Tag Archives: HSF

History is at my feet (HSF #21)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

view from below
view from below

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

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

Both fabrics completely removed and I was left with this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When I had finished, it looked like this:

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

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

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

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

And to show the size, it is really small.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In full glory
In full glory

See you soon,

ette

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

(s)It(h) is getting colder

Though I do of course sew other things as well as do and love other things besides sewing, I decided at one point to limit this blog to textile history and sewing projects made after historical patterns. Like this I hope to give my blog a clear silhouette, knowing well that this also means I can only show you a part of my personality.

HSF challenge #20 (“Alternative Universe”) now enables me to show a passion of mine that hasn’t been mentioned on this blog. First you should know, I am a little nerd. I love science and technical history and I always put my two cents in whenever I know something about biology or astronomy (oftentimes embarassing half-knowledge, I fear). Influenced by my boyfriend I love old and new Video games and can name a frightening number of Marvel or DC heroes.

I am however not a big fan of science fiction though I have some favourites. I had a phase watching a lot of Doctor Who (though this might have been caused by David Tennant, I haven’t watched a single Matt Smith episode, I’m afraid). I love the Stargate movie (and hate the series) but have never watched a single Enterprise-movie (only the first J.J.Abrams Star Trek-film and I may have a look at the second, it is said that B. Cumberbatch is brilliant in this one 😉 ).

But, BUT, I love, love, love, adore….Star Wars. Don’t ask why. My father doesn’t like it, he couldn’t even remember having watched the old movies before Episode 1 hit the cinemas.
It seems as if I watched them pretty early. I can remember me, being maybe 10 or 12 years of age,  pacing through our flat in black leggings and long sleeved shirt, using a black shirt from my father’s wardrobe as a cape, my chest adorned with a sheet of paper, on it the poor attempts of a little girl’s crayons to copy Darth Vader’s control panel. Of course I had no helmet because I couldn’t think of anything to improvise it with.

At this point it should be clear that my choice of what to sew for this challenge was set, it had to be something from the Star Wars-Universe. In hindsight I could have chosen any pattern I wanted because it is common knowledge that Star Wars is set

a long time ago in a galaxy far far away…

so any recreation of a costume from these movies would have been historical.

Pattern: Burda august 2013, altered
Year: a long time ago

But no, just kidding, I followed the rules and picked a historical pattern for this challenge, too.

Because especially American readers are used to single pattern sheets, this is what an european 40ies pattern sheet looks like. Somewhere in there the pattern I used is hidden.
Because especially American readers are used to single patterns: this is what an european 40ies pattern sheet looks like. Somewhere in there the pattern I used is hidden.

As most Star Wars-enthusiasts I love the old movies, dislike Episode I, despise Episode II and consider Episode III as the at least best acceptable of the three. But because the book about the old Star Wars costumes is only published at the end of the month I had to work with the one I had, the book about the costumes in Episodes I to III: Dressing a Galaxy.

While some of the senat’s members wore beautifully Belle Epoque-inspired robes, I knew I wouldn’t have neither time nor fabric to copy these.
Then I saw the costume photos of Christoper Lee’s charakter, Count Dooku:

He wears a long brown cape, lined with satin in a lighter shade of brown.

The cape consists of a front, a back and side parts, so it has modeled shoulders and something like a sleeve cap.

The shoulders are decorated with parallel lines of topstitching.

Yes, that was the inspiration I needed! I had planned to do a cape anyway, so why not make a suble Star Wars-inspired one.

Maybe another reason that made me pick this costume without any reluctance was a sewing pattern in a women’s magazine I had found only one week earlier on a flea market.

Because I don't own the magazine I only have the drawing (the pattern sheet included the patterns of two magazine issues)
Because I don’t own the magazine I only have the drawing (the pattern sheet includes the patterns of two magazine issues and I bought it with the other)

A cape pattern for a fur cape from January 1945. See? Front, back, side parts, sleeve cap, all I need. And the striped pattern of the fur gave me the rest to consider this pattern absolutely perfect.
I did not want to make a mid-calf-length cape, this would have been a little too much super-hero-attitude for everyday-wear, so the length was perfect, too.
I love the five small darts on the shoulders. They add something harsh and uniform-like to it.
Because it was a little too large for me (made for 92cm bust circumference) I pinned it to my sewing mannequin and cut away all the excess. Additionally, I reduced the collar to a narrow band collar.

my not-so-professional method to adjust the pattern to my size
my not-so-professional method to adjust the pattern to my size
the adjusted pattern with the new collar line (compare to the drawing above)
the adjusted pattern with the new collar line (compare to the drawing above)

Whilst searching for fabric in my stash I had to realize that I 1) would never wear a brown cape as much as a black one and 2) that I did not have any matching brown fabric I could use for it. And as I already stated, Episode II really isn’t my favourite film neither is Count Dooku my favourite character. Maybe you might already have noticed, despite my long brown hair my first poor attempts in cosplaying did not aim at representing Princess Leia, but Darth Vader. At this point I should confess: I am drawn to evil characters. I am a Vader-, Snape, Lecter-girl, that’s what I am. Sorry, Rebel Alliance, sorry Harry and friends, sorry Clarice.

