image to see it in full size

 

See you soon, love

ette

Somebody found my sewing-mojo?

No?…Well, was worth a try…

This week’s or better yesterday’s agenda:

Oah, jetzt aber schnell!
Nur noch der Saum!
Ich könnte hier nochmal nachbessern
Ich bin fertig, zeige aber noch nichts
Ich bin ein Streber und nähe jetzt noch ein Tüdeldü für meine drei Weihnachtskleider

Ohoh, I should hurry!
Only the hem left!

I could  retouch this and that
I’m done but won’t show
I’m way ahead and will add some accessory to my three dresses

my motto could be summarized with the first line only, I am far from being finished…

I am stuck! In many ways.
First, time is working against me. I have to work a lot (christmas + bookshop, well, you get it), I had a conference last week, went to the last lecture before christmas, had to discuss a lot of things with my professor and am working on my PHD-project. When I come home all I wish for is a glass of wine and Downton Abbey in the Blu-Ray-player.

Second, this project is so…demanding, claiming. Not that is is overly difficult, in fact it is fairly easy. And cutting large rectangles isn’t a challenge, even in plaid. But I hate all this concentrating on lines and patterns and grain when the pattern pieces are so simple. It feels like a lot of boring work. To pair things I don’t like (=all this tripple checking for matching lines) with a boring pattern doesn’t seem to have been a good idea. I am sure it will get better when i have finished the basic seams and can finally add the velvet but all this pressing and pleating and cutting and blaaahhh…it’s just not mine….
Still I am determined to finish this project. Not only because I still like the concept and want to sew a 20ies dress,also because I hate to be defeated by something as simple as that.

Third, there are things I would love to sew at the moment, other things. I had a wonderful idea for the HSF-challenge that is due today, it wouldn’t be much work either. And I planned to make my boyfriend something for christmas, I did this every year earlier in our relationship but somehow in the last couple of years I fell off.
But the plaid dress is clouding these projects and vice versa.

Now, enough complaining. What have I done?
I cut the skirt and pleated it. Admittedly that wasn’t as easy as I had thought it would be. Modern patterns usually have two marked lines, one marks the fold, the other the place where the fold will lie. These pattern pieces only had one line. Now was I supposed to make knife pleats? And with two lines close to each other that where visible as two pleats in the image? Should I make box pleats, inverted or standard? And how deep? And I had to consider this before cutting, because my pattern repeat had to be followed as well and the pleat depth adjusted to it.
In the end I made inverted box pleats on the side seams, one standard box pleat in the centre front and something that could be defined as a very wide box pleat with narrow walls or simply as two knife pleats facing the sides in the back. All pleats perfectly match the pattern, at least this was a success.

the pleat in the centre front
the pleat in the centre front
inverted box pleat at the side and one of the pleats in the back
inverted box pleat at the side and one of the pleats in the back

As you might remember, I removed 8cm circumference from the paper pattern because the size was too large for me. When I had finished pleating I had to realize it was still very very large, I think the hip circumference was something like 107cm (I didn’t measure beforehand because I always want to see how the original pattern was meant to look like before I adjust it). Yes, 20ies fashion is supposed to be non-fitted, but it isn’t supposed to be that wide. The magic of this fashion lies in how it hugs the figure without really touching it. So the dress shouldn’t be much wider at the hip as the hip itself, otherwise it would of course look baggy. As a consequence I doubled the depth of the rear parts of the box pleats on the sides, removing 11cm circumference (and before you ask, yes, 96cm is still more than my hip circumference. But first the skirt is going to be gathered at the waist seam a little and second I don’t want to stretch it too far, it should be snug as little as baggy). To stick with the pattern I could only increase the depth of one half of the box pleats at the side. So now they are not only asymmetric (the rear half is deeper than the one in the front, maybe I will at least sew close the excess to make it fall better) but they also shifted from slightly behind the sides to right at the sides. I am not content with this by now but can’t think of anything to change it. If the skirt will still be too large I plan to add a seam in the centre back. Like this I can remove only one pattern repeat (=5,5cm circumference, the pleats are always mirrored on the other side, so I always have to remove 11cm) and the side pleats will at least shift a little towards the back, too.

The top is in progress. I made a mistake when cutting the front parts so the pattern doesn’t match the way it should at the shoulder seams, but I think I am able to ignore that. More annoying is the fact, that the diagonal darts in the shoulder seams look like rubbish. Not because I did something wrong, it just looks weird with the plaid. Well, my hair is long, hopefully it will cover it or maybe it won’t look too bad when worn, we’ll see. At least the side seams look good and the whole thing is remotely resembling a dress.

the front. You see the weird darts?
the front. You see the weird darts?
the side seam. At least this went well and the fit seems to be ok.
the side seam. At least this went well and the fit seems to be ok.

Now I am facing the difficult decision to wether use this evening to finish the button band in the centre front or to spend it in front of the tv watching Downton Abbey as I have done already the previous nights. I’m afraid one of these alternatives is far more tempting than the other….

that's how it looks now. Not very elegant but it could be worse I suppose.
that’s how it looks now. Not very elegant but it could be worse I suppose.

Auf deutsch:

So richtig komme ich nicht voran. Die Falten im Rock sind gelegt und sehen schön aus, auch wenn das Schnittmuster mehr als kryptisch war, was die Verteilung derselben angeht. Allerdings war der fertig gefaltete Umfang weit davon entfernt mir zu passen, weshalb ich die Faltentiefe teilweise anpassen musste. Jetzt ist es zwar immer noch nicht ganz passend, aber zum einen soll es am Bund etwas engehalten werden und zweitens, sollte es gar nicht passen nehm ich was in der hinteren Mitte raus und setze dort eine Naht, denn die Falten kann ich ja immer nur passend mit dem Rapport verschieben. Das Oberteil ist vom Sitz her ok, allerdings sehen diese schrägen Abnäher recht merkwürdig in dem Karomuster aus. Aber das kann ich einfach nicht ändern, also bleibt es so. Der aktuelle Stand ist weder interessant noch elegant aber ich hoffe einfach, dass was nicht ist noch werden kann, auch wenn mir nicht mehr viel Zeit bis nächsten Sonntag bleibt und die Motivation zu wünschen übrig lässt.

