Thursday, October 24, 2019

Heads Up! Big Edits Have Been Made To the 1890s Antique Skirt Post

One of the sources of the new information,
Sophie Klug's The Art of Dressmaking.
Sometimes it's good to let a post sit a bit before you post it, in case you find out more about your subject. I should have let the last post about an antique skirt in my collection mellow a bit.


That's because I learned a good bit about brush braid -- known as skirt braid -- and about 1890s interlinings/facings, oh, and strengthening seams of two bias edges, over the last day or so that have shed a lot more light on the skirt and the methods used to make it. Methods that we can use in our costuming efforts.


The previous post, An Antique 1890s Black Skirt With Brush Braid In My Collection,  has been heavily edited to add the new information, as there's no point in splitting the knowledge for any readers who might arrive down the line.


If you're interested, please have a look!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

An Antique 1890s Black Skirt With Brush Braid In My Collection

Lining, facing/interlining, and brush braid/skirt braid sections heavily edited October 24, 2019 and September 29, 2020

A jet black, very heavy skirt from the 1890s has long been in my collection of antique garments and haberdashery. Here it is below, on a rainy afternoon. I have all the lights turned on in the room and you can see just how jet black the skirt is.

What follows is a tour of the skirt, inside and out. I hope that you find the pictures and notes useful, especially if you are considering constructing a skirt of the period!

Just interested in brush braid and how it was used? Click the brush braid link for pictures and a description of how it was used on this skirt.

A jet black antique 1890s skirt; it absorbs light!
Don't worry, the rest of the pictures will be
lightened so details are visible.
I wore the skirt many years ago, for Halloween. Here are my mother, the twins as kitties, and me as a good witch, on Halloween night. Oh, how the twins loved their kitty ears and tails. I loved how the tail of this skirt looked, too. The back has pleasing folds.


The antique 1890s skirt worn when the boys were a year old, in 2008.

The skirt spends most of its time rolled away in a bin, but given that I am working on an 1890s outfit, and getting ready to mess with the set of the skirt hem, now seemed a good time to pull it out and examine its construction.

The Skirt Fabric


I am not sure exactly what fibers the skirt is made of, but some are shiny and some are rather matte; my suspicion is a silk and wool combination. It tends to fray a little on cut edges, but not too much; that's why I think wool figures into the composition. The fabric is rather thick, though it drapes well, and is very heavy, far heavier than the sorts of cloth we tend to wear today. The weave is wonderful and includes a repeat pattern, using the warp threads, of what could be considered fronds or grasses in bas relief, broken by tiny vee shapes, and surrounded but what I can only call a vermicelli pattern. A photo of it is below, lightened quite a bit to show the pattern and weave.

The skirt fabric under evening lamplight



The skirt fabric in detail: the photo has been lightened a great deal.


When laid out as flat as possible on the floor, it's possible to see just how much fabric is involved in its making. In the photo below, the underside of the skirt bottom is showing for some inches at the right. The fabric thickness is visible -- note how the skirt fabric stands proud of the carpet.




The Skirt on a Dress Form



The photos below show the skirt set on a dress form. There is no petticoat set beneath it; I wanted to show how the fabric drapes without any assistance. All the photos have been lightened quite a bit so that the fabric is visible.

When I found the skirt, it was hanging draped from the ceiling of an antique store in a small town near Kentucky's border with Tennessee. I do not know if the skirt was local to the area. It was draped to show the fabric, which I fell in love with immediately, but it was also obviously a damaged garment: there was evidence of any waistband, internal or external, any longer and no threads or marks to show where the waistband had been, if there had been an exterior waistband. The top of the skirt measured around 50" in circumference.

Not terribly long after I bought the skirt, I rebuilt the waistband by pleating the back panels in three large pleats to each side of the center back placket, and then folding the top of the skirt fabric over a strong waist stay tape and hand-sewing it carefully to the tape. I had no matching fabric for a separate waistband, obviously, and this seemed to be an effective solution that also did not cut into or otherwise harm the fabric. Using an interior waist tape with no observable exterior waistband is recommended by Sophie Klug in The Art of Dressmaking (1895), as useful "for women inclined to embonpoint", as she delicately put it on page 33. At the time I didn't know this.

I do not know how, exactly, the skirt was pleated originally. Was there a center box pleat? Was the placket hidden? Again, there are no longer any observable threads or marks to show.

Here is the front of the skirt. Note how narrow the front is meant to be -- so typical of the 1890s. The front panel measures about 11 1/4" wide at top, and 20 3/4" at bottom. It's currently 19 1/2" long.

