Nothing big going on right now, I’m busy and oftentimes it is too warm to do anything, sorry for the lack of showstoppers.
At the moment I am going through my stash, looking for new projects, finding old and abandoned Ufos and long forgotten shirts I loved to death but couldn’t bear to part with, so they went into the “maybe I can use it someday”-drawer.
Two items that have lived with me already quite some time: a Souvenir-handkerchief from the Swiss Museum of Transport from the 1960ies or 70ies I always thought too beautiful to use and a dark-blue velvet pillowcase that only needed one small part of a seam re-sewn. I had bought it in an antiques shop with a special shelf: grab a bag, fill it and pay 3€ for the whole, no matter how much stuff you managed to get into it. As you can imagine, only being interested in a few items led to at least one full bag in the end, you can never know when something could be useful and hey, its paid! That’s how I came into the possession of a not particularly beautiful and slightly damaged 70ies velvet pillowcase.
Because the blue in the print of the hanky matched the velvet so well I thought it would be lovely to combine the two. I quickly repaired the damaged seam on the pillowcase an ironed some interfacing to the back of the handkerchief. Why this? I had some reasons: The fabric is very thin, so the dark velvet was shining through and it didn’t look white at all, second the fabric is very thin and I wanted to give it some support and third I feared the velvet’s pile could cause the thin fabric to move, this would have caused wrinkles on one side of the hanky and I wanted to avoid this risk. Oh and because it made things a lot easier. The fabric could easily be stretched and shifted in all directions (did I mention it is thin?), supporting it with the interfacing helped a lot while sewing it onto the pillowcase by hand.
Don’t know more I could tell you about such an easy and small project. So if you have some beautiful hankies lying around, why not decorate your pillows with it? Upcycling at its easiest 😉
And no, it usually doesn’t sit on this step stool, but on the stool in front of my sewing machine, even though I try to find a place in my flat where it is treated better, it is so much more than a seat cushion 🙂
Zur Zeit läuft hier leider nicht so viel. Ich habe recht viel zu tun und in der Hitze nähen macht auch keinen grossen Spass. Also sorry für die eher mageren Projekte derzeit.
Momentan gehe ich ein wenig meine Bestände durch und finde neue Ideen, alte und verlassene unfertige Objekte und alte Lieblingsshirts, von denen ich mich lange nicht trennen konnte und die deshalb in die “ich finde sicher noch eine Verwendung”-Schublade wanderten.
Zwei Dinge die sich schon länger mit mir eine Wohnung teilen: Ein Stofftaschentuch aus dem Verkehrshaus der Schweiz aus den 60er oder 70er Jahren welches ich immer zu hübsch fand um mein Näschen damit zu putzen und eine Kissenhülle aus blauem Samt, der lediglich ein kleines Stück defekte Naht fehlte. Diese hatte ich in einem kleinen Trödelladen mit einem speziellen Regal gefunden: eine Tüte mit Dingen aus dem Regal für 3€, egal wie viel man reingestopft hat. Ihr könnt euch vorstellen, das Interesse an wenigen Teilen führte trotzdem zu prallgefüllten Beuteln, kann ja immer nützlich sein und hey, es ist bezahlt! So kam ich in den Besitz dieser nicht unbedingt schön zu nennenden und leicht angeschlagenen 70er-Jahre Kissenhülle.
Auf die Idee, diese beiden Fundstücke zu vereinen kam ich, weil das Blau in dem Druck des Taschentuchs so perfekt zum Samt passt. Also reparierte ich schnell die beschädigte Naht und bügelte Vlieseline auf die Rückseite des Taschentuchs. Warum? Aus mehreren Gründen: Der Stoff ist recht dünn und das dunkelblau schimmerte durch, was das Taschentuch ziemlich grau erscheinen liess, zweitens wollte ich den dünnen Stoff ein wenig stabilisieren und drittens hatte ich Angst, der Samtflor könnte das Taschentuch in eine Richtung schieben und damit Falten an einer Seite des Tuchs werfen, wenn dieses aufgenäht ist. Ausserdem machte die Vlieseline das Aufnähen sehr viel einfacher. Weil der Stoff so dünn ist (erwähnte ich das schon?) konnte man ihn in jede Richtung verschieben und ziehen, die Vlieseline hält ihn in der zugeschnittenen, quadratischen Form.
