Last year, my boyfriend gifted me a bunch of fabrics he had bought in Japan. As Kimonos are sewn from one single bolt of fabric, measuring 36cm x 11.5m (according to Wikipedia), sometimes a little fabric is left, e.g. when the wearer is less tall or wishes shorter sleeves. As these small lengths can’t be used for other kimonos, they are sold for very little money in the kimono shops. And exactly that is, what he bought me (a lot of them 😀 ).
The longest of these fabrics was appr. 3.5m, pretty much for a leftover, maybe there was another reason it was cut and sold. It is a lovely silk with a woven pattern with tiny dots and a large flower print. It was just enough to turn it into a dress, though I had to piece a part of the bodice.
I used a pattern from the mid-40s, already described as a fabric-saving dress. I had already made it in 2012, so I knew it fit and I wouldn’t waste any fabric. It consists of a simple skirt, a bodice with kimono-sleeves and a tight-fitted middle part. With the sleeves and this kind of obi-shaped middle, it always had a certain Japanese touch to me and already the first version I made in an asian-inspired fabric.
I didn’t use the pattern for the skirt, but just joined three lengths of the fabric. I wouldn’t have had enough fabric if I had stuck to the original hem level, so I went up a little above the knee. I am pretty happy that the pattern matching worked as it did. It isn’t perfect, but the effect works. Due to the three seams in the skirt, I moved the zipper to the centre back, but stuck with a short one that ended shortly above the “obi-part”. As I liked the look, I left the seam above the zipper open, the dress is so high-necked that I thought it could need a little party in the back, there is just one button to close the neckline. Neckline and the open edges in the back are topstitched with salmon-coloured silk thread. The arm and skirt hems are hand-sewn, first with a rolled hem, second with herringbone stitch after I finished the edge with a piece of lace.
I call this my champagne-dress: First because the fabric has this very light off-white-grey-champagne colour, second because the weave has tiny dots like little bubbles in a champagne-glass, and third because the zipper I used came from a champagne bottle ice jacket I didn’t have any use for, so I just kept the zipper, you can still see the brand’s initials on the zipper pull.
Letztes Jahr brachte mir mein Freund von seinen Japanreisen (ja, es waren zwei) Stoffe mit. Kimonos werden traditionell aus einem Stoffballen von 11,5m Länge und 36cm Breite hergestellt. Kürzere Ärmel oder Gesamtlängen führen da natürlich zu Ausschuss. Da daraus keine Kimonos mehr gemacht werden können, werden sie von den Kimonogeschäften für wenig Geld als Reste verkauft, wobei es sich bei der Stoffbreite und Längen von meist 0,5 – 2,5m auch wirklich um kleine Stücke handelt.
Dieses hier war ein ungewöhnlich langes Stück von etwa 3,5m, vielleicht also kein gewöhnliches Reststück sondern sonstiger Ausschluss. Es ist ganz helle Seide mit eingewebtem Punktemuster und grossformatigem Blumendruck. Mit Gestückel und verkürztem Rock habe ich daraus ein ganzes Kleid geschafft.
Den Schnitt, ein Sparschnitt um 1944, habe ich 2012 schon einmal verwendet und habe das Kleid bis heute. Ich wusste also, dass er passt und ich keinen Zentimeter zu viel zuschneiden würde. Das Kleid besteht aus einem schmalen Rock, einem weiten Oberteil mit angeschnittenen Ärmeln und dazwischen ein enges, miederartiges Zwischenstück (mit Vlieseline verstärkt bei mir). Mit dem Miederstück hatte es mich immer etwas an japanische Obis erinnert, auch die erste Version nähte ich aus asiatisch inspiriertem Stoff.
