Thursday, October 27, 2016

1790's Headdress -- a tutorial

Necessity is the mother of invention, or so they say.  When making preparations to attend a 1790's ball, it occurred to me that I didn't have the proper accessories to wear with my Chemise a la Reine as I had styled it from a portrait from 1783.  I originally made a lovely straw hat to wear with it during the day which you can see in this post.  I thought a headdress of some sort plus 1790's shoes were in order to wear to a ball that included an evening of English Country Dance.   I envisioned something with plumes that could be worn with my hedgehog wig.  I looked at some portraits:

I was particularly taken with the last portrait.  I love the wispiness of the sheer fabric along with the darker band and pearls.  I used this for my inspiration.    

For my project, I used the following materials:  Silk taffeta, silk gauze,  batting, glass pearls, wire, felt, ostrich plumes.  The first task was to measure the size of the band needed.  I blocked my wig on a head block which matches my size and measured.  I tamed the wig a bit with bobby pins and used a measuring tape to determine the size of the band.  It measured around 30 inches.

I rolled the thin batting to make a long solid tube around an inch in diameter by 30 inches long then stitched the tube closed.

Next, I folded the cut edge of my silk in by 1/4 inch and rolled it around the tube, pinning it in place.

I stitched the silk in place, connected the ends and sewed the silk closed.

The band is complete.  I checked to make sure the fit was correct.

Next I strung my glass pearls on a piece of beading wire.  At this point I wasn't sure how many beads I'd need so I figured I'd cut the wire long enough to be able to add more beads if I needed them.

I wrapped the beads around the fabric tube and twisted the wire ends together, hiding them in the folds of the fabric.

I placed the band on the wig again and used my measuring tape to try to "guesstimate" the size of the circle I would need for the sheer part of the headpiece.  This was definitely a situation of making it up as I went along!  I determined that I would need a 30 inch wide circle in order to have enough fabric to manipulate it into folds of some sort.

I pressed under 1/4 inch around the edge of the circle and pleated it to the headpiece.  I didn't measure the pleats, but they were quite deep--over an inch deep. When I was pleased with the pleating, I whip stitched it in place to the headpiece.

Here is the result so far.  The sheer part of the cap is very tall--much like a chef's hat!  Now it's time to manipulate it!

This part is hard to describe.  I pushed the center of the cap down and made random pleats with the fabric while the headpiece was on the wig.  I pinned each pleat in place.

Here you can see the pleats from the top. These pleats were just invisibly tacked in place rather than stitched down.

I knew that I'd need a way to secure the plumes so I made a half cockade.  I cut a strip of silk 4 - 5 inches wide, folded it in half lengthwise and pressed it.  I pleated the strip to form a half of a cockade and pressed it.  The pleats were then stitched in place from behind.

The inspiration portrait has 3 plumes:  two white ones with a black one in the middle on top of the white ones--so I decided to do something similar.  The plumes were curled so they did not stand up straight and positioned them the way I wanted them.  I had cut two pieces of blue felt into half circles smaller than my cockade.  The plumes were sandwiched between the felt pieces and stitched in place.

The cockade was stitched on top of the felt pieces, stitching under the pleats and along the bottom.

The plume assembly was then secured to the headpiece by tucking it in the headband and stitching it in place to the band.  This does leave it somewhat lose when wearing but I use pearl headed hat pins to secure it better to my hair.  The pins can be hidden in the folds of the fabric.

Here's a view from the top.

I also decided to add some shoe clips to my American Duchess Pemberly shoes.  I had previously worn my chemise with 1780's shoes and I wanted to dress up my plain Pemberly pair.

Materials for this project were scraps of heavy Pellon, 1.5 inch double faced silk satin ribbon, shoe clips.

I cut pieces of Pellon to the contour of the shoe for the base of the ornament.  I then gathered the ribbon as shown in this post.

The ends of the ribbon were tucked under and the gathered ribbon was tacked to the Pellon base. Three shoe clips were attached to make sure that the clips would be secure during a night of dancing.


Here are some pics from the ball showing the finished items!  

The complete outfit included the items made plus a blue silk sash, a lover's eye pendant (tutorial in this post) and white leather gloves.  Chemise a la Reine is worn over 18th century stays, Regency chemise and two white linen petticoats. Ties were added inside the side backs of the Chemise to draw up the train. Earrings are by Dames a la Mode.

I love having several sets of accessories to make this gown work for two different decades!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Quickie project! A new short gown.

I needed something fairly quick to wear on a warm weekend so I decided to bite the bullet and finally make a short gown.  I'm not sure why I had such an aversion to them in the past.  They really are practical little garments.  They're unlined, which removes one layer making them nice in warmer weather.  They're also not fitted which eliminates a whole world of problems.

I started researching them and found that linen is the most common fabric used so I picked up a brown striped mid weight linen.  I like the reduced pattern in Fitting and Proper by Sharon Burston. This pattern was made from an extant example.  I enlarged the pattern and it clearly wasn't going to fit without major alterations which I just didn't have time for so I pulled out the JP Ryan pattern that I happened to have.  The JPR pattern instructions have you making the garment by machine.  I knew this pattern would fit so I cut it out all in one piece and I used the instructions in Fitting and Proper for constructing it by hand.