Tja, was soll ich euch sonst noch darüber erzählen, ist ja wirklich ein sehr kleines Projekt. Aber vielleicht hat jemand von euch auch alte Stofftaschentücher rumliegen und weiss nicht wohin damit, dann nehmt das hier als kleine aber feine Upcycling-Idee.
Und nein, eigentlich wohnt es nicht auf dem Tritthocker, sondern auf dem Hocker vor meiner Nähmaschine, auch wenn es langfristig einen besseren Platz finden soll, als Sitzkissen ist es mir doch ein wenig zu schade.
The day I photographed my embroidered basket, I went to a charity shop nearby. This shop had opened already a while ago and I had been there once shortly after the opening. But as you can imagine, shop like these do have to grow a little while to get interesing, to become a treasure cave that you want to search and my first visit wasn’t very fruitful at all. After I had took the photos I thought it was about time to see if it already had become more interesting. Oh yes, it had! When I left more than an hour later I was heavily laden with all kinds of stuff, 6m of vintage silk, a 50ies paper basket, an old porcelain ginger jar, only to name a few.
Today I want to show you the item I spent most on this day, at the same time this was the greatest bargain of all. The item I was ecstatic and horrified to find at the same time.
Maybe some of you might remember: When I started my blog in june 2011, one of the first posts I wrote was about a 19th century dalmatic I found at a flea market. This kind of church vestment is worn by the deacon in the catholic mass. I loved being able to touch a silk that old and to see how the 19th century copied styles from earlier centuries.
(Note: this is not going to be a post about faith, god and the church. My interest lies in the development of the forms and styles of these vestments and the fabrics used for them. It is absolutely not in my interest to evangelise anybody, I am not even catholic myself. When I would talk about 18th century court dress you wouldn’t expect opinions on absolutism, either, would you 😉 )
While the deacon wears the dalmatic, during the mass the priest is wearing something called a chasuble. The chasuble started as a long, half circle cone shaped garment, that was gathered at the sides to release the arms. As you can imagine this resulted in a lot of fabric lying on the priests arms. Many medieval works of art show this kind of bell-shaped chasuble. During the centuries the sides where more and more shortened to lessen the amount of fabric gathered on the arms. The longing for elaborate decoration grew every decade and when the chasubles were made from heavier and stiffer fabrics or completely encrusted in gold embroidery, pleats and gathers were a) very impractical because of the stiffness and b) didn’t show the beautiful design and even destroyed it through rubbing and tearing. Around 1600 the shape changed, the gathered sides were completely gone and the chasuble had reached the so-called “fiddle-shape”, because of the curved front cut that resembles a fiddle. Now the chasubles where very stiff and looked more like a shell then like a garment. To prevent the already stiff embroidery and fabrics from wrinkling, an interlining made from paper or parchment was added.
So much prelude to understand what I found that day.
What you see here is the back of a chasuble, the fabrics date from ca. the 1770ies (the pink one, still not sure about the yellow one, but it’s 2nd half 18th ct., no doubt). While the sides are made from a dusky pink silk damask (most probably lyonese), the middle part shows a very complex silber brocaded silk fabric. I will limit my technical descriptions to the image subtitles, if you are interested.
When you turn this frame around, you see that it isn’t a chasuble anymore. What is still visible is the upper part of the front. The fabric is very damaged due to the rites in the mass. Until the 2nd vatican council in the 1960ies most of the mass the priest faced the altar, therefore showing his back to the crowd (that is the reason, why chasubles often have a rich back decoration). Manipulating all the different instruments on the altar, rubbing with the belly on the stone of the latter left traces on the fabrics. I can at least be happy that the front is still existant, not few chasubles where undid and only the backs saved.