1890s antique skirt, front


Here is the skirt from the side. There is only one side panel on each side, but each is large. At top it measures 6 1/2", and at bottom 28 1/4". It's currently 40 1/2" long.

Antique 1890s skirt, side


Here is the back of the skirt. It is made of two panels, each approximately 9 1/2" wide at top, 28" wide at bottom, and currently 41" long. Here is where the loveliness of a heavy, lusciously draping fabric so popular in the decade has its glory: look at how the fabric forms into heavy rounded folds, all by itself.

Antique 1890s skirt, back


The Skirt Turned Inside Out


I put the skirt onto the dress form inside out so that you can see the lining. At the top of the skirt, you can see how the fabric is folded over the white waist stay that I added, and you can see the placket, made in the fashion fabric. The entire skirt is lined. How the lining is managed, you will learn shortly.
The lining is a black polished cotton, very light and soft.


Antique 1890s skirt, inside out


An Approximate Pattern of the Skirt


I took an approximate pattern of the skirt. It's designed in, dare I say it, the "regulation" way for the middle years of the decade. Oh, how they loved the word "regulation" in 1890s magazines. I couldn't help but echo it. All seams are straight. There is no flaring towards the bottom of the panels that gives late decade and early 20th century skirts the look of the bell of a trumpet.

The front panel of the skirt is bias at both edges. In all likelihood, the fabric was folded lengthwise at center front, and cut so that each side would be identical. As recommended by books and magazines of the period, the edge of the front panel is on the bias, so the edge of the side panel that meets it must be on the straight. This ensures that the bias edge of the front is supported by the stronger straight grain of the side panel -- warp (lengthwise) threads are in general stronger than the weft (widthwise) threads. I don't have the quotations with me at the moment, but it was not uncommon for there to be only one side panel.

The skirt pattern, part 1.
Don't you like my fancy cellphone picture?


There are two back panels, and each is a mirror image of the other. The back panel pattern is pictured below. Just as with the front-panel-to-side-panel seam, the bias edge of the side panel meets the straight edge of the back panel.

Interestingly, the back panel also has a bias edge, and the center back seam is thus two bias edges, one from each of the back panels, seamed together. That seam would be prone to stretch. It may be for that reason that there is a strip of brown cotton (cut on the straight of grain) sewn to one edge of the seam inside the lining. It is split down the middle -- split, not cut. I can't help but think that it originally was used to bind and thus strengthen the center back seam, and later was cut or wore out, but I could be wrong.

Again, because the waistband is missing and there are no longer any marks or threads in the fabric to show how the back was treated, I cannot tell you how the pleats were managed.

The skirt pattern, part 2

Before We Move On, an Interlude


Today I purchased two bins, and laid them on the floor near the back door. Within minutes, each was occupied by one of our kitties. Nutmeg, to the left, Lily, to the right.



Lily became interested in Nutmeg's bin. There was a nano-scuffle before the two buddies settled back into their temporary dens...



Skirt Construction Notes


Here are some notes I took about the construction of the skirt.

The Placket

The top part of the placket, that the viewer would see, had a protruding section about 1.5" wide that was simply turned over to the inside and the entire thing hemmed down on top of the lining...that meant that the lining was added before the placket was dealt with. The seamstress used the selvage edge of the skirt here -- you can see it clearly in the photo below, and thus did not have to turn edge of the placket under again, avoiding an unsightly bump.

Upper placket on inside, showing its selvage edge.


The lower piece of the placket is added to the edge of the skirt. It was stitched to the skirt right sides together, then turned to the inside of the skirt, the raw edge turned under a very small amount, and hand-hemmed, once again over the lining. There is a large, very strong snap in the middle of the placket. I do not know if it is original or not. It is sewn on with very strong black thread.

View of antique 1890s skirt placket.


The Lining

The center back seam shows how the lining a skirt fashion fabric were handled. The lining and fashion fabric were treated as one piece, and the seam was sewn directly through both. This is flatlining. The skirt was not bag-lined, as would be common today. The piece of brown fabric that you see on the left side of the seam is cut on the straight, and the seam is sewn through it, the lining, and the fashion fabric. It functions as a stay. Per Sophie Klug in the 1895 book The Art of Dressmaking, "Where two bias edges are to be joined in one seam, a stay tape or strip of lining must be basted at one side and sewed in with the seam to prevent stretching." (p. 35)

Antique 1890s skirt, center back seam with seam stay used to stabilize the
fabric: both edges are on the bias.


