Ok, so I have a lot of catching up to do on here! Between finishing up my PhD and then an international move, there hasn’t been much time for blogging over the past few months. But I have been sewing during a lot of this “away” time. I made a natural form era summer suit, a vintage mash-up summer suit for my thesis defense, and three new dresses over the past 2-3 weeks. I’m also in the middle of a white cotton regency gown to wear with the blue silk spencer.
Today, I present a project I made for a Historical Sew Monthly challenge back in the spring: War & Peace. I did get it done and posted to the fb challenge album in by the challenge deadline, but never got around to blogging it. In the interest of catching up, this is going to be short and sweet, but I hope will still be worth your taking a look.
I hummed and hawed about what to do for War & Peace for some time trying to figure out what to do. Then I remembered those smart military-inspired hats women wore during the Napoleonic wars – feminized versions of the Shako hat/cap:
This is my entry for February’s Historical Sew Monthly challenge “Blue”. It wasn’t my initially intended entry, which was supposed to be a smart and clever-looking new pale blue wool coat made from a late teens/early 20s pattern I have. However, after doing a muslin and fiddling with it a bit I just wasn’t feeling it. I still hope to make it someday, but I wasn’t feeling totally enthusiastic about it and I think it’s too straight a silhouette for most of the clothes I wear, even though it has a little more flare than most styles from that period.
So, about the middle of the month I decided to completely switch tracks and make something that was nowhere on my sewing list/queue. Very practical decision (please note the sarcasm). I rationalized it to myself by saying that I had intended <someday> to make a new spencer from a piece of pale blue silk in my stash left over from the Regency ball ensemble I made a little over a year ago. And that even though I had no definite plans about it, it did get something off my sewing wishlist, at least, and used up an awkwardly-sized piece of fabric stash. In fact, everything on this came from stash, I didn’t purchase a single little bit for this, and that’s always nice.
I made the even more practical decision to hand sew the entire thing.
So let’s get to it, shall we?
My spencer is a combination of Sense & Sensibility’s pattern (which I already had and already used so I didn’t need to worry about fitting):
Hello again! I know it’s been a long while since I posted, but life just got too frantic. Since the new year started I’ve been sewing like mad on Tree. I’ve been photo-documenting the process and will have lots of posts on it, but for time being the emphasis needs to be on the sewing! Cause I’ve still got that other Garrison Ball dress to do while also working on a dress exhibit I’m curating and working on my dissertation. Another part of the time crunch is that I’m not home right now, I’m posting to you from London, England! I came over for a few weeks to speak at the University of Brighton as part of a seminar series then tie up some loose ends of research. Since I can’t work on my sewing while away, I can blog a bit again! I meant to finish a Tree post or two, but discovered after I arrived here that I didn’t have the right usb cord to hook my camera (where most of the photos still are) up to my laptop, d’oh.
Instead, I’ve decided to give you a couple of virtual tours of dress/costume exhibits in London. Yesterday I went to the V&A and snapped photos of the ‘permanent’ costume display there from the 1700s to the 1950s. I’m going to post this tour in several parts so as to keep the posts manageable sizes. On Friday I’ll be popping by the Museum of London and will try to get pics of the dress on display there, especially the “Pleasure Garden” exhibit of 18th – early 19th century dress, it’s a really delightful display!
Unfortunately, the quality of the photos I got yesterday is far below what I would prefer. The lighting is necessarily quite low and I only had my phone with me, so these are far from amazing shots, but at least you get to see what’s there and what’s said about it if you’re not likely to be visiting any time soon. On the other hand, the poor photo quality may not be the worst thing, since I wouldn’t want to try and replace the experience of going in person. And if it ever happens that the V&A is not happy with my posting a virtual tour, I will remove it.
So, without further ado, let’s begin our tour with Georgian and Regency era fashions:
My Regency Blog ensemble posts must seem very out of order or terribly teasing. The reason is that I’m posting items according to the remaining 2013 Historical Sew Fortnightly challenges. By a happy coincidence, this ensemble fulfills the criteria for the final four challenges of the year.
Here’s where the fur muff fits in. What does a fur muff have to do with a Regency Ball ensemble, you might ask? Well, I’ll tell you. Although according to the calendar Winter doesn’t start until late December, practically speaking it starts late November where I live. I knew there was going to be a little walking involved in getting me from the place where I dressed to the Ball itself and wanted a cohesive whole. I’m sure you can now start to see where I’m going here. Because I had lots of the main fabric for my dress left over (it was the original choice for my upcoming Garrison Ball gown so there was 9m of it at 54″ wide) I made a matching/co-ordinating hooded cloak and a fur muff lined with scraps from the dress fabric.
Here are the HSF deets:
Challenge: #24: Re-Do – Challenge #7: Accessorize
Year: Made to go with Regency attire but almost any, really
Supplies: Silk fabric, wool batting, recycled (reclaimed?) fur from an old coat/jacket
Historical Accuracy: meh. It’s a combination of machine and hand sewing
Hours to complete: about 2-3 hrs
Total cost: all made from leftover bits, so I’m gonna say $0
First worn: November 30, 2013 to the local Regency Ball
Hot on the heels of finishing my UFO fall dress from last year the other week I finished a UFO fall coat, also from last year. I had hopes to finish it to take with me to the UK for last Fall/Winter, but it didn’t happen. A winter coat happened instead, which was probably for the best.
Hopefully I can get the rest of what I have to say and show about my new Dolman into this second post (it would seem a bit silly to have 3 posts just about a seemingly simple-ish cape/jacket thing). It’s probably going to be just a bit long and image-heavy, though. If you’re just joining me now, this project is for Challenge #20 of the Historical Sew Fortnightly, which is Outerwear. You can check out Part One of my Dolman adventure here
I’ll start this post off with the required specs for the HSF Challenge:
Notions: 7 buttons (plus one extra), upholstery braid approx. 7m, bead fringe trim approx. 7m, velvet ribbon approx. 3.5m
Historical Accuracy: Ummm……..let’s say 75% – ish? I used a pattern lifted directly from an original (or supposed to be), a combination of machine & hand sewing, fairly period appropriate or at least plausible fabrics. However, the trimming isn’t quite right and the fabrics aren’t likely 100% right.
Hours to complete: lots over the course of 2 weeks
Total cost: I’m going to guess approx. $100 overall, over the course of some years. The velvet has been in the stash several years, the silk only a few months, the trim was bought for the project.
First worn: last weekend – keep reading or scrolling down to see!
So, where did I leave off…..oh yeah, the sleeve construction. I decided probably the easiest way to explain how the sleeves get sewn into the body of the Dolman is to draw a little diagram. This is an outline tracing of the pattern image, the dotted lines in black and red are my additions. The dotted black line is the Dolman armhole (probably pretty obvious) and the red dotted line represents how the sleeve is attached to the body of the Dolman. The space towards the back of the armhole is intentionally not dotted red because the sleeve is not sewn all the way around the armhole. I hope this makes sense, along with a couple of photos towards the bottom of this post. If it seems like I’m over-explaining this, it’s really just because of how long it took me to realize how this works, lol.
FINALLY! After following the Historical Sew Fortnightly for 3/4 of a year I get to properly participate! Until now, the challenges have run mostly counter to my historical sewing schedule. It’s only taken 9 months for one to line up and this is it. Three years ago I made this ensemble: