Resurrecting the Blog, Pt. II.

Well, it’s certainly been awhile.

Throughout 2018 through 2019, I got very busy with finishing graduate school, scrambling to establish my new career, and dealing with heavy issues related to the terminal illness and loss of a beloved pet.

Thus my blog project took a leap onto the backburner.

To follow up on the last costuming project I blogged about during my two year absence:

Yeah, remember my 1630’s project? I finished it will little time to spare, and It came out okay-ish! I will have to say that if you’re a top-heavy person like myself, the 1630’s bodice pattern from the V&A needs a heavy amount of guesswork and modification. I think in the future I will remake the stomacher with more boning, and perhaps pad it more with a linen base. The chemise also needs some work as well, which I admit was a bit of a rushed job.

The bodice definitely needs a falling linen band and some pearls— perhaps even large sash. If I have an opportunity to wear mid-17th century again, I will definitely pursue these improvements.

Currently, I am working on slowly chipping away at a Trossfrau-inspired ensemble, starting with the Hemd. For those that are not familiar with German or the German Renaissance period in general, the hemd is their equivalent of the smock/shirt worn beneath clothes. Drafting a similar Hemd based on Katafalk’s (Cathrin Åhlén), I have managed to squeeze about 100″ of linen into a smocked redwork collar:

The hemd is 100% hand-sewn, and the linen is Burnley & Trowbridge‘s shirt weight linen which has such a lovely drape. The collar lining is stiffened with a band of their Cambric linen, and the sleeves are a current work in progress. I have made the Hemd a bit multipurpose: it is not as long as a standard women’s smock would be, as I would also like to be able to eventually fence in this while wearing menswear… Someday, when Covid-19 allows us to gather again.

The goal of my ensemble is to make a complete look that is inspired by these images:

(Basel Woman Turned to the Left by Hans Holbein the Younger: Which I admit is decidedly not Trossfrau in origin, the Wulsthaube, Hemd, and overall look is what I am aiming for.)


(Artist is unknown to me, style appears to me as likely 1510-1530)

While keeping stash-busting in mind, I plan on using some claret-brown/russet colored worsted wool for the main body of the dress, and perhaps some bright red velvet of wool felt to make the contrasting bands similar to the picture.

My last German Renaissance dress I made was about 6 years ago, and there are many things I hope I can improve upon.

Anyways, on a completely different note (and to keep the momentum going) I plan on writing about Album Amicorum in my next post!

In hope,

Sibylla de Haze (Tanya Yvette)

Buckram: Not just for books!

Continuing on with my 17th century ensemble, I did not get as much done today as I had hoped due to mechanical issues related to my sewing machine. I can say that taking apart the tension assembly, re-calibrating it, and oiling all the moving parts has seemed to fix my problem for now… But I’m afraid that my trusty machine that I’ve used—nonetheless abused—as it was the first machine I learned on for the past 14 years, is now on borrowed time.

The bodice shell I have constructed is based off of the V&A example I posted about in the prior entry, which consists of two layers of canvas, carefully placed buckram pieces, and light boning. I have chosen to use heavyweight linen, a moderate amount of boning, and full pieces of buckram on each of the two front pieces, since I need a bit more support than the average woman of the 17th century. The interior of the bodice is machine-sewn, as I have less than a week left to finish this dress, and as someone with carpal tunnel issues, I am really not fond of hand-sewing garment interiors, with the obvious exception being nicely-laid linings. I believe that sewing—especially historical sewing should be accessible and enjoyed by all, and if a machine aids that process, then great!

It is unclear whether in the original example if the bodice was designed to be worn over a set of stays, but I am of the opinion that it would have been unnecessary; as minimal as the bones are in the original example, I think that an extra set of stays would have been overkill considering the short-waisted nature of this style of bodice makes heavy modification of the torso shape unnecessary. During the later years of the 1630’s and into the 1680’s, the tight-waisted nature of the dresses had stays integrated into the bodice foundation for many of the more formal gowns, but as not many surviving examples exist, we must look to primary sources and extant examples for evidence. One such surviving dress with full-boning is the famous silver tissue dress currently housed in the Fashion Museum in Bath.