So much for today, see you soon, love

ette

Principles and how to overcome them

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I don’t like altering clothes. I like to sew new ones and I have no problems with fixing a lost button or a broken zipper. But I don’t anymore buy things to remodel them. I used to do but somehow it never turned out how I wanted it and was always a lot more work than expected.

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Additionally, I don’t like to alter old clothes. I mean, these things have survived 40 or 60 years without manipulation and I know how valuable unaltered things from previous centuries are for costume historians because they are so rare. A large shop in Berne selling Vintage and modern clothes alters vintage dresses on a grand scale, because most clients want their skirts to end above the knee and not at mid-calf length. The vast majority of these altered dresses dates from the 80ies, but every now and then you see something older amongst them, too. This altering makes the dresses uninteresting for me (because I like my dresses to end below the knees), but it also means less and less dresses in their original state. Because of this I do not buy these altered dresses and I only buy dresses that fit me. Even if a little shortening or two centimetres less circumference would make them look perfect, usually I don’t buy them and hope they’ll find a more fitting client, in the truest sense of the word.

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But this spring another user of my favourite sewing board sold a beautiful late50ies/early 60ies wool shirt dress I wasn’t able to resist, despite it being too large and I threw all my priciples overboard. Because the sleeves and the bodice were made from one piece of fabric that made fitting issues at the shoulders nonexistant, this seemed to be a pretty easy one to be altered to fit me.
And so I did. All I had to do was remove the skirt, shift the side seams to fit my size and re-attach the skirt. Because the wool was so easy to gather I didn’t even have to remodel the pleats.
It was obvious that the skirt had been altered before, there were multiple seams in different threads at the waist. So I wasn’t the first to manipulate it and I was, I admit, a little relieved not to have destroyed something completely untouched (because of the thick fabric and the curved seam underneath the arms I had to cut away the fabric, too. I know, something you never ever should do, shame on me).
Because one button was missing I had to remove the one at the bottom and sewed the buttonhole close so it would be less obvious. Grace to this fine striped pattern it works quite well. I added a small hook and eye to  the waistband because the dress tended to gape, as there wasn’t a button to hold this narrowest part of the dress.

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I thought this quite weird and it took an accident to solve this mystery. A few months later the same woman sent me a whole set of hemming feet for my 1932 Pfaff. Before she sent the parcel she asked me if I would be interested in a belt to match the dress, she had found it and hadn’t even known a belt existed. Yes, of course I was! And obviously, with a belt you have far less concerns with a gaping waist :-)

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It has been finished and in my wardrobe quite some time now and I love it. The hem looks a little pointy in the centre front, I think I will add a little press fastener to keep it in place.
The fabric is, as you can imagine, quite scratchy, fortunately I own a shirt with the exact same sleeve length to wear underneath.

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Dear Ravna, thank you so very much for selling me something that has already become one of my favourite dresses!

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dress: Vintage/altered by me – tights: Fogal – Shoes: wonders – handbag: made by Goldkind – scarf: belonged to my grandaunt – gloves: Vintage/Fizzen – brooch: Antique/Flea market – fragrance: Nina Ricci-L’air du temps

See you soon, love

ette

PS: Forgive me to have skipped this sunday’s Christmas dress post. My weekend was equally parted in work, meeting friends from my favourite online sewing board and being sick. Needless to say the latter third was the time I had planned to use for sewing instead of sleeping and whimpering. I am trying to catch up but the pattern needs more adjustments than expected which makes me progress slower than expected. At least the plaid isn’t the problem ;-)

They call me nightshirt

Today let’s talk about how you should not treat an old dress and how you should not buy anything that looks cute.

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Many many years ago (must have been 2006 or little earlier), I bought one of my first vintage dresses: A pale pink shift dress of pure silk taffeta. If I recollect correctly, I bought it as a 50ies adolescent dress without ever checking this information. And if I recollect correctly as well, I only wore it once, to wear to a goth disco with satin corset, gloves and black laced boots. I stood out, but I loved it (oh, and pink clip-in extensions)!

what things you still find on your myspace-page...
things you still find on your myspace-page…

I never considered giving it away (hey, it was old and pink!), but I never really wore it. I feared it could be too fragile and when on earth could you wear a pink silk dress?

Meanwhile it moved with me three times and I have learned a lot about fashion and historical sewing techniques. I never know how to style this thing and my boyfriend always says it looks like a nightshirt and I shouldn’t wear it outside. So it lurks in the back of my wardrobe and never really sees the light (if it is really a nightshirt it is also a creature of the night, maybe it’s manipulating me and doesn’t want to see daylight? Help, it’s alive!).

But once in a while I try to wear it, play around a little to defuse this out-of-bed-look and in November I dared to wear it to a concert  (Mozart’s Requiem, a very dear colleague participated and generously invited me and my boyfriend, check out the choir’s website if you life in Switzerland and like classical music). I took the opportunity to have a closer look at it.

an awful lot of handsewing going on inside
an awful lot of handsewing going on inside, the buttons are secured with a thin pink ribbon.
The front. The bow is just decorative, the rest of the band is bias binding made from the same fabric.
The front. The bow is just decorative, the rest of the band is bias binding made from the same fabric.
are these buttons handmade? it looks as if, don't they? To me it seems as if they consist of a ball of wrapped yarn and invisibly attached silk fabric.
are these buttons handmade? it looks as if, don’t they? To me it seems as if they consist of a ball of wrapped yarn and invisibly attached silk fabric.

Coil zipper in the centre back as well as the absence of any old seams or other traces of manipulation make me date this dress into the 1960ies. But I am still amazed of all the hand sewing and old techniques used (I have never seen such a perfectly hand-sewn zipper. You need a magnifying glass and have to look at the back of the seam to see that it isn’t machine sewn). Maybe this was made by someone who had learned sewing already years or even decades ago and still used all this techniques when making a dress for a granddaughter?