Lie it on the floor and you see what happened: Someone undid the shoulderseams and placed the back onto the front part after relining everything. And I would argue that this lining is not older than maybe 30 years, so this is a very recent reworking.
To cut a long story short: Why was it altered?
Well, it is decorative, it is antique. It was very “en vogue” for a long time to decorate the house with antique textiles (and still is). You can’t do much with a chasuble, it doesn’t lie flat because of the shoulders (watch the movie “The third man” carefully, in one scene you will see a chasuble on a drawer, like a giant doily). Altered like this you can use it to hide your radiator, as an alternative to a picture and so on. That this will damage the fabric because silks that old shouldn’t be exposed to light is partly unknown partly ignored.
I wouldn’t have bought an item like this in an antique store, because I would have supported this practice. The seller in the charity shop didn’t even know what it was, I assume she got it when a dissolved household was given to her.
Why this makes me sad?
I am not religious, but I do respect faith and in my believe we should show some respect to the believes of others as well as to the things our ancestors made. To see something as “high” as a church vestment and as precious as silver brocaded 18th century silk between plastic potties and 90ies back packs just hurts my heart. I know that the museums of the world can’t save everything, but this just didn’t seem right to me.
Why this makes me happy?
Well, because I paid 10 CHF. Chasubles in good condition can cost hundreds of Swiss Francs (or Euro or dollar, it doesn’t really matter, it simply is very very cheap), and most of them are younger. So even though this chasuble is damaged and altered, the brocaded fabric is magnificent and the fabrics alone should be worth more.
At the moment it is rolled on a large cardboard tube with acid-free silk tissue between the layers, I will give it to my professor’s study collection at the university. Like this, future students can learn from it and it will be appreciated as the item it is: a witness of the past.
Als ich meinen Korb vor einigen Wochen fotografierte, stattete ich kurz danach dem ortlichen Trödelladen einen Besuch ab. Ich war erst einmal kurz nach der Eröffnung dort gewesen, damals war er noch dementsprechend leer und langweilig. Solche Läden brauchen ja immer etwas Zeit zum wachsen, bis sie zu Fundgruben reifen. Jetzt, dachte ich, könnte ich mal wieder nachschauen, und tatsächlich, eine Schatztruhe. Nach über einer Stunde verlies ich den Laden schwer bepackt, unter anderem mit 6m alter (=ca. 1960) Seide, einem 50er Jahre Papierkorb und einem Ingwerglas aus Porzellan.
Das Fundstück aber, für das ich am meisten Geld ausgab und welches gleichzeitig das grösste Schnäppchen war, das mich gleichzeitig verzückt grinsen und verzweifeln liess, möchte ich euch heute vorstellen.
Vielleicht mögen sich ein paar noch erinnern: Als ich im Juni 2011 mit meinem Blog anfing, schrieb ich einen meiner ersten Posts über ein Kirchengewand aus dem 19. Jahrhundert, welches ich auf einem Flohmarkt gefunden hatte, eine Dalmatik, wie sie vom Diakon während der Messe getragen wird. Ich war begeistert davon, die alte Seide berühren zu können und zu sehen, wie das 19. Jahrhundert seine Inspration aus früheren Jahrhunderten zog.