So when I unearthed a (what I thought was) black gabardine and a Sith-light-saber-red silk-satin, my choice was clear. To make it a cape to wear in cold autumn weather, I decided to add a layer of wool fleece, connecting this to the silk to create a custom-quilted warm lining.

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Now some of you may ask ‘wool fleece, never have seen something like that?’. Well, in a fabric or haberdashery store, I have neither. But I came across this in…a garden centre! Pure wool fleece, made to cover your plants to protect them in winter. Because of this, the wool is of a comparably poor quality and quite dirty (many seeds and dry plants in it), but I considered it to be very interesting and presumably warmer than a polyester fleece of comparable thickness.

the sheep say "we tuck your plants in"
the sheep say “we tuck your plants in”

To avoid shifting I hand-quilted the silk onto the wool fleece before putting together the lining. I cut away the darts and seam allowances so it wouldn’t be too thick at the seams.

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inside out
inside out the other way round
inside out the other way round

Sewing the pieces together was really easy. First you close the shoulder seams, then you insert the side pieces. Before I added these I tested if it fit me and was strongly reminded of Luke’s black outfit.
I hand-stitched the seam connecting the outer and the inner fabric as I did the hems (I hemmed them both seperately.
The side seams as well as the front edges are top-stitched with the sewing machine.

my shoulders are formed differently than my dress form's ones, that's why they wrinkle
my shoulders are formed differently than my dress form’s ones, that’s why they wrinkle

As I said, I thought the gabardine to be black. In some moments I doubted so I held it near a black fabric ‘yeah, it’s black’, held it near a dark-blue fabric ‘yes, that’s really black’ and went on. Only when I wanted to wear the cape with a black dress I finally had to realize: it is a very, very dark blue (or maybe a blue-ish black?)
A little side note: This means I still have not a single piece of black outerwear. My wintercoats and -jackets are orange, brown, grey, dark-grey, dark-blue and now, another dark blue member. Seems like a good excuse to sew a coat, doesn’t it? 😉

You may remember the topstitched shoulders on Christopher Lee’s costume. Well, the pattern I used was slightly more fitted and thus needed shoulder darts. These are much longer than the topstitching of the costume is. First I planned to make the topstitching anyway, using the dart as the given length. But while working I had to observe the dart changing from a straight seam to a very slightly curved line. Because I feared this would look odd with straight top-stitching, I decided not to add any top-stitching at all.

But there still are two small imperial features.
First I had to decide what closure to chose. Count Dooku’s cape closes with a silver chain and a decorative clasp on both ends. This was too extrvagant in my opinion to go with this cape as an everyday-garment, so I turned once again to my favourite villain: Darth Vader’s coat closes with a simple black chain and I happened to have a very similar still in my stash. Without the helmet it looked weird to place it too close around the neck, so I made the ends lie with the shoulder darts. To one end a tiny hook was added to close it with the matching eye on the shoulder seam.

side part darts and chain-closure
side part darts and chain-closure

The second feature: Well, I told you I quilted the lining. While I used radial lines on the side parts and the lower back, I thought the shoulder region could use something more impressive and topic-related:

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What is left to say? I love this cape. First because it is my Darth-Vader-Star-Wars-cape from now on (the assistant of my Professor called it a ‘veritable Dracula-cape’, I can life with this, too) and because I had wanted a cape to wear this autumn. Double-win!

There is only one little downer: The wool fibres keep pricking through both fabrics. I don’t mind that much on the inside (it’s not scratchy, though of course it impairs the effect of the imperial coat-of-arms-quilting), but the outside is looking horribly messy, as if I cuddled a white Persian cat only seconds ago. Anybody experienced something like this and can tell me how to at least reduce this?

Without further ado, here it is, my “what-would a Sith-lady wear when going for a walk on Endor”-cape:

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“Do I have to? I hate woods!”
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“Look at this mud! I really would prefer the death star’s grey steel and concrete…”
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“You want me to show…?”
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“Please, let’s restart, I can do it better!”
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“…like this!” *swoosh*
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“Another photo? This is getting boring and cold.”
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“What should be interesting about the back?”
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“Oh, shut up, don’t make me laugh, that completely destroys my authority. If…only…this…stu…pid…chain…would…argh!”
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“To ask me to undress in front of the camera is either brave or very very stupid. Don’t underestimate the power of the force, my dear!”
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But as I know what you want to see, I am willing to forgive. This is the quilting you are looking for”

The Challenge: #20 Alternative universe

Fabric: dark blue gabardine (55% wool, 45% polyester), red silk satin

Pattern: from “Meyers Schweizer Frauen- und Modeblatt”, issue 4 (january) 1945

Year: a long time ago in a galaxy far far away

Notions: wool fleece, fusible interfacing for the collar, red and black thread, a short piece of black metal chain, a piar of hooks and eyes

How historically accurate is it?  The pattern is authentic, though I doubt it would be suitable for a fabric like this, normally all the darts would have been hidden because of the fur. For the Star Wars universe it would be too short, but maybe as a travelling cloak?

Hours to complete:  lots, maybe 10?