Now, back to the dress as a whole. It is a little too large, not the best premise to make a pink shift dress look NOT like a nightshirt.

oh, wait until you see the front, this is going to be fun!
oh, wait until you see the front, this is going to be fun!

And my boyfriend is right, styled wrongly it could really look like “oh, hello Mr. Postman, sorry, I just woke up”

yeah, the hilarious shoes again!
yeah, the hilarious shoes again!

This is how I wore it this evening. Paired with a black cardigan with pink and red embroidery and patent leather high-heels (I switched later to black smooth leather t-straps heels, these somehow felt a little too…*ahem* kinky to wear in a church).

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And yes, lots of make-up. Idea is that nobody wakes up with perfectly shiny red lipstick applied.

dress: antique/Das Puppenhaus, cardigan: Voodoo Vixen, high-heels: Christian Louboutin/2nd-hand Secondo Bern, handbag: flea-market, necklace: gift from mum
dress: antique/Das Puppenhaus, cardigan: Voodoo Vixen, high-heels: Christian Louboutin/2nd-hand Secondo Bern, handbag: flea-market, necklace: gift from mum, fragrance: Prada, Amber

Now, what do you think? Nightshirt or wearable? I am still convinced that it really was meant as a dress because of the zipper and the globular buttons, both wouldn’t be very comfortable in bed. But still, it has this air of lingerie….

Dare anybody of you to pin this photo :-P
Dare anybody of you to pin this photo :-P

Now that you have managed to read everything I might reveal that I wanted a “styled” photo to appear in this post first. My idea was that the verdict could be different, depending on what of the two stylings you see first. I would have loved to post this in two different blogs, one with nightshirt-photos first, the other with styled photos on top. I bet it would have made a difference. So are you sure you decided how you wanted to and not depending on what you saw first? :-)
(I fear I have been reading too much Daniel Kahneman in the last time, but his book is really interesting)

See you soon, love

ette

 

Charity shops can be quite expensive if you aren’t wary Getrödelt, gefunden, gefreut

German version below!

Somehow I always miss to post what I found on flea markets. Either I don’t make it to write a post in time or I think it isn’t that interesting to show it here. But now after a “few” months’ break, another “Getrödelt, Gefunden, Gefreut!“-Post, hosted as each month on Beswingtes Fräulein’s blog “Beswingtes Allerlei“.

The past few weeks have been different and somewhat insecure. After having additionally worked in the museum until September it was hard to adapt to the one salary I earn at the bookshop again and until two weeks ago it wasn’t clear if I could raise my pensum there (luckily I can!). So this month’s motto should have been: Saving. And really, I cooked more often so much I was able to eat leftovers at work instead of buying something for lunch, I reduced my consumption of take-away coffees to as good as none (I think I bought two, one was sponsored by my boyfriend)and I said to myself not to go shopping anymore unless I really needed something. Excluded from this were flea markets and used items, though I think I didn’t visit a single flea market the whole month, don’t have to tempt myself unneccessarily ;-)

Well, I am far from being perfect and so I have to admit that this is also the month I bought the most shoes since…well, very long. Five pairs, to be honest, three of them new. Yes, shame on me (but they are so beautiful and were so reasonably priced….oh).

I don’t even know why I begged my boyfriend to stop at this charity shop. I felt I just needed a little shopping feeling and though this would be less dangerous than going elsewhere. Because he really hates this particular shop he only accompanied me a few minutes and left then to wait in the car. Baaaad decision. Right after he had left I picked up a pair of black leather boots for half the price (he wouldn’t let me buy shoes, he hates how many I already own) and then to make things worse I found this amongst the antique books:

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And yes, I bought it. With 40 CHF it was quite expensive, but I still think it was a good buy.

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A very big book “Lehrkurs der Selbstschneiderei” (training course to home sewing), a smaller appendix with patterns for knitting and crocheting and even a postcard to order other books from this publisher as well as a pay-in slip.

The appendix is not overly interesting to photograph:

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But the book itself! It has no date given, but judging from the illustrations and photos it should date from the 1930ies.

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And it covers really everything remotely connected with textiles. Dying and weaving…

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..different kinds of stitches and embroidery (yes, in full colour!)…

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…how to decorate and finish seams and hems…

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…knitting and crocheting for children and grown-ups…

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…photos of beautiful finished projects…

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…different collars and even hat decorations and alterations…

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…ideas on how to alter a basic pattern to give it a new look…

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…and last but not least some fashion illustrations…

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I really hope to use it in the future, though I have to admit I tend to forget these kinds of things when working with patterns and just do as I am told or as I already know. But I really would like to try some of these ideas and at least I paid so much for it, would be a shame if I wouldn’t use it.

Auf Deutsch

Nachdem ich meist entweder das Datum verschlafe und nicht rechtzeitig fertig werde oder ich die erstandenen Dinge nicht für interessant genug erachte, hier nun endlich wieder ein “Getrödelt, Gefunden, Gefreut”- Beitrag von mir.
Eigentlich sollte ich diesen Monat ja sparen, aber aus welchen Gründen auch immer musste ich in diesen Trödelladen und war als ich rauskam um ein dickes Buch und ein paar Schuhe reicher, aber auch um einiges Geld ärmer. Das Buch “Lehrkurs der Selbstschneiderei” hat mich komplett mit Schachtel, beiliegendem Heft, einer alten Bestellkarte und Einzahlungsschein 40 Franken gekostet,  etwa 34€. Ein Datum lässt sich nirgends finden, aber anhand der Fotos ist es aus den 30er Jahren.  Im Heft finden sich Schnittmuster für Strick- und Häkelprojekte, im Buch selber gibt es dann weniger Schnittmuster (vor allem Basisschnitte zum vergrössern), aber umso mehr Verarbeitungstipps, Anleitungen und Ideen. Und vom Färben und Weben über Stricken, Sticken, Schleifchen machen bis hin zum kompletten Herrenhemd und sogar  Hutänderungen ist wirklich alles dabei. Zwischendrin immer wieder Fotos von Beispielobjekten, farbige Seiten und unzählige Beispiele für Krägen, Details, Verzierungen, Borten, Knopfleisten und was-weiss-ich -nicht-alles. Eine Fundgrube, wahrhaft. Dumm nur dass ich solche Bücher meist genau dann im Schrank lasse, wenn ich nähe und die Schnittmuster nach Anleitung oder Erfahrung zusammenknüppel. Ich hoffe wirklich ich bessere mich in dieser Hinsicht und setze zumindest ein paar dieser Ideen um, wär doch schade drum (um die Ideen und um das Geld :-) )

See you soon, love,

ette

 

 

 

slow, slow, slow as you can go (Christmas dress pt. 3)

Depeche Mode found the right words to describe my progress, I am just hesitating with everything.

