Wednesday 2 December 2015

Sailor Pants 1940's inspired

"look fastidious!" he said... ;)

Part of my plans to make more clothes that are actually more wearable in everyday life came true with these trousers. It is the first proper pair of modern trousers I've ever made (i.e. that make me happy and seem to fit...) and also the first time that I used a pattern from this company: . They are based in Moscow and they have translated most of their patterns (they say) into some sort of English (more on that later).

What is special about their patterns is
1. they are graded to the size you want (i.e you buy one individualized size, not a multizise package)
2. they are cheap.
Of course that was tempting so I thought I'd give it a try with a trouser experiment.
This is the pattern I ordered
The HP is in English, the whole ordering/payment/receiving the pattern (via Email) process is straightforward and quick.

I was very sceptical, I have to admit.
I am smaller than average and curvy (big waist-hip ratio) and I was really curious if the measurement that they asked for could provide me with a pattern for a garment, that fits.
I was more than surprised to find, that apart from tiny adjustments to the hip width (but that might have been partly my mistake, I was measuring myself a bit too pessimistically, it seems...), they fit just as I had wished for. I made exactly one mockup. And took the hip side seams in a bit. That was it.
I also made small changes to the pattern -> the original pattern has a sort of one-sided front flap, mine is the same on both sides, with fully functional self-fabric covered  buttons on both sides - not necessairily needed, but I like symmetry. I also lined the front flap wiht a separate piece, not with the suggested foldover-piece - again, not really necessary, I just liked it better.

To be truly 1940s the waistline is a bit too low, if you compare pictures from the time, you'd find the waistband would have to be at least at my natural waist which is considerably higher. Considering that I usually wear lower cut jeans, they are quite high though. :) I am thinking about making a "proper" (not sailor) style pair of slacks with a proper high 1940s waist at some point, though...
I made these from medium-weight teal coloured wool gabardine. I had about 2,5 meters of that maturing on my fabric stash. I can't resist teal coloured 100% wool gabardine... 

One reason why I STRONGLY recommend making a mock up, are the instructions (and as a side effect you can check the fit, which is always good). Despite finding lots of english words in the instructions, I have only little understanding of what they wanted me to do. The pattern pieces were marked in both English and Russian. I just assembled it my own way and knowing what was supposed to be the result (a pair of trousers...) helped a lot. To assemble the bound pocket (only a faux pocket in my version) I used a German sewing book (and of course the marks on the pattern...). Having made similar trousers (the Charles trousers) for my daughter before, helped a lot, too.

My resumée:
I like their patterns, they are well adjusted to the individual size (as far as I can judge on that now), you can find something for absolutely ANY purpose and they come at a great price (3 Euros per pattern). If you have sewing experience or are not afraid of a bit of experimenting - go for it!

I hate back views, but there you go...

Have a great day!

Tuesday 24 November 2015

A 1770s Dormeuse or the "Mrs Miggins Cap"

This enormous 1770s cap was lovingly nicknamed "the Mrs Miggins cap" by my husband. The name sort of stuck. :)

These pictures were my inspiration, but I changed and combined, as usual. I am just no good at exact reproductions. :)

more pictures of 18th century caps:

I used white or off white (I can't really tell...) silk organza (2,8), which is very thin and nice. Some of the ribbons/frills I treated with corn starch to stop them from fraying, because I didn't want to hem them to keep the whole cap "airy" despite its many decorations.  It doesn't totally stop fraying, but it helps a little to keep the fibres together.

I didn't use a pattern, but if you want to use a commercial pattern, the base of the cap is close to JP Ryans Dormeuse/Baigneuse. All in all I used nearly 2 metres of fabric.

(yes, the wig is hilarious, I've written a tutorial about it...) :)

Monday 23 November 2015

Schloss Freudental 1775

On one of the fairest and warmest weekends of November we've had a wonderful weekend in 1775 at the stunning "Schloss Freudental" located at the Bodensee (Lake Constance).

A few pictures to illustrate the weekend.

A place to be....



(C) SoSch
Following pictures (C) Stefan Winter if not otherwise stated.  

getting up leisurely

hunting for...?

Forest walks

(C) SaMa
  I think we qualify for the next BBC costume drama! (C)SaMa

Afternoon chats  and delicious caps

chantilly cream

Louis Carrogis dit Carmontelle

Evening pleasures

the players

Monday 16 November 2015

The "Landgravine" Anglaise - 1770s

(C) Stefan Winter
(C) Stefan Winter

Sometimes you just fall in love.

