What do you get when you take two friends, a plethora of historical gowns, and two large Pumpkin Spice Lattes? A wonderfully fun time with some fabulous pictures to prove it!
A few weeks ago I decided that I wanted to photograph a large portion of my historical gown stock using real life models. So armed with a fully charged camera, my friend Cassandra and I braved the rainy and slightly chilly elements over the past two weekends to photograph some really stunning images! And since there are so many pictures to see, I will just get right to it!!
I hope you enjoy!!!
Oh and one last picture of Cassandra discovering the most perfect fall leaf of all….lovingly named “Leif Erikson”
Sometimes, on my researching adventures, I come across paintings or photographs of individuals that stop my wandering eyes in an instant. Whether it is something about their pose, or their outfit, or the fact that I feel like I can connect with their personality, images like the ones in today’s post just fascinate me.
This first one features the wonderful giggliness of a young girl from the 1850’s! What a sweetheart!!! And a wonderful example of children’s fashion.
This next painting I found to be a fantastic example of late 1700’s styling and fashion. The smile, the gown, THAT HAT….its all absolutely beautiful!
Portrait Of E. N. Arsenyeva By Vladimir Borovikovsky, 1796
This last portrait (c. 1860) caught my eye as the riding gown this woman is wearing has the most amazing placement of tucks. I can just envision her riding a horse with that long, flowy skirt fluttering behind her!
Such beautiful examples of fashion, creativity, and personality!
I see images of individuals from various time periods everyday…hundreds of pictures, drawings, paintings….and yet, only a few cause me to stop and admire. I like to think that it is something from their spirit reaching out to me. I also like to think that if these individuals were around today, I bet they would be close friends!
And then I also wonder, if in a hundred years or so, someone like myself will come across my picture. Someone who has an interest in historical fashion and I wonder if they will think my picture, my outfit, my smile may be worthy of a second glance……. 🙂
There are (and probably always will be) two sewing skills that I will struggle with for my entire sewing career. I may have become much better at executing this skills, however, I don’t think I will ever get over the stress associated with them. What are these most painful parts of my sewing? Well, they are zippers and buttonholes. I don’t like them. I don’t enjoy them. And they most definitely are something that I wish I could avoid. However, I can’t and I have come to a tentative peace agreement with them, and am working hard to gain more confidence. So in a step to get over my fear, I have decided to create a whole post on one of these areas….the buttonhole.
Despite my personal feelings about them, buttonholes have longed been used to add interest to gowns in addition to their more practical use of closing up the garment. When I first began sewing, and began my struggle with buttonholes on the machine, I thought it would be easier to learn to hand sew them. While it was a bit less stressful, it was a painfully long process and only looked appropriate on gowns that were pre-sewing machine (1850’s and back.) So when I upgraded to my current machine, I was delighted to find that it came with a button foot that mechanically inserted the buttonhole. While I was no longer left to keep an eye on the length and width of the stitch, I still found it tricky to keep the foot from not bunching up the fabric or going sideways. Practice and time has solved most of these issues, and I am happier with the finished product…mostly! 🙂
Last year, I put my newly found confidence to work when I created an 1880’s blue gown which featured velvet buttons down the front. I think I sweated through that process for a good 40 minutes!
Despite my short comings, I still love the look of buttons in different shapes and sizes!
Here are some of my favorite examples!
I love the graduated size of the buttons down the front of this 1860’s gown.
I can’t imagine the time that went in to creating this front panel with all the buttons. I can’t quite tell if the buttons are just sewn on, or there they are poking out through buttonholes. Either way, this 1870’s gown is awesome!
Another example of various button sizes on the bottom half of this 1880’s gown.
I adore the brown gown with the buttons that go all the way down one side.
While not as daunting as the above example, I love the bling these buttons add this this evening gown from the 1900’s.
This pattern for a 1930’s dress, shows the appeal of buttons and angles.
I love every single thing about this 1950’s dress!! Every single piece!!!
This 1950’s wrap gets an extra helping of fun from the unique placement of buttons!
So whether you are a buttonhole master, or, like me, working your way to apprenticeship, I hope you appreciate the appeal they can offer!
I have begun working on the January challenge of Foundations for the Historical Sew Monthly. It took me almost a week to actually decide on what I wanted to do, as I was going back and forth between a corset, or a caged crinoline, or a farthingale…..the list goes on. I knew that one of the challenges I wanted to create this year was going to be a late 1870’s natural form, princess gown, so with that in mind, I decided to create a dimity bustle. I did some research and found a workable example with which I could create my pattern. I really wanted to create the entire look myself, so I was hesitant to see other people’s versions and patterns. I have found it a very fun project so far and, if time allows, will hope to complete a petticoat as well before the February challenge begins.
Here is what I have so accomplished so far:
The inspiration photograph
Here is a very rough diagram and sketch of the pattern I created….I know it’s a little hard to see. The inside of the bustle can be seen in the upper left hand corner of the page on the right side.
I created my 3 panel pieces and began stitching my boning channels with twill tape. Each piece, the outer as well as the two inner pieces (I will explain those pieces in my next post), were doubled in thickness to add some weight to the white muslin.
I did decide to go ahead and just directly attach the ruffles to the bottom of the bustle, even though the picture shows them as removable.
I am hoping that I can complete the project this weekend without too many distractions…all though even now I am rushing to complete this post before friends come over for dinner! 🙂
Well, I am on my way to completing my first personal sewing challenge, so here are the finished pictures, along with several construction pictures, of the gown. I am not happy with the final pictures..the tones is very off, so I may retake them and repost at another time. But I still wanted to share what I have completed so far!
Here are the two fabrics I choose: one for the petticoat and one for the over dress.
I created a shorter petticoat and placed it over panniers. I also added extra padding on the bum area.
This is such a stunning gown! Probably created in the late 1850’s, I love the V-shaped pleating and the full airiness of the skirt. Include a shawl and it is perfect! I wish it was easier to find fabric that was patterned like this skirt though. Hmmmm……
Well, Halloween is just a few days away, and I have been spending my extra sewing time putting the last few touches on my costume. I am very excited about this year…but needless to say, it is not a historical costume….I know, I know. But it has still been a fun challenge!
However, as I have been practicing creating the appropriate hairstyle, I began to realize that there tends to be a lot more of “behind the scenes” apparatus to help create unique and well-coifed hairdos. And when I think of unique historical hairstyles…I think 1830’s. The way the hair twists and braids and sticks up is amazing and I’m sure, has many tricks of the trade. But I do have to say that I am glad these hairstyles have not come back…I am very confident I would not look good in them. But perhaps you do, and would like to try a look out for yourself!