Monday, April 25, 2011

Renovating My Sheer 1795 Morning Dress: Adding the Skirt, Part 2

Was sure that I'd be done seaming the skirt to the bodice today, but no. It's going slowly. I am using slanting stitches, mentioned in Costume Close Up and also visible in this extant cranberry dress at Vintage Textile that I have written about before, of attaching the skirt by turning down the top raw edge of the skirt and attaching it to the bodice bottom with slanting stitches.

Slanting stitches connect skirt to bodice.
Because I can make a slanting stitch in the valleys between the skirt gathers, I can control the gathers better, forcing them in place and holding them in position. I also sew through two layers of voile, both skirt and skirt seam allowance, for strength.

So here are things ready to go, at the western windows for good light.

Here I've arranged the gathers carefully at the side back of the skirt, spacing them and stroking them where necessary, and having folded down the raw edge to the depth of the first of two rows of gathers. Then I have pinned them in place. You can see to the left, at the center back, that the gathers haven't been arranged yet.

Here I am using a slanting stitch to catch the bodice and the skirt together in a valley between two gathers. The thread has just come up from the back of the bodice to the front, just above the skirt seamline. I am now pushing the needle, some 1/16" to 1/8" below the seam fold, down through the skirt, the skirt seam allowance, and through the bodice. I will then angle the needle (behind the bodice) to the right and come back up again about 1/8" away, just above the skirt fold. Whereupon I repeat. Every few stitches I catch the thread in the needle to make a little knot, for extra strength.
Note that I am not hanging the skirt from the bodice, so that the stitches are almost just overcast stitches. I would if the voile were stronger, but it's not, so the skirt top overlaps the bottom of the bodice by just over 1/8". That means I can take good strong nips out of all of the fabric with the needle.

Whether this stitch is kosher or not, am not sure, but it looks like what you see on extant garments, both on front and back, and in a pinch can be done right on the person standing in front of you -- as was done by 18th century mantua makers, so...well, it's strong, it works, and it looks fairly right, so there we are. If I decide to hang the skirt from the bodice later, so be!


This process for pleats would be fast and tidy, and was in the two pleated robes I made in 2010. For a gathered skirt, oh my. It would be one thing if the garment were evenly gathered all around, but noooooo. This dress is scantly gathered up front, medium gathered at sides to create a "waist" illusion, and maximally gathered across the center back. Arranging the gathers evenly has been a bear.

I've gotten about a third of the skirt done...

A Morning with Autumn and Jenni

This morning Miss Autumn came to play with the tots, and I set a hemline for Jenni's dress. We had lunch outdoors in a Northumberland-Kentucky gale, as clotted clouds scuttled across the sky, finally giving us some sort of sun, the first in several days.

As always, it was a very good morning, a few hours of friendship and common interest among tots and parents to treasure. Now, Noah may have been given a time out, and all three might have been tired from a very busy Easter Day, and my hemline might have been crooked, but at the end, all three hugged tots each other at once, squashing each other happily, and talking about the next visit, and both Jenni and I had had a very good chat and look at the Napoleon book.

I leave you this evening with the tots all listening to the gentle tick-tock of the old school clock in the upstairs hallway. I started it for a moment so they could watch the pendulum swing -- we'd made pendulums of beads and string moments before. Must get that clock tuned up. I miss the sound that's among my earlier memories.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Renovating My Sheer 1795 Morning Dress: Adding the Skirt, Part 1

Dress front.
Just a short post to show some progress.

Over the past evening or two I set the gathers into the skirt. That meant
  • dividing the top of the skirt into multiple sections:
    • one section for each side of the front, minimally gathered right at the front, medium gathered at the sides.
    • another section for each side back, medium gathered, and ending at the back seam.
    • A last section, five inches across the back, for the central fifth or so of the fabric, maximally gathered. The gathers here will be carefully stroked.
  • Taking two rows of gathering stitches. For the central back section, each stitch about  a shy1/8" long, for rhe other sections, a little larger. In the last section, just to try it, I used two needles and threads simultaneously, loading up one needleful, leaving the needle in place, then using the second needle to gather up the same amount of stitches in the same spots. It went fast and produced two very even rows.
Then this afternoon, in about 15 minutes' time, I turned over the raw top edge of the skirt to the depth of the first gathered row, and pinned it in place on the dress.