First worn: Tuesday, 21st Octobre

Total cost: I don’t know for sure but comparably expensive. The wool fleece cost 20CHF, the silk 10-15 CHF and the gabardine maybe a little more. So something around 50-60CHF, though I already had the two fabrics in my stash.

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red dress: 2nd hand/h&m – grey wool dress: 2nd hand – belt: mum’s – shoes: 2nd hand/Hush Puppies – cape: ette/Meyer pattern – suede gloves: antique store – sunglasses: Bijoux Brigitte

 

I hope you like it.

Wish you a lovely weekend and may the force be with you,

ette

Frills and lace and challenge #19

Third challenge in a row, I am optimistic to really meet my goal of doing half of this year’s challenges 😀

The theme for this fortnight’s challenge was “HSF Inspiration”. So basically you could do anything, as long as it had been inspired by some project previously made for the HSF. I started from the back and began looking at the old HSF-photos of 2013, so at the projects I hadn’t seen before, because I didn’t participate last year (I am not sure if you have to be a member of the group, but here is the link to the fb-albums).

What finally caught me was a little hairbow Natalie had made for the Accessorize-Challenge. I remembered that there was a whole page of victorian hairbow tutorials in one of my Bazar-issues. I had discovered them when working on my box for sewing machine supplies back in January.

After having checked what I had in stock concerning lace and ribbons I decided to try this design:

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I was able to use a leftover from a long forgotton project, a wide, mat bias binding in a pale lavender. I paired this with a matching rose satin ribbon and black bobbin lace. The tutorial had asked for black lace and velvet ribbon and green grosgrain ribbon, but neither did I have these colours nor did I want it to be that dark.

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Because my satin ribbon was so narrow I doubled it, a third bow would have crossed the line to a gift-wrapping-effect 🙂

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I roughly followed the instructions of the tutorial, but my main focus was the picture: The whole thing is based on a circle (the tutorial says half circle, I completely overlooked this), the original of buckram, mine is grey felt. A part of the rim gets covered with pleated ribbon (I cut the bias binding in half) and a layer of lace on top. Now the long piece of lace is attached, as you see it is doubled and sewn together at the straight edges. I had to iron and wrinkle the lace to make it lie flat at the end, I am sure with a tulle lace as shown in the original drawing this was much less bulky. To completely cover the felt I added a rest of the lace to the whole thing. On top of it all I placed the bow I had formed out of the two different ribbons. The lace and the ribbon might be a tiny bit shorter as the tutorial asks for, but first this is all I had left of the bias binding and second I didn’t want to make it too extravagant, so I can maybe wear it without full 1870ies attire.

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If you would like to make your own, I tried to translate the istructions for you:

To make this bow arrange a 76cm length of 6,5cm wide green grosgrain ribbon on one end into narrow box pleats of 1cm width each until you end up with 11cm of pleated ribbon. Sew this folded part of the ribbon onto a half circle cut out of buckram (3,5cm diametre), 1cm away from the outer rim.This is covered as the image shows with 5cm of pleated black lace. Now add a length of two laces that you connected at the straight edges, ruffles the last part of it so it forms a half circle. The final length of the lace should be 20cm. Additionally ad a 40cm piece of the green grosgrain ribbon, a 10 and 6cm loop of the same ribbon as well as a small loop and a folded knot of black velvet ribbon. The latter covers all ends and seams of the other loops.

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The rest of the satin ribbon I used as a loop on the bottom side to attach it to the head with bobby pins.

The Challenge: #19 HSF Inspiration

Fabric: a small circle of grey polyester felt

Pattern: tutorial without a pattern found in “Der Bazar. Illustrirte Damen=Zeitung, Nr. 21, June 3rd 1872

Year: 1872

Notions: black and lavender thread, rose satin ribbon, lavender bias binding (both synthetic fibres), black bobbin lace (maybe cotton or linen).

How historically accurate is it?  Not too much. I roughly followed the instructions, I made everything by hand and the result looks remotely like the image in the tutorial. But I used modern, artificial fibres instead of silk ribbons.

Hours to complete:  1-1,5

First worn: not worn yet.

Total cost:  Felt and bias binding were leftovers from other projects, the ribbon had been in my stock for years, I assume it cost around 0.50-0.80 €/m. The lace was bought either at a flea market or a charity shop, can’t remember when or how I bought it, I assume I found it in a sewing basket or bag of laces I bought. All in total not more than 1-2€.

Hope you like it, love

ette

 

And half October like a thousand years…

You know, one thing is to find time to participate in the HSF-challenges, the other thing is to find a matching project.

Challenge #18 was “poetry in motion – bring to life a garment inspired by a song or poem.“.
This really gave me a hard time. I know many poems but not a single one that could inspire a garment came to my mind. And the ones I could think of were all pre-raffaelite medieval-themed ones, but I really didn’t want to sew a medieval dress, I already have one and never wear it, no use for a second.