(C)Stefan Winter

(C) Stefan Winter

And so I did with this dress and this portrait...
I just had to make it.

This is the long story of the evolution of the sage green dress ("The Landgravine Dress").

that colour!!! wow!
(Portrait by J. H. Tischbein d.Ä. (?), ca 1781)

Portrait Juliane von Hessen Philippsthal
more on this Lady here:

From National Trust. I LOVE the buttons! Dated 1770
Dress National Trust Snowshill Collection/Janet Arnold PoF 1 p. 41
(also in Nancy Bradfield's "Costume in Detail" pp 59)

I have to admit, this green fabric (silk taffeta) matured on my fabric stash for quite a while, until I finally started with it. I really really love the colour. First I thought I might make an interpretation of the portrait dress, but I wasn't really sure about all that gauze ruching and the long sleeves and the front of the dress... so... that leaves nothing really... but the colour is still great!

Then I remembered that dress from Patterns of Fashion (J. Arnold) (Vol 1, p 41) (=PoF1) (and it also happens to be on the front cover...) and decided I would go that direction and, if the amount of fabric allows it, would even make a gown with trimming. My trimmings are not exactly as they are in the original. I didn't use a pinked scalloped  edge (I used zig-zag scissors, which is also ok on Pinking on and I didn't make tiny box pleats but just ruched the strips of taffetta, because I think the zigzagged edge looked nicer ruched than pleated (I do think a box pleated scalloped edge is the bees-knees, though...!!)

I've always wanted to use the patterns from PoF just to try it and my first obstacle was how to enlarge those patterns.I first copied them on 1-inch-paper by hand. And because I like to try pleating in paper first before I actually do it with the fabric, I had a go at that - and totally failed the first times. So I thought I might have copied something wrong and it took me half of a day to find out how to digitalize and print those patterns.

In case you like to try it, this is how I did it:
I scanned the pattern page or part of the page from the PoF book and saved it as a jpeg. Then I used "inkscape" (freeware) to enlarge it to 800%. Then I saved that as a png. And then inserted it into a Word Excel file. And then I printed it on A4 pages with Excel. Worked a treat. If you enlarge the PoF you'll notice you don't exactly get a print-out that has 1 square = 1 inch, because it's not 100% accurate in the book either. But as is it rather unlikely that the patterns will be exactly our size, it doesn't really matter if you have 1 inch more or less. If you are perfectionist (or German, or both), you can play with the enlarging, maybe you need 810% or so. But you'll still have to do lots of fitting anyway.

So, with this newly and successfully printed out pattern I made lots and lots of folding experiments. After the first few tries I was convinced that Janet Arnold must have made a mistake in her diagramms (how very snobbishly arrogant of me...). I had another go at it again and tried lots of different things and all of a sudden it seemed to work. I think that seamstress did an extremly clever thing when she was doing those pleats.(Unless J.A. actually did make a mistake and this is just how it turns out...)

The main problem was, that the folding instructions in PoF were rudimentary, apart from the general direction ("it's a box pleat") it doesn't tell you much. And the drawing isn't really a  big help, either.

The same dress can also be seen in "Costume in Detail" by Nancy Bradfield, p.59. While trying and failing with those pleats I looked at PoF and CiD again and again for guidance, only to find that the description and drawings of the dress somewhat differ in the two books. I'd love to have a look at the original gown, really.
I've come up with a solution that works and looks nice, as I've not had the chance to look at the original dress I can't tell you whether it is right, but I am positive that it is entirely possible. :)

Pleating guide (xps file, easy to open in internet explorer)

After I had sussed out the pleating guide and I had enlarged the pattern anyway, I made a quick mock-up of the original pattern bodice. Of course it wasn't my size, the lady was a bit larger than me, especially in the shoulder area. And she was a good deal taller, too. Also I found that I didn't really like the look of the side seam (front to side back panel) so I got the pattern for my zone-gown out (basically a variation of JP Ryans Anglaise Pattern) and made a few changes to it. The back is four gored, but it is narrower/more parallel in the waist. The neckline is also a little lower. The front, obviously, is a "normal" Anglaise front. I didn't used hooks and eyes, i like to close the gowns with needles.