At each seam which was on straight of grain, the lining's selvage was used, so it would not have to be hemmed down. It was simple seamed along with the fashion fabric and left. However, where the seam consisted of one bias edge and one straight edge, the bias edge of the lining was turned under and neatly hand-hemmed down, as the photo below shows. The thread has either faded or never matched entirely.

Antique 1890s skirt showing hemmed lining.


An interesting feature of the lining is toward the bottom. The treatment of seams changes at 9 inches above the bottom of the skirt. Where the side panels meet each back panel, and at the center back, the lining has been cut such that there is a triangle -- a right triangle -- of lining butted up against the seam. Each of the seams in these lining bits is carefully hand-hemmed.

For how the bottom of the lining was treated, see the Brush Braid section below.

Antique 1890s skirt: triangular portions of the lining


The "Facing": What Costumers Might Call Interlining

In addition, at 9" above the hem, all the way around the inside of the skirt, there is a line of machine stitching. It shows only on the lining side, not on the fashion fabric side. The stitching is small, by the way, fine quality, perfectly straight machine stitching. No wobbly, cheap stitching here.

Ha! This stitching holds what Sophie Klug in her The Art of Dressmaking calls a facing, and what costumers might call an interlining (I will call it both here), 9 inches tall, that goes right the way round the skirt. The facing/interlining is only sewn to the lining, and not to the fashion fabric. I do not know how it was cut, and whether the facing/interlining pieces are as wide as each panel or not. The skirt is in good condition, and only in one little spot has the stitching at the base of the skirt come undone so that one can have a peek at the interlining itself. Here it is, below. It's coarsely woven. I cannot tell if it is buckram or some other fabric.


1890s antique skirt: facing/interlining peeking through small hole in the lining.


Let's let Sophie Klug describe what the facing/interlining is about and the extra stiffening, that she calls interlining, that can be added to it. I know it's long, but it explains how the facing and the interlining work together. (pp 30-31.)


"When the lining is ready, cut out the outside fabric and then the facing of linen canvas, haircloth, or cross-bar crinoline. The canvas and crinoline should both be cut bias, from five to fifteen inches wide and to fit around the bottom of the skirt. Where the latter is not in one piece, cut the facing to fit each section. The depth of this facing is ascertained by the prevailing fashion, or shape of the skirt being made. If the style requires an interlining of stiffening, the above facing is only put on five inches deep, it being otherwise nine to fifteen inches wide, according to one's fancy. Baste this across the bottom of the lining one-half inch from the lower edge of the skirt, and fasten to position by stitching with the machine across its top edge. When haircloth is use, the edges must be bound with some firm material to prevent the hair from gradually working through to the top surface.

If an interlining of stiffening is needed, there is for this purpose organdie, grass linen, moreen, fibre-chamois, haircloth, etc. The latter is often used for the back of skirts, while crinoline or fibre-chamois will be found quite sufficient for the front. This is chiefly done to lessen expense as only good haircloth should be employed. If the haircloth is to be entirely omitted use fibre-chamois throughout the whole skirt. (All haircloth should be shrunk before using.)

To join any of the above named linings lap the edges one over the other, and sew together with short basting stitches, the haircloth having strips of firm lining stitched over each seam....The stiffening is basted on the foundation after the canvas facing has been added and before the outside fabric is to be adjusted."

In the case of this antique skirt, there does not seem to be stiffening in addition to the facing/interlining, and I cannot tell how the top of it is handled -- if it has a cover over it to keep the horsehair in the haircloth from working through the lining or fashion fabric. What is there does seem to be cut on the bias, though.


What was this facing/interlining for? What I take from Sophie Klug is that the facing is a standard part of giving skirts the prevailing fashionable shape for the period. More stiffening -an interlining -- becomes an extra measure for specific skirt styles. As we shall see in posts to come, this is an important point.

Brush Braid! Skirt Braid! Up Close and Personal

If you look at the picture of the interlining just above, you will notice that the lining edge is not raw: it has been folded under. That's key.

How the bottom of the skirt was constructed is efficient. The lining was turned under. The fashion fabric was turned in. Then brush braid, which during the period was often called skirt braid, was hand-sewn inside the skirt over those two turned-in edges. That brush braid finished the skirt in one go, so far as I can tell. I do not see any evidence of stitching either on the fashion fabric outside or the lining inside, other than the stitches holding down the braid.

I could be wrong -- there could be stitching there -- but I believe that this one-stitching-does-multiple-jobs is reflective of the skirt construction as a whole. Remember that the selvage of the fashion fabric is used in finishing the placket. Where the selvage edge of the lining can line up with a seam, there is no hemming, just the seam stitching. This skirt is made well, but with a minimum of stitching. It has all been thought out in advance.