 

The agenda:

Ich bin in Stimmung, erste Nähte sind gemacht!
Endlich hab ich angefangen
Probemodell sitzt, ich kann den richtigen Stoff zuschneiden
Ich bin ein Streber und nähe jetzt mein zweites Weihnachtskleid
Plätzchenessen ist doch irgendwie auch Nähen, oder?

I’m in the mood, the first seams are done!
Finally got started
Toile is fine, off to cut the real fabric
i’m a nerd and start my second Christmas dress
Eating bisquits can be considered sewing, too, right?

 

As I already told you I wasn’t sure on how to arrange the plaid on the dress. Should I leave it as plaid (=changes the look of the dress significantly, could look a little boring), should I cut it on the bias (=would look like the pattern, but could cause problems with the pleats, fabric on the bias acts different), should I combine both (=bias cut the bodice, straight cut the skirt)? I was confused, somehow scared to ruin anything, close to completely shutting down. So I decided to take on step away from the project and sought for advice.

All fashion prints shown in this post were published in 1920ies issues of "Le petit echo de la mode". I only own single pages of these issues so I can't give you exact dates.

Le petit echo de la mode - parva sed apta

I searched for plaid- and lozenge-patterned dresses or garments in 1920ies fashion plates to see how it was done back then. First thing I had to learn:

The pattern is always treated alike in the whole dress. If the bodice is cut in straight grain, the skirt is, too. At this point I said good-bye to my half-straight-half-bias-idea.

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The only thing that can indeed be cut differently are little details. Facings, pockets, collars and things alike.

 

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But because I had already decided to use the pink velvet for these parts, this was of minor importance for me.

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But what I did learn was that it didn’t look at all weird to have a complete dress cut in plaid in straight grain and that it even seems to have been more common than bias cut dresses.

 

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Indeed I found dresses with lozenge pattern as it is shown in the pattern I’m using, but it is quite unclear if these used woven plaid (what would cause the fabric to stretch) or if they used printed fabric whose pattern was completely detached from its weaving structure. This one for example could most likely be a printed fabric:

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Whereas this one looks like a standard woven plaid fabric. Obviously the pleats don’t seem messy at all (my fear when cutting it on the bias). But grey, dear friend, is all theory. Until today fashion magazines show us dresses and patterns that look so different when seen in real life. So maybe I should not use a fashion plate as a reference for fabric behaviour.

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So let us come to the most important part of all this chitchat: What did I make of my little plaid-roundup?

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Nothing yet. All I have done is marked the velvet parts. But I was somehow busy, somehow lazy this week and didn’t manage to do anything to the plaid at all. So my motto this week was really all about nibbling bisquits.

Auf Deutsch:

Weil ich mir ja doch recht unsicher war was den Karo-Zuschnitt angeht (schräg, gerade, teils-teils), habe ich mal ein paar Modezeichnungen aus den 20ern zusammengesucht und verglichen. Es gibt eindeutig mehr gerade Karos als Rauten und wenn etwas schräg geschnitten wurden dann Taschen, Belege u.ä., aber es wurde der Rock immer im gleichen Musterverlauf wie das Oberteil gearbeitet.
Mal abgesehen von dieser Erkenntnis und ein paar Markierungen auf dem rosa Samt habe ich diese Woche nichts gemacht. Ich halte es also mit der letzten Zeile des Mottos und sinniere bei einer guten Packung Plätzchen über dieses Projekt nach.

See you tomorrow, I will show you my newest vintage sewing haul, love

ette

History is at my feet (HSF #21)

I know this post is a little late, but I had to find some of the older pictures of this project to get it done. So I only posted a little image on facebook to officially complete the challenge in time, but of course it will get its own post.

The 21st HSF-Challenge was “Re-Do”. This means, you could do just anything, as long as it matched one of the previous challenges (and I strongly believe with 20 challenges to chose from, you could really do next to everything). I think my project would best fit into the UFO&PHD-challenge (Un-Finished-Objects and Projects Half Done), but could also be related to the Tops&Toes-challenge.

Everything started with a little discussion on Anne Elisabeth’s blog “Munich Rococo”. I was unable to find this discussion, but it has to have been in late 2012 or early 2013. I think the context was that many things, pictures and artefacts from bygone eras can only be fully understood when used. One of the examples was a footstool, these tiny little stools you can see in what feels like every second interior scene from the 18th century onwards.

You see a footstool next to the wingbacked chair on the right Early 20th century 3D-image (damaged, armrests, tablecloth and sewing box on the far right were glued onto the image to create a three dimensional effect. The cabinet doors can be opened
You see a footstool next to the wingbacked chair on the right
Early 20th century 3D-image (damaged, armrests, tablecloth and sewing box on the far right were glued onto the image like the fringes of the carpet to create a three dimensional effect. The cabinet doors can be opened)
Chromolithography, own collection

The question was, what for was such a footstool. To rest you feet on, that’s for sure. But why? Because the feet shouldn’t touch the ground? To protect silk slippers and stockings from hard wood planks? Those who had some re-encactment experience knew the answer quite well and with it came a second answer: why did they vanish?