As an inspiration for the back panels I looked at this dress 

If you have the chance to browse throught Nancy Bradfield's "Costume in Detail" or just have a look at one of the large museums' online collections, you will see, that all sorts of back panel alignment solutions, grainline and sleeve insertions were used, it's really mad and exciting.

I also made light changes to the sleeves, but that's just positions of the pleats at the shoulder, dart at the elbow and a tad tighter around the elbow. I don't really like lots of pleats around the shoulder seam ("puffy sleeves) but at the same time I am moving around a lot (wildly gesticulating, obviously) and need the "space" there to feel comfortable. I didn't add wide trimming because I ran out of fabric and just added a small ruffle at the bottom edge of the sleeve.

To wear the Robe à l'Anglaise à la Polonaise I have attached 3 loops inside the Anglaise. Again, there are various ways of looping up the skirt, 2 or 3 ribbons, loops, ties, buttons....all sorts.
I don't mean the dress as a full proper "Polonaise", I want it mainly for pulling the skirt up for dancing.
I suppose loops inside with buttons outside would be easier to loop up for a spontaneous dance, but after initially contemplating about 2  buttons outside, i tried it and it sort of took the "ooomph" away from the back pleats. 

I also decided I needed  new hair with the dress...

The big hair tutorial here:

A word on my sources

To create this dress, I used 4 sources

- The portrait of Juliane von Hessen-Phillipsburg (for the colour mainly... the portrait is from 1781)
- The picture of the original dress in the Snowshill collection (only 1 front view, dated 1770)
- Janet Arnold "Pattern of Fashion Vol. 1"
- Nancy Bradfield "Costume in Detail"

The portrait shows the overall appearance and proves the existance of the sage green colour. And the big hair.

The picture of the Original dress gives a feelin for the dress (albeit being a completely different colour) but there are no details or close-ups.

And here started the problems

Nancy Bradfield and Janet Arnold (both accredited authors and publications) had a close look at the same dress. Or so you would think.

- Janet Arnold suggests the dress would be worn "retroussee dans les poches" but there are no pocket slits where you could pull it through in the pattern. She also didn't mark or mention any loops for looping the dress up "a la Polonaise". She does indicate a front closure with hooks and eyes though. Her pattern shows the pleating of the dress in detail.

-Nancy Bradfield's beautiful drawings and descriptions somewhat differ from that. Her pleating guide for the skirt depicts just normal box pleats. She didn't observe any front closure or traces thereof. She does indicate where the dress was looped up to wear it "a la Polonaise".

Both mention that the sleeves show traces of a sleeve ruffle, but none of them indicate where ... they both suggest a broad ruffle though, so I suppose the traces of stitching must be wide.

this is just to state, what "research" would include. If I had intended to exactly reproduce the dress from the sources at hand I couldn't have done that, because they were contradictory (there are more details e.g. the size of the buttons, that aren't the same).

A short note on dating the gown: Robes a l'anglaise came really into fashion in the 1770s. There are a few Robe Anglaise/en fourreau from the late 1760s, but mainly it's 1770s thing. As the first partition of Poland happened in 1772, the style of Robe a la Polonaise or the fashion of wearing the Robe a l'Anglaise a la Polonaise could only develop after that. Although refashioning a simple Robe a l'anglaise into a Polonaise (by attaching a few strings) is so easy... so it is really difficult, to date the robe and the museum doesn't give us any hint, why they suppose such an early date for this plain Anglaise. So we must assume that the owner was either a fashion connaisseur, or the anglaise is of a later date (more mid 1770s).

Tuesday 10 November 2015

Cloche Fever! - Autumn is great for hats!

 Novembre as begun and autumn weather has really reached us. Some days are pure gold, with sunshine, warm temperatures (still 20 degrees Celsius!) and clear blue skies. Others are grey, foggy and wet and you don't see the sun no matter how hard you try. And others are a bit of both, which I like best. When in the morning the fog lifts with the first rays of lights and seems to flow over the tops of the hills and retreat slowly, then comes back a bit, and then by early afternoon the sun has taken over and warms the skin and face.

Anyway, it inspired me to make some more cloches.

