Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Not Really An Update, and Not Really A Hiatus

I hate to do this! But ever since I became fully employed in the history field, I've found it really hard to produce quality posts on a regular basis. Back in the day, when I was frustrated about icing cakes and slicing bread for a "living" (plus not sewing anything ever), it was a simple thing to sit down and research the exact progression of the shape of the bustle - but now I spend hours at work tracking down historical minutiae and hours off work sewing feverishly.

Going forward I'm going to continue writing my Historical Sew Monthly posts, and hopefully without the articles in between they will become more substantial again. I intend to get more done than just those, but pushing myself to write a post a week isn't working.

So I'm sorry for the lack of content today, but I can promise that the August challenge is going to be something special!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Lesser-Known Regency Accessories (HSM #7.2)

The Ceinture à la Victime

References in French fashion to the Revolution's victims are not exactly unknown - in fact, they've achieved an almost mythological status. They seem to be thought of as a flash-in-the-pan pertaining only to the Directoire era (1795-1799) and its uncertainty, but in actuality, they lost the connection to the guillotine and continued to be worn once society had become more stable.

The earliest appearance in a fashion plate that I'm aware of is the above, from Journal des Dames et des Modes in 1797. Variations, such as the "croisures à la victime" below (1797), appeared soon after. Both styles feature a bright, contrasting ribbon crossed over the back, wrapped around the shoulders, and tied at the waist.

I don't find the references to the Terror's victims after 1797, but ribbon belts or sashes worn crossed over the back and around the waist continued to be depicted in fashion plates for about twenty years afterward. Ribbon color and pattern were very important to fashion during this period - one dress could last a wearer several years without appearing démodé, updated economically every so often with a few yards of ribbon.

Fashions in trimming bonnets could also show the importance of fashionable ribbons on a plain background. Note that in this plate, the ceinture is so commonplace as to be included on a torso marked as displaying a colerette and pelerine.

The Tablier-Robe

Unlike the ceinture à la victime, the tablier-robe (or robe-apron, although it does not turn up much in the English fashion press) seems to be completely unknown, but it also appears in a huge number of fashion plates. Always fastening in the back, it is sometimes shown with ribbons holding the skirts together or simply open down to the hem, sometimes buttoning in the bodice or tied at neckline and waist.

It begins to appear in France around 1804, at the same time that gowns were transitioning to a back closure, and it continues to appear in fashion plates for more than a decade. There's little to say about the tablier-robe's evolution - ties all the way down tend to be earlier, but apart from that they tend to be a little fantastic and not follow a progression the way gowns do.

The only extant apron-robe that I'm aware of appears in Costume in Detail (p. 101): "white spotted muslin dress, very high waist, very low neckline." It has a tie at the back of the neck and four buttonholes (no buttons remaining), and the skirt is open the entire way down the back. This identification isn't definite, but it seems a lot more likely to me that it was intended to be worn over another gown than that it stood on its own.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Knitted Garters (HSM #7.1)

This is the first time I've actually made something that fits into the Historical Sew Monthly - it's more of an accident, so I'm still going to do a text post on two lesser-known Regency accessories. But it's an accomplishment I'm proud of!

This past weekend was my friend Julie's bridal shower, and for a gift I knitted her a pair of garters. See, Julie's wedding is going to be a masquerade, and the bridal party is going to be in 1870s dress with a dark purple theme - so dark purple Victorian garters would be perfect for her to wear on the day! Plus, my understanding is that bridal showers often have gifts that are a bit naughty, so it seemed like a cute way to refer to that.

The Challenge: Accessories, no. 7
Fabric: Yarn - dark purple wool
Pattern: As far as I know, there's only one extant knitted garter pattern, and I used it - here it is excerpted at the Sewing Academy from an issue of Godey's magazine
Year: 1862, but probably appropriate for a decent range before and after
Notions: None
How historically accurate is it? Well, it could be more accurate. The yarn is pretty chunky and so were the needles (size 4, I think) compared to what would have been used at the time, and I had to alter the pattern to deal with that so they wouldn't be incredibly long and wide
Hours to complete: I have no idea, but they go very fast
First worn: Not worn yet!
Total cost: This feels a bit awkward because they were a gift! I don't actually remember how much I paid for the yarn, but it doesn't use very much of it