Saturday, June 18, 2011

Stays Progress

At last!  I've done all of the channels that go along seams on the right half of the stays.  Next step is to sew the pieces together and check to see if they fit along the underbust, since that's pretty important to making the cups work.  I think quilting is going to be my last step, after I'm sure everything fits - there should be a good amount of it, since period references talk about how omg these shocking French corsets are mostly quilted.

However, I have two other projects to take into account - a few months ago I participated in the help_japan auction on Livejournal, and I really need to knit the socks that my high bidder won.  I also said that I would make a dress for one of my bosses/supervisors at the museum where I'm interning/volunteering to wear to a gala.  So I need to get on them.  I feel awful for making my auction recipient wait, but at least there isn't really a deadline there.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Stays Pain

SUCH PAIN.  On my mother's advice, I made a one-layer mockup of one side of the stays to mess around with, and while it was very useful I now want to punch myself in the face.  I think they're roughly the right size around at this point, and if they're a bit too big it seems slight enough that redoing the channels on the lacing edge should be enough to take care if it.  (Or I could sew the back pieces together and take it in there.)

Both of them together - the machine-sewn mockup is on the left, and the real one is on the right.  I basted the seamlines because my stupid stupid washable marker disappeared.  I think I might keep the cup shape of the mockup, or I might go for something in between.  It's very difficult.  I don't think I've seen anyone make transitional, cupped stays that had a lot of bosom to deal with, so I have basically nothing to go off beyond the picture in Underwear Fashion in Detail.  ETA: And as soon as I say that, I find an example.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thinking about Two Paintings

Two paintings from my last post - I have no real conclusions on them, but I find that writing as though I'm talking to someone else sometimes helps me understand things.

Mrs. Bryan Cooke, George Romney, 1787-1791

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Mantua

I was thinking about making this post the other night, when a profound revelation came upon me: I am a costuming/fashion history hipster.  In American Nerd, Ben Nugent defines two important aspects of hipsterism.  One is purism, as a reaction against the Baby Boomer eclecticism, and the other is an attachment to an "unfashionable" subject (although he's talking about "fake nerd" hipsters and fake attachments).  I try to always use period methods of construction and hand-sewing, and I love aspects of fashion history that happen to be overlooked or glossed over by others.  Now, some of that is because the types of clothes I like best are forerunners to styles where they, shall we say, sell out and lose their integrity, but it is not out of the question that I subconsciously prefer comparatively obscure areas because to show that I'm Interesting.

Anyway.  I love the mantua so much.

Painting Sources

It's so handy, being able to dump a huge thing of pictures here.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Discoveries in Gallery of Fashion

- Waist went up to just under the bust in 1794

- First appearance of crossover-front robe in November 1795

- First spencers in May 1796

- Waist goes up higher in the back than in the front in early 1796

- Waists go back down in back in May 1797

- Start seeing less volume in the front in March 1798, volume decreased overall in September 1798, and again in April 1800

- Waist drops a bit in September 1798, a bit more around June 1799

Things I'm Leaning Toward:

- "short full sleeves" (short meaning to the elbow, interestingly - they don't seem to be shorter than that unless it's a double-sleeve situation) drawn in with a ribbon, maybe

- chain pattern of embroidery around the hem, or this trim:

Monday, June 6, 2011

Thinking about Petticoats

No pictures this time, just rambling.  So I downloaded the entire run of Gallery of Fashion from the Bunka Gakuen online library (it took about three hours) and have been looking at the plates in a general way, trying to put together a bit of a timeline with regard to waistlines and hem flounces and such.  One thing I'm noticing is that descriptions of the clothes tend to say:
  • round gown
  • chemise
  • robe and petticoat
as different types of dresses, I mean.  So I'm trying to figure out the difference between "round gown" and "chemise".  At the moment, I think it could be that a chemise is pulled over the head and a round gown fastens?  I need to go back through and look at the plates again, but that seems plausible.

Anyway, what I'm really thinking about is petticoats.  How do you do petticoats for the 1790s?  Bodiced or at least strapped petticoats make sense for the Regency, when the silhouette was slimmer and you only needed one, but the 1790s silhouette is so solid.  I've read one suggestion that makes sense and fits with an idea I had earlier - that you use one petticoat at the high waist to create a smooth line over several(?) more at the natural waist.  But I don't see how you can tie a petticoat under the bust and have it stay there.

This lot at Christie's has a description that says that the petticoat has hooks to match eyes on the jacket - so I guess it may have been common/possible for petticoats to stay up that way - petticoats worn with spencers or "corsets" (basically a bodice with sleeves that match the petticoat, as far as I can tell) or under (open) robes, that is.


This one from the MFA doesn't explain how it works.


(Page of petticoats to look at later.)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Gallery of Fashion

The last dozen or so posts have been fairly well organized, but I don't think this one will be.


English and French Women's Court Dress

What I really want to do is a post just on the mantua, but I know that if I do that I'm going to have to explain court dress first to feel like it's complete.  But court dress is interesting on its own merits, anyway!

