Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sacque and Petticoat, ca. 1765 - Preview

Today I spent about six hours taking the pattern of the sacque and petticoat that will be displayed in Great, Strange, and Rarely Seen - so I thought I might post the rough draft up here for comments, critiques, &c.  I'm going to redraw it in ink for the final version, move pieces around (rotate some), write directions in better handwriting, all that sort of thing, but is there anything that seems odd or confusing or messed up in some way?



Saturday, February 25, 2012

Housekeeping, and a Question

I just wanted to note that I'm going back and cleaning up some of my older entries, which tend to get a lot of hits through Google.  Some have too many hotlinked images, some have incomplete image citations ... I'm also trying to link to images of dressed mannequins rather than use the picture, because of the copyright issue. My entry on the polonaise was full of fashion plates, which I replaced with just a couple and a link to Pinterest - why clutter up the page when I have a very thorough selection of images there?  Now it just states that the polonaise was not the standard fitted gown with the skirts tied up, it has no waist seam, rounded skirts, &c.  Hmm, perhaps I should add to it to explicitly state that there's no evidence the term "skirts à la polonaise" or "polonaised skirts" existed.

ETA: Here's what I've added, what do you think?

What the fitted gowns with skirts tied up with rings and tapes were called is somewhat mysterious.  A French fashion plate depicting this can be seen here; the artist or caption-writer used the adjective "rétroussée" ("tied up", "tucked up", ) to describe what they specifically identify as an anglaise.  Thus far, I've been unable to find the phrases "skirts à la polonaise" or "polonaised skirts" at all during the period.  However, in the poem "The Ladies Head-Dress", quoted in The Cut of Women's Clothes and The Quaker, "Chloe" is described as having "her gown be tuck'd up to the hip on each side".  It seems most likely that the French and the English both described the style with ordinary language, rather than adapting the term "polonaise" - which makes sense, as their polonaise gown was identified more by the cut than by the draping.

ETA2: And a question.  I have been sewing 5/16" channels in my stays, to fit one 1/4" reed in each.  However, I realized recently that 3/16" reed exists.  Do you think two 3/16" reeds would fit snugly in a 5/16" channel?  It seems like one reed takes 1/16" ease out of the channel, so logically, two ought to take 1/8" ... but I wanted to see if anyone had experience with that before I ordered reed.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Good News!

It looks like I will be taking the patterns of ten dresses* for the exhibition!  And the very good news is that the patterns will be available as PDFs on the museum's webpage.

Of course I would love to have ~my own published book~, but the expense and the timing (the exhibition opens in April) just don't make that feasible.  Still, this way you can take just the patterns you want, and maybe they'll get a wider audience.  So exciting!

* I'm going to ask about the possibility of putting a few extras on the web - there are some garments I think would seem great and strange to academics, reenactors, and costumers but probably not to the general public.  Cross your fingers!

And thank you to everyone who congratulated me on 100 posts!  I can't believe I've been posting for eight months.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

50% Backstitch Completion!

I've finally done all the channels on one side of my stays.  Of course, now it's second-sock syndrome and doing the other seems like a kind of torture, but still - halfway there.


I originally cut the front too high - or the rest of it too low (but I'm short-waisted so it worked out all right for me).  Not sure how it happened.  But it was an easy fix!  These don't have a lot of boning, unlike the stays most people make, but these are a reproduction of a pair at Cherry Hill, so I'm pretty sure it's period.  The curved channels ought to straighten out and overlap with the addition of boning, but I might need to take out the stitching and make the curve more gradual.

The construction method's a bit different and I'm going to do a post on it later.  I think it works pretty well!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Running Through the 1780s - Part II


The Mid-1780s (1784-1786)

"Robe en Foureau à queue simple ...", Galerie des Modes, 1784; MFA 44.1584

The woman is wearing a gown that is pulled up through the pockets.  The back is pleated en fourreau (at least in the bodice - it may not be the traditional type of pleating), and the sleeves have large turned-up cuffs in the old style (referred to as manches rétroussés here and in another print), with some kind of ruffle peeking out of the top of the cuff.  She is wearing a folded kerchief with a ruffle along the edges, and a ruffle around her neck.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

One Hundredth Post!

