Some weeks ago I strolled across the market in Berne. One seller is a little different than the others, his stand looks more as if he mistook the event for a flea market. All he sells is old books, fabric scraps,90ies pop cds, more or less old and/or interesting haberdashery and some, mostly ugly, clothes. Fabrics and clothes are sold in umbrellas turned upside down and he always sits behind his goods smoking a incredibly large cigar.
Somehow I like it and I have bought multiple fabrics from him.
This time I found a red tshirt in his clothing-umbrella. Nothing special, but good quality and obviously only slightly too large (I hate altering shirts, especially the sleeves. So only a little too large means I can avoid re-modeling the shoulders and get away with shifting the side seams a little), for 1 CHF quite worth a try.
At home I altered it to my size only to realize it had some small stains on the front (yes, of course I had washed it before altering). Seemed as if it hadn’t been that good a deal at all.
Well, there is always room for improvement and I could still throw it away, so I thought why not give it a try and cover the stains.
My inspiration was Elsa Schiaparelli herself. The starting point of her career was a knitted jumper patterned with a large bow on the front, today in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Well, there is still this tiny little white spot in my crafting universe, I can’t knit! I tried it, it’s ok, it worked somehow but not good, maybe I will try again but I didn’t want to wait that long to make something inspired by this garment.
A quick image search online supplied me with all I needed to draft a bow onto the shirt front, as you see a much cuter and gift-wrap-kind-of-bow Schiaparelli used, maybe this is the key to her success, I still like it far more than my own version.
I used black fabric paint, first drew the outlines and afterwards filled it with paint. You can see some brighter spots and dark areas, it is less evident in real life. In addition I wanted to see how it looks after having been washed to make some final corrections.
Next time I will insist on taking the photos again with our real camera, this mobile always changes the colours and produces a weird angle.
Some of you might remember my slight obsession with Bette Davis.
Well, most of the time this makes me watch her films and read books about her. But sometimes I can’t resist and buy memorabilia. My most treasured item surely is an autograph my boyfriend bought me for my birthday two years ago.
But there is another kind of memorabilia that I am itching for. Do you know Hollywood Patterns? The company was founded in 1932 and sold patterns connected to stars and starlets (source). Simply by putting a little photo and the name of a movie star on the envelope turned a standard pattern into a collectible (a method that applies still today, though maybe not anymore for patterns). And as you can imagine, today they are worth even more.
Bette Davis had a total of 16 patterns named after her. Every now and then they pop up on ebay or etsy. To the more or less high prices of the patterns themselves adds the postage from the US to Europe, so to buy one of these is alway quite an expensive pleasure. (Now please don’t link to any pattern you found for sale on the internet, I don’t look at the mentioned websites very often, simply because I don’t want to tempt myself to spend that much money too often ;-). If I am in the mood and the position to buy one, I will search for it.)
Last year in late autumn I spotted a beautiful one on etsy, Hollywood 1221, published in 1934. And my boyfriend was so kind to give it to me as a christmas-present (darling, I love you!).
I already copied the pattern a few days after the holidays (because the pattern is so old I don’t want to use the original pattern pieces anymore), but it wasn’t until before our Sicily-trip I finally decided for a fabric and started cutting (this is the mentioned dress I wanted to sew for the trip but didn’t finish).
The choice of fabric wasn’t that intelligent in hindsight. I used a white spotted green cotton print I bought a few years ago in the odds-and-ends-box of a nearby fabric store that doesn’t exist anymore. I had already planned to use it for my Fall-for-Cotton-dress, but I had too little of it (appr. 1,5m). I chose it because I thought it was close enough to the spotted fabric on the envelope drawing and could look good (but it is not really appropriate for this time, in the sewing magazines I own polka dots don’t appear earlier than late 30ies, in earlier issues I only found them to be used for children’s clothing).
For this project it was just enough, I had to cut the lower back in two pieces, otherwise it wouldn’t have fit.
Well, the resulting dress is really…dotty. The matching of the pattern is at some seams better than at others, unfortunately where it didn’t fit was in the centre front (in contrast to the text on the linked page, it is a two-piece skirt. There is no seam in the pleat and I didn’t think of adjusting the width of it to match the dots).
The pattern asked for two zippers, on at the side and one in the centre back. I used a white nylon zipper in the neck and a light cream one in the side seam (because I had them in stock, I do know they aren’t authentic for the 30ies) Both zipper-seams are hand-sewn as is the hem.
I used white thread for all seams, this seemed to be a better match than green one.
The size is a straightforward 12, only thing I changed is I shortened the hem by 7cm.
Because the pattern was too weird with the stomacher in between I applied a rest of white cotton ribbon after having already finished it, now it is a lot better.
I used every bit of it. As you see, it wasn’t enough to attach it on both ends of the stomacher-part in the back as well, the rest I had was just enough to form the button-loop for a button in the neck above the zipper.
