Friday 11 September 2015

The "Duck à l'orange" Cloche

Another cloche in a colour that will definitely make car drivers see me in winter. :) For no real reason (other than the strikingly orange colour, obviously) it became the "Duck a l'orange" cloche.
This time I've planned the positions of the pleating a bit more careful, used stainless steel super fine needles and didn't brush as vigorously. :)

my skills considering hair-dos definitely need seeing to...

I still have a lot to learn about the free from felting but I think I am getting somewhere. Even the weather has changed - from nearly 40 degrees celsius to about 24 degrees. :) Autumn is definitely on its way!

Normally I wouldn't choose orange, but I do like the cloche, although I am not sure, whether orange really suits my complexion. Nevertheless, I guess in winter it will look nice with a  black coat. 

Sunday 6 September 2015

Danish Chemise Dress - Tutorial

Because I am so in love with this light, airy, elegant Chemise Dress and there is a free pattern available on the Museum homepage here

I thought I'd write a small tutorial how to assemble the dress - because all of the info on the pattern is in Danish.

So, after you've downloaded the pdf I suggest you do this to get something to work with:

1.Copy the museum's pdf into inkscape
2. Enlarge it so the boxes are 5cms wide (about 2 inches)
3. Save it as a .png
4. Copy that it into a Word Excel file (adjust the pages so there is hardly any margin, other wise you just have tons of overlap and waste paper...)
5. Print. I printed only the pages with the bodice pieces, and the top pleats of the skirt to safe paper, because the length of the skirt I have to determine anyway after finishing the bodice piece. And you can also measure that on the pdf.
6. Make a print-out of the Museum's pdf, too, so you know how to assemble your paper.
7. Don't forget to save the pdf to your computer, in case the museum's page goes down or so... :)

Now you've got a pattern for a lovely gown
- The underbust measurement is 67-70cms (about 26,5-28 inches)
- Chest is about 80-83 cms (about 31,5-32,5 inches)
- Length from underbust middle to floor: 115cm (45inch), back middle waist seam to floor about 136cms (53inch)
- bust point about 25cms
- back width about 30cms (12 inches)

Obviously, if these aren't your measurements, you've got to adjust the bodice. If you've never made that before, maybe this isn't the right project to start. You should know how to adjust stuff and have a bit of experience with sewing. I recommend sewing this by hand, it's easiest. also carefully mark and match.

Make a mock-up, at least of the bodice and the bodice-cover and the draping and sleeves, so you understand how the pleating works and where you might need to make further changes before cutting your nice favourite fabric. Especially the sleeves need attention, because they are set deeply into the back and have no folds or tucks to give enough space.

To be worn over appropriate underwear. (e.g. bodiced petticoat, short stays...)

Fabric required:
At least 6meters of thin cotton batist or voile or something comparable. About 50cms of thin canvas or thin twill or other suitable fabric for the bodice base.

Cut out the bodice cover and bodice base (don't forget the seam allowances).

bodice base assembly
center backs together. The original has a 6cms long piece of string or small band attached to the center back inside. Then proceed  with side back, sides and fronts. Attach shoulder strap only at the front.
The original has a tunnel with a string at the front, which I omitted.
Finish all visible (and if you want all invisible) hems. Sew the eyelets by hand. Use buttonhole stitch and poke throught the future-eyelet-hole with an awl after every stitch. Insert string. Try the bodice on before you proceed.

Bodice cover assembly
Center backs together and then sides. Attach shoulder straps at front only. Follow pleating guide to make it lie nicely on the bodice base and wing it a bit here. The front flaps overlap a little to cover the eyelet fastening. Don't forget to make the pleat "K". The double pleats are attached with only one seams on the bodice base as you can see on the picture.

Now the bodice base and cover should be assembled and you try them on and attach the shoulder straps together in the right place.

Finish remaining seams. 

Sew together sleeve and sleeve lining and treat as one. Set in sleeves by hand by easing them in, they go in quite wide into the back, but that's part of the fun. Finish sleeve hems.

Front draping
Again, make a mock-up first to understand the pleating. Then pleat the 2 sides, iron nicely and stitch together at the two lines "F" and just about "H".  Stitch Center Back (will be a slight V-shape) and mount on a piece of band, about 1,5cms wide, from "D" to "E". (I've used twill tape, Petersham should work nicely, too, something that gives it a bit of stability). Attach the back and sides to the Bodice where indicated on the pattern. Make sure to leave enough space at the bottom to attach to the Front Skirt. Finish all other hems.

Cut the skirts, sew back and front together and pleat according to pleating guide, to match back and sides. Attach the front panels to the Front Draping only, not to the bodice and make the seam wide enough to create a tunnel for the drawstrings. Then attach the back panel on the bodice from point B to C. Finish all hems, the original has a 7mm ribbon at the side "pocket opening" and at the bottom.

Insert string in front and attach.

I hope this could help you, if you have any problems, just ask.