What does the brush braid look like? Have a look below. Here is the brush end of the braid, It is fat and full and fuzzy. It would protect the hem of the skirt from wear.

1890s antique skirt: brush braid view


The brush braid was made like much passementerie is, with one edge as the visible edge, while the other edge is woven like a tape and is made to be either invisible, as in the case of passementerie trims that feature, say, a corded edge used on a cushion, with the interior, tape-like section sandwiched in between the cushion pieces and sewn there tightly as part of the cushion seam. In this case, the tape edge of the brush braid faces up into the body of the skirt. The braid is stitched to the fashion fabric and lining through this tape edge.

1890s antique skirt, inside and outside edges of the brush braid.


Every Woman's Encyclopaedia (1910-1912) defined skirt braid/brush braid -- and skirt binding -- this way.

Skirt Braid And Binding

These are used for preserving the edge of walking skirts. The ordinary plain worsted braid can be had in any colour, and costs from 1/2d. per yard. Another kind is brush braid, but the appearance is not so good, as it makes the skirt look "frayed."

Velveteen binding is sometimes used instead of braid to preserve the bottom of a skirt, which it should match in colour, and if the binding is prepared at home, strips of velveteen should be cut perfectly on the cross of the width desired (from 1 1/4 to 3 inches), the strips being neatly joined together.

N.B. - The method of cutting and joining strips of material on the cross is given in the second lesson on tailoring... Velvet binding or skirt facing can be bought ready cut in black and all colours from 1 1/2d. per yard, or Is. 5 1/2d. per dozen yards, according to the width.

Brush braid came in other versions, too. Here is a version that appears to be a thick cotton braid.

The marketing is such fun:

Why Is the Lady Happy? Because she has discovered Feder's Pompadour Skirt Protector.

And...

A Shake and...Dust Is Off; a Rub and Its Clean [sic]

Feder's Skirt Braid from Annie's Antiques on Etsy.
Given the hair and hat style of the lady illustrated on the reel, this is an 1890s product.



Skirt braid from Annie's Antiques

As you can see, protecting the bottom of a skirt hem could be achieved in several different ways, by both using a braid and by binding the bottom edge.

Inventors took out patents for various types of improved braids. Here is a page from a patent, US626397A, taken out in 1898 for a brush braid/skirt braid by F. Thun and H. Janssen. You can see the tape part of the braid and the brush-like part in the diagram.


Thun-Jannsen skirt braid patent image.


Another patent, US758564A, applied for in 1903, is a tape partially thickened. The patent carefully describes how skirt braids operate and how the patent braid is an improvement.

How skirt braid/brush braid was attached varied, too. You've already seen how it was done on this skirt. An 1896 sewing guide titled The Elements of Modern Dressmaking for the Amateur and Professional Dressmakerby Miss E.J. Davis discussed various ways of applying skirt braid, historical and suggested, but emphasizing putting the braid in between a skirt lining, facing and the skirt fabric. It makes interesting reading, as the methods differ from that seen on this skirt. See also suggested binding a skirt with velveteen, much as "Every Woman's Encyclopedia" did over a decade later. Sophie Klug's The Art of Dressmaking also discusses the subject at length; see chapter 9, "Skirts".

Obtaining skirt braid/brush braid today is difficult, to say the least. However, I'd go for a plain tape or cotton braid, though I would dye it to the color of the skirt, because it could easily show. Alternatively, the skirt edge can be bound with velveteen, as suggested by Miss Davis, along with Sophie Klug.

That concludes the tour of what is to me a lovely and most interesting skirt. The fabric, the lines, the efficient and well-handled construction...it's both pretty to look at and good to learn from! Had my own 1890s-style skirt been lined, I would have taken pointers from how this one was done. I hope that those of you considering making such a skirt may find these notes useful, too.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

1895 Outfit: A First Wearing To Test the Look

This past weekend I had the opportunity to wear the core of the 1895 outfit to afternoon tea, so the ensemble had its first cruise. The plastron, hat, and final touches have yet to be made, so as a shirtwaist and skirt combination with a few accessories to accent it, it's an everyday sort of outfit worn by millions of women through the 1890s. It proved comfortable to wear, and in my eyes, anyway, it's attractive, but it needs some fine-tuning before I take it out again in any of its forms.



Alas, I have no photos from the event -- and oh, it was good fun! -- so what you have here is photos afterwards, mostly in front of one of our only large mirrors. No one was home, so I had to set the camera on an improvised surface and take timed shots or the classic in-the-mirror shots. Dullsville, I know.

