Showing posts from July, 2014

Personal Couture

I'm trying to get more into making my own everyday clothing! Most of the patterns I've accumulated are for dresses, some excessively fancy, so I'm working on reforming in that respect, no longer buying or making summer dresses when I need both casual and work clothes. To start out, I went with a Vogue Easy Options pattern I've had for a while ( V8295 ). The ABC version, with a straight skirt gathered onto a yoke, seemed very unflattering for me, so I started with DEF - a circle skirt on a yoke. I read the chart wrong and accidentally bought too little fabric ... but it was all okay! As you can see from the model, the contrast/matching band around the bottom makes the skirt end below the knee, also a very unflattering cut for many. Ignoring that pattern piece puts the skirt above my knee. The fabric I used is a keepsake quilting calico from JoAnn. Usually, I avoid sewing with quilting cotton because it doesn't hang well on the body, but a) a circle or A-lin

Frances Hodgson Burnett

I love reading, and like many of you my favorite genre is historical fiction. Studying history and historical fashion makes me want to read about people living during these periods, experiencing events we can only read about in hindsight. Unfortunately, I have to admit that a lot of historical fiction simply doesn't work for me - what I'm looking for is an insight into how actual people of the past thought, even or especially when their thought processes and viewpoints differ from ours. I've started a lot of books that I just take back to the library because the heroine seems like she's been transplanted from our era into the past (and usually because of too many accuracy issues re: clothing. It's a gift and a curse). But the great thing about ereaders is that they facilitate reading classic/historic lit, because so many books have been digitized and are available for free, or for only a couple of dollars. I've downloaded quite a few, and whenever I feel like

Fixing the Form

Dress forms are pretty important for sewing, so I wanted one for a long time. My first was an old, hollow adjustable form, the fabric peeling off, a hair smaller than me (and the pieces cockeyed) when fully extended - at times I thought about covering it with two layers of pantyhose and stuffing it with fabric, but just getting a better form made more sense, since it was all rusty and gross. The Dritz Double looked like a nice replacement, but I have a big fit issue - I'm short and my waist is extremely high. The petite Dritz form is almost short enough, but far from robust, so I fixed my eyes on the Uniquely You form. Not only would it take on my dimensions and peculiarities, it would be soft enough to be fitted with my corsets and stays! I was psyched  when it finally came last year. Okay, the form to be covered was pretty big and had ludicrous breasts, but it's foam, it would squish down. My mother fitted the cover to me and everything was looking great. I took the cover

Les Costumes François, Plate 10

THE POOR OF ONE AND THE OTHER SEX. We have represented here the Poor with their torn clothing, such as they ordinarily wear in their state of humiliation. The Spaniard in speaking of poverty said that it is not a vice, but something approaching it. A good mind of this century (de Freny), outbidding this thought, claimed that it ruined things, and in effect poverty obscured the most brilliant virtues, extinguished the most beautiful thoughts, rendered the most beautiful soul contemptible, and in some way stunned those who had not enough strength to endure it patiently. The Pauper is always prey to bodily and mental pain. Can one find a situation more deplorable than beggary? However, among Paupers, how many are found who have the honesty to share, while roguery is more often the characteristic of certain rich men; but of all the estates which are exposed to beggary, it is that of the man of letters and even more that of the botanical Doctor: the great Homer was obliged to recite

Perfection Salad

Library book sales are wonderful, and the one here in Greenwich is especially well-stocked. I'm always coming across books that I've been wanting to read but forgot to request from the library or seek out specifically. The two I found last month were Perfection Salad  (by Laura Shapiro) and Good Wives  (by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich). Perfection Salad  examines the rise and fall of the domestic science movement - how it went from the general idea of women's housekeeping and cooking skills being important to family morality and health, to an organized system of schools and degree programs in cooking/chemistry/biology/etc., to the ignominious home ec class you were forced to sit through in eighth grade. WARNING: This post contains no talk of historical dress of any kind. You may, however, do like me and imagine all of the domestic scientists in the fashionable dress of their era(s). You can't fit the domestic scientists neatly into or outside of the feminist/"wo

Les Costumes François, Plate 9

THE GARDENER AND THE PEASANT. Sages pretend that cultivating the ground is never an ordeal for a condemned man at work, but rather the joy and delight of a very happy one, also what there were greater among men had the taste for Agriculture and gardening. Solomon cultivated plants in his gardens, from hyssop, which grew in the walls, to Cedar of Lebanon; the Kings of the Orient found a real pleasure in cultivating their gardens. They used their own tools to move the earth with the same hands in which they held a Scepter. Scipio the African had a little field that he worked himself, and Q. Cincinnatus was holding the Plowshare at the same instant that a letter from the Senate came, which announced to him that he was just elected Dictator in the extreme need of the Republic. Finally, the cultivation of Vegetables is so agreeable that everyone hastens to have gardens; those who cannot have them in the Country try to have them in the City, and when neither one advantage nor the other

Evening Dress, 1911-1913

Evening dress, 1911-1913; CHM 1975.95.28 , pattern available at link For the most part, I stuck to objects of definite provenance while working on the digitization project, but I had to make an exception for this one. The bright fuschia of the silk twill really stands out, and it's in spectacular condition. As you can see from the pattern, it was made for a very small woman (the 25.5" waist measurement on the object page is actually for the underbust waistline) - but the pieces are so simple that it shouldn't be difficult to size up. With no set-in sleeves, there should also be no sleevil!