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: https://www.pinterest.com/hertzwerk/18th-c-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...) :)  http://hertzwerk-freiburg.blogspot.de/2015/10/1770s-big-hair-wig-tutorial.html

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) schloss-freudental.de

(C) schloss-freudental.de

(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 Marquise.de) 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 http://behidadolic.com/   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. :)