Next steps, arranging the gathers more carefully, and then top-stitching the skirt in place, in an 18th century manner, with little overcast stitches, to the bottom of the bodice.

Here are more pictures:
Beginning to set the skirt.

Pinning the back.

Pulling the gathering strings.


The back.

The Wilmington RailRoad Museum Breaks World Model Train Record

Screen capture of team breaking down the train layout
after the successful record-breaking attempt. Image courtesy
The Seahawk student newspaper, UNC-Wilmington.
at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington.
A picture of the museum facade is at top right.
My Dad is a devoted volunteer at the Wilmington RailRoad Museum in coastal North Carolina. Today, after 3500 hours of volunteer work by a big team, they attempted to break the world record for longest functioning model train...and they did it. Holy cow.

The train was some 900 feet long, which at actual size means about 15 miles long, and to break the record, it had to circle a huge track set up at the University of North Carolina Wilmington  for 40 minutes. At first, when Dad phoned to let me know about the streaming video of the event, he said things were going "lousy". He had designed the control system that drove the train. He's a retired electrical engineer and developer for IBM, and lifetime train nut. The first few breakdowns must have been nerve-wracking.

Still, by 4:00 p.m., they had kept it running and had "smashed" the record, as one observer wrote, although I don't know by how long.

Here is an article from News Channel Three this evening: FIRST ON 3: Wilmington train breaks Guinness World Record.
Dad, I am so happy for you! That's quite an achievement for the museum, and I hope brings lots of visitors.

Friday, April 22, 2011

O Hive Mind, What Do You Think of This Buckle?

This year for the Jane Austen Festival Ball in Louisville I am going to wear, once again, my 1795-style high-waisted white silk open robe, this time with a silk gauze petticoat over the opaque silk one. Last year I wore a short shot pink and gold Indian cotton sash with it. Here it is, below, worn with a wayward, baaaaaad-behaving fichu. I feel like a Pilgrim :}


This year, I'd like to wear a belt, instead, made of cream ribbon and clasped in front. In my collection, bought from a grab bag full of Kewpie dolls and 1960s earrings, is this cut steel belt buckle. There is a little rust on it, but not much. It's real cut steel, not an imitation, for like real cut steel pieces, each head is riveted to the frame. It's not quite four inches long and is probably late Victorian, meant to be worn with a sash.

Buckle front. Some rust, but not much,

Back of buckle. One side is missing its strap.
How it clasps.
So. Is this buckle too Victorian, or is the the stem and leaf design suitably late 18th-early 19th century? What do you think?

Cut steel was very popular in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It was popular, in fact, right into the twentieth century. In the recent Napoleon: Empire of Fashion exhibit, cut steel belts and other items, including a necklace, appeared, including a cut-steel butterfly on a Directoire (1790s) evening ensemble. Also, teardrop and leaf shapes were used in 18th century embroidery designs, which bear relation to jewelry designs, along with the round shapes.

Because of the rust and the missing strap, the buckle does not have much instrinsic value, so I feel okay wearing it. If I did wear it, would have to rig something for that missing strap.

I cannot decide whether to wear it, and go back and forth.

Your kind advice, pros and cons, please!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Napoleon: The Empire of Fashion Catalog: Regency Inspiration Writ Large

A typical page from the hardback catalog. Ladybug
is an 8-pound cat, to give you some idea of the size
of the book. It's nice and BIG!
If you're looking for Regency fashion inspiration directly from the contemporary fashion source -- Paris -- Napoleon & the Empire of Fashion: 1795-1815 is a super sourcebook, or so I would argue.