Comparing the Effect With 1890s Photos



Below you see the outfit with the elements that I have made during this project: skirt, shirtwaist, collar, and collapsible sleeve plumpers, the little bantam-weight bums: we'll hear about those later in the post. The belt is missing in some photos -- again, the why of that is later in this post.

It was all supported underneath with the usual underthings, including an 1879-style corset from Kay Gnagey, and a petticoat I made several years ago with the practically-regulation-for-the-period outer flounce in broderie anglaise. Yes, I should have worn two, but it was so hot already!

The photo has been made black and white in an attempt to see how the outfit compares to photos of the time: is the silhouette right? Do the details evoke the period?



Unfussy hair, side part acceptable, contrasting collar and pleated and puffed shirtwaist: check!
Young woman. Flickr: 912greens
Narrow-fronted skirt with distinct waist and especially sudden hip spring: check!

Pinterest: Brandy Auset
Collar with bow in the back, cute as a bug's ear, and belt harmonizing, if not actually matching. In this case, matching: check!

The bow in the back of the collar just shows beyond my neck.

Mabel Payson. Flickr. Uploaded by Rob van den Berg.
Originally from Library of Congress.
I also wore a rolled gold bangle from the Edwardian-teens period just following, but in the style of the period; I had taken it off by that point. Oh, and small timeless pearl earrings: check.

Flickr. Uploaded by Curt W.

Those Sleeve Plumpers Played Me False...

Look at the two pictures below.




Why, the sleeves are puffier and rounder in the picture at the bottom. In fact, the silhouette has changed. The fact that the belt is missing is also at play, but my waist looks smaller in relation to the wide sleeves and wide hips, just as it should.

So what happened? Well, when I made the prototype plumper, it was of wire. Not particularly heavy wire, and very springy, but heavier than I liked. The plumper, which is made of multiple hoops connected with cotton tape, is made to collapse flat, but its weight assures that it opens up when worn. All I have to do is to tack the cotton tape at the top of the first hoop of the plumper to the seam allowance in the shoulder seam in order to set it into place.

Here's a picture of the wire plumper doing its work -- it's under the right sleeve in the photo below. The left sleeve has nothing supporting it, and looks limp.



The next pair of plumpers, the ones worn inside the sleeves during the afternoon tea, are made of cane. They weigh next to nothing. They are, however, nice and springy. On a tip from Mrs. C. in New Zealand, I soaked the plumpers, which had been brittle, in water for 10-20 minutes, I guess, and when they dried, they had regained their pliancy and were less likely to break if I bumped into a doorframe or something else silly.

Cane sleeve plumper extended open.


The cane sleeve plumpers were so lightweight, though, that they would not remain extended when worn -- the hardly-there force of the sleeves and my movements were enough to keep them collapsing flatwards, so to speak, up towards my shoulder, so that the resulting puff was conservative.

To make them work better, I had to remove the shirtwaist, and not only ensure the top of the plumper was still attached by its tape to the shirtwaist shoulder seam, but also safety-pin the bottom of the first hoop of the plumper to the bottom of the armscye. Then the rest of the plumper hoops extended fairly well, if not perfectly.

The other thing I am not fully keen on is that the hoops show a bit. Like many circa 1894-1895 "balloon" elbow-length sleeves, the sleeves are supposed to have dents and ins and outs, rather than be smooth like grapes. Mine do have dents, but I think that the hoops are a bit more obvious than they might be.

I chose hooped sleeve plumpers because I didn't want to line the sleeves with book muslin or interfacing that might not wash and still retain crispness, or press easily, and that might be hot to wear in the summertime. So, what to do?

I might build a last set of plumpers out of a thinner wire than the first prototype, and see if the effect is almost invisible. We shall see. The likelihood is rather low.

The "Crush" Belt



I made the belt in 45 minutes or less, and it rather shows. The belt itself is made exactly like the crush collar, including featuring a bow at the back, except that I added far fewer folds to the face of the belt, because the belt was so narrow. Time was short. The bow is nothing more than a bit of voile with each long side folded under and a few rapid stitches taken through the middle. It lacks tails, which are common in belt bows. I frankly forgot about them. It's pinned on -- I ran out of time to add hooks and eyes to the front.


1890s belt with crush effect and back bow.


The full belt with its crush effect. That's the bottom of my
petticoat in the picture.


I think the belt made my waist look wider, counteracting the large sleeves. That's especially so from the side, for which I don't have photos. A corset always makes your waist look thicker than it does normally, but the white of the belt emphasizes that.

Changes For the Next Wearing



First, I want to run up a plastron in voile, and try that with the shirtwaist. It will be a more formal look. Oh, and show you the rosette option!