As I said, I didn’t change anything. Like the most american patterns, the seam allowance is included, something still unusual for me, because it makes it difficult for me to imagine how large it will be in the end (and in this case it was difficult to match the pattern as well). When looking at the result it seems as if the bodice is a little too long, when making it again I should try to shorten the stomacher-part.
I decided to take the photos outside, because it was quite a strange light and the appartment pretty gloomy. The day had been hot and only a little later there was a huge thunderstorm. So this may explain why our camera changed the ISO to several thousands without me noticing it (don’t know why it was set in the automatic-mode) and why the white is so flashy.
Well, to end this post: I love it! It looks quite special and still I think the fabric wasn’t the best to use for this pattern and to make it suitable for everyday-use I should reduce the volume of the sleeves a little, they are a bit on the emormous side.
First because the date always collides with the due date for the HSF-challenges and I didn’t manage to write two posts in such a short time, second because sometimes I can’t decide what to show you and plan too large posts in my head I never even start to write.
And since we know that we will move again in a few months, this time into a smaller flat, I suffer from a total flea-market-ban. I already have too much things to move into the new flat, it really wouldn’t be wise to buy much more (though it is so hard!).
But a few days ago when having a close look at old books and some incunable pages my favourite antiquarian bookshop had put out for me I couldn’t help dropping into a lovely antique shop just next door. The owner knows me and knows in what kind of stuff I am interested in. When I asked him if he had something for me he said no, only a pin cushion box he would assume I am interested in. But I thought being already there I could as well have a look. Unfortunately I had to tell him that it wasn’t a pin cushion at all and the sight of the pins in the already very damaged silk really hurt. But it was so lovely I had to buy it.
It is quite large, maybe 25cm diametre. The motif is flocked or maybe painted onto the satin, which is, as cleary visible, very fragile and damaged, much of the warp thread is disappeared. On the bottom left you can see a small signature (it is hard to decipher, I assume it says “Chembine” but I can’t find anything online)
The bottom is covered with a patterned paper I am pretty sure is not original but was added in the 2nd half of the 20th century.
The inside of the lid proved my assumption it being not a pin cushion at all, but some kind of chocolate or praline box.
“Au Vieux Gourmet” in Nancy, a french city appr. 300km north of Berne.
I love love love this Robe de Style motif and the cute little doll the woman is holding in her hands. This may be the main reason I couldn’t pass on this one, even if it was quite expensive with 30 CHF (appr. 25€).
And because this was really the only thing I bought this month I thought I could show you its little brother, another chocolate box I already bought over a year ago in another antique shop only a few metres away from the other one.
Silk, again. This one in a dark red and ruffled, topped with a tambour embroidery in silk and (fake?) gold thread, a golden lace attached to the side.
You see, the silk is damaged, too. The seller assumed it to be a little younger than the new one above, maybe from the 1930ies. And she gave me the hint of it being a chocolate box.
The inside is a little more interesting because there is some paper lace still in place, though very torn and dirty.
While the 20ies box looks great inside (but as I said, I assume it being changed later), this box doesn’t look as nice. Maybe this is the reason the seller asked only 10CHF for it (appr. 8€). I have to admit I never searched for these boxes, so 10CHF being cheap and 30CHF being more on the expensive side is a very subjective evaluation, I have no idea what these things cost elsewhere.
And now you might ask how I use this box without completely destroying the paper lace (because I do use it, I try not to collect things I can’t use because I have neither enough room nor enough money to buy everything I like).
I use it to keep some of my jewellery. To protect the paper lace I covered the whole inside with a sheet of acid free wrapping paper. Like this nothing touches the inside and the lace and the material doesn’t harm it either (if I would use standard, acid, paper it would make the old substance brown and brittle, it would disintegrate sooner or later as you can see with old books, who sometimes just fall apart because of the acid in the paper itself)
Though I do already have so much boxes and old tins I really love these silk covered ones and I can’t promise that I won’t buy some more if I find some.
And I really hope the next post will be about some sewing project again.
As I already announced in my last post, I planned to participate in the Historical Food Forthnightly. Normally I don’t pick the recipes I cook, but use a random number generator, so I will have to try things I do not know or not like. As you can imagine, this can’t work with given challenges, so I will actively pick my recipes for these challenges (and after all, it should be fun and interesting, no matter how I pick my meals, right?).
The first challenge, food inspired by literature, I had to skip. first because I was in Italy most of the time, second because I had no clue what to make.
But I did cook something for the 2nd challenge “Soups and Sauces”.
