Showing posts from June, 2015

"There are so few pieces left, how can we really know?"

There's an attitude that I've come across more than a couple of times in discussions centered on whether or not a certain costume in a certain film is accurate, or when someone asks about improving their own kit. It's not quite inevitable, but a good amount of the time someone else will come in and say, "Nobody really knows what they were wearing, because none of us were there." Or, "We have hardly any extant clothing, compared to the amount that existed at the time, so you don't actually know what's right and wrong." This is wrong on a few levels. 1) There are a lot more extant garments than you think. At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, when I search for 1600-1800 in the Costume Institute, there are 1,346 records. And that's just what's been photographed. The Victoria & Albert Museum, the Kyoto Costume Institute, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museu do Traje in Lisbon, the Museo del Traje in Madrid - these are all imme

Older Women and Fashion

There's a cliché that, historically, an eligible maiden would have been very fashionable, a married woman with children would fall behind the times, and an older matron would cling to the styles of years past. This has always bothered me, in part because it seems like an over-correlation to modern attitudes: teenagers and twenty-somethings today have the money and/or time to spend on being fashionable, not to mention the desire, and the ready-to-wear industry is built on catering to them - while women with children have less time and disposable income, and older women are not keen to follow trends like cargo pants, jumpsuits, neon pink, etc. and sometimes even keep getting the same haircuts as when they were younger, or wear similar clothes (which is easy, as fashion is constantly recycling itself). We can't assume that teenagers had the same wherewithal in dressing as today, or that the ability or desire to get new clothes in an old style was present in the same way that it is

Simplicity 1353

My most recent new garment is Simplicity 1353 , a dress by Leanne Marshall, Project Runway winner. I picked up the pattern some time ago, before I'd made the decision to radically change my wardrobe habits - it just seemed pretty and impractical and good for some kind of fancy occasion. Much more recently, I picked up  Simplicity 1587 , a 1940s reprint, along with two different cotton prints for quilting: a dark red-on-orange red geometric one for the long-sleeved version, and a flowered check for the short-sleeved one. Well, I made up the red (apart from hems) and realized that it was extremely unflattering on me and the fabric was too heavy for the cut, so there was no way I was throwing away the cute flowered check on it! One of my resolutions is now to stop being seduced by better-quality heavy quilting cottons with great period prints, and to instead buy proper charmeuse, crêpe, or whatever type of fabric would actually work for the pattern I want to make up. This means

Scaling Up Patterns: A Guide (HSM #6)

It was hard for me to figure out what to write for "Out of Your Comfort Zone". My comfort zone is pretty wide, and what's outside of it - the later twentieth century - is also outside of the limits of the Historical Sew Monthly. So I tried to think more broadly about what I'm comfortable with. What makes me uncomfortable? Tutorials, definitely, because I don't do  that much when it comes to historical sewing, Another thing that makes me uncomfortable is self-promotion in anything other than short bursts, and this post is essentially shameless begging for you to buy my book - Regency Women's Dress , out this autumn! - even if you normally rely on individual, full-size patterns. This can also be seen as helping other people move out of their  comfort zones. Thinking OUTSIDE the box! --- When it comes to making historical clothing, I prefer to use patterns taken from extant garments rather than full-size ones graded for different sizes. There are a number of