The volume is large, the many, many photographs full-page and crystal clear, the colors true, except for the seafoam silk gown, which looks grayish for some reason. As you have probably read reviews at Stay-ing AliveA Fashionable Frolick, and at Aylwen: Historical Costuming, among others, and of course at Natalie Garbett's blog (she being on the exhibition team), I shall not reprise them here. By the way, this review is not as an affiliate, I am not in any way benefitting from writing it, and have no connection with the exhibition.

One of the central aims of the exhibition is to show how high-fashion women, and a few men, actually appeared on the street, in their boudoirs, with children, or in the ballroom. Because, we learn, the foremost French fashion magazine of the time illustrated its plates from life, we should be getting a Vogue view of high fashion. The mannequins are completely dressed therefore, from carefully rendered hairstyles with good wigs, right down through jewelry and even, on one risque just-post-1800 model, thigh-high chemise and pink stocking garter peeping through the sheer muslin of the lady's dress. The clothes, well cleaned, are fresh. They fit the models beautifully. The curators had to develop custom mannequins, (oh, they are superbly rendered!) for the body shapes of the era were different from our modern shape, with smaller, higher chest cavities and bosom.

No time-stains here to taint our understanding of how color and contrast were used. Bravo, bravo, bravo! I can look at the models over and over, and have -- on the official web site -- and each time learn something new. This is the first time I have gotten a truly good sense of how someone might have looked, well-fitted, well coiffed, fresh, bright, dewy. Again, bravo!

For the first time, I have a good resource for constructing an entire look, not just from paintings and miniatures, but from carefully researched reconstructions. Wow.

Now, what this volume is and is not.
  • Like many exhibitions, this one is thematic, and along with the goal described above, the organizers aim to show how this era marked the birth of modern fashion. Some of the essays therefore make comparisions with modern-day fashion. It's fascinating, and I think their argument is valuable. For younger readers and those with concerns about modesty, I would warn that one essay deals, in part, with adult matter.
  • An example showing how the models are compared
    to fashion plates.
  • This is not a standard catalog. We are not taken on a chronological tour, one page per model, with explanatory data. Instead, the models are scattered among the essays. The captions along with the models and plates are minimal, so not all items a model wears are described or even named, and no dimensions are given. Nor are reproduction items identified. To do so for 50 models would have been a massive job, and I can understand why the team did not attempt it. Still, my detail-oriented mind would wish for this information.
  • The catalog has highly detailed images of scarce items. Many close-up views are given of embroidery and beading and lacework, and hats. Since this information is rare elsewhere (even the V&A books don't have this much), I am thrilled.
  • The catalog is not about chronicling year-by-year changes in fashion history, and it is not about garment construction. You cannot, in many cases, see seamlines. The garments are not rendered in schematic, and as mentioned, there are no dimensions given. If you want year-by-year information, go to fashion plates or to Cunnington's oldie-but-goodie English Women's Clothing in the Nineteenth Century. If you want seamlines and construction, go to Nancy Bradfield and Janet Arnold, etc.
  • This is not a catalog of the dress of all socio-economic levels, but a rendering of fashion as worn by those who could afford to and were interested in it. The essayists explain that the era marked a first democratization of fashion, with access to high fashion spreading through western societies, but the aim here is not to record that spread, but to record fashion at what was acknowledged as its source. 
  • One final note: this is a first edition of the catalog, and the essays are translated from Italian, I believe. There are some grammatical errors and oddities in sentence structure, and in some cases centuries are off, such as 1900 for 1800 (this due, most likely, to the different way the centuries are named in many European languages). I assume that later editions will correct some of these small errors. Again, the reader should not mind that much, and I expect later editions will correct the typos.
A Plea to the Exhibition Team: Even More Photos, or Even Video? Think Teaching Tools

Even if I am able to travel to the exhibition, should it eventually come close to Kentucky, it would still be of great benefit to professional and hobbyist costumers and living historians alike to see more photos of the models. After all, this is a very rare chance to see the costumes pulled together into real and convincing ensembles that show fit and accessories in a lifelike manner.