Für den Rock habe ich dieses Mal keinen Schnitt genommen, vier Rockteile gab der Stoff nicht her. Stattdessen habe ich drei Bahnen aneinandergenäht und konnte sogar ein wenig auf den Musterverlauf achten. Für ein authentisches Kleid wäre es nun zu kurz, aber nun ja, der Stoff ist es ja auch lange nicht. Die drei Stoffbahnen resultierten in einer Naht in der hinteren Mitte, weshalb der Reissverschluss auch dorthin wanderte. Dieser endet kurz über dem engen Teil und weil ich den Effekt mit dem offenen Rücken so schön fand und das Kleid vorne schon so hochgeschlossen ist, habe ich die Naht darüber kurzerhand offen gelassen und nur noch einen Knopf im Nacken hinzugefügt. Die Ärmel sind per Hand mit einem Rollsaum versehen, der Saum mit Hexenstich, wobei ich die Stoffkante vorher mit einem Rest Spitze versäubert habe.
Ich nenne es übrigens das Champagner-Kleid: 1. passt die Farbe, 2. passt das Webmuster und sieht aus wie perlender Sekt und 3. stammt der verwendete Reissverschluss von einer Flasche Champagner, welcher in einer Stoffhülle kam, für die ich aber keine Verwendung hatte. Daher hat mein Kleid jetzt die Initialen einer Champagner-Marke auf der Schieberlasche.
Some projects do take their time. This is definitely one of them and that definitely not because of its complexity, but my fear and afterwards my lazyness.
First there was the fabric. I showed it on this blog when I bought it (in march 2012!), but this was under a different name and a different URL, the post doesn’t exist anymore and I doubt anyone will remember.
It is a border-printed pure silk satin, beautifully shiny and soft and…so expensive! I can’t tell you the exact price anymore, but I know that it was the most expensive fabric I ever bought (I think it was something like 80 CHF for the pattern repeat). I had no idea what to make from it and wanted to avoid cutting it. So my initial thought was to turn it into a dress, something like a simple gathered layer on top of a boned bodice. But this dress never left the planning level.
In march 2015 I spent my holidays in Iceland and visited the largest fabric shop I have ever been in, Virka in Reykjavik. But apart from two fat quarters for my English quilt I didn’t buy any fabric. Instead they had a lot of patterns on sale and also a lot of american sewing books that are not easy to come by on the continent, so this is what I spent my money on.
One of the patterns was this Burda vintage re-issue. And as we got a wedding invitation for the following September, I knew that I needed to sew something for this event. Searching for the right fabric I stumbled across my treasured satin and thought “why not?”. To avoid cutting it, as I still feared that, I did close the fabric to a tube, matching the pattern in the centre back, and only sewed the darts without cutting them (but unfortunately I used a coloured chalk that is still visible). Due to this the upper fabric is a little wider than in the original pattern, but as the upper edge was meant to be gathered it didn’t alter the dress , but made it only a little more blousy. The silk is very thin and I had to add a lining which, unfortunately, is 100% synthetic fibre.
For the belt and the yoke I used anthracite coloured silk I still had in my stash (and that I bought together with the printed one). I still have enough left if I decide to make the matching jacket.
As the silk for the yoke is very stiff compared to the printed silk, I thought I wouldn’t need interfacing. That was a mistake, as I discovered later. When I wanted to give the dress its final press, my iron spit some not so clean water on it an I panicked. I didn’t want the stains to dry, so I put it in the bath tub and washed it cold. It helped, the stain was gone, but as a result I had to iron the dress again and the water had caused the silk gum in the stiff silk to vanish, therefore it is now kind of wobbly. I am still not sure wether to replace it with a new, interfaced yoke.
Another downer after this was when I finally tried it on. The shoulders just stood up and looked ridiculous. I didn’t want to undo the yoke before the wedding, but I wanted to get rid of these wings, so I threaded some elastic in between the outer edge and the topstitched seam and pulled it down a little. Now it looks kind of unevenly gathered but I can live with that.
Since the wedding I haven’t worn it again, that’s why I never came to blog about it and only show it now, only 10 months after I finished it.
Manche Projekte brauchen ihre Zeit. Dieses hier jedoch nicht weil es so anspruchsvoll ist, sondern weil ich ängstlich und faul bin.