The answer is really so simple: To keep you warm. In rooms without central heating the floor is really cold so resting your feet on the floor would leave you with a pair of chilled bones and flesh in a very short time, leading to colds, flus and bladder infections. By resting you feet onto a little footstool, the feet were kept away from the cold surface and didn’t cool so easily. And when living, building, heating and isolating changed during the 20th century, these little helpers became dispensable.

Well, I am one of the girls that is always cold. I manage to have cold hands and feet the whole year, but in winter I am simply freezing, especially when I sit down and read a book or write something.
As you can imagine, I was destined to get such a footstool for myself.

I don’t know when exactly it was, but one afternoon a friend and I made a charity-second-hand-shopping tour in Berne. And amongst all the stuff I bought that day was this:

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Cute little footstool to restore, because it was really damaged.

view from below
view from below

The straps that where meant to support the whole thing and your feet on top of it were completely torn.
When I removed the upper fabric, I found another layer below:

bullen nails partly removed, a glimpse inside
bullen nails partly removed, a glimpse inside

Both fabrics completely removed and I was left with this:

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You see a thin layer of wadding inside the outer fabric, the black fabric underneath and on the far right the footstool. The edges are covered with jute. Now let’s remove this molleton thingy in the middle:

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From left to right: the black fabric you already know, the removed molleton, the whatsoever plant-like filling and the disembowelled footstool. You see the straps hanging down. The jute edge was intact and because I have no experience in upholstery I left it like that.

I removed the jute straps and stapled new ones to the wooden frame:

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Do you recognize what it is? These are ribbons to be cross stitch embroidered, these terrible, old-fashioned ribbons to hang on your door to repel welcome your visitors. I had these because a mother of a former friend of mine had embroidered very much back in the 80ies and gave me all the stuff she still had. They are very strong and wide enough to serve this purpose. The jute you see behind the straps comes from the same context. I didn’t want to drop the filling all over the place when using the footstool, so I added this layer to the bottom.

Like this it stayed since march 2013. I was scared to cut the new fabric and to fail. Somewhere in between I repainted it. I had planned to remove all the paint and just add some clear coat to protect it. Unfortunately the wood had changed its colour. Some parts were very bright, others remained as dark as the paint on them had been. Maybe this was low quality wood and it had always been like that, not meant to be shown ever again. Well, anyway. I had to decide for a darker colour to paint it, but I wanted the structure to shine through, so I searched for wood stain or glaze. Considering the colours of the fabric I wanted to use, I imagined a reddish, honey-like brown. Yes, I found it but only in so large tins I wasn’t willing to buy them for such a tiny project. So I went with a very dark, blackish brown. I am not completely happy with the paint but for my very first project it is ok. And then it took me until two weeks ago to move on:

Instead of wadding the outer fabric, I wadded the inner one. A red cotton leftover, wadded with pure wool, the one I had already used in my cape.

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I nailed it to the frame on one side before adding the filling. Usually you use coconut fibres to fill upholstery, but this wasn’t available in a standard hardware store. In the pet division I found an alternative: hay!

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you see the red fabric in the back already attached. Next step was to flap it over and attach it to the three other edges.

When I had finished, it looked like this:

cute as well, isn't it?
cute as well in red, isn’t it?

To attach the outer fabric I bought gold-coloured bullen-nails. You can already see the fabric lying in the background in the photo above. There is a little story to this fabric, too:
When I was in Lyons in autumn 2012 for a hands-on training, I was given the task to do some research on Philippe de Lasalle, a lyonese silk entrepreneur and designer of the 18th century. Every year in november, the Marché des Soies takes place in the Palais du Commerce in Lyons. When I went there in 2012 I loved to see all the different dealers, look at all the silks and I spent hours watching a group of silkworms eat their way through a bunch of mulberry leaves. Beside the silkworm breeder, one stall was of particular interest to me: Tassinari et Chatel. This enterprise is one of the oldest silk fabric producers still existant in Lyons, founded as early as 1680. In the 1760ies, Etienne Pernon, the director of this enterprise which was called the “Maison Pernon” back then, started a very successful cooperation with Philippe de Lasalle, the very Lasalle whose life I was researching. In 1779 the managment was passed over to his son Camille Pernon and the cooperation persisted until 1789, when the french revolution forched de Lasalle to flee and leave all his equipment behind. Whereas Camille Pernon was able to withstand the changes and resumed to business as soon as possible, Lasalle seems to have been unable to find a place in this now new world. No trace of any business activity can be found afterwards, the machines that weren’t destroyed during the revolution he gave to the city of Lyons to train weavers and silk designers on them. He died in 1804.*
But back to the market stall of Tassinari et Chatel. I knew they still weave some of the old designs and they offered piles of different silk leftovers (I mean, they make interior silks for walls and upholstery, so their leftover panels could be as long as 4 metres). I was unable to find a Lasalle weaving amongst them but was very tempted to buy some other designs I had come across during my research, though they were terribly pricy. Fortunately in the end I found a basket with small leftovers, approximately 50cmx50cm-large pieces of silk. Five different pieces in a bag for 25€. One of these was to become the cover of my footstool. To me it seems like a design from the first quarter of the 19th century, unfortunately I found nothing in any museum database that comes remotely close to this design, so I can’t show you anything to compare it with.

Now, I fear I have already talked to much, so I will finally show you the pictures:

Ta-Da! Baby-blue silk deliciousness with kitschy animal-putto-cuteness
Ta-Da! Baby-blue silk deliciousness with kitschy animal-putto-cuteness
the golden bullen-nails. It is not perfect, but considering haw many holes already were in the wood I am quite content.
the golden bullen-nails. It is not perfect, but considering haw many holes already were in the wood I am quite content.
while the old bullen-nails were placed diagonally on the corner, I placed them on both sides of them.
while the old bullen-nails were placed diagonally on the corner, I placed them on both sides of them.