Second, The belt is to be renovated. I will try making my belt less bulky, and/or make a self belt from the skirt fabric, and copy the neck bow, but size it just barely larger, and add short tails.

Third, I am going to work on the skirt's hem diameter. The front looks well, but the back does not extend out the back very much: the interfacing was too light to encourage the bottom to stand out, and my petticoat situation was under-powered.

The petticoat issue can be fixed. I can wear two very sturdy antique petticoats I have that run on drawstrings, starching them well, and nudging most of the gathers to the back to create fullness there.

Yet, there's more I can do to make the back of the skirt more expansive, and it's not terribly time-consuming, and may be fun to do. Through reading all of those women's magazines of the era, I have discovered that editors and readers and modistes alike worried about the hem issue, and promulgated all sorts of ways of holding out the skirt in the "regulation" manner. Some of the commentary about hem diameter woes is a gas. Wires, stays, candlewicking, stuffing: let's test some out and see what we get!

Lastly, hat and hair. I want to try out the bun-atop-the-head look with soft curls around the face; and hat? Well, I have hat and trimmings but haven't married them yet. I've been too engaged :)

Today I'll leave you with a view out over Lake Cumberland, taken from a trail our family took that winds partially along the cliffs some two hundred feet up. The flash drought, we found, dried leaves on the trees, shriveled undergrowth, and lowered the lake level, yet it's still an inspiring sight. Praying for rain, and climate action...


The boys and daddy stop to rest.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

1895 Outfit Tutorial: A Crush Collar, With Neck Bow

Yum, a lovely, fluffy bow on the back of the neck.
I'm still on 1890s collars! It's time to get over it already, don't you think? So this post and the next will lead you through the sources I used to come up with my design, and then offer a tutorial on how the actual collar was made.

Just joining this journey? Here are the two posts about collars that came before this one:
I set my heart on what may be the iconic collar of the era, the one with the bow in the back, so that the wearer's head and neck appear to have been made ready as a gift. That's the kind of collar that will be made here. There's more, though -- isn't there always?

I've also wanted what was known as a plastron -- an additional trim that looks like part of a blouse peeking out of the front of the dress -- to lay down the front of the shirtwaist when I want the outfit to look a bit more formal. A plastron can be built in to the bodice. Gentle reminder: a bodice was usually called a "waist". Yet a plastron can also be a removable accessory, known then as a "garniture", or trim. What may be a plastron in the photo below is very wide and might be integral rather than a garniture. We'll be building one of those, too....at some point.  (Edit May 2021: the lady may be wearing a close-fitting vest-like garment instead. It could be put on separately and would be generally similar front and back.)



My Collar and Plastron Plan: A Conglomeration of Sources


Illustrierte Frauen-Zeitung came through with a collar plus neck bow with instructions, below. Not a difficult accessory to construct, I would think. By the way, the grosgrain bow goes to the back of the collar, and the "coxcomb" frill in front is a common element, as we shall see.

Be-bowed collar. Illustrierte Frauen-Zeitung. August 1, 1895, p. 175


Now for the instructions. Because the text appeared in two different parts of the magazine's page, I have it broken into two pieces.

Be-bowed collar text, first part. Illustrierte Frauen-Zeitung. August 1, 1895, p. 175


Be-bowed collar text, second part. Illustrierte Frauen-Zeitung. August 1, 1895, p. 175


I am going to bore you again with my translation. Some magazines I can get through without much issue, but Illustrierte Frauen-Zeitung is not one of them. Its text is dense, and even its version of the Fractur typeface is a little harder to read than some. In any case, here is my best go at it:

Stand-collar with Folds. -- One can gladly vary single-colored ensembles by using a stand collar, which is made in the fashion of the well-known folded [crush style] belt, constructed of a bias-cut satin- or striped silk. Without a lining the collar nestles densely around the smooth stand-up collar of the dress, or if lined with a small cut-out piece, is [placed] directly around the neck and closes in the back or middle of the front with hooks and eyes. A bias-cut striped satin 15 centimeters in width and 58 centimeters long is the template in Illustration number 50; both edges of each 5 centimeter width are turned up like a cock's comb and stiffened through fine fish-scale stitches. For a collar trim made of lightweight silk, as illustrated in number 51, the fabric is best taken on the straight [of grain]; invisibly sewn, 1 centimeter wide seams close the borders. The middle of the front is highlighted/marked by a 4 centimeter fabric made in ranked double puffs; the hook closure is covered by the full bow made of grosgrain ribbon.

I went searching for more collars with bows that I could use as sources. 

