10 March 2018

HSM #2: The Amazing Garsault Stays

My Garsault stays, worn over a working class shift and an
under-petticoat from an 1990s Ikea fabric based on an 18th
century print (sadly not in the authentic red/black colorway).
There are four amazing things about these stays:
  • They fit me.
  • They're done.
  • I think it's a clever cut.
  • The cut comes from a well-known book of the period—but has gone unnoticed in the costuming world anyway!

There are also some not at all amazing aspects, mostly because I've been cutting corners:

31 January 2018

How to zigzag linen for prewashing

I use to preshrink fabrics before cutting and sewing, but I've always had trouble with linen fabrics which tend to fray in the washing machine even though I've zigzaged the edge. Recently I came up with a better way of zigzaging these tricky fabrics.

15 January 2018

Book review: The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking

"The American Duchess Guide to18th Century
Dressmaking", by Lauren Stowell and Abby Cox
Yay—I got "The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking" for Christmas. :) It provides a wealth of information on how to hand sew British-influenced fashion. As I'm living in a different cultural sphere, I wanted to see to what extent this book's patterns are applicable in countries that were mainly influenced by French fashion.

I'm especially interested in how women's clothes were cut in the 18th century, and as I haven't seen any reviews that have focused on that aspect, I'm also going to share my thoughts on how the book's patterns compare to patterns from extant gowns.

03 January 2018

Vive la différence!

One of the things that fascinate me about period fashion, is the range of variation. Styles didn't just change over time—they varied subtly from country to country (or region to region), as well as across the social scale, and between everyday clothing and Sunday best. There were multiple reasons for this, including tradition, economy, climate, and legislation.

I'll be using the 'vive la différence!' tag to highlight such differences. Kudos to organizations that encourage people to research local clothing!

13 December 2017

HSM #12: 'Parisian pearls' necklace

how to thread a 17th/18th style faux pearl necklace
my necklace
18th century ladies are occasionally portraited wearing pearl necklaces, often with quite large pearls which were probably fakes. The necklaces were tied with ribbons, the bow is occasionally visible in portraits. They're mainly documented for wear with the early mantua, and later with the robe à la francaise.

Pearl necklaces are quick and easy to make, as an alternative to the puffed ribbon necklaces often seen in the mid-18th century. They make a nice accent in an outfit or for accessorizing a period dressing scene.

20 November 2017

Continental stays 2: The Garsault stays pattern

image from Garsault showing multiple views of stays pattern
M. de Garsault, Art du Tailleur
(1769), plate 12 (detail).
Source: / BnF.
The stays in Garsault's 1769 "Art du Tailleur" are of a very different cut compared to Diderot's 1771 pattern. Garsault's cut has a more comfortable fit in the lower back, and can be adjusted to improve bust support.

Garsault doesn't depict individual pattern pieces, but we can use his illustrations and written information to alter another pattern into his cut.

06 October 2017

Continental stays 1: Diderot à la Waugh

Waugh's Diderot stays pattern
Waugh's pattern in
Corsets and Crinolines, page 40.
Norah Waugh's classic book Corsets and Crinolines (1954, reprinted 1987) includes her "Pattern of stays from Diderot's L'Encyclopédie".

Comparing Diderot's plates to Waugh's pattern, I found that she'd not just resized it for real bodies, but also taken some liberties in redesigning the stays. Here, I'll describe some changes she made, and how they can be reversed for a more period accurate cut.