And to show the size, it is really small.

the most ridiculous shoes I own and I couldn't resist wearing these knee highs because the colours are so close to the silk
the most ridiculous shoes I own (60ies boudoir-style) and I couldn’t resist wearing these knee highs because the colours are so close to the silk (yes, these are robots :-D)

 What the item is: A footstool. Bought the footstool itself for little money in a charity shop. gave it a new glaze, a new filling and a new fabric cover.

The Challenge: #21 Re-Do (UFOs and PHDs, Tops & Toes, Make, Do & Mend)

Fabric: red cotton, pure silk from Tassinari & Chatel in Lyons, France

Pattern: Just traced the old fabric to get the right size for the cotton layer and the right amount of filling. The silk I pinned to the cotton and cut around it.

Year: Early 19th century, though the footstool itself looks a little older with this swung legs. But it could have been reupholstered (the footstool itself might date from the first quarter of the 20th century)

Notions: Jute and strong woven ribbon, hay, wool batting, nails, bullen-nails, dark brown glaze

How historically accurate is it? Well, I can’t say anything about the carpentry. The jute and the ribbons I attached with staples rather than nails. Hay could be accurate, as could be the wool batting. The cotton cover is not acurate, the silk certainly is, though it was woven on a modern loom and not on a historical drawstring loom.

Hours to complete: 2-3, complete with painting and everything.

First worn: Stands in front of the sofa as is used when sitting on it with the laptop on my knees since last week.

Total cost: Five silk scraps in a bag cost me 25€, this was a little more than half of one, so let’s say 3€. Because I bought a lot in the charity shop the day I bought the footstool the seller asked 40CHF for everything, thinking of what I bought I would say I paid around 5€ for the footstool. Bullen-Nails, glaze and nails did cost quite a bit, so let’s say 25€?

In full glory
In full glory

See you soon,

ette

* Sources for the above paragraph: 
Belle M. Borland: Philippe de Lasalle. His contrbution to the textile industry of Lyons, Chicago 1936 
Marie-Jo de Chaignon: Philippe de Lasalle. Dessinateur de soierie à Lyon au XVIIIe siècle. In: Soie en Touraine, Tours 2003, p. 14-21
Liliane Hilaire-Pérez: Inventing in a world of guilds. The case of silk fabrics in Lyon in the XVIIIth century. In: K. Scott [publ.]: Interiors, Decoration and Design. Essays in the history snd Aesthetics of material culture in 18th century France (no year and place given)

Patt(ern)y Page (Christmas dress pt. 2)

it is supposed to be a pun, I fear. Pattern … Patty …. Betty Page

mh…ok…never mind…

Before I will show you my Christmas dress progress I want to announce something:

Since yesterday my blog has its own Facebook-Page!
If you want to be updated about new posts, informed about things to come or just want to see what I came across in the world wide web that is related to this blog’s and blogger’s field of interest, just like it! All you need to do is to press that little blue button on the right.

But now, the Weihnachtskleid!

I was asked to do this Sew-Along partly in german. And I gladly will. At the end of each post you will find a german summary from now on.
Ich wurde darum gebeten, diesen Sew-Along zumindest teilweise auf deutsch zu schreiben. Dem komme ich gerne nach, daher findet ihr am Ende jedes Posts eine deutschsprachige Zusammenfassung.
Today’s schedule:

Oh, so ein schönes Schnittmuster wird da genäht, ich entscheide mich schnell um
Ich habe mich für mein Traumkleid entschieden und bleibe dabei
Ich nähe mal lieber erst ein Probemodell
Schnitt kopieren, zuschneiden, wer sagt eigentlich, dass Nähen Spaß macht? 

Oh such a lovely pattern, just changed my plans
I found my dress of dreams and’ll stick to  it
Better to do a mock-up first
Pattern tracing, cutting, who said sewing was supposed to be fun?

 The last line is especially fitting. I can’t think of anything I like less in sewing than tracing a paper pattern and transferring this to the fabric (well, maybe unripping seams).
But working with old pattern sheets is at least a little more appealing to me than modern one.

Only to remind you again, my pattern
Only to remind you again, my pattern

Tracing the pattern from the sheet went without any surprises or accidents. Only the skirt length gave me a lot to think about. I seemed as if the pattern asked for a centre front length of 58cm, but a side seam length of 68cm. This looked pretty weird and not at all like in the scheme. But after having compared every single number related to the skirt length I discoverd that the print was blurry and that in fact all “6” were “5”. After this rocky passage I was left with 9 pattern pieces (2x skirt, 2x bodice, sleeve and cuff, jabot, collar and belt). Because the pattern was sized for a 96 bust circumference I had to adjust it, my first proper adjustment ever! The bodice length seemed ok (skirt length will be discussed when everything is done except for the hem), so I only had to change the width. I did this by reducing each bodice pattern piece by 2cm, this makes 8cm less circumference in total. Hope this will be enough (maybe you remember that 40ies patterns for 88cm bust circumference tend to be a tiny bit too large to look good, so I am not yet convinced. But because I fear to make it too small, it’s 20ies after all, I will leave it like this for now).

it is quite small compared to younger pattern sheets, as you can imagine this leads to problems with larger pieces.
it is quite small compared to younger pattern sheets, as you can imagine this leads to problems with larger pieces.

I will do a separate post in the near future on how to work with such an old pattern, but today I will leave it at the project. This is what my final pattern looks like. You can see that it has two darts in the shoulder seams.To avoid shifting their position I moved each of them 1cm to the side. One of them was still in the “to be pleated away for adjustment”-line, so I cut it open, adjusted the pattern and the dart moved as a whole. Afterwards the two darts stil had the same distance from each other and remained somewhere in the middle of the seam.

light lines =old dart position, blue lines= new dart position, red arrow shows you the dart I cut and let overlap while adjusting the pattern to my size. You see that the dart is not distorted though the fold is running through it.
light lines =old dart position, blue lines= new dart position, red arrow shows you the dart I cut and let overlap while adjusting the pattern to my size. You see that the dart is not distorted though the fold is running through it.