(Kurze Anmerkung für alle die etwas zögern: Es wird hier nicht um Glaube, Gott oder die Kirche gehen. Ich interessiere mich für die Formgeschichte dieser Kleidungsstücke sowie die dafür verwendeten Stoffe. Es liegt mir fern, zu missionieren, ich bin ja selbst nicht einmal katholisch. Würde ich über höfische Mode des 18. Jahrhunderts reden erwartet ja auch niemend eine Meinung zum Absolutismus, oder 😉 )
Während der Diakon also die Dalmatik trägt, kleidet sich der Prister während der Messe in die sogenannte Kasel. Diese war ursprünglich ein langes Gewand, geschnitten aus einem Halbkreis und vorne zusammengenäht (eigentlich wie ein halber Tellerrock, nur länger und eben auf den Schultern getragen), die sogenannte Glockenkasel. Um die Arme bewegen zu können, raffte man den Stoff an den Seiten zusammen, dieser lag dann als faltiger Berg auf den Unterarmen. Viele mittelalterliche Kunstwerke zeigen das sehr schön. Im Laufe der Zeit wurden die Seiten immer mehr gekürzt, die Stoffberge auf den Armen wurden weniger. Gleichzeitig begann man, die Kaseln immer aufwändiger zu verzieren und als man begann a) steifere und auffällig gemusterte Gewebe sowie b) schwere Goldstickereien zu verwenden, konnten die Kaseln endgültig nicht mehr gerafft werden. Nicht nur weil dann von den ganzen schönen Mustern kaum etwas zu sehen gewesen wäre, sondern auch weil das Aneinanderreiben der Goldfäden sehr schnell zu Schäden geführt hätte. Um 1600 hatte die Kasel daher eine Form angenommen, die man heute als “Bassgeigen-Kasel” bezeichnet, aufgrund des Zuschnitts auf der Vorderseite, der Ähnlichkeit mit eben einer solchen hat. Um Faltenwurf und Knittern zu verhindern wurden diese Kaseln zusätzlich mit Pergament oder Papier versteift.
So, lange Vorrede, aber notwendig um zu verstehen, was ich euch heute zeigen möchte.
Was ihr oben seht ist die Rückseite einer eben solchen Bassgeigen-Kasel, die Stoffe sind aus den 1770ern (zumindest der pinke, der gelbe ist auch sicher aus der 2. Hälfte des 18. Jhdts.). Die Seiten sind aus einem altrosa Seidendamast (sehr wahrscheinlich aus Lyon), der Mittelteil besteht aus einem sehr komplexen Seidengewebe mit Silberfäden. Ich werde meinen technischen Senf auf die Bildunterschriften beschränken, falls ihr interessiert seid.
Wenn man den Holzrahmen dreht wird sichtbar, dass es eben keine Kasel mehr ist. Immer noch sichtbar ist die obere Hälfte der Vorderseite. Der Stoff ist hier ziemlich beschädigt. Das liegt an der Verwendung, denn bis zum 2. vatikanischen Konzil in den 1960ern wurde ein Grossteil der Messe mit dem Rücken zu den Glüubigen zelebriert. Die Bewegungen, die Kelche und die Altarkante, ihr könnt euch vorstellen was da mit einer Seide alles passieren kann. Aber das ist auch der Grund, weshalb historische Kaseln vor allem den Rücken dekoriert haben. Bei dieser kann man froh sein, dass die Vorderseite noch existiert, nicht wenige Kaseln wurden komplett demontiert und nur der Rücken bewahrt.
Wenn man das Ding mal auf den Boden legt, sieht man, was passiert ist: Die Schulternähte wurden aufgetrennt und der Rücken auf dem Vorderteil festgenäht, nachdem man das Ganze neu gefüttert hatte. Und dieses weisse Futter ist in meinen Augen nicht älter als 30 Jahre, es ist also eine relativ neue Umarbeitung.
Um es kurz zu machen: Warum macht man sowas? Es ist schön, dekorativ, ein alter Stoff. Es war lange Zeit ziemlich “in”, seine Wohnung mit alten Stoffen zu schmücken (und ist es immer noch in bestimmten Kreisen). Mit einer Kasel kann man nicht so viel machen, flach liegend stehen die Schultern ab, es gibt ein Loch in der Mitte (schaut euch mal aufmerksam “Der dritte Mann” an, in einer Szene liegt eine Kasel auf einer Kommode im Hintergrund, wie ein riesiges Deckchen). So abgeändert kann man damit Heizkörper verstecken oder einfach etwas anderes als ein Bild als Dekoration haben. Dass so alte Stoffe nicht mehr dem Licht ausgesetzt werden sollen wird gerne ignoriert, manche wissen es vielleicht auch gar nicht. Ich hätte ein solches Objekt nie in einem Antiquitäten-Laden gekauft, denn da müsste ich von einem System ausgehen und ich laufe Gefahr, eine solche Praxis zu unterstützen. Die Verkäuferin im Trödelladen wusste nicht einmal, was es ist. Wahrscheinlich hat sie es mit einer Haushaltsauflösung bekommen. Die Chance dass sie so etwas nähen würde, ist verschwindend gering.