I whip stitched the side seams before realizing that they should've been flat felled so I felled the inside which rendered them nearly invisible.  The back pleats were stitched with running stitches and whipstitched in place on the inside.
side seam

back pleats

Inside of back

The neck edge, front edge, hem and sleeves were hemmed with a 1/4 inch hem.  I used a facing at the back neck where the pleats are as turning it in twice there would be too bulky.  This is the way the extant in the book was constructed as well.

That was it!  No lining or anything fiddly involved with this one.  I've already decided to do one with long sleeves:  wool lined with linen.  It was an enjoyable project.



Here's one view of the short gown being worn:

Inspired by a runaway ad from 1780:  "Ran away on Monday morning the 20th instant, an Irish servant girl named Jane Smith . . .had on and took with her, a striped short gown, striped lincey petticoat, a pair of new stockings, new shoes, and a new check handkerchief:  She stole and took with her a dark gray cloak almost new,  a green bonnet with a white ribbond round it, a pair of silver shoe bucles, a pair of white mitts, and about forty dollars in Continental money. . ."

Wearing the drapes! Not just in movies any more! (a tutorial)

I've had a few occasions that required Regency dress lately so I decided that I really needed to make a new Regency gown. My current Regency gowns include a wool worsted winter gown, a silk ball gown and the first reenacting gown I ever made of dotted Swiss which was machine sewn. It's time for one based on research rather than one simply made from a pattern.  

I've always been enamored by the wispy white muslin Regency gowns--particularly those that have whitework embroidery of some sort.  I had been fortunate enough to come across a pair of antique white muslin curtains with a tambour embroidery.  The curtains were quite large--measuring 90 X 90 inches.  I used part of one to make a lovely 18th century tambour work apron which you can see in this post..  I was still left with one untouched curtain and most of the 2nd one so it seemed like I had plenty of fabric to use for a gown.   

Here are some examples of existing extant embroidered gowns from the Regency era:

1804-05 French origin  V&A Museum

Unknown origin--believed to be British

Napolean and Empire exhibit

Unknown European origin

Kent State Costume Collection

Early 1800's Boston Museum of Fine Art

The first consideration is how much embroidery you have, the size of the embroidery and where you would like it to appear on the gown.  This curtain panel had embroidery on the bottom edge only.  I decided that I wanted the embroidery to be around the skirt and on the sleeve as in the very last picture above.  This sleeve style is representative of an earlier gown ca.1800-1805.  I decided to use the Sense and Sensibility pattern, going with the bodice from the Butterick pattern with drawstrings and a higher neckline.  

The curtain fabric is very sheer so I felt that I could use the full 90 inch width since it wouldn't be too thick when gathered.  The first quandary was where to place the seams.  The pattern I was using has side seams with no center front or back seam.  I really wanted to keep the seams to a minimum since it would disrupt the embroidery pattern so I decided to simply have a single back seam.  First I folded the curtain in half and I placed the front pattern piece on the fold and the back piece with the center back at the selvedge  edge.  I cut one single piece connecting the two--marking where the front side seams would be.  The extra fabric was to be worked into the back.

I still had half of the first curtain left over so I placed the sleeves on that hem after determining the length they would be, then I used the scraps of the remaining part of the curtain to cut the bodice out.

As this fabric is extremely sheer, I made tiny French seams first in the sleeve then the center back, leaving open at the top about 6 inches for a placket.

Since there was a center back seam, I just turned the seam allowances in for the back closing which is what appears to have been done in the extant example.
I decided that the bodice needed to be lined so I just used some bleached muslin from Joann's and cut the bodice pieces.  I placed the curtain fabric on top and treated the 2 layers as one, stitching them with felled seams.  The sleeves were not lined. They were stitched in and the the seam allowance was turned in then the seam allowance was secured with a running stitch.

The skirt was gathered to the bodice and stitched and the center back of the bodice was folded in twice and whip stitched on the inside.  The bodice/skirt seam was covered with 1 inch wide woven cotton tape which was stitched to create a casing for the silk ribbon.  The neckline was also turned in and whip stitched to form the top casing.

Outside of bodice

Back closure

Close-up of sleeve embroidery

Bottom of skirt

Close-up of skirt embroidery

Because the skirt of this gown is very sheer, I made a strapped petticoat.  I used the skirt from the pattern and added a waistband to fit just under the bust gussets of my stays.  I stitched wide cotton twill tape in the back and tried it on with my stays on to adjust the length of the straps which were then stitched in place in the front.  Antique mother of pearl buttons were used as closures.

Since I was feeling motivated, I decided that a new dress required a new bonnet so I pulled out my Lynn McMasters soft crown bonnet pattern.  I found some red silk in my stash and went to work.  Since I knew I'd be stitching the silk to the crown form, I decided to us heavy pellon rather than buckram for the form.

The bonnet required cockades or bows at the side to cover the raw edges of the pleats so I decided on red and white cockades.

I trimmed the width of the ribbon and made smaller cockades to wear on my walking boots.  They are attached with shoe clips so they can also be worn on my white flats.  I also made a larger reticule so I could carry my necessities for the day.

It was a lovely day to wear my new gown and accessories to the DAR costume exhibit.  

I'm very pleased with the results of this the lightweight curtain ended up making the perfect gown for a hot day in Washington DC!