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Silver Tissue Dress, 1660 (Image credit: National Maritime Museum/ Royal Museums, Greenwich/ Fashion Museum, Bath)

As an aside, I looooove how the National Maritime Museum used this dress in an exhibition related to Samuel Pepys’ diary. Read more about that here.

Today’s progress:

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Boning channels sewn, pad stitching placed.

I have pad stitched down the front of the bodice in the empty gaps where no boning is placed; in the V&A example, there is similar pad stitching holding the buckram pieces down. But as I sewed the channels through all layers, I found that the stiffness of the buckram was fighting with the highly tensile linen layers and caused some bunching issues. The pad stitching helped tack the buckling down and turned the unsightly bubbling into an evenly distributed layer. I find myself slightly amused that this bodice—fully lined in buckram—holds the contents of the wearer in the same way that buckram used in book arts does for the contents of the book.

The bodice will be boned with extra-large cable ties, as I have found that the large cable ties and whalebone feel very similar to one another. When I first discovered this while examining original whalebone in bodices while working in museum collections, both myself and my wallet breathed a collective sigh of relief; my cheapness is period! The only caveat to zip tie boning is that I recommend replacing them every few years; plastic off-gases over time depending on environmental conditions and can discolor your fabric and anything it touches. I’ve yet to have this happen, but after working with various plastics in archives and museums, it’s amazing how synthetic materials can really do some nasty things. That being said, for costuming, I am team zip-tie all the way.

To prepare the cable ties for insertion, I recommend cutting them to length with a cheap pair of heavy duty scissors, donning a vapor mask/respirator, and sitting in a well-ventilated area (or outside if possible). Then, cut each of the corners to round out the shape, and hold the very tip of the edge over a flame. The plastic will quickly melt and soften the sharp corners and within about 15 or so seconds, it should be ready for placement within the stays!

Presto!

Tomorrow, I assemble and bind the bodice, cut and sew the silk exterior, and maybe start on the sleeves…

Of redingotes, Costume College, and buttons.

After a long hiatus due to the demands of graduate school, I am thankfully back to sewing again (hurrah)!
I’ve also been accepted into the Early Modern Studies program at my University, where I will be honing my focus on representations of 17th century costume (double hurrah)!

And now to get back to our regularly scheduled programming:
This summer, I had planned to make a Redingote based on LACMA’s exemplary piece from their department of costume & textiles.

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LACMA’s Redingote. Ahh, 1790’s deliciousness! Squee!

For the past year, I have had the privilege of interning in their department, and working directly with the collections– of which, I must say, has been an amazing experience. Having a costuming itch for some time now to make some late 18th century attire, I was super excited after finding out that they had created a pattern for it for the Fashioning Fashion exhibition, which can be found here.

While I am only 2 or so weeks away from Costume College, i’d love to have it completed in some manner. While I am not looking to make an exact replica of the dress, the palette will be similar. Having already ordered fabric,  I settled with a golden-olive-cream striped silk taffeta for the main body of the dress, and “fretwork” muslin for the petticoat. Both were ordered from Burnley & Trowbridge, and I cannot sing enough praise for how excellent their quality and selection of fabric is.

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Figured muslin and the main silk fabric

Though this brings me to my next problem: the fabric is a mere 6.5 yards long (at 60″ w.). As a “fluffy”-bodied woman at 5’11, piecing the stripes and having enough fabric for the revers and falling collar will prove to be a challenge to say the very least. I’m a bit nervous, but I may have to resort to using a russet velvet for the collar and revers. We’ll see.

What must be done before CoCo however is a new set of 18th century stays for a riding habit pattern fitting class that will be taught by J.P. Ryan. I wanted to hand-sew the stays, but the most handsewing they are going to get is eyelets for lacing and leather binding. I modified the J.P. Ryan half-boned stays pattern to be laced in both the front and the back, since I have been (or at least trying) to lose weight. I also added more boning channels for more support.

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Very much in progress.

When the stays are completed, they will be bound in white kidskin leather, and laced with pink silk ribbon. I’d like to call them my Sweetheart, or St. Valentine’s Stays, since they will be pink, white, and red all over.

I’ve also completed some ‘death’s head’ style buttons for the redingote:

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Silk floss and a wooden shank base from again, Burnley and Trowbridge.

I’m still not sure if I want to use these, but we’ll see. I used the tutorial found Here to make them. More to come later.