If the team ever thought of putting out a CD or some other set of images for sale, or a set of lectures in video, there are some of us who would sure appreciate having them for years to come, and my, what a teaching tool at the university or high-school level. If it had been me putting all this effort into researching and dressing these models, I'd be repurposing the information in as many ways as possible :}

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Renovating My Sheer 1795 Morning Dress: Rolled Hem on the Sleeves

Rolled hem on the sheer dress sleeve
It took only a moment's thought to realize that only a rolled hem would give me as delicate a look as I wanted on the sleeves. A folded and stitched hem couldn't help but be 1/4" inch wide...I wanted something lighter, floatier.

Then too, the idea of pinning such fray-prone, distortion-prone fabric as this voile and hemming it gave me the ultra-willies.

So a rolled hem it was, and I am very pleased indeed with the results. They are not ultra-perfectio, for I note a few spots where the hem is a little heavier than others, but in general...happy!

For those of you who shy away from them, I cannot claim them to be streaky fast to create, but they are faster than stroked gathers. Rolled hems are great for gauzy fabric because the needle passes through so easily, with almost no effort. Ah, kind to sore fingers. Plus, you don't need to fiddle with setting a hem, with pins, or any other such time-stealing nonsense.

Another view. See how translucent the fabric is,
and how the hem is delicate?
Here is how I managed them, with some tips that may help those of you who have attempted them before but became disgusted by them.

First, the tips:
  • Before hemming, starch the fabric heavily. This sets the raw edge so it resists fraying beautifully, and it's easy to finger press a 1/16" to 1/8" single-turned hem...once you press the fabric between thumb and forefinger, the hem holds at least halfway. I love starch. In fact, I dote on it. Except with silk, when in doubt, starch it, that's my motto.
  • Use thread less than an arm's length long...so it's less apt to tangle. My standard length for ordinary plain sewing is to unroll the thread, as in traditional fashion, from shoulder to fingertips, but here, maybe 6 inches shorter, or even more.
  • Use fine thread, all-cotton of course, and at least Gutermann, if not an Italian brand. No quilting thread here.
  • Wax your thread with beeswax to help keep it from tangling and to help it slide through the fabric.
  • Pin your fabric to a fabric-covered block to anchor it or anchor it with a sewing bird, or as a last resort, to your knee. Sew with the fabric stretched into a decent tension. It speeds sewing.
  • Use a thimble on the hand holding the fabric so your needle doesn't catch in your skin as you pick up threads to hem them.
Now, how to do them. My directions may not be clear as day, so consult a period sewing book if you need to.

Here you see the completed portion of the hem to the
right. I have already taken two threads below the hem
and have just pushed the needle into the two threads just
below the top of the hem.

  1. Turn down about 9 inches of fabric about 1/16" to 1/8", from right to left. Finger press it well.
  2. Knot the end of your thread and bury it under the hem, draw up through the top. Then, you're ready to sew.
  3. Just below the bottom of the hem, catch one or two threads with your needle and immediately pick up one or two threads almost at the very top of the hem.
  4. Pull the thread almost but not all the way through, and certainly don't tighten it.
  5. Repeat number two once or twice more.
  6. Now you have three stitches almost in. At this point, gently tighten the thread. Magically, the top of hte hem will roll over the bottom and enclose it. Voila!
  7. Repeat until you're out of thread. Take a few stitches over each other, tying a little half knot in the last one, to end the thread.
Do this until you've completed your hem.

Golly, I've made it sound complex, but cross my heart, really it's straightforward and can be done in time to your heartbeat. Meditation!