(the german name is “Schaumbiersuppe”, so literally translated it would be something like Foam-Beer Soup, I assume in contrast to beers with little to no foam like ale)
A recipe from my 32nd edition of the “Praktisches Davidis-Holle Kochbuch” from 1891 (yes, in very bad condition)
1 litre non-bitter beer, best is brown or weiss-beer, as much water, 2 tablespoons fine flour (but no potato flour), 4 whole eggs, sugar, 2 slices of lemon and cinnamon to taste are beaten with an egg whip on a hot stove and brought close to a boil, then poured in the tureen. Zwieback or white bread roasted in butter is added. As a particularly agreeable addition often a “bread-hill” is added, for which leftovers of old bread can be used. The brown bread is ground, mixed with sugar, some pounded cinnamon and soaked currants. Roast the bread in butter until brown, press it firmly into a large cone and turn it out into the tureen.
well, the one main thing I didn’t mange to was to put the soup from the heat before it started boiling, so unfortunately it clotted. Before it really was very frothy. And yes, the turning out of the “bread-hill” wasn’t really ideal either.
The Challenge: #2 Soups and Sauces
The Recipe: Schaumbiersuppe, in: Praktisches Davidis-Holle Kochbuch, 1891 (32nd ed.) (scan and transcription above), p. 66
The Date/Year and Region: 1891, presumeably earlier, because it is already the 32nd edition of this book. Unfortunately I don’t know any earlier version, so I can’t check if it is included in other issues. The cook book is german, because weiss-bier is used the recipe may derive from the south of germany, although the preface was written in Bremerhafen, a city in the north of the country.
How Did You Make It: In fact it is as easy as the recipe tells it. Whithout any heat you have plenty of time to mix all ingredients, you only have to pay attention to the flour, I used a sieve to prevent clotting. Same applied to the “bread-hill”. I mixed all ingredients in a small bowl. Then I heated butter in a pan and put the soup on the stove at the same time. This was in fact a little hectic in the end because the soup started to boil while I was trying to turn the bread mixure out of a cup (I don’t have a cone).
Time to Complete: Maybe 15min? I made only half of the portion given so it heated really quick.
Total Cost: I assume the most expensive ingredient is a can of beer, really not more than a few Euros.
How Successful Was It?: As already said, unfortunately it started to boil so it didn’t look really nice, but clotted. I had no idea what it would be like, I mean, beer, currants, cinnamon, this isn’t a combination I eat every day. But it was surprisingly tasty. For me a little too watery, so maybe a little less water or more sugar would be good. And the combination with the brown bread was delicious and made it a really filling meal.
How Accurate Is It?: I didn’t make many alterations. Because I wasn’t sure what brown beer was supposed to be I used weiss-beer. I used standard wheat flour, maybe other flours could be a little more thickening. And I used cinnamon-powder, but I don’t think that this influences the taste. As brown bread, I used pumpernickel. Oh, and I used Sultanas instead of currants, simply because I don’t eat neither of them very often and I didn’t want to buy currants when I still had sultanas.
As a resumé I have to say: Yay, a great recipe. It is sweet, it tastes like beer, it is filling with the brown bread. Maybe nothing to eat for dinner (as I did) but for lunch or even in the afternoon a beautiful dish!
Thank you so very much for your comments on my pink ballerina dress, both here and on facebook!
(to those who came here via facebook and may wonder why my post don’t show in their RSS-feed anymore: I had to change my url a few months ago, so when you started following before it can’t work anymore. The bloglovin-link at the bottom of the page was updated, so please renew your feed if you want to keep updated).
Sorry for my radio silence here since the last post. I was on holidays and hadn’t had any time to prepare some posts in advance. And as you can imagine, I didn’t sew very much, either (though I tried to make myself a dress for the holiday, but I didn’t finish it in time).
Normally I have a very strict policy when thinking about blog posts and holiday-photo-posts aren’t what this blog is about. But because I have nothing else to talk about and because I visited a city with a lot of history and art (so there is the connection to this blog) I decided to give you a little glimpse of what my holidays looked like.
These were the first holidays since a short trip to Florence 2012. Because all the holidays my boyfriend and I had had together were domitated either by sightseeing or art and museums I had to promise my boyfriend to accept bathing-relax-holidays this time. For this reason we chose Taormina on Sicily, a beautiful little city directly above the mediterranean sea with lovely old churches and enough art to keep me entertained, but not large enough to seduce me with loads of museums and giant cathedrals (the reason we didn’t go to Palermo).
Our hotel wasn’t located in Taormina itself, but in Mazzaró, a district of it directly by the sea, connected with Taormina via a funicular or a staircase.
This wasn’t only a decision saving money and nerves (because we had rented a car and parking in Taormina is really not relaxing at all), it also enabled us to go to the beach whenever we liked to, the beach being a small natural reserve with the really beautiful Isola Bella. On the island is a very small museum, showing photos of the surrounding reefs and with beautiful terraces from which you have a spectacular view over the mediterranean sea. Unfortunately large areas and even some rooms were closed, but in hindsight I should be lucky that it was open at all.
