Oh, those Gorgeous Georgians!

For the Dress Like a Georgian Day Picnic I changed my mind three times. At first I was positive I would do something from the 1790s so that I could re-use it for a Regency event. Then I thought I would take a step back and work on a Chemise a la Reine but I decided to save that for my lecture at The British Museum.

After catching Marie Antoinette I decided to go for a completely new approach based on this dress:

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Don’t undertake a project unless it is manifestly important and nearly impossible. Edwin Land

I dont normally do this but seeing as I have now graduated University I thought it might be nice to put my upcoming projects in order!

I have a very exciting opportunity to work with a museum in July and I have been asked to wear a costume to the event. I promise in the days to come I will be able to discuss this in more detail but for now I will leave you with a hint of what is to come.

Chemise a la Reine: Louise Augusta. 1780, Jens Juel.

The second project is this lovely giacca from 1788.

c. 1788 Abiti del Passato

c. 1788 Abiti del Passato

 

20132302115234FOTO 393-800

c. 1788 Abiti del Passato

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c. 1788 Abiti del Passato

And for the Jane Austen Festival in Bath I will be working on this spencer from 1790

c. 1790 Abiti del Passato

c. 1790 Abiti del Passato

 

The Gallant Peasant Woman

Hello again! As I am entering into my final project as a student I thought it would be a good idea to record my thoughts on this project and share my work with you.

Our final costume is meant to be a representation of who we are as makers and as creators.  I have had a life-long love affair with ballet and with the 18th century so I saw no better way to express myself than to combine the two. My hopes are to re-create a historical ballet costume that could be found in a modern production. I have chosen an 18th century design by Jean-Baptiste Martin entitled Paysanne Galante (1722) used in the Ballet de la Provencale and other dances.

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My own illustration can never do proper justice to Martin's but I'm very fond of water colours and flowers.

My own illustration can never do proper justice to Martin’s but I’m very fond of water colours and flowers.

I am very hopeful that after I graduate I will find work and be able to remain in the United Kingdom. My tutor has spoken to me at length about pursuing a career in making and as a research assistant. According to her  I am very ‘thorough with my investigations’ and like my other projects this costume was no different. I wanted to back my theories on how this garment would have fastened and how the sleeves  would attach with historical evidence. I stumbled across The Lure of Perfection: Fashion and Ballet, 1780-1830 by Judith Chazin-Bennahum completely by mistake and found most of my sources. I will be using direct quotes from her book in my posts at later dates (particularly in reference to my sleeve theory).

The first post on this costume will be what I feel is the heart of the ensemble, the bodice. I approached this costume with a few different thoughts. After interning in The Margaret Hunter Millinery Shop in Colonial Williamsburg last summer I already had the knowledge on how to dress properly as I spent 40 hours a week in full 18th century costume.  My first assumption was if this was the 18th century then the bodice would fasten at centre front.  But if you think about the logistics of a dancer and the requirements of the body then a centre front fastening with pins isn’t very idealistic. Even though the dancers of 18th century France are quite opposite from the dancers we see at the Royal Opera House they would still require a way in and out of costumes in a quick manner which is my focus in this post.

If you study the portraits of La Camargo, Barbara Campanini, and an unidentified portrait of one of the Auretti sisters it is very obvious that their bodices are not fastened in the front.

La Camargo Dancing, by Nicolas Lancret, c.1730

The Dancer Barbara Campanini 1745 - Antoine Pesne

The Dancer Barbara Campanini 1745 – Antoine Pesne

1740s French Ballet Print | Depicts Anne (or possibly Janneton) Auretti | NY digital gallery

1740s French Ballet Print | Depicts Anne (or possibly Janneton) Auretti | NY digital gallery

I won’t go into much detail on this garment in this post because I would like to save it for my post on sleeves. One of my main sources is this extant garment held in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art:

Late 17th century-Early 18th century Bodice 1975.34.2a–c

Late 17th century-Early 18th century Bodice 1975.34.2a–c

Note how the decorative detail on the surface covers the join lines of the panels.

Even though this bodice is a bit late for the time my costume danced in I still believe it is a good reference and would like to share:

Queen Sofia Magdalena 1765

Queen Sofia Magdalena 1765

I set about gathering a collection of back lacing bodices (I am considering uploading a folder to my pinterest if that might interest anyone?) and searching for photos of the inside. While they are all obviously different I have found that they all share at least one thing, they were fully boned which led to my decision to make the bodice and the stays into one object.

Last year I was lucky enough to learn staymaking from Luca Costigliolo known for his work on The Borgias and with The Bowes Museum.  During the week long session he taught how to draft the famous Kyoto stays from 1775. I took this basic shape and altered it to suit my own purposes. I’m very pleased with how the bodice turned out in the fittings.