Because I changed the bodice, of course I had to change the skirt as well. The rest of the pattern pieces looks like in the image above, I am sure you can imagine this in tissue paper.

bodice and skirt pattern pieces, already adjusted
bodice and skirt pattern pieces, already adjusted, 20ies skirt patterns really aren’t interesting at all…

Next step will be to transfer the pattern onto the fabric. This means plaid matching, wish me luck (haven’t yet decided what to cut on the bias and what not).
And no, I won’t do a mock-up. Most patterns tend to be too large, so my standard solution is start cutting and shifting seams like mad. Somehow it was wearable most of the times. Additionally, a 20ies pattern with so many straight seams is not a coat or a close fitting suit and I have so much of this darn pink plaid that I could make three dresses without any problems. So if this is really going to fail, I’ll just start anew ;-)

Auf Deutsch

Da mein letzer Post noch keine Zusammenfassung hatte, ein kleiner Rückblick:
Den Schnitt, für den ich mich entschieden habe, fand ich Anfang des Jahres in einem Buch über Stickerei aus den 20ern. Ich bin nähtechnisch gänzlich unerfahren mit Mode dieser Zeit, zudem habe ich dank eines missglückten Projekts vor fünf Jahren eine Abneigung gegen karierte Stoffe entwickelt. Beide dunklen Flecken in meiner Vita möchte ich mit diesem Projekt also ausmerzen.
Stoffe sind daher ein rosa-braunes Karo (synthetisches, gab es mal günstig bei Butinette) und für die Details rosa Baumwoll-Samt (aus einem Trödelladen).
Sobald ich verstanden hatte dass die Rocklänge in der vorderen Mitte nicht 10cm kürzer ist als an den Seitennähten (58<>68cm), sondern der Druck so verlaufen ist dass er aus den 5en lauter 6er gemacht hat, ging alles ganz problemlos und aus dem Liniengewirr wurde schnell ein Schnittmuster.
Der Schnitt ist für 96cm Brustweite angegeben, viel zu viel für mich. Habe daher sowohl beim Rock als auch beim Oberteil, vorne und hinten, 2cm Weite pro Schnittteil weggenommen, das macht 8cm total, sollte langen (hoffe ich doch). Das komplizierteste war noch die beiden Abnäher in der Schulternaht zu verschieben, aber sonst sieht es so aus, als hätte ich meine erste vernünftige Schnittanpassung erfolgreich bewältigt (normalerweise näh ich einfach enger und schneide weg bis es passt). Die Länge des Oberteils schien zu stimmen, wo der Saum schlussendlich endet entscheide ich sowieso erst ganz am Schluss.  Dank des Gürtels der die Ansatznaht bedeckt und des Saumbesatzes habe ich da ja recht viel Spielraum, sollte es doch zu lang sein.
Als nächstes heißt es nun, den Schnitt auf den Stoff zu bringen. Dafür muss ich mich aber erstmal entscheiden, was im schrägen und was im geraden Fadenlauf geschnitten wird. Und dann gilt es, Dämonen  Karos zu bändigen.

See you soon, love,

ette

Weihnachtskleid <-> A Christmas dress

Yes, it’s been a while….First problem I have is that our roof is being renewed, it must have been three weeks now since the last weekday without hammering  sounds from above. Hope they will finish soon. And two weeks ago the men up there made a terrible mistake by underestimating the Swiss November rain which led to a massive water shower from above…half past five in the morning in our bedroom! You can easily imagine me being awake quite quickly, though I am usually not a morning person. ;-)
And by the end of this unfateful week we left home a few days, not only to flee the noise, but to visit our family and friends in Germany. The rest of last week passed in a wink, as usual when its your well-earned vacancy. Yesterday I had my very first lecture in university, I mean, me giving a lecture. Only half an hour, the rest was  done by my professor, but it still felt very cool. Maybe a university career could be an alternative to the museum-job I always dreamed of?

Anyway. What’s new in my sewing world? I finished last HSF-challenge, but it took me until this morning that found all photos related to this project, so please give me some days to get it all done (it’s not that big a deal, though).

But already a couple of days ago an annual sew-along was anounced, for the fourth year in a row, the  Weihnachtskleid (=Christmas dress)-Sew Along. After I saw the amazing dress Beswingtes Fräulein had sewn for last year’s sew along I was eager to participate this year.

First official post was due last sunday, so as always I am a bit late. But I am positive to get better, for sure!

This weeks agenda (because it is hosted by german blogs the tasks are as well. I tried to translate it):

Ich bin 1a vorbereitet und habe schon alles zusammengesucht
Weihnachten ? Ist nicht noch Sommer ?
Ich such nach Inspiration und guck mal, was die anderen machen
Schnitt da aber kein Stoff oder andersrum ?
Kleine Rückblende : mein Weihnachtskleid 2013/2012/2011

I am very well prepared, all supplies are gathered
Christmas,  isn’t it still summer?

Searching for some inspiration, let’s see what the others are planning
Got a pattern but no fabric, or the other way ’round?
Flashback: my Christmas dress 2013/2012/2011

Well, in this case some things came together:
1st: This year’s christmas will be very quiet. We will stay at home and won’t be able to visit our families in Germany. So no big party, nothing glamorous, no big festive attire needed. But something elegant yet comfortable is desired, Christmas in pajamas doesn’t feel right.

2nd: Maybe some of you remember the 1920ies pattern sheet I found in an embroidery book I bought earlier this year. Somehow the wish to sew something from this period grew stronger and stronger in the last weeks, so why not finally do it?

3rd: I love plaid. But I am also horrified to sew it. Already a couple of years ago I bought two lovely plaid fabrics for a steal (synthetics, that’s why they were that cheap I suppose). One, a light green one, remains untouched until today. The other, pink one was the fabric I used for my very first plaid project back in 2009. It was a desaster, but here, to amuse you:

Photo is even worse than the fabric placement...
Photo is even worse than the fabric placement…

A high-waist skirt made after a 1950ies pattern, one of the first vintage patterns I ever worked with. Unfortunately, although it was quite well sewn, the plaid made the pleats appear dropping, as if I hadn’t paid attention to keep them in place. I wore this skirt maybe twice before it had to leave my wardrobe forever.