In the picture above, I show myself holding the hem uppermost. In actuality, I hold it vertical such that the hem fold is on the right, and sew up vertically. I am left-handed and this manner gives me most control. I see each set of three stitches neatly stacked, pull gently, watch the hem appear, and keep going, all in smooth motions.

This is actually a nice activity for talking with friends, because it's gentle and repetitive.

It's evening now, and in the Episcopal Church, Holy Week is just beginning, so I leave you with a small remembrance of the season. Today the boys and I dyed Easter eggs.

I am not sure, but Noah may be telling the eggs to "ssshhh."
Happy evening, everyone!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Renovating My Sheer 1795 Morning Dress: Huzzah, Hooray! Sleeves! Good Fit! It's a Great Day!

The fit from the side. I think I've achieved the 1795 look.
Now to draw in the sleeves with ribbons.
So excited, I can't stand it. The sleeves are done, the bodice tried, and it works and it fits, and all the wide-shouldered, boxy look is gone, and I am thrilled.

As always, click the images to see larger versions.

To give the sleeves the carefully gathered look, I set them with stroked gathers. That meant taking two rows of gathers about 1/4" apart, matching the stitch spacing on each row, and each stitch approximately 1/8" long. I left only a small portion under the arm ungathered. The gathering was taken in quarters, so as to control the gathering around the sleeve better.

Then the armscye itself was marked in quarters, and the sleeves were set in the armscye and sewn with backstitches, just inside the second row of gathering. Each gather was stroked into place and individually backstitched into position. It's a lot of stitches but it ensures that the gathers are nicely spaced, and, along with the gathering thread left in just outside the seam, helps to hold the gathering in place when the bodice is worn.

The work is best done in strong, clear light. I sat outside on the deck steps, listening to the birds.


Here is one of the sleeves being set. I stitch from the voile side so as to set each gather as I stitch.
Stroked gathers are slow to do. The gathering itself is about a half hour each sleeve, and setting them in is an hour and a half each sleeve, so that was four hours of work. Oh, but so worth it! If you want to do stroked gathers and haven't a tutorial source, you might try the one I wrote when I made a mid-century petticoat.

Besides, the work is therapy. Some people find calm painting, others reading. I find it by doing close, repetitive detail work. My mind focuses on the task, other thoughts, usually gentle ones, float in and out, breathing slows, and I am at peace. No one in the family understands it, but perhaps you do.

Very best to all, and I leave you with these happy Turkish tulips, closing in the lengthening shadows.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Jane Austen Festival Morning Ensemble: Hat Notes

The new-to-me Italian straw gypsy hat. It will be steamed to
reshape the crown and the brim.
I cannot but jot down some thoughts about hats. As springtime advances and outside the sunshine becomes stronger, the more I think of a turban or cap in the hot Kentucky sun, the more disturbing get the almost certain prospects of muggy heat and blazing sun. A hat, with cap beneath, is more reasonable than a turban, even a gauze one.

How far we stray from original plans! "And we like sheep, have gone astray..." (hummed to the Handel tune). Anyhow.

Reference Images

June 1794, Gallery of Fashion:


Original text (thank you, cathy Decker!): Fig. X.:  Straw-coloured gipsy hat, trimmed with lilac riband formed into a large bow in the front, and into a very small one behind; tied under the chin with a lilac-coloured silk handkerchief. One white, and one lilac ostrich feather, placed on left side. The hair in light curls, falling down behind, bound with a white half-handkercheif, tied in the front into a large bow. Round gown of fine Indian callico, trimmed with a narrow flounce; long sleeves trimmed at the wrist with lace. Lilac-coloured sash tied into a small bow, the ends as long as the train. Lawn handkerchief, over it another of lilac-coloured silk, turned under the arms, and tied behind. Yellow shoes. Jonquille-coloured gloves.

gipsy hat is simply a large-brimmed hat, according to online dictionaries. The name for this shape appears not to have altered over time. The "demi-gipsy" hat on the rightmost figure has the back of the brim cut off, hence "demi".