Kyoto Costume Institute c. 1775: AC337 77-12-51, AC7682 93-1-4, AC6289 89-4-6

Kyoto Costume Institute c. 1775: AC337 77-12-51, AC7682 93-1-4, AC6289 89-4-6

A year later armed with my notes and my patterns I set about recreating these stays. Instead of leaving the traditional 2.5″-3″ gap in the lacing I let the centre back meet. Thus my stays and my bodice have become one object.

My first step was to transfer the bone channels and then thread mark my seam allowances:

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I am currently working on cutting the stomacher out in ivory and stab stitching it in place:

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Once that is finished I will be back with another update on putting the pieces together and cleaning up the inside so I can start the surface decorations.

Amusingly enough I have found three portraits that show the sitter in costumes that have many similarities with Paysanne.

Mademoiselle Guimard As Terpsichore-Jacques Louis David

Mademoiselle Guimard As Terpsichore-Jacques Louis David

Ekaterina Ivanovna Nelidova (1773) by Dmitry Levitzky

Ekaterina Ivanovna Nelidova (1773) by Dmitry Levitzky

And the one I adore the most:

Attributed to Charles- Amedee- Phillipe Van Loo  (Rivoli 1719-1795 Paris)

Attributed to Charles-Amedee-Phillipe Van Loo (Rivoli 1719-1795 Paris)

“When the light begins to fade and shadows fall across the sea, one bright star in the evening sky, your love’s light leads me on my way.”

I’ve been dreading trying to put into words the emotions I felt watching the MS Balmoral set off. I think it would be best to start off explaining the costume I created for this historic event and then to share my experience with you towards the end.

In a completely odd way my costumes were planned starting with Sunday and working my way back to the  Train outfit I wore on Friday.

So to start. Unlike my other projects were I worked with a few images in mind, my inspiration image came from the fashion magazine De Gracieuse:

I knew this costume was the one for me when I realized I owned the parasol already. The first thing I did was go to Goldhawk Road and spend too much money!

How utterly perfect did that turn out?

I wanted to try to conquer the skirt first so using the same Thornton’s pattern (notice a trend?) I set about creating the skirt. Unlike the other skirts where  I added an overlap I drafted this skirt pattern as it was originally meant to be:

A fun tip when making a lining: press the darts in opposite directions to reduce the bulk!

Voila! One finished skirt (minus the buttons).

Moving on to the half coat!

I cut the top part on the stand and then transferred it to my body to finish fitting it. This is my toile using leftover fabric and I was very pleased with the way the sleeve turned out.

Once I was happy with the fit I cut out and stitched the real one together. I initially pinned in the sleeve because I don’t have a good track record in putting sleeves in but it actually worked out fine!

Here is my terrible toile! Once I was satisfied with the fit I drafted the same skirt pattern and altered it so that the waist would close at the side.

A quick slip stitch and the half jacket is complete!

I completely forgot to take photos of how I made the trim. I ended up using leftover scraps from my brown linen train dress and created binding which resulted in all my slip stitching ended up being covered! I was rather amused since I thought I did such a lovely job on the hem. C’est la vie!

I made a quick belt and added one of my Victorian (shh!) buckles.

The reason I wanted to have such a wide cuff was because I planned to deviate from the fashion plate by adding a trim to break up the color. Using my leather thimble (the hide was a little too thick to use my normal thimble) I attached the fur to the wide trim and then attached it to my sleeve.

I’m pleased with how I did this but looking back I’m rather annoyed because Lizzy was terribly late on finishing her costume and we ended up running late and missing most of the boarding.

I lost my original velvet trim and had to make do with this trim. If you are Stateside you would recognize this trim from Joann’s, the only difference is that I pulled the leather out of the center.

All packed and ready for Southampton!

I ended up being very lucky by running across a pair of shoes on Ebay that looked like they would match, when I opened the box I realized the Gods of Fashion had intervened in my Ebay search by sending me a pair of shoes that were made for this dress. They were also Clarks which only added to their complete awesome-ness.

(Sorry for the bed spread! I forgot to take pictures and stole the photos from the ebay page!)

And now I feel the need to apologize because I am about to post A LOT of photos from Sunday!

I have to mention the amazing gentlemen at The White Star Memories who really made this event absolutely spectacular. Bravo gentlemen!  I honestly felt like I was stepping back into 1912 and preparing for an adventure at sea!

When I walked down to the docks to wave farewell to the smiling masses onboard the MS Balmoral, I saw the ghosts of those who set sail for a better life smiling back at me. For this moment 1912 and 2012 were intertwined as one, the past and the present overlapping through the pages of history.