Warum verzweifeln? Ich bin nicht besonders gläubig, aber ich respektiere den Glauben. Und so wie man meiner Meinung die Überzeugungen anderer akzeptieren sollte, sollte man auch die Zeugnisse, die uns aus der Vergangenheit erhalten sind respektieren. Etwas so würdevolles wie ein Kirchengewand und so kostbares und aufwändiges wie eine silber-broschierte Seide aus dem 18. Jahrhundert gehört einfach nicht zwischen Töpfchen und Billigrucksäcke, das tut mir einfach weh zu sehen. Ich weiss, dass die Museen auch nicht alles retten können, aber das fühlt sich für mich einfach falsch an.
Warum Verzücken? Weil ich 10 Franken bezahlt hab. Kaseln können mehrere Hundert kosten, dann vielleicht im guten Zustand, aber auch oft jünger. Auch wenn diese beschädigt und umgearbeitet ist, alleine der Stoff ist mehr wert.
Zur Zeit lagere ich sie gerollt auf einer grossen Versandrolle mit säurefreiem Seidenpapier zwischen den Lagen. Ich werde sie der Studiensammlung meiner Professorin geben, so können zukünftige Studenten von ihr lernen und sie als das würdigen, was sie ist: Ein Zeugnis der Vergangenheit.
Das war viel, das war lang, ich hoffe ihr seid noch bei mir. Wünsche euch einen schönen Sonntag!
That was long, that was a lot, hope you are still with me. I wish you a lovely sunday.
When my father visited me back in october, he asked if we could visit the local antiques shop together. I hadn’t been there for months or even more than a year because the last visits there had been quite unsuccessful and it was quite far from our old flat. Now, from our new home it is less than ten minutes by foot.
And whilst my father didn’t find anything this time, I found something, to be exact two things. The better preserved one I am showing you today, when the second one will be ready to be presented I don’t know, could take some time, so you need to be patient.
This dress hung on a coat rack next to a 60ies ladies suit that didn’t appeal to me at all. But this one did. I would date it around 1940. It has been reworked, it seems as if someone re-used the black silk from an older garment, some seams are oddly placed and you still find remnants of previous ones. The skirt as well as the front part is made from black silk satin, the upper part of the bodice and the sleeves are made from blue silk satin, overlaid with black lace. Small parts like the collar and the cuffs are worked in black silk crêpe.
There is no label to be found and judging from the seams and the fact that an older garment was re-used I assume that this dress was homesewn. The front and the belt as well as the cuffs close with press buttons.
Unfortunately the silk crêpe of the collar has discoloured, maybe caused by light. I plan to hand-wash it with ivy leaves, which can not only be used as a mild detergent, but also helps dark colours to refresh (that’s why you shouldn’t wash light colours with it, it doesn’t only refresh, it obviously kind of dyes), I hope this will help a little.
Only on the way home I realized it had a large tear on the right side of the skirt, beforehand I had thought it was, apart from the collar, in wearable condition. To fix this I arranged a scrap of silk-organza on my embroidery hoop, pinned the tear onto it and darned it with silk thread, which I had splitted in three very thin strands beforehand.
Please note, this is very important for me: I am not a conservator, I have never learnt how to conserve and repair old and antique textiles. This is NOT how you should conserve an antique dress, the main premise of museums today is that a manipulation should be reversible. The darning above surely doesn’t accord to any museum practice. I bought this dress and planned to wear it, that’s why I did what I did, not to make anything according to museum standard!
Here you see the outside and the inside of the top part.