Again, here is the link to my gown. (And I know already what I sould have done differently...)

Thursday 3 September 2015

Danish Chemise dress 1790s - Danish National Museum

I've finally finished my "Danish Dress". It's about 99% handsewn, which is a first for me. :) And I like it SOOOO much. I love the way it is drafted and assembled, I am absolutely awstruck and I think the seamstress that made the dress was ingenious.

The Original dress: (more picture of my version futher below...)

I had seen this lovely dress quite a while ago and wanted to make it. I had a bit of black voile left, so I considered remaking it in black.  if you want to know more about Chemise Gowns in black hop over to Festive Attyre

Anyway, as you can see from the pictures, I didn't choose black fabric, because whilst searching for that, I stumbled across Matilda ... a lovely fabric from our favourite Swedish furniture shop. Matilda is a very sheer cotton curtain  (yes!!) with white stripes with bobbles woven into the fabric. I love it.

The dress is from the Danish National Museum in Kopenhagen.
They even deliver the free pattern (taken from the actual dress, like e.g. Janet Arnold PoF)

The Museum dates it to "ca. 1797", but as they seem to know that it was Eleonora Sophie Baroness Rantzau's wedding dress and she married 1796, I suppose the date should be "ca 1796".

When I made the Mock-up, I found, that I could wear the pattern without many alterations. Just the sleeves needed slight adjustment and the length of the skirt. I felt a certain connection and wanted to know more about the lady, who wore this for her wedding. Also, I was brought up in Northern Germany, only 45min away from the Danish border and 3 hours from Kopenhagen. And my great grandfather is Danish. 

This is Eleonora Sophie Baronesse Rantzau:

She was born on the 24th August 1779 in Fjellebro Gods, that is on the island Odense (in Denmark, of course).  She was the second of 3 children, she had an older brother and a younger sister. When she was 16 (1st July 1796), she married Preben I. lensgreve Bille-Brahe (who 22 years old at the time). They had 2 children, Henrik lensgreve Bille-Brahe, (b. 21 Jan 1798) and  Frederik (Fritz) Siegfred baron Bille-Brahe (b. 26 Feb 1799). Her children were named after her father in law (Henrik) and possibly her father (Friederich Siegfried).
Only about a year after the birth of her second son, Eleonora died on the 21st of August 1800 aged 20 (that's only 3 days before her 21st birthday in fact, and also our wedding day, which is a bit creepy, but well, life's full of weird coincidences...). I couldn't find out the reason for her early death. I could imagine childbirth or pneumonia.
Her husband married again - 16 years later, a lady called Johanne Caroline Vilhelmine Falbe. They called their first born daughter Eleonora Sophie. Isn't that romantic? This is a picture of the couple a year after they married.

She died in 1823, and a year later he married another lady called Birgitte (Betzy) Susanne Sybilla komtesse Schaffalitzky de Muckadell  (b 1801) (wow, that name rocks!). But enough genealogy, if you are so madly interested, follow the links below for further information, because that's were I've got it from (including pictures) (look for Person ID I4890)
A little on the actual dressmaking:

The assembly of the dress is relatively straight forward, a big "thank you" to Mariell from for her help with the translation of the Danish Annotations... the most important one is "the drawings are not too accurate, sometimes there is up to 2 mm difference and maybe more" or something like that. I have written a short tutorial here

I am wearing a white bodiced petticoat (La Mode Bagatelle) under the dress, which for me replaces the stays. I suppose to do it properly I should make a pair of transitional stays but that's another future project. Unfortunately the straps of the bodiced petticoat show through the sheer fabric (which reminds me: I should have made a lining, like in the original... never try to be more intelligent that an 18th century seamstress.... at least not this one, the dress was made in a extremely ingenious way). (If I make the dress again, I would line the fabric... or maybe I take the sleeves off and line them... or so...)

Finally, pictures!!

back view, with a very bad hair day and stupid straps destroying the wonderful inwards setting of the sleeves. :( The sleeves are very beautiful and I think I will use the pattern for more 18th century sleeves in the future. They don't need darts yet fit comfortable (hence the wrinkles under the arms...))

Love letters (The one from Guy the Maupassant was great, albeit being anachronistic!)

I am poking my nose up other people's love letters.

This is dedicated to

I also want to tell you a little story about the book I am holding in the pictures. It is a wonderful book called "Briefe der Liebe" (Letters of love), edited by Camill Hoffmann and some more about him here (in German language)
The book was given by my great-grand-father to his then-fiancée for their engagement. This took place at Christmas 1912 (he wrote the date at the beginning of the book). It is love letters from the early 1700s to the late 1800s. And the choice of letters is wonderful. But here the romantic parts ends. Camill Hoffmann was killed in Auschwitz in 1944 together with his wife Irma. Life is bittersweet. If you can read German, try to get your hands on a copy. Or recreate the Danish Dress. Or both.

Have a great evening!

Hertzwerk X