Ok I will admit that at first I was slightly miffed that we couldn’t actually go down to the docks but I do understand that in this day and age safety precautions have to be the priority. Luckily the lovely Captain of the SS Shieldhall  invited us onboard and saved the day!

When the Balmoral first started up the band was playing modern music which ruined the mood.  I stood on the stern of the SS Shieldhall and were talking about how we couldn’t cry when songs like “Save the last dance for me” and “Sway” were playing. “On Moonlight Bay” was the popular song of 1912 and I was looking forward to hearing that!

So we stood there thick as thieves promising not cry . .  which was a complete and utter lie since we  sobbed like little girls.

When the Balmoral started off and the shout went up we both began to wave, our handkerchiefs flying  in the wind. I was so happy to see the smiling crowds and suddenly I realized that 100 years ago the crowd stood here full of joy and happiness never knowing that for many this would be the last sight of their loved one. I’m not sure which one of us started crying first but when we looked at each other we dissolved into tears.

I was starting to calm down when the sun came out and we both started sobbing all over again. The sky had been dark and grey with black clouds rolling in all day. When the Balmoral turned the clouds parted and the sun highlighted the ship. We both firmly believe in our hearts that this was a blessing from the ones lost aboard the Titanic.

I stood there on the stern of the ship celebrating for the Balmoral and mourning for the Titanic. Somehow in the middle of my tears I let the Titanic go. The ghosts are laid to rest and she will forever live on in my memories. We stood there until she disappeared and then turned to leave.

I fully recommend The White Star Tavern if you are thinking of visiting Southampton! Not only were the staff friendly and amazingly knowledgable about the Titanic, they were kind and so wonderful to work with. The food was delicious and I’m still dreaming of the wonderful bed!

And so to end the Titanic Project I present the original fashion plate:

Followed by my own recreation.I still see flaws but I hope I was able to do justice with my humble attempt at re-creating the beautiful work of art from De Gracieuse:

“Red sky at night, sailors delight; red sky in the morning, sailors take warning”

And so I set off ready set off for an evening full of decadence and glamour only found in the year 1912.

The fabric literally spoke to me and commanded me to turn it into something extraordinary and so without a doubt Saturday was my favorite night!  When I bought the fabric I had a few images already in my mind. Unfortunately I had one day to pull this costume together. I will be going back and fixing quite a few of the mistakes I made but for now I will share everything with you.

The first was a sketch from Worth c. 1912:

I knew that I wanted to have the fullness at the hips but I wanted the narrow cut of the hobble skirt that was starting to become very popular.

My favorite hobble skirt gown is from a “Woman’s silk and tulle dress with hobble skirt, trimmed in fur, flowers, and rhinestones. Made by Cummings, St. Louis, Missouri, ca. 1910-1912”

And the final idea is without a doubt my favorite Lucile gown:

Later I also found an image from an old Alexander McQueen collection that I also added to my moodboard.

The bodice was altered from the 1914 Norah Waugh Harem pattern that I used for my silver dress. The first step was rather easy, cut the top and lining, add the bust darts, stitch. Using the same Thornton pattern from my previous costumes I made the skirt and turned the hem

Looking back there are so many things that I wish I had done differently. I think if you take into account how quickly it was made then it’s very beautiful but after researching this period this gown will eventually be remade.

After that I created a skirt to go over the top of the dress:

To complete the costume I gathered the train up slightly in order to accomplish the shape I was hoping for!

I went down to dinner and I was sad to discover that unfortunately no matter how hungry you are, the corset will win in the end!

Yum Yum eat ’em up!

I was lucky enough to stay at  The White Star Tavern in Southampton where many of the passengers and stewards that sailed on the Titanic stayed. I can’t put into words how wonderful our stay with TWST was! The staff are fantastic and so lovely! The rooms are extraordinary and the food is delicious!

After dinner I snuck upstairs to take a photo with the Titanic room! The lovely couple staying in this room would be the same I would wave off the next day!

I will admit that I am extremely happy with how my hair turned out! Thank you to my mom who sat on skype and walked me through how to style my hair!

The headband was literally stitched together about 40 minutes before we left for diner!

I really loved this entire dress. The fabric draped beautifully and quietly slipped behind me. When I walked in the dining room I truly felt like I had crossed the barriers of time and stepped back into the 1912s.

And of course the best part of getting dressed, is getting undressed!!!

One last costume from the Titanic Project left to post!

“Women think of all colors except the absence of color. I have said that black has it all. White too. Their beauty is absolute. It is the perfect harmony.” ― Coco Chanel

I was invited by Dr. Butler to Southampton to give a talk on fashion from 1912 and to explain what type of costume the ladies would have worn onboard.

When I first started planning this event I knew I wanted a suit but I was unsure what type I wanted.

The first style I was looking at was something like this:

and then I found this image:

And from my inspiration a costume was born.

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