After having consulted all my (english) books containing poetry I still had no concrete garment to put my finger on, but two poems that left me with some inspiration. The first got dismissed because I couldn’t find neither a matching pattern nor had I a matching fabric (R. Aldington – In the tube). So I was left with

Ford Madox Ford – Antwerp

Those of you who know it might wonder how this might serve as an inspiration for a garment.
The poem was written in late 1915 and tells about the horrors of war the author experienced himself in Flanders after having joined the British Army in August of the same year.
In a little London-Poems-Anthology I found an excerpt of this quite long poem, part VI, the last part. It describes how a crowd of women dressed in black waits for the soldiers at Charing Cross station, not knowing that their beloved are long since dead. Though they do not know there is no hope left in their faces, who appear as dead as the ones of their dear ones.


A great crowd, all black that hardly whispers aloud.
Surely, that is a dead woman – a dead mother!
She has a dead face;
She is dressed in black;

And there is another and another and another…
And little children, all in black,
All with dead faces, waiting in all the waiting-places,

In the dark of the night.
This is Charing Cross; it is past one of the clock;
There is very little light.

There is so much pain.

This black crowd with no hopes left, waiting in the gloom of the station at night created a very clear image in my head. The poem when read aloud has a very impressive rhythm that makes it appear even more vivid to me (I experience very similar effects when reading Paul Celan’s “Die Todesfuge”, maybe some german speaking readers might know the poem).

I can clearly see all that women facing the bare tracks, waiting. They have stood there too often to expect a train and still refuse to stop coming there. They face hunger, the salary of the beloved soldier is missing, they fear to think of the coming winter. The mothers miss their sons, still virtually children. The wives fear the loss of their Sweethearts and have long ceased to answer the whining questions of their children, missing their fathers.

I imagine them dressed in long, droopy robes with no colour, shine or elegance left. Maybe some still haven’t given up hope and have bought a new suit to welcome the homecomer, some may have to work hard to survive and come straight from their masters or in simple clothes they wore to clean the house or harvest some apples.

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Therefore I searched for simple patterns with only few elegant touches and no decoration, something like this, imagine it in black cotton or wool, not ironed and without these laughing faces and elegant postures. This was the picture I had in mind.
In the end I went for a pattern from “The Ladies’ Tailor” from 1915, printed in Nora Waugh’s “The cut of women’s clothes” (fig. 50, for those who own it).  Because I ran out of time I only made the skirt and not the matching jacket. The skirt is very tight fitted around the waist and the hips, below the hips it is wide and ruffled. I did not copy the Waugh pattern, but constructed a broad, corset-like shaped waistband on my dress form. A little calculating and dedusting of my geometry skills helped me to construct the ruffled, slightly  flared lower part of the skirt.

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The waistband consists of one layer of thick upholstery cotton tabby-weave, covered with the skirt-fabric, a black cotton twill with little stretch.

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It is closed with a row of star-shaped buttons in the back. Not historical, I know. But when it was nearly finished and I first wore it, it reminded me of my black, goth teen years and I remembered that I had long wanted to sew a long black all-purpose-skirt. Very unexpectedly, there it was! And because I had used these black star-buttons on so many of my goth garments it seemed to be only appropriate to use the last ones I had for this skirt.

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This is also the reason why I made it slightly longer as 1915-fashion would have been. Historically correct it would end just above the ankles. But I really liked the almost floor length look when first trying it, I couldn’t help but make only a narrow hem to leave it as long as possible.

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The Challenge: #18 Poetry in motion

The Poem: Ford Madox Ford – Antwerp (esp. part VI This is Charing Cross)

Fabric: black cotton twill with a little stretch, waistband doubled with heavy grey upholstery cotton

Pattern: self-drafted after “The Ladies’ Tailor” 1915 as printed in Nora Waugh’s “The cut of women’s clothes”

Year:  1915

Notions: black thread, eight plastic buttons.

How historically accurate is it? The pattern is close to the original, cotton twill is at least possible for the time. I am sure the construction would have been done differently, with boning and stiff horse hair interlacing instead of upholstery fabric. Buttons aren’t historical at all, nor is the closure itself. A hidden row of hooks and eyes would have been more likely.

Hours to complete: The waistband needed a lot of basting stitches, the buttonholes are handsewn. And the construction of the pattern took a little time. Maybe 5h in total.

First worn: not yet/for photos

Total cost: Fabric was a gift from a friend of my mother’s, lining upholstery fabric a gift from my uncle. Buttons were 25ct each, so 2€ in total, without the thread.

 

blouse: mavi - shawl: from my grandma; laced boots: flea market (used to be skates)
blouse: mavi – shawl: from my grandma; laced boots: flea market (used to be skates)

See you soon, love,

ette

 

Sources: All information about the author and the poem as well as the excerpts from the latter I drew from:
Adolf Barth (publ.): London Poems, Stuttgart 2001 (first publ. in 1988), pages 53f and78f

things I would never have done without Leimomi part 3

It’s been more than three months I last uploaded a HSF-project, oh dear.

After all the messy times I had this summer I was very keen to join the challenges again.
A little summary: I planned to make at least half of the challenges when I started to join. The last project I finished was my #10-ballerina-outfit, my fifth finished project, so I was right on track. Now we are already close to challenge #18 and I my counter is still at five projects. I need to do all coming challenges but one to eventually reach my goal of at least 12 completed challenges, puh…
In fact I did try to make something for #13 “Under 10$” but it became evident in a very early state that it was completely unwearable and so it never made it to the finish line.