Neck bow. Illustrierte Frauen-Zeitung, February 1, 1895, p. 28.


This neck bow is compound: the collar and the coxcomb frill in the center are of one fabric, while the bow ends are of lace.

Illustrierte Frauen-Zeitung, August 1, 1894, color plate. Note that the bow is quite stiff, and matches the bow with tails on the belt.



Illustrierte Frauen-Zeitung, March 11, 1894, front cover. That coxcomb effect of the back closure harmonizes with the folds of the crush collar.


The fluffy neck bow I was looking for finally presented itself:


Illustrierte Frauen-Zeitung, September 9, 1894


The bow on this lovely faille dress overlaid with silk gauze is also made of silk gauze. It's extra fluffy. More fluffy than I need, really, because this dress is for a formal occasion, but it's on the right track.

What about the plastron? The Delineator magazine for February, 1895 (pp. 214-215) came to the rescue. Here below is a composite image not only of the plastron itself, but also of the text about it. The plastron garniture is but one of several that the magazine offered patterns for. Like Ladies Home Journal, The Delineator recommended the practice of saving scraps to make trims that would "transform many a worn and passe gown beyond recognition". Whoo, how's that for an enticing promise?



Making the Crush Collar


Here's how I made the actual crush collar. The collar closes in the front with that coxcomb effect.

I started with a medium-weight interfacing lining to match the cut of the collar, but a little wider.

I cut striped white voile, as long as the interfacing lining plus a bit on each end, and double the width of the front so I could introduce folds, plus a bit to cover the back smoothly with a small seam.

Here is the strip of interfacing.


I pinned the interfacing to the voile a bit from the top of the interfacing. This would become the back side of the collar. A few big stitches were placed across the back of the collar to fix the voile securely in place.

The voile pinned down to become the back of the collar.


Then I folded the rest of the voile over the long edge of the strip of interfacing, so I would be ready to start creating the front side of the collar with its folds of voile to make a crushed effect.

The first thing to do on the front of the collar was to pin the upper edge so that the fold over the top of the interfacing would be nice and tight. You can see those pins right up at the edge of the collar in the photo below.

The next thing was to start the first fold. I made this fold go all the way across the front of the collar. To make the fold, I would pinch a bit of voile from the mass hanging down in front, and pin it in place, then move to the right, pinch a bit more, and pin it...repeating until I had the fold set across the front of the collar. Then I took a fresh piece of white thread in my needle, brought the needle up from the back of the collar near the left end, and made a tiny -- just a few voile threads wide -- prick stitch near the lower edge of the first fold to start fixing the fold in place.

Once that first stitch was made, I made more of these prick stitches all the way across the front, at about an inch distance apart, trying to keep them as tiny as possible so they wouldn't be obvious when looking at the collar. On the back side of the collar, the stitches look long and messy, but as I know from antique pieces I own, messiness is common. No one is seeing the stitches.

The first collar fold being created and pinned into place.


After the first fold was in place, I created additional rows of folds, one by one. To get a crushed effect rather than straight lines of neat folds, I would pinch the voile at an angle and pin that down, and/or make a tiny box pleat of a fold and turn up one corner of it to create a little odd spot, and pin that tiny spot in place. After pinning a section, then I'd prick-stitch them in place. The photo below shows rows in process of being made.

As you can see, I was working casually on the sofa, accompanied only by the little housewife that holds enough pins and needles wax and etc. to work. I store the collar, the shirtwaist, spools of thread and scissors and housewife in a little workbag. It makes sewing an impromptu, sew-where-you-are experience no different to what people have been doing since time immemorial. Continuity is grand and comforting.

The first few layers of folds in place.


Here is the front of the collar completed. The crush effect is extensive: how crushed the collar looks varies in magazines and in photos, and I wanted the effect to be really crushed so it wouldn't merely look wrinkled and ill-fitting. The process took longer than I thought, not minutes, but perhaps a little over an hour. Most of the time was spent attempting to make the folds look naturally crushed, not like little soldiers in a row. Isn't it funny how painstaking a careless look can be?

The completed front of the crush collar


The next step was to turn the remaining bit of voile to the back side of the collar, turn down the raw edge, and hem it in place. In so doing I covered up most of the chaotic stitches that had accumulated over the back side.

The back side of the collar, neatened.


The ends of the collar needed finishing with their coxcomb effect.

Now, I had planned to simply use the voile extending beyond the ends of the collar interfacing, manipulating it into little swirls and puffs. That plan failed, for two reasons. First, I hadn't allowed enough fabric. D'oh! Second, when I did attempt to create puffs, they didn't look right, not at all like the illustrations at the top of this post. They just looked like bumps sticking out of the ends of the collar.