Taormina itself is famous for its beautiful buildings and its long history. The oldest buildings to witness this history are the greek ruins like the antique theatre. Today it is often called the roman theatre, because the romans enlarged and altered it, leaving no visible trace of the greek predecessor. This place gives you an amazing view on mount Etna. Unbelieveable, but the Romans built a brick wall behind the stage, so the view onto the island (as the greeks wanted it to be) was completely blocked, fortunately not much of the wall is left today and the vulcano is visible again.
Most of the town shows medieval and younger buildings, but some of the old looking landmarks are in fact reconstructions from the 19th century, so you have to be careful when judging them.
Now the maddening part of this city. I said it is famous for its history, its art. Is has rare and beautiful antiques, lots of interesting Palazzi and Churches. And it has a Saracen Castle on the hilltop above the town as well as two museums, an archeological Museum and an Antiquarium next to the antique theatre (website tells me that there are two more museums, I didn’t visit any of them and apparently they are smaller, because they didn’t appear in any of the guides I had). All three, the castle and both museums, are closed. Not for maintainance or because of anything special, in fact I have bo idea why and my guide writes that they have been closed for quite some time now.
So although I expected them to be closed, I am quite disappointed by this. I mean, this is a city famous for its antique heritage, attracting thousands of visitors each year and they don’t manage to keep at least one of the antique museums running?
At one day we made a trip to a nearby village called Savoca. I was confused to see numerous tourist groups stroll through it, not because of the cute little town or its monuments, but because they made guided “mafia”-tours, visiting some film-locations of F.F. Coppola’s “Godfather”. All you heard were things like “And here Coppola shot this scene” and “Look, this is the church where the marriage was filmed”. I overheard a german-speaking tour-guide telling his group that in this area of Sicily your risk your life when photografing people on the street, never knowing who they really are. Well, yes, I know that the Cosa Nostra is active in Sicily, no doubt, but still this sounds like a story a tourist guide wants to tell because it sounds so threatening.
And before someone asks: I wanted to visit this village, because there is a small Capucin convent. The rich and noble men of the village had themselves mummified and burried in the curch’s crypt, you can see their bodies, fully clothed in 18th and 19th century attire, until today (photos of the mummies can be found in the italian Wikipedia-article about Savoca)
Savoca has a little museum, too and this was open! Though my italian is so bad that I didn’t understand a word it was really cute and I was happy to pay the 2€ entrance fee to support it. Beside an old loom and an (to me undatable but presumeably 19th century) table carpet I especially loved this little room.
The damask on the bed is painted with some cute figures and additional ornament.
But the oddest thing is this hook rack. In the middle an antique corset (I don’t even dare dating it. The cut seems to be 18th century but I don’t want to imagine something this old hanging on hooks like that), framed by some priest’s stoles (18th as well, I fear). What a combination! And all in deplorable condition, but the women at the counter didn’t speak anything but Italian so I did not want to start a discussion with them.
Some of you who know me a little better might know that I love art, but that I am absolutely fascinated by nature. I mean, nature is everything, we are nature, art is nature (ok, we are not talking about Jeff Koons’ sculptures here) and no matter how beautiful the things are we create, seing a plant grow from a tiny seed or a small bee working as a part of a whole state is simply breathtaking to me. And so the one thing that impressed me most in this holidays is not man-made:
We visited mount Etna on sunday, it already being very active and throwing lava and rock into the air, covering us in a thick smoke smelling like sulphur. If you ever have the chance of visiting it: Do it! Standing in front of a spitting vulcano and listening to the sound of exploding lava is one of the most breathtaking experiences I have ever had.
You can go by car or rent a bus tour to the Refugio Sapienza, where you will find a large parking place and dozens of souvenir shops and restaurants. From there a funicular brings you to 2500m heigth. If you want to, you can walk from there or you can pay 30€ for offroad-busses to bring you as close as possible to the top. Because of the ongoing outbreak this busses stopped much sooner as normally, so you have to decide if you are really willing to spend the money when the vulcano is as active as it was last week.
Our guide advised us to have a look at the vulcano from Taormina when it is dark and so, after having watched the football match on monday evening in a bar we stayed in Taormina until it was dark. And oh my god, I was completely overwhelmed!
I assume I stood there for over an hour, doing nothing but staring and taking photos (only for the record: from the 665 photos we took, 322 show the Etna, mostly because of the many continuous shootings I made from the eruptions). It was just too beautiful to leave. And though this outbreak endagered our departure flight, I was so grateful to see something this beautiful.
I hope I will be able to sew something in this remaining days of my holidays. but I definitely will cook. Inspired by the HSF, two bloggers created the Historical Food Forthnightly. And because I would like to revitalize my historical recipes on this blog, I hope I will be able to join some of the challenges.