Challenge #17 was “Yellow” and I am a few days late, I know, but please, I am so proud having at least finished it, so don’t let it rain on my parade, would you 😉

Now you have to know, yellow really isn’t a colour I like. I own very few yellow garments, somehow they never appealed me. Additionally, my boyfriend works at an international furniture-selling enterprise using the blue and yellow colours of the swedish flag as their trademark, so naturally he doesn’t fancy yellow after closing time.

Therefore the title. I am not sure if I would have made that project without the challenge, this applies as well to the aforementioned ballet-costume and the 19th-century-fabric-box, this explains the “part 3” 😀

The search for some yelllow fabric in my stash wasn’t very fruitful. I found a small piece of mustard-coloured cotton-velvet (too small to make a garment of it), an equally small amount of white cotton printed with yellow flowers and two metres of a light yellow polyester fabric I bought on sale when one of my favourite fabric shops closed. Don’t ask me why, normally I tend to ignore artificial fibres and yellow coloured fabrics.

The fabric has a little stretch and is quite solid so I thought it could become a nice dress for  the approaching autumn days.I picked a dress from the march 1940 issue of “Beyers Mode für Alle”, one of the magazines I bought in Gotha last year.

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The pattern itself came together quite quickly. A 88cm bust tends always to be a little on the large side for me, but the waist was fine and so I changed nothing and started cutting (as you see, the bust is ruffled, no use measuring this, if you ask me). I skipped the pockets because I couldn’t see the use of two very narrow pockets getting bulky right between my legs, there are few easier ways to ruin a dress.

Drawing of the pattern pieces. I used the upper, long sleeve
Drawing of the pattern pieces. I used the upper, long sleeve

Only during my sewing some problems began to show up. First, the construction of the shoulders hadn’t been thought through. The shoulder seams lie behind the highest point of the shoulders. That itself is not a problem, but the front part was ruffled and so the sleeve tended to fall off the shoulder in the front. In total the shoulders were slightly on the large side. So what I did was I attached a wide grosgrain ribbon to the shoulder seam, the ends connected to the sleeve cap and the collar. The ribbon itself was 2cm shorter than the non ruffled back, so I gathered the back part a little at the same time, making the shoulders fit better (besides the size being on the upper end of what fits me, the stretch of the fabric and its weight added to this dropping effect. So the ribbon prevents the fabric to stretch as well).

left: the dropping sleeve, middle: the improved version, right: a look at the ribbon
left: the dropping sleeve, middle: the improved version, right: a look at the ribbon

The centre front is far far away from the front edges. This makes the right front edge disappear below the collar and, if you don’t want your buttons to be far away from the edge, it places the buttons off-centre unless they are gigantic. Unfortunately I realized it too late, after I had already finished the two front edges. To solve this I attached the buttons and press fasteners on the right front edge, but only the lowest two counter parts of the press fasteners I sewed as far from the centre as the pattern had wanted them to be. The topmost one I placed as far away from the left edge as the button was from the right one (what means much closer to the edge), the two buttons in the middle I placed accordingly (additionally it looked so very severe with the collar’s edges touching).

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Third issue was the very blousy fit. I have no before-photo, but I removed a total 14cm underbust-circumference to make the dress fitting as it is now, before the whole bodice part fit very loosely. Another 6cm circumference was removed at bust-height and the upper sleeves.

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The sleeves are puffed and have a dart in the lower half. If I wear long sleeves I want them to be a little more on the long than on the short side. So I decided to keep the length, though it caused a few wrinkles when letting the arms drop. Because the dart was very narrow it was impossible to close it completely. I left the 7cm open and added buttons and press fasteners as well, not at the hem, but 3cm above. Like this the sleeve can slide down a tiny bit more and wrinkles less but is still as long as I like it to be.

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yes, a ding at the zipper, I see this. But because it will be worn when it is colder I hope enough underskirts will fix it. If not I can still change this.

A flaw you wouldn’t have noticed but I see at a first glance: the collar! Do you see that slightly darker colour? That’s because my interfacing is green. Wouldn’t have thought it could shine through, but obviously it does.

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The length is a little short for 1940, I know. But the dress is so high-necked and well behaved, I thought it needed this length to look less severe.

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The Challenge: #17 Yellow

Fabric: light yellow synthetic fabric

Pattern: magazineBeyers Mode für alle”, march 1940

Year: 1940

Notions: various cream and yellow threads (got rid of three different small spools^^); interfacing for the collar, grosgrain ribbon to stabilize the shoulder seams and a narrower one for the waist seam; seven burgundy buttons and different coloured press fasteners, short zipper for the side seam, fusible interfacing

How historically accurate is it? I fear the material of the fabric isn’t authentic, nor is the length of the dress and the interfacing. The pattern and the changes I made are accurate, the buttons and the zipper are old, though not that old, but both plausible for the time (plastic buttons and coloured metal zipper).

Hours to complete:  Maybe 6-8. Sewing itself went quite fast, but all those adjustments and the handsewing (zipper, buttons, hem, shoulder stabilization) took their time.