A close-up of the skirt. You see the traces of the old seams and that the hem used to be folded on a slightly different position. Below some thread remnants I removed from the old seams. The brown parts are the ones that were exposed to light, the black parts stuck in the fabric, this is what light does to textiles!
I really managed to take not a single photo were the tear is really visible. You can maybe make it out in the one below, it sits at half height.
Unfortunately the sleeves are a bit on the small side, I really have to keep my shoulders pulled up to wear them as long as this. If I should ever really wear it (I maybe won’t dare at all, it is quite delicate), I will maybe try to roll them up on the inside and wear them as 3/4-sleeves, so I won’t have to change them.
Side note: The shoes look pretty authentic, but date in fact from the 1970ies. I know for sure because the seller had bought them for herself back then. It was the Bonnie&Clyde-Great Gatsby-mania and the revival of 30ies-fashion that made shoes like this so very popular and close to the original 30ies ones. I own another very similar pair from the 70ies and they are not only very comfortable, but it is also a relief to know that they are not that old and delicate as they look. Oh, and they are cheaper, too 😉
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.
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.
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.
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 🙂
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.
Dear Ravna, thank you so very much for selling me something that has already become one of my favourite dresses!
See you soon, love
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 😉
Today let’s talk about how you should not treat an old dress and how you should not buy anything that looks cute.
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)!
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.
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.
And my boyfriend is right, styled wrongly it could really look like “oh, hello Mr. Postman, sorry, I just woke up”
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).
And yes, lots of make-up. Idea is that nobody wakes up with perfectly shiny red lipstick applied.
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….
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)
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. 😉
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.
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€.
It’s already the 1st, that means it’s already time for another Getrödelt, gefunden, gefreut-post, hosted by Beswingtes Fräulein each month on her blog Beswingtes Allerlei.
It’s not that I didn’t buy anything interesting since december (last time I participated), but in january I simply forgot it and the days around february 1st were very busy in a very very sad way. So as you can imagine, I really wasn’t in the mood to chat about old stuff, but was relieved to be able to publish some posts I had already prepared beforehand to fill the gap of the last few weeks.
For the same reason I didn’t participate in the 3rd HSF-Challenge, which would have been “Pink”. But I will blog about my project for the 4th challenge, which ends today, soon.
But let’s talk about something moree cheerful and let me present to you two things I bought in february at the antique fair in Thun:
I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember finding Vintage lingery at an antique fair, it is just too far away from the focus of most visitors (and sellers alike). I am not much of an online shopper, so I never attempted to buy anything like this on the internet. To be honest, this ist an item I had never searched for, but when I saw it I knew I had to have it 🙂
A 1930ies pale pink bra with mesh cups. It only has some very few stains and two little holes in the mesh, which is in fact very brittle.
I love the parallel seams below the cups.
In the back it closes with two mother-of-pearl-buttons on an elastic:
The inside shows no label or anything similar.
Though of course I wouldn’t wear it , I had hoped to create a pattern from it. Unfortunately it doesn’t fit at all, not a bit. It will be much easier to draft a pattern all by myself. But I don’t mind, I still love having it in my collection.
The second thing I want to show you is not very interesting at first glance.
I already own too many embroidery books, the only thing that attracted me on this 1921 exemplar was its placing in a 50%-off-box and so for 4,50 CHF, I bought it.
There are in fact some nice patterns and ideas in it, so after all it was certainly a good buy.
A big bonus was, that it still had all its original pattern sheets.
But only in the evening I cared to take a closer look at the sheets in the back of the book. And what a surprise. There were a lot more sheets than those belonging to the book.
Different sheets with canvas embroidery, patterns for early machine embroidery and an attachment with embroidery and crocheting patterns.
And then I saw something that really made me scream. A sewing pattern sheet:
I know that 20ies sewing patterns exist, I have a bunch of scans on my computer from some magazines a dear friend once borrowed me, but they are comparably hard to find and often very expensive.
Now I own at least one sheet and I got it for free, considering that I was willing to pay the 4,50 CHF for the book alone.