Well, this month’s challenge was art. Now you may think, me as an art historian, I might love this challenge and burst from ideas.
mh…not at all. Though I love art and have many works of art in mind I am sure would be a great project to recreate, I had two major problems:
1st: I only very occasionally work from the finished project backwards. I do not tend to recreate garments. I chose a pattern and a fabric and test were they will lead me. Most of the time the result does not meet the expectations I had beforehand, sometimes for the good, sometimes for the worse.
To use a garment or a piece of art as the first step and trying to recreate this, makes me feel very uneasy. I desperately try to match what I see or want to reproduce with a pattern I have in mind, so I don’t have to create one on my own. I am really cowardish when it comes to experimenting with patterns.
To spoiler you only a little, this was something that pushed me while working on this challenge and I discovered very new ways of creating garments. So this aspect really did pay.
2nd: My fabric-cupboard bursts with fabrics as does the built-in closet next to it. Additionally we will have to move again soon, so buing new fabric was strictly forbidden.
Now let’s come to the cheating in the title: Knowing I would panic when having to recreate a costume without a pattern, first thing I did was flip through my patterns and pattern books. I so hoped that Janet Arnold may have written “comparable to the dress depicted in xyz” next to a pattern she traced or that I may recognize a famous painting or an engraving in one of the dresses in Nora Waugh’s “The cut of women’s clothes”.
Well, neither was the case. So I put these books aside and had a look at all the coffee table and art books I found on my bookshelf. Because it had been months since I read the description of the challenge, I first searched only for some loose inspiration, finally deciding to catch the structure of the fassade of Santa Maria Novella in Florence in a skirt.
Fortunately I re-read Leimomi’s post before I started and realized that she aimed for a much closer connection between the work of art and the project. So my search started anew.
Soon I had to realize that my prohibition of fabric buying was a much larger hurdle than my pattern-paranoia and very quickly I used the fabric question as my main criteria to chose an artwork.
So when I finally found a painting that suited some paticular fabrics of my stash….wonder oh wonder…. the question wasn’t anymore “oh help, I don’t have a pattern” but rather “what can I do to recreate this”.
Now you might say: what, are you kidding? No, not at all. For years I had some light pink cotton velvet in my stash I once found in a charity shop, as well as two Ikea-mosquito-nets, one in white I had bought for my room when I was 16 and a 2nd one in pink I bought from a fellow member of the online sewing board I am registered at, still wrapped.
They had all moved with me twice and I had no idea what to make from them.
And though it is very likely that the top of her dress is satin, it could as well be velvet in this reproduction.
This leads me to the picture itself: I found it in the 1904 (not dated, but dates in the texts suggest this) issue of “Moderne Kunst in Meister-Holzschnitten”, the translation already says everything: Modern art in Master-Woodcuts. While the majority of the pictures are black-and-white and indeed woodcuts, this is one of the few coloured plates inside. It can’t be a photographic reproduction in colour and it doesn’t seem to have been coloured afterwards, so I assume it is a copy after the original. While searching for the original I got quite confused. The artist, Pierre Carrier-Belleuse, painted a lot of ballet-dancers and the title given in my book, “Er liebt mich nicht”, that means He doesn’t love me, didn’t show any result at all.
But after some searching online I still hadn’t found the one original, in fact I had found four! All in different sizes, different styles and some undated (there wasn’t a date given in the book, 1898 is the years the dated originals were made).
Well, I won’t start arguing about attributions here, but especially the third painting is strikingly different from the other, don’t you think? The version I have printed in my book seems closest to the first and the last link, but I can’t tell for sure.
Now, enough talk about art, let’s come to my dress.
As I already meantioned, this project pushed me out of my comfort zone, giving me not only a period I had rarely worked in, but also the task to reproduce a dress without any pattern at all. I consulted the above mentioned Nora Waugh book and studied the dart placement and the cutting lines of late 19th century garments. After this I took a piece of cotton and started pinning on my sewing mannequin. And it worked! I am still a little baffles that I had to face neither any disappointments nor catastrophes, as I was so sure they would come.
After I had completed the cotton version, I pinned this to my velvet, using the cotton as my lining (you will laugh when you see a photo of it below. It is the rest of a baby quilt I made for my boyfriend’s cousin, whose wife had a baby in january. Therefore it is a light pink cotton printed with white bunnies and ducks).
I have seen many 19th century costumes in the past weeks and most of them had one thing in common: Today we tend to sew the lining and the outside fabric seperately and connect them only on the edges and maybe a few spots to avoid shifting. The 19th century costumes are usually sewn in one layer, so darts and seams are stitched through all layers, leaving you with the seam allowances inside and not hidden between the layers. Normally the seams are finished with hand stitching or bias binding to avoid fraying.
So this was my method to go: pin the lining, at the same time my just constructed pattern, onto the left side of the velvet, close all seams and darts, stitching through all layers at once. I had cut the lining at the edges where I wanted the bodice to end, so all I had to do was to flap the hem and neckline allowance of the velvet to the inside and sew it. I used boning in the front darts and the side seams or should I say “cable tie-ing”, because that’s what I used (I once bought a package to try it and this were the last six I had, not that I am a large fan of cable-tie-boning, it really isn’t stiff enough for my taste)?
The painting doesn’t show very good, how the bodice closes, but it looks like a wrap bodice to me, so I made the front edges a convex shape and closed it with hooks and thread loops, made from white crochet yarn.
I didn’t know how to make the shoulder-straps, because there was quite a lot of fabric and a sharp curve from the darts. While I could have made a real princess seam and seperating the front into a middle and a side part, I went for a little pleat in the strap.
I don’t have a seperate photo from the skirt. I just used a white cotton ribbon tied around the hips of my mannequin and pleated the mosquito nets onto it. I started at the top of the net and after having finished a round I cut it where I wanted my hem to be and starting anew, always using pink and white alternatingly. I also had real, stiff tulle, but that wasn’t pink and I could have only put it on top of this skirt to have to effect of a real ballerina’s tutu. But when I had finished my mosquito net slaughter I already didn’t know when to wear such a pink tulle skirt, so I assume I would have even less oportunities to wear an even larger tutu.
Because only for the record: I don’t dance at all, the ballet lessons I had in my life can be counted on one hand (I think it was four, I desperately wanted to learn it, but the teacher was just so bad, I didn’t even stayed during the cancellation period my mother had to adhere to).
But: I love ballet slippers and wear them at home all the time. And yes, it is always quite funny when buing them, “oh, you don’t dance…ok”
Oh, I assume you finally want to see the result? Here it is:
I have to apologize, it was very bad light today and not even photoshop could help that.
Because I didn’t know how the back was meant to be, I went for a simple v-neckline as seen in some of the patterns I had looked at beforehand. When seing it now I have to admit it would have been better to include a centre back seam.
To avoid a gap between the very low hanging tutu and the bodice, I attached hooks and eyes to connect them (I only had black ones left in this size and didn’t want to buy new ones only for a fancy dress).
Now, after having finished it only this morning I have to say, the project was much larger than I wanted it to be, I made a dress I will presumably never wear but at a fancy dress party, I spent so much time making it (everything but the side seams and the skirt is hand sewn, because I didn’t want any seams to be visible outside). But I got rid of some large chunks of my fabric stash, I learned very much and it is so much fun jumping aroung in it This is for all the ballet lessons I never took.
Both of the mosquito nets had small metal rings to attach them to the ceiling. While the used one’s resembled more an egg than a ring, the brand new pink net had a still intact one. So when I started driving crazy pushing all this tulle under my sewing machine, I stopped and made some little crafting to calm down again. The search for a matching picture ended when I found an old promotional package of a famous role play game I had never played and will never play (but hey, you can’t throw away cards, maybe there will be an occation to use them, someday).
The tiny foggy and mysthic contrast to this pink ballerina overkill
The Challenge: #10 Art
Inspiration: Pierre Carrier-Belleuse – La Danseuse, 1898
Fabric: light pink cotton velvet, printed cotton, pink and white soft tulle, aka two Ikea mosquito nets
Pattern: None, I only looked briefly at period patterns to check dart placement and the like
Notions: pink and white poly-thread, pink silk thread, white cotton ribbon, white cotton crochet thread, hooks and eyes, press fasteners, cable ties
How historically accurate is it? I have no idea. I don’t know how dancing costumes were constructed around 1900, if they were boned, if they were worn with a corset etc. Some of the fabrics and materials are possible, some not, the lining is just silly. The sewing itself and the closures are accurate (though I used modern press fasteners, the early ones worked with a different technique).
Hours to complete? Maybe 15-20? I could as well say 2 episodes of “Sherlock”,3 of *The big bang theory” and the first season of “Hannibal” including bonus material (do I have to mention that I love Mads Mikkelsen’s Hannibal even more than Anthony Hopkins’?)
First worn: Today for the photos (though I wore the skirt for a few hours after I had finished it last weekend)
Total cost: Direct costs, nothing, I had everything in stock. The velvet was bought in a charity shop, can’t have been more than a few Euros. Same applies for the pink mosquito net, bought online. The white one was bought new, but already had had a live above my bed, so I would call this recycling. Notions I usually buy on flea markets, too. The book I found the illustration in cost me 2 CHF.
Talking about accuracy: The letter I am holding is old, but not old enough, dating from 1921.
Yet again I had to skip a HSF-Challenge, simply because all my UFOs where in such an early state of work that I wouldn’t have been able to finish any of them in time.
But this time I’m back in the game. The task was “black and white” ant though I would have loved to sew a magnificent black robe with white details, I was too eager to start an experiment. So I made this experiment match the challenge.