First worn:  for the photos today, still too warm outside to wear it all day long

Total cost: I know I bought the fabric not long ago, but I have no idea what I paid for it.I assume not more than 10CHF/m, otherwise it wouldn’t have been appealing to me. All notions enlisted came from my stash and were bought with haberdashery convolutes, so different to tell. Only the interfacing was bought new, I think I paid 2€/m.

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dress: Beyer/made by me – belt: mango – handbag: flea market – shoes: cube

Though I said yellow is not my favourite colour, I am really happy with the result and looking forward to wear it a lot as soon as it gets colder. 🙂

See you soon, love

ette

not quite convincing…

As promised, here is the only project I was able to finish in the past weeks (aside from some curtains for our staircase and the bathroom).
I bought the pattern, Vogue 2859,  already quite some time ago on sale, a 30ies set, consisting of a dress, a coat and a wrap blouse. When the HSF-challenge “#3 Pink” was coming closer I decided to realize the blouse in a pink, floating fabric I once had bought for my prom dress, but not used entirely (like the black fabric I used to complain about). After I had cut the pattern and the fabric something very unexpected and  devastating happened in out family and I was neither in the mood nor had I time to sew.  So I never completed the challenge, but was very amused (well, as amused as I was able to be back then) that some other participant had had the same idea: Black tulip made the exact same pattern from a very similar fabric.

But even this wasn’t enough to get me back on track, so the pattern pieces lay cut in my stash until I decided to get rid of this project before moving, because I was already suspicious if I would really like it and feared to never finish it. So close before moving into our new apartment I was able to fool myself, prohibiting me to start something new and so, forcing me to face this project.

The pattern is quite tricky. The pattern pieces do look very unfamiliar and you really have to stay concentrated not to make any mistakes. But after you have sewn the few large parts together  it comes together comparably quick.

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A thing I did not like was the instruction to hem the ties, in my opinion you will always see the hemmed inside and never the right one, Murphy’s law. So I doubled them and turned them over instead.

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Please note that the pattern is very short, as it is to be expected from a 30ies design. It is meant to be worn with the dress underneath, so at the moment it just sits on my sewing mannequin, waiting for me to buy or make a simple black dress to go with it (a problem I face with a beautiful antique 30ies blouse I own as well, I would so love to wear it but own nothing to pair it with).

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But maybe this will never happen, because there are some other features I am not quite confident with: I don’t like that you see the seam of the scarf. My fabric is quite shiny so it is even more evident than in other versions I saw. A different fabric could help, but I am sure as long as I can see it, it will never be ok to me. If I am going to make this blouse again I will have to find an alternative to this way of sewing the scarf. But I would have to anyway, because the other thing I am not happy with, is that it sits too tight for my taste. I am very sensitive when it comes to clothing sitting close to my throat and this blouse is just too close to feel comfortable for me. So maybe it will never make its way into my wardrobe.

I am going to announce you something really exiting (at least for me) soon and it is connected with some new projects!
So see you soon, love,

ette

Cheating doesn’t pay, HSF #10

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”.

Pierre Carrier-Belleuse, La danseuse, 1898, in: Moderne Kunst in Meisterholzschnitten, around 1904
Pierre Carrier-Belleuse, La danseuse (?), 1898, in: Moderne Kunst in Meisterholzschnitten, around 1904

 

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).

La danseuse
Ballerina
Forth Position
Forth Position II.

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)?

Inside the bodice, the white thread forms the loops to close with hooks
Inside the bodice, the white thread forms the loops to close with hooks, the boning is covered by the darts and the seam allowance, the black hooks keep the skirt in place. The white square is in fact a short ribbon with press fasteners to hold the shoulder straps in place, you can attach it to your bra’s or what else’s shoulder strap you wear below.

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.

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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.

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here you see the only fitting issue I have, the gap below the arms. It wasn’t there when I first pinned it and when I wear it, it is even worse, maybe two cut parts would have worked better

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:

tights: Rumpf, ballet slippers: Katz
tights: Rumpf, ballet slippers: Katz

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.

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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).

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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.

And only a very little fun fact to close with: Nina has a blog series called Upcycling-Dienstag on her Werkeltagebuch. Every tuesday she or guest bloggers present and collect ideas on how to turn waste into something creative, useful and beautiful. Last week, guestposter Katja shared her idea, how to turn old wooden curtain rings into small picture frames.

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

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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

Year: 1898

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. 

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Talking about accuracy: The letter I am holding is old, but not old enough, dating from 1921.

See you soon, love,

ette

Contrast in Colour and Contour

[OT] I love alliterations [/OT]

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.

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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.

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reformed dress next to a fashionable dress, Der Bazar, september 1904

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.

caricature, depicting the woman wearing a reformed dress as a masculine women's libber, note the short hair cut, from "Die Auster", munich 1903 as printed in: J. Grand-Carteret: Images Galanted et Esprit de l'étranger, Paris (no date given)
caricature, depicting the woman wearing a reformed dress as a masculine women’s libber, note the short hair cut, from “Die Auster”, munich 1903 as printed in: J. Grand-Carteret: Images Galantes et Esprit de l’étranger, Paris (no date given)

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).