The hat need not be of fine straw braid; the plates clearly show wide hat braid.


I would not use so many ribbons as my leftmost reference figure, thank you, but the hat shape is fun and suits me well (see my profile picture at right? That's a similar look.). Underneath, a cap; you can see it peeking out. Silk gauze caps are acceptable, as we know from Colonial Williamsburg. I have silk gauze in the stash.

Here's a 1790-1804 cap from the Met, item C.I.37.45.22. Mine need not be fluffy, with two layers, but I prefer no band on a cap.


Side notes: look at the dress neckline and sleeves of the figure on the right! Fluffy with frills, like my reference portrait miniature. Yum.

Also see how her chemise dress (that's how the original text identifies it, too, by the by) is a loose-backed one, so that the sash doesn't look odd in the back like sashes did on my fitted-back dress. Of course, a loose-backed chemise dress with a high waist is not going to make me look slim. DO go see this figure in a drawstring gown in Napoleon: The Empire of Fashion. Here's the side view. A pretty dress? Yes. Slimming? No. Not even on a rail-thin mannequin.

Back to the subject at hand: hats.

Perhaps I should wear a veil, too, unless that is gilding the lily. Natalie Garbett offers a super image of what wearing a veil can be like.

The veil below, on the leftmost lady in the from August 1794, is green gauze. Again, I have gauze, and the veil can substitute for frilly ribbons. I have the ostrich feathers, too, left over from past years, and can color one green. Stripes, maybe!


So, the germ of an idea emerges.

In Other News...Our Bluegrass Regency Society met for the First Time

It was fun! We have a full calendar! From picnics and house tours to dance lessons to the JASNA festival to museum tour to attending our local Christmas ball, (sure hope they have it again this year) we have it all. If you're in driving distance to Lexington, Kentucky, come join us! See our blog for details.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Renovating My Sheer 1795 Morning Dress: Sleeve Design


First toile: my assistants
 The first toile was too narrow when I basted it to the bodice. Of course, it's regular old quilting cotton, so it doesn't drape, but you can see below that it doesn't have much excess to create the folds of the reference sleeve.


So, I widened the sleeve further. Because the voile is 32" wide selvage to selvage, I made that a convenient width to work with. That also meant I could simply combination stitch the selvages together with a 1/8" seam and dispense with further seam finishing, a period solution.

Here is the original Sense and Sensibility pattern sleeve, laid atop my first toile. The change in shape, which is closer to full sleeves as patterned in Janet Arnold, is to create sleeve fullness.

Now here is the final sleeve, as cut out in the voile.

Voile is a pain to cut. It does not like to cut neatly, but pulls out of shape with the barest movement. That won't matter when sewn into such a full sleeve shape.

I sewed the seams and began the two rows of stroked gathers for each sleeve last evening. Creating the two rows of gathers for each sleeve I expect to run an hour total. I am getting to be so used to stroked gathers that they move fast.

We're getting there...

It always helps when your son hands you a bouquet of yard violets clamped in his round hand.

For those of you across the pond, common violets here are pesky, free-seeding little plants, without fragrance but with such a rich color that I haven't the heart anymore to root them out, so they speckle our lawn with clots of deepest blue purple.

Violets symbolize modesty, faithfulness, affection, watchfulness, and the color relates to Easter. What a gift.

I should ribbon-embroider my silk gauze shawl with violets. In fact, that is what I will do. So there.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Renovating the Wrap Front on My Sheer 1795 Morning Dress, Part 4


We have a bodice. I pinched myself to make sure, and since the pinch pinched, it's real. Here it is, put up sans chemise or stays on the dressform. I am quite happy with the collaresque draping, and feel that it pretty well reflects the reference portrait, a pretty miniature of an unknown woman, dated 1795. for details, see http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O82015/miniature-portrait-of-an-unknown-woman/.

In a slight variation from the reference dress, I am making a separate kerchief with a frill per this English example in the LACMA collection. It's 75 x 10 inches long; mine will likely be shorter but about the same width.