Earlier this year, a colleague in the museum asked me if I were interested in some antique patterns she had been given years ago. She had wanted to add them to the museum’s collection, but back then nobody was intested in doing so, so she kept them in her office. Now she found them amongst her documents and finally the now new colleague in the graphic collection will officially add them to the inventory. Before this was done she gave them to me so I could copy them for my own purposes. Besides one pattern sheet from the 1910s all sheets were from 1904 and 1905 issues of the “Schweizer Frauenheim” (because it is museum property I can’t publish any photos). As Wikipedia tells, this was one of the early magazines of the Swiss women’s movement in the beginning 20th century.
The pattern I chose makes this even more obvious: It is a so called “Reformleibchen” a bodice without any boning, invented as an alternative draft to the heavily boned s-line corset of the 1900s. While it is still tight fitting and more or less supportive, it is not shaping the body, but can be understood as a hybrid between a chemise and a brassiere. I am not completely sure if it names the same thing, but it can at least be compared with the liberty bodice. And of course this new shape wasn’t restricted to undergarments, but is part of the so called dress reform (the second one, there was already a first attempt in the 19th century, today often closely connected with Amelia Bloomer, similar attempts but in different shape were also done by the Pre-Raphaelites, whose women dressed in wide dresses without shaping corsets underneath). In contrast to the early, victorian dress reform, this early 20th century reform gained much more attention and did even appear in fashion plates, but also in caricature.
In contrast to the s-shaped-Line of high fashion, the reformed dress has no accentuated waist, but falls straight from the shoulders with a wide flared skirt. The decoration is often predominantly placed around the shoulders and ends above the stomach.
The “Reformleibchen” consists of flat lying bodice parts and ruffled parts around the breasts. My pattern closes with a facing in the front. The biggest problem I had when working with this pattern was, that I had neither instructions nor pictures of how it was meant to look like, only the different cut pieces with numbers in the corners to match. I first sewed everything together to see how it looks like. Having had embroidered the facing before doing anything else, it didn’t even came to my mind that they should be placed differently than next to each other (thinking of a corset substitute rather than a fitted chemise), but in fact it seems as if these bodices where meant to be closed with buttons in the front (note that the linked example is at least somehow stiffened, maybe not with boning, but something similar as the seams around the bodice show).
The bodice consists of very loose woven cotton, bought as a duvet cover at IKEA years ago.
Fot the embroidery I used black cotton thread and patterns from a 1906 issue of “Kunstgewerbe für’s Haus”.
I used a ribbon with hooks and eyes as closure. Though I doubt that the quality I used existed in the 1900s, I did find similar ribbons in late 19th century garments, so at least the concept was known and used.
I made no changes to the pattern at all until it was finished but for the hem. In this state, it looked like this in the back:
Next thing I did was to eliminate approximately 15cm width to make it fit.
Only after I had done it I found this caricature, showing an upper garment with a very similar cut in the back without any fitting at all.
Well, it isn’t the best fitting garment I ever made, but it came together surprisingly well and it was a great experience to reproduce such a special and alternative piece of clothing.
The Challenge: #9 Black and White
Fabric: white cotton (satin or twill, can’t remember exactly and am too lazy to search for my linen tester)
Pattern: reformed bodice from an “Schweizer Frauenheim”-issue of 1905, embroidery pattern for clothing from “Kunstgewerbe für’s Haus”, 1906
Notions: white cotton and polyester thread, black embroidery cotton thread, white ribbon (to stabilise the rear neckline), black bias binding, hook-and-eye-ribbon.
How historically accurate is it? I was pretty sure about it being quite acurate until I found out about this button-closure-thing. This and the modern hooks and eye ribbon, the polyester thread and the fact that I assume the bias binding not to be correct, 75% ?
First worn: for the photos, on monday.
Total cost: the fabric cost me 4€ as a duvet cover because the pillowcase was missing, but there is plenty of it left and it was already years ago. Notions came all from my stash as well, can’t imagine having paid more than 5€ for all of them, so maybe we could say 7-8€.
Maybe you wondered why I didn’t show you any of my flea market hauls on the 1st. Well, I really bought some things, to be honest I bought a lot. Maybe too much, because I really wasn’t able to decide what to show to you, additionally I was very short of time last week.
But this sunday I went to a household clearance in a village nearby and found something, I just have to show to you.
As you know, I am a fan of old sewing machines, the newest I own dates from the 1990ies and is only used for automatic buttonholes (and I only keep it because it was my grand-aunts). My oldest ist from the early 20th century, around 1903.
But my by far largest one ist my foot operated Gritzner Modell R, a 1958 machine, working without any electricity and a vibrating shuttle, at a time where electric machines with rotary hook mechanism were the state of the art. You could really say this is pre-war-technology in a post-war-warapping.
