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02 September 2018

HSM 2018 #8: The trimmed underpetticoat

A partridge petticoat in a pear plum tree.
My project is inspired by a petticoat in the collections of the Chester County Historical Society, depicted and patterned in Sharon Burnston's book "Fitting & Proper".

Chester County is situated in southeastern Pennsylvania in the US; a fun twist is that the town of Chester was originally founded by Swedes and named Upland, after the Swedish county where I live. Quakers were the county's largest social group in the 18th century, but Germans also had a strong influence on the material culture.

29 June 2018

In Germany, tailors made women's clothes

For a long time, tailors made outer clothes for both men and women, while female seamstresses and home sewers made linen undergarments. Then in late 17th century France and Britain, female couturières and mantua makers got the right to sew mantuas and other women's clothes. The tailors continued to make stays, stiff-bodied court gowns, and riding habits for women, in addition to menswear.

Similar changes took place in Germany and Sweden too, but the tailors there hung on much longer to the privilege to make women's clothes, so the transition from tailors to dressmakers was delayed for a century or more. In the meantime, tailors in the German tradition continued to develop cutting methods for women's clothes as well as men's; J.S. Bernhardt's two-volume book from 1810‒1811 is the earliest and the most well-known printed example. Sewing techniques also differ between extant garments, depending on if they've been made in a tailor's or dressmaker's tradition. 

16 June 2018

HSM 2018 #3: A frumpy Swedish bedgown

My bedgown, folded in half along the center back.
There are several scaled-down patterns based on extant Swedish bedgowns. