Friday, October 28, 2011

Spenceration: The Hive Mind Speaks and We Have a Rough Plan

Start with lapels
and sleeves.

Thank you all for considering the spencer issue...with your help, we have a solution.

Here it is:
  • lapels, from the blue wool spencer, because they look so good, but a little smaller than the 1794 example, so they won't look silly for evening wear
  • sleeveless base, to take care of Kentucky summertime ridiculous heat
  • optional add-in sleeves, from the blue wool spencer, to take care of the cooler seasons
  • optional add-in epaulettes in gold braid to hold up the sleeves
  • trimmed at the cuffs and around the collar with chenille embroidery in a Neoclassic design, to complement the add-in epaulettes, in a faintly military style -- a takeoff on your Museum of London pelisse trimming, Mrs. C :}
  • made of my existing 1.5 yards of periwinkle silk, so that I don't have to spend for fabric
  • Add the "body".
  • sewn with yellow silk sewing thread to add some pop to the seams (see Nineteenth Century Fashion in Detail for an example)
All I have to spend any money on is for chenille embroidery "thread", and some braid, and yellow silk sewing thread, to add some pop to the seams.

Next, Planning the Project Execution

Let's do this right, and have a proper plan:
  1. Examine extant garments, and check written sources in diaries and magazines. This refines understanding of how the garment is worn, constructed, and trimmed.
  2. Search for extant chenille trimmings. I already have a pretty decent idea but want to show you pictures.
  3. Get chenille in soft yellow from Hand Dyed Fibers. Get yellow silk thread (check Mary Corbett's Needle 'n Thread for best source: it could be Hedgehog Handworks.
  4. Design a Neoclassic embroidery pattern.
  5. Find braid or use chenille to make it.
  6. Work up toile in muslin and refine fitting over the dress, especially the sleeves.
  7. Take the toile pieces, and draw them on the silk.
  8. Draw the trim design in pencil on the silk. Do not cut the pieces. This is how I understand 18th century embroiderers would have worked.
  9. Stretch the silk in a hoop, and work the embroidery*. I do not have a proper "slate" stretcher such as would be best for such a project, but embroidery hoops galore, so there you are.
  10. Cut the linen lining, cut the pieces.
  11. Construct the body and sleeves.
*Eighteenth Century Embroidery Techniques has a chapter of how-to that can help teach you, and see also Maureen's Vintage Acquisitions blog article titled Using Silk Chenille for an illustrated tip on handling the chenille thread.
So there is my wintertime project: small, portable, but rife with social history research opportunities, and incorporating the chance to bone up again on an old favorite skill, embroidery.  Plus, pretty summery silk, but warm fluffy chenille.
Apply it to collar, fronts, sleeves, as here.

Now that was a pleasant effort as a lunch break during an especially busy work day. So nice to think of something entirely different from work-work, housework, house projects, and children.


MrsC said...

Love it and love the embroider first, cut later idea. I can recall now seeing pictures of this happening but never clicked. It would be a lot easier to keep the fabric taut in uncut piece than those little twiddly bits of bodice that would probably not even fit a hoop. I'm so chuffed that you are embellishing it too, I am a big believer in more is more and given how embellishing mad our ancestors were, it adds to the authenticity and gorgeousness :) Yay!

ZipZip said...

Dear Mrs. C,
Chuffed indeed: I love that word. Yes, the idea of fiddling with lots of weeny pieces in a hoop sends me into shivers...

Well, let's see how it goes!