I found her in a charity shop in my hometown, literally blindfolded: The machine can be hidden inside the table, the opening is covered with the wooden panel you see on the left side of the table. Well, and this cover was locked. It was obvious that there was a machine inside, but nobody knew what she looked like and in what condition it was. So they sold it to me for 10€ and I tried to carry it the 50m from the shop to my working place, a haberdashery store in the same street. After appr. 15m I asked a man passing by if he could help me and he really did. Thirty minutes later my shift ended and my boyfriend picked me and the machine up.
The key on the photo is an old desk key I found in my father’s garage, I was so happy to avoid breaking the lock. As you can see, it even came with supplies and the manual.
Of course she looked different than what I had expected. I had never seen such a “modern” machine in a wooden cabinet. But I loved her from the first day on and she sews very well.
She even has a dealer’s tag on her, a shop in my hometown that sells only bikes today (bikes and sewing machines being a common combination in the first half of the century).
Well, that was…
Because today I met…her:
I found her at the household clearance after I had spent my time in this house mostly in front of the book shelves. The rest was either uninteresting and too high priced or high quality antiques, legitimately high priced but out of my price range.
After we had seen everything there was only one room in the first floor left. My boyfriend and I stood in front of it an all we see was a built-in-wardrobe with some empty hangers and an ironing-board. We were close to leaving when I decided to at least make one step into this room. And there she was!
A Pfaff 30, according to the serial number built late in 1932. As with the other one, the key is missing, but this one was open.
The price that was asked? 20 CHF, not much for a machine like this, don’t you think?
Only one screw is missing, the one that holds the rear cover in place. But the cover is there, so I am optimistic to find some random screw that fits.
I love the subtle art déco design of the handles and the fluted legs.
And it too has the dealer given, this time engraved in the needle plate.
Well, and now I have a problem: I promised my boyfriend to part with my beloved Gritzner, simply because we have not enough space for a second cabinet-machine (and I do not only own these two, in fact I have way too many sewing machines). And now she stands there, abandoned in the dining room, waiting for someone to love her…and I do! And she looks so pretty next to our dining table, I don’t see the need to give her away. Additionally, the dealer’s badge that reminds me of my hometown. I am not sure if I am able to give her to someone I don’t know. Anybody willing to give her shelter?
But at the moment, the joy of having found such a black beauty is larger than the grief of parting, surely also because she sews as good as the Gritzner, maybe even a tiny bit better.
So, this was my sunday. I hope yours was fine as well, see you soon,
One of my most worn wardrobe basics is my black half-circle-skirt. I made it in july 2012, inspired by a post on Casey’s Elegant musings.
From its beginning it had a few flaws, the worst one a lack of fusible interfacing in the waistband (simply because I didn’t find it and was too eager to sew to search it).
As for so many projects, I used the black fabric I originally had bought for my prom dress, with the wrong side out, because of that terribly shiny surface on the right side; you have seen it in my victorian sewing supplies box I showed you in january.
Now, having worn the skirt everytime as soon as it re-entered my wardrobe after washing, it began to show signs of use, the fabric turned grey and to make things worse I managed to iron it too hot, leaving a shiny mark next to the back seam.
I desperately had to sew to a successor!
After consulting my patterns and sewing books and having considered what would be suitable for every day wear, I went for a 1955/56 Lutterloh-Pattern.
I used the same fabric (but it was the rest, there nothing left of it, finally!) as for the old skirt, again with the wrong side out. For the back of the pocket and the waistband I used the right side, I don’t know if it is really visible in the photos (I have to excuse myself for the photos anyway, the camera settings were complete rubbish and I only noticed shortly before publishing this post, but I didn’t want to wait until I would be able to take new ones).
When looking closely at the shadow the pockets casts in the drawing, you could see that the two parts of the skirt should both form the pocket, creating a really large pocket.
(no, he didn’t tell me that my sleeve was crumpled)
I decided against this, because I know me. Though I love pockets, I would have my hands in them all the time and I would carry around half my handbag in them. Instead I sewed the pocket’s rear piece, cut in one piece with the back of the skirt, directly onto the back of the pocket. The edge on the front part was finished with a wide facing and this facing I connected to the back of the pocket. This left me with a different pocket opening, the rear part lying flat and it left me with a very shallow pocket of maybe 5cm, enough to store some coins for the coffee-break, but not enough to hide my whole purse.
The pattern didn’t include a waistband. So after I had sewn the rest of the skirt, all I had to do was to cut a strip of fabric as long as I wished (it could have been longer, though), enforce it with fusible interfacing (yes, this time I knew where it was!) and a strip of stiff upholstery fabric (because it is really wide and really tight-fitting, I shouldn’t eat too much wearing it).
(nor that my petticoat was peeking out)
Because old Lutterloh-Patterns are not really made for cut-and-go-sewing I started this skirt working very fast and without any serging at all. After I saw that this skirt was really going to be a success, I finished all seams by hand with a red satin binding.
The zipper is hand-inserted, too. The waistband closes with a skirt clasp and two small press fasteners.