Here is a view of the back.

I made the back very high on purpose, to help with the columnar effect I wish to achieve. In 1795 those high waists really began to take off in high fashion.

If you look closely, you'll notice that the bodice bottom is fully finished at the edges, by turning each side inwards and combination-stitching them together in a traditional 18th century manner. Many dresses weren't finished at the waistline, but both the linen and the voile tend to fray, and I wanted a strong, neat edge to which to stitch the skirts. I will do that by folding the raw edge of the skirt down, gathering the the fabric, and then topstitching it to the bodice.

In addition, the inner, wrapped front bodice pieces are longer than the front bodice itself. I did this for coverage and strength, wanting the inner panels to help support the dress by taking the stress off the top layer so it can drape nicely and not pull out of shape. Those inner panels will be pinned very tightly and securely to my stays.

Next up, the sleeves. I will be stitching them quite close to the "collar", as in the reference portrait, in an effort to further visually narrow my shoulders.

Now that progress is made, the dress has become fun again, although I must say, I am glad that I only do a few garments annually. They take so much research and time! Being a hobbyist with no formal mantua-making training, what is easy for some only comes with great effort for me.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Twins and Their Robin Hood Caps...and a Wrap-front Dress Update


We've been living with Robin Hood and his Merry Men lately, and have introduced them to Tinkertoy longbows and plastic jewels. Yesterday, it was time to be formally inducted into the gang, and so we made caps of felt.

I looked online for patterns, found them needlessly complex, and made up my own.  Two seams, a cut with the scissors, and two tucks, and you're done.


All you need is two rectangles of green craft felt, a pair of scissors, and needle and thread. I suppose the rectangles were somewhere about 15 inches long. Forgot to measure them and now it's too late, but they're the standard Craftology small size sold at Michael's craft store.

Here's a schematic for how to make them:
  1. Sew two rectangles of craft felt together along one long side.
  2. Then sewn them together along one short side.
  3. When turned inside out, you have sort of this shape. I've drawn the seam on the outside so you know where it is, but the seam allowance is actually on the underside of the cap.
  4. Flip up the fabric at the left side of the cap to make the back brim, and flip up the bottoms too to make the brim along the sides. Trim the brim along the sides so that each side angles down to a point in the front. You can trim them straight or with an interesting curve. (Consult books about Robin Hood and look at the illustrations for help. Each artist seems to draw the cap differently.)
  5. Punch down the top to create a nice dent. Now, pinch one side into a tuck, with the fold facing towards the back of the cap, and tack that tuck down; I made two tacks in each tuck. Do the same on the other side. This tightens the hat and shapes it to the head a little.
You're done! You can cut slits to add feathers...we did.

The boys enjoyed adding feathers and denting their cap tops to taste.

A Wrap-Front Dress Update

I finished the bodice yesterday, except for arranging the neckline folds into place and invisibly tacking them down in one or two spots. Will show pictures this evening if I get a chance!

Now for the sleeves and attaching the skirt. This project is so slow and painstaking that it is becoming rather dull. Cannot wait to move onto the accessories.

Also, I purchased for a song an old plain gypsy hat constructed in Italy. Since it's so basic and the current trim looks like it was chewed by a dog, have no compunction in reshaping the crown into the shape I need for my hat.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Selling Part of My Collection, Part 2 -- Yves Saint Laurent, Fendi 365, and More

Suits, dresses, fabric, more!
(edited to note: all garments gone at this point.)

Here's a second batch of clothes that need to leave my closet and find new homes. Yesterday I posted a Mad Men lace little black dress, a circa 1940s peplum dress, and so on. If you haven't looked at Part 1, please look now! It's rather funny, actually, what is leaving: all the slender-skirted clothing. The bouffant dirndl skirts and A-line dresses are staying.


Are you ready?