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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”.

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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.

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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:

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Next thing I did was to eliminate approximately 15cm width to make it fit.

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yes, I am prudish and wear a bra, but it was really a little too transparent for my taste not to do so

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.

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caricature by Koysrand, published in the “Wiener Caricaturen”, no year given, as printed in J. Grand-Carteret: Images Galantes (see above)

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.

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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

Year: 1905/1906

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€.

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reformed bodice: Schweizer Frauenheim/ette, 1900s underskirt: flea market (july 2012)

 

See you soon, love,

ette

 

 

from topmost to lowermost

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Now, back to topic:

Finally I am able to participate a HSF-challenge again. Not that I didn’t sew the last month, but I had to make a christening robe for my niece and a baby quilt for my boyfriend’s cousin and his wife, whose baby arrived in january. Both patterns were modern, so nothing to show on this blog (ok well, we could argue that the quilt was made after a 1984 pattern, so according to wikipedia this would have been at least “vintage“. But it’s too late now, because I forgot to take photos anyway).

I had already written most of the post for this month’s challenge when I had to realize, that the project I was working on was doomed and that all I tried to save it only made it worse. I tried to sew a hat, using the scraps from my 40ies coat, to wear with it. But the pattern didn’t work at all with the fabric and now I have no fabric left for a second try (and no motivation, either). I don’t suppose I would have worn it a lot, anyway, so I don’t mind.

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With only a few days laft to complete the challenge I adapted an idea I had already had a few weeks ago: embroidered stockings. I love antique patterned stockings, some are preserved, most aren’t. The final idea came when I saw a portrait of Richard Sackville by Isaac Oliver, wearing blue stockings with gold embroidery.  I don’t know if it’s because of the lack of detail of the painting itself or its reproduction, but it looked very flat and plane to me and so I decided to paint the stockings instead of embroider them.

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I owned a pair of white tights, I don’t remember for how long. What makes them special and predestined for this project, is that they are pure cotton. No elastic or artificial fibres in them, they don’t fit very snug, but always wrinkle a little, so they always reminded me of antique stockings. Now, a few months ago I managed to damage them in the topmost part, there was a hole in them, it didn’t not run, but it was a hole. I don’t know about you, but I hate to wear something damaged, even though I know nobody can see it.
I was already close to throw them into the waste bin, when I finally decided to use them as my test object. And because they do have a certain age I wouldn’t have liked to embroider them, fearing that they won’t live very long anymore.

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To stick with the colour ofSackville’s stockings, I used golden fabric paint. As a pattern I chose an embroidery motive I found in the “Unterhaltungsblätter” I showed you in the last post.

9 May 1925, I used the ornament on the left
9 May 1925, I used the ornament on the left

To avoid stretching the motive when wearing the stockings, I cut a piece of cardboard according to the measurements of my lower leg (it is more difficult than it sounds, gauging the circumference of your lower leg with a tape measure, wearing a corset. And please do not ask why I am wearing a corset on a saturday afternoon at home, I simply wanted to. But I hope that in circles, where people sew and wear corsets, girdles and crinolines I do need neither explanation nor excuse 😉 ) and put it inside the tights. Beforehand I had put them on and had marked where my ankle was.Unfortunately I didn’t measure again before painting, so the pattern on one leg is taller than on the other, but I don’t think anybody will see this.

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To transfer the motive I simply used a stencil I had cut out of a thin plastic register page. After letting it dry completely I added a second, thicker layer as well as some silver to give it as least a slightly plastic look.

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The Challenge: #7 Tops and toes

Fabric: white cotton tights

Pattern: no pattern for the stockings, I just cut the legs off the tights. Pattern for the motive from 1925, found in “Schweizerische Unterhaltung-Blätter”, may 9 1925

Year: motive from 1925

Notions: gold and silver fabric paint, white cotton thread to hem the upper edge of the stockings.

How historically accurate is it? Well it was inspired by historical embroidered stockings, though you can’t call them historical at all.

First worn:  last weekend, after finishing and washing it.

Total cost: I bought the tights years ago in a second-hand shop, they can’t have been very expensive. The paint cost 2€ each, years ago, too.

I was so happy seing this project finished I couldn’t help but improvise a little 20ies inspired photo session with things that I found in my closet (being aware that this is far away from being authentic).

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headband: old, don’t know anymore; bracelet and 1900s barrette: antique stores in Lyon; pendant and 20ies shoes: flea market; shirt: yes or no by manor; skirt: 2nd hand; stockings: 2nd hand/altered by me

The reason why I am sitting, besides that I wanted to show the stockings: the shoes are too small and really fragile, I fear standing on them. So I sat down on the dresser, put them on, had me photographed, put them off, stood up 🙂

Now, having talked about corsets and holes in tights and having posted photos wearing a skirt that can’t conceal that I am really wearing stockings rather than tights, I will leave it with this before it gets even more scandalous 😉

See you soon, love,

ette

 

HSF Challenge #4: Under it all – A 1941 (slip) dress

As I already said, life kept me busy during the last weeks and even if I had time to sew, often enough I wasn’t in the mood for it.
As the due date for this challenge approached I decided to force myself to make it, though the project I had had in mind first wasn’t realizable anymore in such a short time.