In the later seventeenth century, court dress was basically the same in France and England.  It was based on ordinary clothing: a boned bodice (requiring no stays beneath) with puffed sleeves and an extremely long point in the front, and a matching petticoat.  This would all be heavily decorated, of course, with gold and silver embroidery and lace, and with ropes of pearls and precious stones.


Catherine of Braganza, Queen of England, Sir Peter Lely (1618-1680), 1665

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Robes à la Levantine, à la Sultane, and à la Reine

Back to your regularly scheduled programming!

I haven't seen many references to any of these, but I thought I should cover them anyway.

Amadis Sleeves

I wanted to take a moment out from discussing types of dresses and look at the "amadis sleeves" that popped up when I was researching the Lévite.  As I discovered before, this referred at one point to a type of sleeve invented in the seventeenth century by an opera singer which covered the back of the hand, and at another to some kind of pleated sleeve with epaulettes - neither of these are applicable to the 1780s.  My first step was to look at all of the Galerie des Modes plates that label sleeves as "amadis".

Galerie des Modes, 1780; MFA 44.1473
Nouvelle Levite de Taffetas uni, avec les manches en amadices, la Garniture en Gaze rayée.
New Lévite in solid taffeta, with amadis sleeves, the trimmings in striped gauze.


The Lévite

I was going to make this about the Lévite, the levantine, and the sultane, but I found a good number of Lévites.  Really, in retrospect, I should have folded the turque in with these, given that I found only one outfit drawn from three angles.  But I suppose since I did have so much to say about it, it's all right!


Autre Lévite, la juppe de couleur différente, les manches de la couleur de la juppe, le Lévite comme la Circassienne n'ayant que des manchons: au lieu d'echarpe un ruban en ceinture. Cette figure est coëffée d'un chapeau noir à la mode.

Another Lévite, with a contrasting petticoat and sleeves that match the petticoat, the Lévite, like the circassienne, having only (short?) sleeves; in place of the scarf, there is a ribbon belt.  This woman is wearing a fashionable black hat.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Robe à la Turque

You know, it's kind of funny - although I've heard much more about the robe à la turque, I'm finding it much more difficult to find pictures labeled that way.

[Edit, 1/14/2013: Newcomers, you may want to see my tag for the turque, which will show you all of the Galerie des Modes turque plates I've translated so far.  They're the same plates as below, but they have longer descriptions that I've also translated, that give the conclusions I took ages to get to here.]


Gallerie des Modes, 1780

The Robe à la Circassienne

The anglaise, française, and polonaise are the most commonly talked-about types of 18th century gowns.  However, fashion magazines talk about loads of different styles: à la levite, à la sultane, à la circassienne ... I'd like to do a post on some of these, looking at fashion plates and figuring out on my own what seem to be the defining features of each type.  From here on in, I shoot without a script.

[Edit, 1/14/2013: Newcomers, you may want to see my tag for the circassienne, which will show you all of the Galerie des Modes circassienne plates I've translated so far.  They're the same plates as below, but they have longer descriptions that I've also translated, that give the conclusions I took ages to get to here.]

So.  The circassienne.  According to Wiktionnaire, Circassia was a region of the Caucasus, on the coast.

Jeune Dame en Circassienne garnie de blonde, ornée d'un ruban tigré, coeffée d'un Chapeau galant avec un chignon lâche et tressé.
Young lady in a circassienne trimmed with blonde lace, decorated with tiger ribbon, coiffed with a gallant hat with a loose and braided chignon.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Robe à la Polonaise, or Polonese

It is very common for people to consider the robe à la polonaise to be a gown made in the same way as the robe à l'anglaise, but with the skirt pulled up through rings arranged on either side of the center back.  This can be seen in costuming websites and respected museums alike. However, a closer look at period fashion plates hows that this is not exactly the case.

[Edit, 1/14/2013: Newcomers, you may want to see my tag for the polonaise, which will show you all of the Galerie des Modes polonaise plates I've translated so far. There are more plates than I give below, plus they have longer descriptions that I've also translated.  I very definitely stand by my "no waist seam" pronouncement at this time.]

The Robe à la Française, or Sacque

The antecedent of the robe à la française was the robe volante, a form of negligée dress.  Once the mantua became suitable for public dress, the wealthy required something else to wear while relaxing.  The robe volante (or robe battante) was said to have been invented by Mme de Montespan, mistress of Louis XIV, in order to hide her pregnancies.


Detail of Concert Champêtre, Jean Baptiste Joseph Pater, ca. 1734; MMA 37.27

[Edit, 1/14/2013: Newcomers, you may want to see my tag for the sacque, which will show you all of the Galerie des Modes française/sacque plates I've translated so far.  Paintings are great, but labeled fashion plates are even better.]

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Robe à l'Anglaise

At the beginning of the eighteenth century, women all over Europe wore the mantua (which itself had originated in negligée dress).  This was a fairly unstructured dress made in a T-shape, with most of the fitting of the bodice and sleeves achieved with pleats.  The front of the stays would be covered with a pinned- or sewn-on stomacher, and the bodice would usually not close.


Fashion plate of the Comtesse de Mailly, probably by Nicolas Bonnart, 1698; location unknown