Sunday, June 12, 2016

Debucourt - Modes et Manières Du Jour ... and other things.

I'm back. Did you miss me? 
2015 was a personally difficult year for me.  I'm sorry for the silence, but I needed to take the last few months off to retreat and recover.  I'm not even sure I want to continue blogging.  I don't really have any inclination to write.  I think, mostly, this place has become a way for me to document what I create.  And if that's the way it's going, then I'm ok with that.  I hope you are too.

There is a small group of historical costumers that are currently working on a fashion plate project, and I'm a part of that group.  It's similar to the Vernet project, but less public and more relaxed.  We've all chosen an ensemble, or a piece of an ensemble, from a collection of plates by Philibert-Louis Debucourt, (13 February 1755 – 22 September 1832) a French painter and engraver.  Most of the plates fall between the years 1800 and 1808, I believe. 

The plate that I've chosen can be found printed in at least two different color schemes, the one in green and pink was reprinted in 1957, the red and white one...I don't have a reprint date for that one.  I haven't found the original print, so I don't know what Debucourt intended the colors to be.  Honestly, it doesn't really matter to me.  I love the green and pink color combination.  But, I've included the red and white one, because I prefer the under-bust cut of the jacket, and the green and pink version has it painted as if it covers the bust completely. 
The gown is made of a fine linen, and the jacket is a light-weight wool.  Both are trimmed in black, silk ribbon.  As usual, everything is hand sewn.

And some boring construction photos... 
Documentation, blah, blah, blah...
Scroll down for more exciting stuff...

On the more interesting side...
I found an antique, hand woven, lace mantilla that works perfectly for this outfit.
I'm planning on wearing this ensemble at the Jane Austen Festival this year, so be prepared for a downpour of pictures later next month.


And in other news...
I've been playing around with calligraphy.
The HMS Acasta holds a call for letters each year, and they normally open the mail packet at the Jane Austen Festival.  I decided to contribute to the packet this year.  I had a little fun making wills, advertisements, and forging British bank notes! I've covered the names of the crew members, because who gets what is a secret for now.  There's still time for you to contribute to the mail packet if you would like.  And there's still time for you to register to go to the 8th annual Jane Austen Festival in Louisville, KY.  You don't want to miss that!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Vernet 1814: The Final Post - Fashion Plate Reveal

Plate No.6 "Chapeau de Levantine. Canezou de Velour. Robe de Perkale."
Translation: "Silk hat. Velvet Canezou(a style of Spencer popular in 1811.) Perkale(a densely woven cotton similar to bed sheets) gown."

You've already seen the details, so this post is devoted to my fashion shoot, and the ensemble as a whole. 

Let me begin by saying that the chapeau and canezou are both uncomfortable to wear.  The hat is stiff, and the canezou, in order to mimic the fashion plate, is skin tight...not to mention the height of the collar (plus the fact that it is boned to help it stand) made me feel like I was wearing a neck brace.  There was definitely very little range of movement, and this outfit will feel hellish during the Summer months. 

 That being said, the ensemble as a whole is quite luxurious.  The cotton/silk velvet...the crisp perkale...the silk and the ostrich feathers as light as air...the swish of the fringe and ruffles...the high hem, showing off the little thin soled, silk boots...I felt like a doll come to life.  Imagine wearing an evening gown from a top designer today, and you get the picture.  High fashion it certainly was!  

The whole process was a journey that I would gladly take again (but maybe not this year!)  What a treat it was to work along side so many knowledgeable historical seamstresses, and to become friends with people that live in several different countries.  Were there frustrations? Yes. Were there expenses that I wouldn't normally have put into an outfit? Yes. But these annoyances were nothing compared to a year of learning by experience. 

My least favorite part of this head-to-toe experience...making the hat.  Milliner, I am not!
My favorite part about this ensemble...learning how to make the boots!  Maybe I'll become a cobbler?! 

One unanswered question though...what is she looking at?!...what is she reading?!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Vernet 1814: The Spencer - Construction

Let's learn about the spencer in my Vernet fashion plate, shall we..

First's actually called a Canezou, which was a very popular style of outerwear in 1811.  Made of cotton/silk velvet, lined with silk, decorated with fringe, and EXTREMELY tight fitting, this is a luxury garment in every way.

I decided to try out a new (to me) stitch that was used in the early 19th century (and previously,) the Bourdon Stitch.  Natalie tipped me off (and we experimented together) on this stitch.  Our knowledge was gleaned from Temps d'Elegance.  She's such an incredibly smart woman, and her blog is an invaluable resource.  She has a drawn out tutorial of this stitching method on her blog, but I wanted to give you a visual of how it worked out for me.
You start with sewing each piece separately with a simple running-back stitch, lining and outer fabric together, right-sides facing each other.  Once the piece is sewn at the seam, turn the piece right side out and press.  At this point, there should be NO seam allowance.

Pin one piece to the next, right sides facing each other.

Knot the end of your thread, and start by placing the needle through the edge of the lining on the right piece.  Pull the thread all the way through.

Next, cross your needle over to the left side piece, and pierce all the way through the two layers of outer fabric right at the edge.

Pull the thread all the way through and tighten slightly.  You're creating a hinge here, so you don't want it too tight.  Then, begin again just a few centimeters above that stitch....pierce through the right side lining fabric at the edge...cross your needle over to the left side, and pierce through both layers of outer fabric...pull tight...begin again, etc, etc.

Once you've gone all the way up the seam, it will look like this.

Open the fabric at the seam, and use your fingers to work up the 'spine' of the seam until the piece is flat.

Turn the piece over, and it will look like this from the outside.

Attach together each piece of the bodice in the same fashion.

Here's a peek at the inside of the Canezou.  Attaching the collar and decorative hem was done after the sleeves.  Short sleeves only are sewn onto the body of the spencer.  I stitched on narrow tape ties to the sleeve seams, so that I could attach the long sleeves at my convenience.

I have been affectionately calling the long sleeves "lobster claws."

The cuff is finger length, and decorative triangles rim the edge.  The long sleeves in the fashion plate are skin tight.  To make sure my sleeves fit as close as possible, I cut the fabric on the bias, so that it had a bit of a stretch to it.

Let's talk fringe for a moment.  I made a post previously about how I was following in the footsteps of the frangeirs.  Let's just say that I couldn't keep up with them.  I loved the weaving process, but my fringe just wasn't turning out good enough for this project.  Perhaps it was the material I was chenille is a beast that refuses to be tamed.  So, in the end, I purchased rayon (yes I know, it's not period) fringe.  Rayon is very close to silk in feel and quality, and it worked perfectly for this project.

I'm not really into fringe normally, so as soon as this outfit gets one good wear out of it, I plan on removing the fringe from the short sleeves and redoing them.

The collar...oh, the fashionably high and stiff...but so impractical!  Four inches high at its peak, it is boned to make it stand.  Decorated with triangle trimming around the top edge, if the sleeves are "lobster claws," then the collar is a "dragons mouth."  Again, this will be something I alter.  I love the design, but lowering the height of the collar will make this spencer much more practical to wear at events.

The back of the canezou is cut with a typical diamond shape.  There is no shortage of spencers made in this common fashion, and it wasn't hard to find more examples of this kind through museum extant pieces or other fashion plates.  Take a look at my Pinterest board for a plethora of similar images.

The last piece of the puzzle is done.  Next up, the big reveal.  Do I measure up to Vernet's image?