Circa 1980s Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche Sun Dress





This dress is mint condition, and very nice on, and it's the real deal. See the label. I bought it at a top consignment shop when I loved in New York City back in the 1980s and, guess what, never wore it, for the neckline did not suit. Still, it was such a favorite to look at when I opened the closet that I kept it. Made of polished purple satin-weave cotton, it features grosgrain straps and a fitted silhouette, with kick pleats to help you move. Look at how clever the design is: even the folds of the dress fold symmetrically. Measurements: 27" waist, 42" long. On Vintage Textile and other dealers, and on Ebay, prices vary wildly, but are in multiple hundreds of dollars. Price negotiable.

Fendi 365 Cropped Black Jean Jacket with Silver Metallic Threads





For the slightly luxe rocker girl, a little Italian jacket. Again, it's mint condition, with no signs of wear. I wore it infrequently because it was too big. It's size 46 European sizing/ size 16 U.S. Again, this is a pricey little number on vintage dealers' sites. Price negotiable.

Handsome 50s or 60s Tropical Wool Check Suit, Hand-Tailored in Lexington for the Carriage Trade









This is a great little suit and in such perfect condition it could have been made yesterday. A checked tropical weight wool, the jacket features covered buttons, handsome fitting, and the coolest little twisted cord self-belt in the back. Lexington is horse country, and this is the sort of hand-tailored suit that one would have worn to the Fall Meet at Keeneland, perhaps with spectator-style heels and a perfect hat. Measurements: jacket: 32" waist, 35 1/2" bust, 20" long. Skirt: 30 1/2" waist, 27 1/2" long. $75.00, which I think is a very good price indeed for such a suit.

Circa 1950s Nipped-Waist Wool Double-Breasted Jacket...With the Skirt, If I Can Find It






I wore, and wore, and wore this little jacket. It looks great with jeans, with a black pencil skirt, with a little black dress underneath. It's the coolest dark mocha and black check. I bought it in Atlanta in 1989-1990, with a matching pencil skirt, but right now cannot locate the skirt for some reason, and it's driving me nuts, for this is a sweet suit. It has a few small moth holes, which a clever needlewoman could reweave. Also, the top right button doesn't match the others, but I bought it that way. I will have to get better pictures of the jacket as a whole. Measurements: 29" waist, 20" long. $35.00, and $10.00 for the skirt if I can locate it in whatever box it's hiding in.

Circa 1980s Metallic Velvet One-of-a-Kind Smoking Jacket





We sure wore big clothes back then, didn't we? This single-button jacket was handmade by someone fairly accomplished in New York back in the 80s, from velvet printed with a multi-color, metallic pattern featuring paisleys and I don't know what all. As you can see, the back shows the fabric to be well centered. I wore this to the office a good deal, because it was warm and cozy and suited the Metropolitan Museum where I worked in Membership in an often-chilly room. Measurements: 32" long, and approximately 40" around. $35.00

Jim Thompson Thai Silk Fabric, 180" long by 39 3/4" Wide, in Original Packaging





How the silk looks when it's set
in front of a light.
Long ago a boyfriend traveled to China for vacation, and stopped in Thailand on the way. Before he left he asked what I'd like him to bring back, and I asked for three yards of plaid silk fabric. He didn't return with plaid or with three yards, but with three 180" lengths of printed fabric, which was very sweet. Sadly, I have never used them, for the prints didn't lend themselves to the bouffant tea-length skirts I preferred during the 1990s. Here is the first dress length. It's buttery-soft silk, very slightly translucent, and enough to make more than one vintage-style dresses, and still in its original package. I didn't know what I had until I looked him up this morning. It's a little embarassing that I never appreciated it for what it was, for Jim Thompson silk is very high end, and very, very nice. $50.00, OBO

Four Vintage Patterns, All Used, and Somewhat Tattered, But Still Usable


Quite a funny mix. Still, three of the four patterns have some good age on them and the garments to be made out of them are nifty. $10.00 for all four.