I had no cut-out-and-set-to-work-pattern for anything undergarment-related (but  a Laughing Moon corset pattern but that would have been a little too much in such a short time) and one of my least loved steps while sewing is tracing the pattern.
So I searched for a pattern, that would need only a minimum of effort to prepare, but still be something I wanted to make. I quickly decided to try a Lutterloh-pattern, my first. Not only because enlarging patterns seems to be more fun than drafting them all on your own and second because I already own two Lutterloh-books, but I haven’t realized a single garment from neither of them. An undergarment seemed to be a good project to get to know how this system works.

For all of you who don’t know Lutterloh-patterns: The patterns are miniature sized and need to be enlarged. To enlarge them, you need a special scale that is part of every Lutterloh-book you buy. Most of the old books miss this scale, but it is fairly easy to make one yourself, copying the one in the book. This scale is attached to a standard measuring tape, a tack is punched through the scale, the exact position is determined by your body measurements, and pinned to a mark in the middle of the pattern, the pattern lying on a large sheet of paper. Dots and numbers tell you, where to turn the measuring tape to and how long the distances have to be. Like this you get a series of dots, when connecting these, you come up with an enlarged pattern, fitted to your size.
But the system is very basic. There are no markings, no hints what to fit where, no darts, no information about closure etc. Additionally, these are still historical patterns, so you will have to face the same fitting issues as with other vintage patterns.
If you want to try the system without bying a book (the old ones are pretty expensive), here you can find instructions and some patterns from 1941 issue (the same I own). Note: this is a german system, so are the instructions 😉 And this website tells you to pay attention to the printed size of the patterns, you really don’t have to. The patterns are enlarged radially, all you need is a non-distorted copy so the angles between the different marks are correct. I copied my card because I didn’t want to pierce through the old paper and doubled its size. This changes nothing in the ratio of the numbers, in my opinion it even makes you result more accurate, because the farther away the marks from your tack are, the less inaccuracy will result in the position of the new dots.
And to all american readers: this patterns are without seam allowances.

The project I chose is fairly simple. A slip dress consisting only of two cut parts, front and back (the left one):

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I already own multiple slips in light shades, so when I stumbled upon a black cotton batiste during the search for a fabric, I decided to use this. The fabric was in fact a leftover from a skirt. It had a scalloped embroidered edge, but was 140cm in width, so I had plenty of fabric left after having turned the 55cm next to the embroidery into a skirt, already years ago.
Yes, cotton batiste isn’t the perfect fabric to use for a slip but 1st) I can still wear it with a satin half slip if it really won’t work and 2nd) I intend to wear it not only as a slip dress, but also as a dres to wear at home or maybe even as a nightgown in summer.

Again, I shortened the pattern significantly, not only to fit me, but also to make it fit onto the fabric. Because my original embroidered skirt had been to wide I had cut away some fabric at one side, leaving me with one single repeat of the embroidery pattern still in my stash. Knowing that I will never again find a project with a similarly well matching fabric to use this, I decided to apply it as a decoration to the neckline (to prevent it from being too stiff I cut away the fabric underneath after having applied the embroidery). The rest of the neckline, as well as the straps I faced with a white cotton ribbon in a similar way Gertie described on her blog only days later (really, I had already finished it when I saw her post appear).

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The positions of the upright darts (in the front as well as in the back)  were marked in the pattern, but without scale, so I had to figure out the exact placement and the size myself. There is only one way for me to do things like this: dress my dressform, pin the darts, sew it, try it on. Most of the time, it works 🙂
This time I had to realize, that the fit was still far from being good and that I needed additional bust darts, after having added these I was content.

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Because of my limited amount of fabric I had cut the back in two parts, leaving me with a seam in the centre back. I used this to add a zipper in the waist, otherwise I couldn’t have made my darts so close-fitting while still being able to take the dress off, you see it ends between my shoulder blades.

An interesting side fact: Last year I was able to wear a toile, made from an 18th century robe à l’anglaise, preserved in the Bavarian National Museum in Munich. First I thought it was too small, but when I forced my back in a very upright position and pulled my shoulders backwards, it fit! That showed me, how different posture 200 years ago was compared to today. Now, when wearing this I have the same effect. Left the gaping straps when standing as I usually do, right when standing more upright.


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The Challenge: #4 Under it all

Fabric: black cotton batiste with white machine embroidery

Pattern: Lutterloh “Der Goldene Schnitt”

Year: 1941

Notions: thread, white cotton ribbon, nylon zipper

How historically accurate is it? The pattern is historical, the fabric is plausible. That’s it. It is shortened (but ends right below the knee, so not too short for 1940ies fashion), the machine embroidery isn’t authentic at all, neither is the nylon zipper nor its placement in the centre back.

First worn:  today

Total cost: The fabric cost me 5€/m 5 years ago, I bought two metres and made the skirt as well as the slip from it. The ribbon? No idea, was in one of my sewing baskets I bought at the flea market, same applies to the embroidery on the hem, 0,50€ for the zipper. The Lutterloh-book cost me around 40€, but there are plenty of patterns in it.