4th: As I said, I love plaid and  this post of a friend of mine made me think of this vast yardage of unknown terrain in my stash AND made me want to wear plaid immediately.

Now, when I finally found a pattern meant to be used with plaid fabric on this very 20ies pattern sheet everything just popped into place and the plan was set.

My pattern:

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As you see, it asks for trimmings in a solid colour and the fabric looks more like a woven lozenge pattern than a  plaid. This makes me wonder if I could use my fabric on the bias.  This was actually pretty common in the 20ies and bias-cut skirts are available still today. But I fear that the upper dress-part would look weird. Maybe I will cut this straight and only the skirt diagonally?
And the pleats will give me the very same issues I had with the Bette-Davis-dress. This time I want to pay attention to the depth of the pleats so the pattern will match at the edges.
The pattern is too large for me, so this will not only be my first attempt with a 20ies pattern, I will also have to resize it, fingers crossed!

Here are the fabrics I am planning to use:

left: light pink cotton velvet, right: light pink and brown plaid (poly-something)
left: light pink cotton velvet, right: light pink and brown plaid (poly-something)

You might remember this pink velvet, it is the same I used for my ballerina-fancy dress.

The velvet is comparably thin, but I still fear it could bulk at the hem with all the pleats. That’s why I plan to make a false hem, facing the velvet with a thin lining fabric or a silk leftover:

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two lining leftovers in pink and champagne and a little bit of white silk

I don’t know which of them I will use, most likely the champagne one, but maybe there is too little of it left to use it for all the facings (I don’t want to use them only at the hem, but also for all the other velvet details, belt, cuffs and collar)

And the lining:

the light one is not as champagne coloured as the other, but darker and has a pinkish shade
the light one is not as champagne coloured as the other, but darker and has a pinkish shade

Maybe green because I like contrast where nobody can see it, maybe the other one because it is as least remotely pink, though it is impossible to photograph.

So far, I hope you are with me?

See you soon, love,

ette

Some projects should remain unfinished…

Somehow I like sewing and working with fabric more than working with yarn, knitting or chrocheting. Funny thing is, I do crochet from time to time, always smaller projects and I do like it. I like to embroider, too. So maybe it is not because I don’t like it, but that I do it too occasionally to fall in love with.

All I can say is that passion hasn’t struck me yet, I hardly know how to knit and I don’t see me learning it properly in the near future.

In consequence this means that the majority of tutorials in my antique crafting (not sewing) magazines remain cryptic to me, as an estimated 95% are knitting tutorials.

To find a chrocheting project that is not toddler-sized or toddler-related is quite hard, if I recollect correctly I counted two or three projects in a whole stack of magazines. So my choice was quite limited.
in the end I went for the one I liked best, though I can’t say it intrigued me.

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pattern consists only of double crochet and front post double crochet, so quite simple actually.

To make this cardigan you are asked to enlarge the pattern scheme on the top left to its original size and chrochet after this drawing so that it fits the pattern, decreasing and increasing as needed. Sounded as if I could handle that.
Because it was measured to fit a size 46 (way too large for me) I altered it quite heavily. And maybe I exagerated a little with the waist circumference and the waist-hip-ratio, you’ll see later.

In hindsight I should have foreseen that this project was doomed. First, the only wool I had enough of (I didn’t want to buy new wool for this test run) was a structured cotton-viscose-wool in white and bright green. This meant I had to make stripes because otherwise it wouldn’t suffice. A white and green striped jacket, I mean…seriously?

Second, the cover. Sorry, but this baby freaks me out (relieving it isn’t staring at me and points its gorgon-eyes at someone else). And this naked doll plunging upside down beside it, oh dear…evil.

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Frauen-Fleiss (=women’s diligence), issue 7 (march), volume 1942/3

And the last hint, I felt it very early. May I quote myself, this is what I wrote about this project as early as ten months ago:

Mh, and there is this hilarious crocheted pullover, I am not sure I even want to complete.

Well, what should I say. I kept on working on it until a couple of months ago. Now in the new flat I stumbled over it and put it on my dress form.

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ummm…any questions left? Hilarious hits it, doesn’t it? Or would awkward be a better word for this?

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Is it only me who finds this bookshelf-backround distrackting? I should search for another photo-location…
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Oh, but I have been searching for this cat-shaped timer for weeks. Hooray for distracting backgrounds!

Here you see what I meant with a too sharp waist-hip-ratio. First it looks odd with the ridges and second it seems to be too large at the hips, the hem is dropping quite poorly on the sides (not to mention that this is in no way a 40ies waistline).

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The shoulderseams are very (read too) narrow stretching the armhole into a very pointy shape on the shoulder and the sleeves aren’t even started off with.

So this is the biggest appearance this dissipation of (admittedly ugly) yarn has ever had and will ever get. Because I have come to the conclusion it would be the best to simply throw it away.

And to draw at least something positive from this project, I searched for better tutorials in this Frauen-Fleiss-issue to share with you.
First, a cute idea for children, a bowling game made from waste. The pins on the left are made from empty cleaning powder packages, today you could use the ones from Pringles eg. (at least here in Europe the vast majority of cleaning products is liquid and doesn’t come in cardboard tubes anymore). The pins on the lower left are made of empty thread spools. A shame these wooden spools aren’t that common anymore, they look great as pins.
What I find most interesting is how the balls are made. One is an old stocking filled with wadding or sawdust and completey covered with large buttonhole stitched to stabilize it. The other one is made by covering a little rock with wet and scrunched up newspapers. Smooth the surface and let it dry in the bright sunlight. Afterwards cover it with yarn as the drawing shows. This sounds as it could be a pretty heavy and painful ball, depending on the rock’s size and how hard you scrunch the paper.

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click to see full size

And the second one, handbags to fit your suit or coat, made from leftover fabric. Though I always thought the handbag doesn’t have to match the coat, but the shoes :-P

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click to see full size

So much for today, hope the next crocheting project will be more successful,
love,

ette