Besides some children’s patterns there are at least three patterns for women. Unfortunately all too large for me, but resizing won’t be much of a problem, I hope.
So much antiques for this month, see you soon, love
I already mentioned the small antiques Shop “das Puppenhaus” in my hometown quite a few times.
In front of the actual shop the owner installed a shelf with modern, less valuable or broken things. Everything in this shelf is 1€, if you fill one of the plastic bags next to the shelf, it is 3€ total. Of course, what you find there is rarely more than rummage, but if you search for chipped plates, cheesy 70ies novels and other stuff, this is the place to go.
Obviously, you only need to be interested in a very few things to start thinking “mh, maybe I should fill a bag”. What I usually filled the gaps with was clothing, you can always use it as a fabric resource. I found a Korn-Bandshirt, a skirt that now forms part of my quilt and a hilarious 1970ies (?) nightgown.
This colour is very difficult to describe and even more difficult to photograph. It lies somewhere between “very-light-shade-of-pink” and “I-forgot-a-red-sock-in-the-white-laundry”. As you see, it is very wide, label says size 50 (though sizing has changed in the last 40 years, 50 must have been pretty large already back then). The fabric is a very light, sheer cotton with machine embroidery in the front, the back is plain.
Now, this dreadfullness has been in my stock for a rather long time, maybe around 6 years. I always planned to turn it into something wearable, adjust it to my size, make something completely different out of it, I had plenty of ideas. But then, everytime I looked at it I shook my head and put it back.
Finally I faced the monster.
First I cut away all the seams, but kept the hem and the buttonband.
The sleeves’ fabric was very worn and threadbare, I was close to throwing it away (but I didn’t, as you’ll see later). The front and back were each made from one large sheet of fabric without any darts or similar (but for the buttonband). Because the original cut had raglan sleeves, the fabric was much narrower on the top end than at the hem.
I chose a pattern for a nightgown I found in a 1937 schoolbook I bought in april 2013.
I copied the upper parts of the front and back and placed them onto my fabric as high as possible (remember, the raglan cut). The resulting pieces I sewed together, using french seams. The sleeveless gown was much shorter than I had hoped for, but at least it was already hemmed.
What was left of the fabric were the bits cut away to form the armholes in the front, a larger piece from the back and the sleeves. I cut away all the fabric that was too worn to be used, turning the rest into more or less straight stripes. These stripes, eight in total, I patched together to two rectagles of four, having one embroidered stripe in each of it. I formed kind of a halfcircle to turn them into sleeves. The hem I decorated with a polyester lace, that is in no way less horrible than the original nightgown had been. I set the sleeves in and finished the neckline with white bias binding on the inside (it is a little stiff, I hope it gets better after having been washed a couple of times). I re-attached the ribbon (not before re-sewing it, the thread was more brittle than the fabric itself, and yes, it is off-centre, don’t tell me 😉 ) and found a button in the exact same hilarious pale shade of pink (maybe it even came from this nightgown, I can’t remember if the buttons were already missing or if I took them off).
Well yes, and now it looks like a late 1950ies babydoll-dress, though I made no alterations to the pattern at all. Well, except for the length, the sleeves and the already given buttonband and ribbon.
The Challenge: #1 Make do & Mend
Fabric: pale pink cotton with machine embroidery
Pattern: basic nightgown pattern from a schoolbook
How historically accurate is it? well, the pattern is an original one, the fabric is imaginable in the 1930ies. But the machine embroidery, the length and the overall impression it gives aren’t suitable for this decade at all, so let’s say 20-30%
Hours to complete: 4
First worn: january 3, 2014
Total cost: maybe less than 1€ (3m bias binding cost 0,80€, I used less than 1m, lace surely was part of a convolute bought somewhere at a flea market, button as well. Costs for the nightgown I already explained above)
And a funny work-in-progress-photo featuring the lady of the house. I had searched for inspiration for the next challenge when I didn’t work on the nightgown (lying in the background), that’s why the magazines still lay on the sofa. Seems as if they have their own bobyguard now. She even stares like an aged librarian.