Am Anfang war der Stoff. Gekauft habe ich ihn bereits vor einigen Jahren (März 2012) und sogar hier im Blog vorgestellt. Damals hiess er noch anders und war auch unter einer anderen Adresse zu finden, lang ist es her und wahrscheinlich erinnert sich niemand mehr daran. Es ist ein bedruckter Seiden-Satin, er ist weich und glänzend und…er war sehr teuer. Ich weiss es nicht mehr genau, aber es ist der teuerste Stoff, den ich je gekauft habe (ich meine es war etwas um 80 Franken für den Musterrapport). Ich hatte keine Idee für diesen Stoff, aber ich wollte ihn ungern zerschneiden. Also schwebte mir vor, den Stoff als Kleid über einer Art Korsage zu drapieren. Über die Planungsphase kam dieses Projekt nie heraus.
Der zweite Akt begann dann in Island, wo ich im März 2015 Urlaub machte. An einem Nachmittag besuchte ich Virka in Reykjavik, wohl das grösste Stoffgeschäft, in dem ich je war. Und obwohl ich kaum Stoff gekauft habe (nur zwei Fat Quarter für meinen Quilt), habe ich doch etwas Geld da gelassen. Zum einen weil sie einen Schnittmuster-Ausverkauf hatten, zum anderen weil sie eine ganze Reihe amerikanischer Handarbeitsbücher hatten, die man in Europa nicht so einfach bekommt.
Eines dieser Schnittmuster war Burda 7253. Im September bekamen wir dann eine Einladung zu einer Hochzeit und ich wollte dafür ein neues Kleid nähen, da kam mir der Schnitt gerade recht. Und auf der Suche nach dem passenden Stoff fiel mir wieder diese Seide in die Hände und ich dachte “warum nicht?”. Um ihn nicht zu zerschneiden, nähte ich ihn mustergerecht zu einem Schlauch zusammen, so war er etwas breiter als das Schnittmuster, aber das macht das Kleid nur etwas weiter und ändert nichts gross am Schnitt. Die Abnäher sind nur eingenäht, nicht aufgeschnitten (dummerweise habe ich die mit oranger Kreide angezeichnet, die bis heute nicht rausgehen will). Da der Satin recht dünn ist musste ich ihn füttern, an dieser Stelle kommt leider ein Polyester-Futter ins Spiel. Für die Passe und den Gürtel nahm ich einen anthrazitfarbenen Seidenstoff (den ich lustigerweise zusammen mit dem bedruckten gekauft habe), aus welchem ich wenn nötig auch noch die Jacke nähen könnte.
Da diese dunkle Seide sehr steif ist dachte ich, ich könnte auf Einlage verzichten. Nun, das war ein Fehler. Beim finalen Bügeln entschied mein Bügeleisen, dezent dreckiges Wasser auf die Seide zu spucken und versetzte mich leicht in Panik. Sofort wusch ich das Kleid in der Badewanne kalt aus und der Fleck war zum Glück weg. Dummerweise aber auch der Seidenleim, der die Passe so schön steif gemacht hatte. Jetzt ist es leider etwas wabbelig und nicht mehr so schön glatt, mal sehen, vielleicht ersetz ich das nochmal. Bei der finalen Anprobe kam dann der nächste Supergau, die Schultern standen ziemlich unschön ab. Da ich so kurz vor der Hochzeit die Passe auf keinen Fall abtrennen wollte, habe ich stattdessen ein Hutgummi zwischen der Steppnaht und der verstürzten Naht am Armloch durchgezogen. So sieht es nicht ganz perfekt aus, aber es ist ok.
Da ich es seit dieser Hochzeit nicht mehr getragen habe, hat es dieses Kleid irgendwie nie bis in diesen Blog geschafft, aber jetzt, 10 Monate danach dann endlich.
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 😉
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)
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.
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:
Cute little footstool to restore, because it was really damaged.
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:
Both fabrics completely removed and I was left with this:
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:
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:
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.
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!
When I had finished, it looked like this:
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:
And to show the size, it is really small.
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€?
See you soon,
* 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)
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
I hope you like it.
Wish you a lovely weekend and may the force be with you,
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. 😉