Wow!  100 published posts, 38 followers, and 14,000 pageviews.  I feel very special.  Thank you to everyone!  I would do a giveaway except I don't have anything to give away. :( Maybe at 200?  I'll make a nice little embroidered something.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Description of the Newest Dress, 1775

I know this isn't new to anyone anymore, but a while ago I was looking up descriptions of the transitional dress in the mid-1770s, and I've had a page in Google Books open in a tab for a while.  It's from the Lady's Magazine, May 1775, p. 233:






Running through the 1780s - Part I

Okay, I really had no intention of continuing this schtick.  I don't just want to concentrate on the eighteenth century!  I also don't want to raise expectations of continuous, researched posts!  However, I realized when I finished the 1770s posts that I've got a fuzzy impression of the 1780s, and I don't really think much of my ability to date extant gowns from the decade. 

The Early 1780s (1780-1783)

"The Contemplative Charmer", 1780; LWL 780.01.06.01+

The titular charmer wears a jacket and petticoat, trimmed with matching satin stripes.  The jacket has long sleeves, and ties closed at the neckline in the polonaise style.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

I'd Like to Gauge Your Interest

This is probably a little premature, but.  This week at my internship, I looked at dresses.  I looked at all the dresses.  I've got a shortlist of cool garments for the upcoming exhibition, although it's a bit of a joke to call it a shortlist since it's far too long and I'm going to have to cut out so many.  Anyway, some of these dresses are so cool that I really want to take patterns of them and share them with the world.  I'm emailing my supervisor to find out if there's a possibility of publishing them in conjunction with the exhibition.

So, what I'm wondering is: how interested would you be in buying a book of ten to twenty (depending on if we were to go with only the dresses in the exhibition, or those plus some other very cool ones that there just isn't enough space for) Janet Arnold-type pattern diagrams from a range of about two centuries?  If so, would being able to see the dresses and ensembles in person make you more likely to attend an exhibition in Albany, NY, even if that entailed some travel?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

So it's *not* just a peril of modern life!

I've started reading Lady Mary Wortley Montague's letters in preparation for writing a paper for the Material Culture Review on Orientalism in eighteenth century dress, and while noting the direction of her travel and the way she describes the dress of the people in each region I came across this postscript:



I think it's quite funny, as I know I've seen people complain that it's only today that people fire off an email in the heat of the moment and regret it later - evidently, some things are universal!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Following the 1770s - Part III

Here is the last post in my miniseries.  (Previous two.)

The Late 1770s (1777-1779)

Isabelle de Charrière, Jens Juel, 1777; Public Library and University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland

Isabelle's gown appears to close without a stomacher, though it doesn't close all the way.  Her kerchief is tucked inside the opening, under the lacing.  The gown itself seems to be very plain, with no trim.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Following the 1770s - Part II

To continue from my last post ...

The Mid 1770s (1774 - 1776)

Seated Woman in Profile, 1774; MMA 1975.1.655

The woman is wearing a striped jacket and petticoat; the jacket's sleeves have turned-up cuffs and are below the elbow, and her apron is as long as the petticoat.  Her kerchief is worn over the jacket, and her cap is tightly fitted to her head, with a double ruffle around it.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Following the 1770s - Part I

I realize that more experienced people than I have already addressed the topic of the transition from gowns with stomachers to the gowns that "fly back" to the gowns with center-front closures, and I doubt that I will actually find anything new.  However, I want to make sure that I understand the 1770s, as I will soon be making a gown suitable for Revolutionary War re-enacting, and I think the best way of doing that is to write up my own synopsis.  Of course, I am mainly looking at fashionable dress here, but that can still say a lot about what is possible in less fashionable dress.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

"The Polonese"

From The London Magazine, vol. 43, 1774:


I think this may be the earliest reference to the polonaise I've seen yet.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Place of Fabrics: Miscellaneous!

I was able to find a great many different terms for different types of fabric, far too many to create a post for each one - especially as many only come up in legal/accounting contexts, rather than descriptive ones.  So I decided to make a post for all of the fabrics that I mainly found in accounting contexts, as these references do give information on how much they're comparatively worth