The light blue "bluebell" cloche seems to be more suitable for lighter days. I have to admit - light blue isn't really my colour... I do like the outcome though. I also start to like hats in weird colours, because  usually wear black (happy black, of course) and the coloured hats are a nice contrast. light blue also suits my complexion and eyes (says my husband, who also said "look, I would REALLY tell you if it wouldn't look good, don't worry), so I'll go with that. It reminds me a bit of my great-grandmother. The story goes, that when she went shopping for clothes and the shop keeper was telling her how wonderful the coat (or whatever) looked and she didn't really like it, she would say "yes, it definitely makes a small foot". And whoever accompanied her on the shopping day, would know what she meant by that. I assume it is another way of saying "the rest of me looks enormous in this coat".

awww, what a friendly creature!!

Maybe I will add feathers to this side... later...

This is the other hat I made. ACTUALLY I love it. It is great. It's the first hat in a non-weird colour and I like the outcome. Maybe I will reshape the bluebell cloche (or add a feather that crossed from left to the middle or something, it defnitely needs a little more "pzazz").

It is inspired by hats made by this talented lady   She used to do lots of free form felting on a simple balsa block, lots of cloches or smaller hats. It seems her newer creations (now also in "straw" for summer) are made more and more on special hat blocks, which I find really sad, I love her free form felt hats.

bonus material. :)

Monday 26 October 2015

1770s big hair - a wig tutorial

When I made this wig, I didn't take any pictures, unfortunately, because I wasn't even sure how it would turn out. It turned out well (I think) and now I am a bit annoyed I have no pictures for a proper tutorial. I did a few drawings instead and am trying to describe what I was doing and how. If there are any problems, just let me know, maybe I can explain better. Also for the moment I haven't got better pictures, but I promise to add them ASAP. I wanted to get the tutorial out as soon as possible. :)

Pictures with very silly big cap and sockets. :)

I've made the instructions on paper, you can view and download them as a pdf. :)

I have used

mesh wire
about 20x30cms
The holes are about 2-3cms (1 inch) wide

2 wigs (long hair, wavy or curly, no fringe; I have used lace front, but that's up to you; be careful with the colour, I have chosen something that is sort of similar to my own hair, and yes, it is synthetic.)

batting for the mesh wire "cage" (I used a piece of Vlieseline H640, because it was there. Just choose something that is softish to cover the "cage").

lots of pins
enormous amounts of hair spray and a bit of foam
lots of patience

You can find inspiration for hairdos on paintings and I found these drawings quite helpful.

As usual, I didn't copy anything in particular but just "absorbed" all the sources and then made something up that I think works for the 1770s. I have to admit though, that I might have looks at mid 20th century hairdos, I don't know why, I think I have made a set of victory rolls there... I like anachronisms though. And again it shows how much we are children of our own time...

I hope the tutorial is helpful, if you have any questions, just leave a comment below. 

wearing experience: after wearing the wig for an entire evening, I now know, why posture was so essential "back then". Despite my wig being very well secured to my head and reasonably well balanced, it does have quite a bit of weight and being a rather lively person (pulling faces, turning my head quickly ....) I felt it forced me to move more ... elegant... and slower... and while it suited the evening and the whole ensemble (the "Landgravine Anglaise"), I wouldn't want to wear it on a daily basis. I am too 21st century. ;)

Monday 5 October 2015

With Flying Colours...!!!

 My dear readers,

today I would like to share with you the work of an incredibly talented and lovely lady, who is making superb accessories for historical reenactment, that will make the difference between "nice" and "wow". Everything is really well researched and tested on Germans. Believe me.:) Visit her on her facebook page: Flying Colours

Everything is handmade in Germany, but postage is no problem. Come and enjoy a few pictures of her work.

You need a walking stick? Something like this?

Walking Cane modelled after 18 century fashion
pewter knob and wooden cane with mahagony/shellack finish
130cm 60€

She does custom knobs, too. ;)

top of handpainted walking stick

Maybe you are reclining in the shade on a hot day... and need a fan?

Or you need a miniature of your beloved?

or just a caring eye?

important things in a nutshell

(reconstruction from actual historical piece!)
store your little thingys in style

threading nicely!

there is no reason why you shouldn't do your writing in pure style, either!

(more designs available)
you wouldt want to hide this ink! And i'm sure it improves handwriting, too!
Ah, you're more reading-type of person... authentically no problem! Super bookmarks!

to plan your next field trip....

or a night cat

have a historical cup of coffee or tea (with excellent sense of humour!)

or make a stand with these regency ladies!

Again: check her fb page
or get in touch with her for custom orders. oh, and you know what? Not only you get unique items at really good prices and you support a craftswoman with know-how and love for her work. Like and share her page if you like what you see and spread the word! Thank you!