What to do? Well, follow the German collar a few posts ago, in which little ruches are made separately out of a bit of fabric and stitched on -- yes, it's snickety work.

Here's a reminder, from that collar, of the effect. Look at the ruching just at each side of the model's neck, before the bow ends.

Illustrierte Frauen-Zeitung, 1894, Heft 14 p. 157, illustration 3.


And from another collar: 

Neck bow. Illustrierte Frauen-Zeitung, February 1, 1895, p. 28.


To get the frilly effect I decided to do the following. First, a small square of voile a bit larger than the collar is wide was cut. Then I turned in a wee allowance on one side, and gathered it with small stitches, immediately pulling up the stitches until the side was about the width of the collar, and fixing the gathers into place with a backstitch and half knot. The same procedure was made for each of the three other sides, till I had a pretty little puffy square.

Creating the coxcomb ends: puffing a fabric square.


I sewed the little puffy square to the very end of the collar with as invisible stitches as I could.

Then, the interesting part: I sewed large gathers in a zig-zag pattern across the face of the puff, the same way you would do if you were creating a kind of flat ruche. Here is the needle partway through the first "zig", if you will, in the photo below, followed by a photo showing all the stitches in place.

Creating a ruching pattern across the puffy square.


The puffy square with all its hard-to-see ruching stitches.


Now came the rather fiddly, tricky part. Anchoring the needle in a handy spot on the collar, with my fingers I found the end of the first row of gathers, and gently pulled it up. Holding it in place, I pulled up the second row, and so on, until the entire face of the puffy square was drawn up. As you can see in the photo below, it created the coxcomb effect I was looking for.

Okay, actually what happened was that at first I just pulled on the gathering thread and it all ruched up unevenly. So I flattened everything out and tried again. You can learn from my mistakes!

Then, I took up the needle and fiddled with the ruching to make it more random, pulling and prick-stitching down puffs here and swirls there, so much like whipped cream on a cake that I rather got nibblish looking at it.


One coxcomb end of the collar. It looks rather out of scale here,
leaned up against the base of a lamp.


Phew! Are you still with me? This sure is an endless post and tutorial, but...let's see it out.

The last step was to make the pretty little bow that goes on the back of the collar.

I actually made two bows. The first bow was a failure. Here's what not to do, unless you want a really heavy-looking bow. I do not recommend making a tube of voile, pinching the center and wrapping a faux knot around it. The result is a bow, but it looks like a stiff bowtie.

Here is what worked: making a real bow out of a single layer of voile. I cut a long piece of voile, long enough for a bow and longish tails. You might want to experiment with a piece of string to get the length needed. I made the voile as wide as if the bow were made of ribbon, and roll-hemmed all four edges as finely as I could.

Then I tied a real bow, but left enough of the ends that I could turn each one into a subsidiary loop and tack it behind the real loop, so that I had a four-loop bow. I tacked the bow securely to the front of the collar. Then I manipulated the back loops to stick out just below the front ones, and tacked the back loops to the collar with a single tiny stitch on each side, out of sight. Here we are at last, a fluffy bow, soft as a kitten, on the collar.

The fluffy bow on the crush collar!


The crush collar bow, up close. Bows are loveable, and associated
with good, happy moments.


The last step will be adding hooks and eyes to the ends of the collar so that I can close it in the front of my neck.

To see where to set the hooks and eyes, I threw on the shirtwaist, now quite wrinkled from being stuffed in my workbag,and closed up the collar section only -- how lazy! -- and set the collar around the shirtwaist collar, and marked where the hooks and eyes should go with pins. While its width is acceptable for the period, it looks a little wide to me. That was an easy fix. Since the collar is actually very thin and flexible, I turned up about half an inch of the bottom to the back, and hemmed it down. Done. If I want to make it wider later, it's nothing to snip the stitches and pull them out.


The crush collar, pinned on.



Don't you just love the pencil holding my hair bun in place? It worked to keep my hair off of the bow. Overall, the effect is what I am looking for, although the photo has me thoughtful. It's very clear that I am heading past 55 towards 60 years old. The skin on face has begun to spot and grow loose. Gracious. I have been costuming since 2005...that's beginning to be a significant period of time. Still, living with a kidney transplant, the passage of time is all a blessing, and achieving age something of which to be proud and grateful.

Next time, in part 2, we will make the plastron and belt, then I will starch and press the shirtwaist, the skirt, and the multiple petticoats that will sit underneath, and the completed outfit should be ready to try on.