A shawl by any name…

Whether you call it a mantilla, a coverlet, a shawl, a drape, or wrap, women have been finding delicate things to sling across their shoulders for the duel purpose or warmth (sometimes) and beauty.  I personally love wraps and capes and wear them all throughout the winter for the same duel purpose as our foremothers centuries ago.  I recently acquired 5 yards of beautiful black lace with the intention of creating a shawl of some sort.   While researching I came across these examples from an 1855 Goodey’s Lady’s Book, August edition I believe, and just fell in love.  Now clearly these drawings are very detailed and have materials that I may have trouble getting a hold of, yet they are provide a great base.  After I complete the current gown I’m working on (which hopefully will be today), I plan on starting to draft up a pattern for one of these shawls, or wraps, or what ever you like to call it! 🙂

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By the Beautiful Sea!

Starting tomorrow, my husband and I are heading off to the rocky shore of Maine for a lovely week long vacation.  We have gone every year since our honeymoon and just fell in love with the old fashioned charm that coastal Maine has to offer.   I can’t wait to smell the salty sea air!  Along the way I have planned some stops at a few fabric stores to see if I can find anything exciting.  Cross your fingers!  When I come back, I will begin working on lots of new projects and adding to my store inventory, with plenty of new posts along the way.

Oh and has anyone been on a whale watch?  My husband wants to go and well….I’m not quite sure what to expect!

A few past posts to keep you tied over:

A Variety of Hairstyles

The One Hour Lace Challenge

The Appeal of the Wrapper

Growing Love of 1850’s Gowns

See you in a week!  

Painting: Albert Fitch Bellows: Seaside Reflections


Planning and Dreaming…

In a few weeks time, I am planning on starting the challenging process of doubling my inventory by the end of the year.  This summer has been wonderfully busy, yet has left my clothing stock thin and sparse.  One of my favorite parts of the whole dressmaking process is planning and drafting up various looks and styles of gowns I want to make.  The majority of gowns will still be from the 1860’s, yet I plan on adding some 1850’s gowns, and perhaps dipping back into some Regency.  I am going to be on the hunt for fabrics, trims, and accessories for these gowns, and would love some help in making the “difficult” choice of narrowing down various styles.

So….what are your thoughts?  Any particular era you would like to see?  Any colors that would be wonderful to use?  What about looks of sleeves or trim?

I would love to hear from you all as I begin planning and dreaming! :-0


Pop that collar!

Collars are a very attractive and inexpensive way to change the look of a gown.  In fact, when purchasing a dress, check to see if you can also have a removable collar made at the same time.  A removable collar means just that…it comes off for easy cleaning and is attached to the neckline of the bodice by buttons, snaps, or lightly basted.  Not all bodices are designed to have a collar (v-necked), but if the neckline is high, any type of collar can be attached.  One can have a collar made out of handkerchief linen, muslin, cotton, or lace.

There are three most common types of collars used in the 1850’s and 60’s: the Peter Pan collar, the jabot, and the less common straight collar.  Here are some examples:

The Peter Pan Collar

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Something shiny to grace the neck…

I am continuing the series of different types of jewelry worn during the 1850’s and 60’s.  I have already created a post on earrings , and now am moving on to necklaces.

As a result of my research, I have decided to combine necklaces and brooches into a collection of “items of jewelry worn around or at the base of the neck.”  And for this particular post, I tried to restrict my examples to daywear, as there are (just like today) different types of jewelry worn for different occasions.

Necklaces

For the most part, if necklaces were worn during the day, they tended to be long gold chain, perhaps several strands that draped down the front of the bodice.  Many women also appeared to have worn brooches as well.  Here are some examples:

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1860’s Color Combinations

Daydreaming and obsessing over fashion plates can lead to the discovery of some pretty unique color combinations.  I mean, when all you see are black and white photographs, one just assumes that the color tones chosen were just as blah.  But let me tell you….many color suggestions shown in fashion plates and in actual garments suggest quite the opposite.  While I would not be likely to wear these duos in my modern clothing, I would absolutely use them in my creations of 19th century clothing.  Here are a few of my favorites.

Black with Sapphire

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A sleeve by any name…may just work!

While it is true that in modern clothing, there may be some variations, it, nonetheless, does not compare to the copious amounts seen in gowns from the past century.  Whenever I am planning my next gown, one of the areas that I will carefully considered are the sleeves.  Sometimes I decided based on the fabric, sometimes the shape of the bodice, or the length of the train, but the accurately chosen sleeve can really complete a look.

When choosing and creating a sleeve there are three simple rules to keep in mind:

1. Make sure the shoulder seam is dropped a few inches than what today’s clothing would view as normal.

2. Make sure to NOT have a tight sleeve.  While some styles may be narrow around the arm, you do not want it stretched over your bicep.  Think graceful and flowing at all times!

3.  The sleeves (just like everything else ) should be designed to show off the waist….whatever size you are.

Here are several examples of the most popular styles of sleeves from the late 1850’s-18’60’s.  Since this is my area of expertise, I began here…however please comment below if you would like me to focus on other time periods!

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The appeal of a wrapper…

I know that if I lived in the 1800’s I would have many of these made up for those mornings when I wouldn’t feel like getting all dressed up but still needed to look presentable.  Sort of today’s yoga pants look. I was so interested in this look and how so many women just do not wear these often at reenactments (partly because they are “indoor’s” looks), that I wanted make one of my own!  After a lot of research (and some hard evidence) I found a variety of styles and photographs of women in the 1800’s wearing wrappers in public.  Here is a sampling:

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And here is my version:

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DSC00668 I really like the styles that had a different front panel, and very much like today’s color block dresses, it is a very flattering style.

Have a great Sunday evening!