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

 

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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

 

“She was a remarkable, stunning beauty. Admired by Bernadotte, despised by Bonaparte. And no one could touch her”. Mme. Flamel

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I am preparing to embark upon a five day journey to the beautiful country of Malta for the Valleta Grand Ball. I am working on keeping my clothing very light and airy. In a coup de foudre, I have been struck with a love for another aspect of the early 19th century and I want to make sure my clothing reflects that. This gown is loosely inspired by Juliette Récamier, if not one of the most famous then certainly one of the most beautiful women in the art world.

I only have a few works in progress photos as this gown came together in a little under two days but at least this time I did remember to take photos for you!. Keeping with the period it is entirely hand stitched.

I came across this photo from the Madame Récamier collection displayed at the Musée Des Beaux-Arts De Lyon:

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The gown is described as being: ” . . . dress-shirt white cotton muslin, Train, short sleeves and square neckline. It dates from 1805: It’s called a half-set. This is the perfect outfit that Juliette Recamier to wear in the evening to sparkle in society (thank you Maryline!), or go to the ball, but this is not a Court gown. ” It was then followed by the closeup of the sleeves:

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The first thing I did was to use the techniques I learnt from my internship in Colonial Williamsburg to stitch up the side seams and to cartridge pleat the back.  Once that was complete I set about creating the basic bodice shape.

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I have been collecting entredeux for years as I am very fond of Heirloom sewing and I was so pleased to be able to put some of my collection to good use.

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The bodice went through various stages but I finally choose the second photo as my design.

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I prick stitched the pleats down so that they wouldn’t be completely flat.

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Here is the completed bodice!  The next step was the most tedious part of the entire gown. I timed myself to see how fast I could go and I was able to finish one entire sleeve in about 45 minutes.

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The last step was to remove the fabric from behind the insertion so it ends up looking a little like this:

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I’m currently inserting the sleeves but once that is complete I will share with you the final gown!

*Please note the title of this blog post has been taken from Mme. Flamel whose blog can be found here.

“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:

“Voices hum, crooning over Moonlight Bay Banjos strum, tuning while the moonbeams play . . . Candle lights gleaming on the silent shore Lonely nights, dreaming till we meet once more”

Let me first start out by saying that nearly half a year later I still dislike this costume.
When I first started this costume I was working with three images in my mind. The first was a fashion plate from 1914:

And the second image is a dress from 1911 courtesy of Vintage Textile:

and annoyingly I can’t find my source for my third image:

From inspiration to this in just one days:

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“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine

According to Titanic Style by Grace Evans the fashionable first class passenger would have changed her outfit at least six to seven times a day. With apologies to the period I’ve decided to limit my wardrobe to two outfits a day!

As I previously mentioned I will be traveling by train to Southampton so I thought perhaps I should start off my dress diary with the outfit for Friday.

Kings Cross Station, Camden Town, London. Taken c 1925 Ref: BB72 01476 © Crown Copyright. NMR

When researching my costume for this day I came across my most helpful source “The cyclopaedia of social usage ; manners and customs of the twentieth century”  by Helen L. Roberts  (1913). The author describes the Traveler’s dress as  “Simple and suitable and extremely tidy should the costume be for those who voyage by land or water. For a long railway journey, a woman should not wear a large hat garnished with fragile or showy trimming. Ostrich plumes, white lace, and pink rose, do not stand the sea air or coal smoke well. Nor do delicate pale silks, airy muslins, or superb velvet appear to advantage on trains or boats. A woman’s traveling-suit by land or sea should be compact, comfortable in appearance, and preferably dark in color: that fabric is best for a steamer or railway suit that stands the test of dust and moister well. Neat shoes, well-fitting gloves that are not shabby, a fresh stock or ruche, or ribbon, or frill at the throat and hair that is in immaculate order mark the capable woman traveller whose appearance is always agreeable” (Roberts, 457).

 At first I was looking at some sort of outfit based on this line drawing.

 But then I came across this fashion plate on page 25 from Evan’s Titanic Style and I fell in love.

The first thing I try to do when I plan an outfit is to look and see what I have in my closet and fabric bin first. Here are the results!

From my Eowyn Refugee dress I had about three metres of brown linen leftover, a black and brown Edwardian parasol, a lace collar, and a cream blouse which I could possibly dye if I don’t run out of time.

One of my favorite finds from the antique markets in London was made in Spitalfields last year. I purchased this beautiful fox stole lovingly dubbed Sir Charles Brandon. When I ran across the photo of a dress worn by Queen Maud of Norway I knew that Sir Charles would be accompanying me on this journey!

Queen Maud of Norway 1935

For the skirt I drafted my own pattern loosely based on the one below.. For the skirts on Saturday and Sunday I altered the pattern to have a more hobbled shape but due to the need to be able to walk to the train, walk down the steps at Vauxhall and Victoria, walk through the tube station, and finally arrive at K’sC I shaped the pattern for a small sweep.

 I added 4″ to the waist so my skirt would settle just under the bust. It is made of 2 metres (and a bit) of dark brown linen

I’m worried about having enough fabric left to make the diagonal overdress. Currently I have the blouse and the skirt on my mannequin with an antique lace jabot at the neck finished off with a small bow of brown velvet and an antique wide collar draped as a peplum.

And finally here is a photo of my suitcase that I will be traveling with. Sadly it’s only from the 30s but if you won’t tell, I won’t tell!

As promised, the update on the costume!

In the background you can see the current decorations I am playing with.  1 outfit down, 4 to go!

I was so pleased with how my hat turned out!

Looking back I am completely gutted about this costume. I ended up rushing off and leaving Sir Charles Brandon in my flatmates car. Unfortunately this is my least favorite costume.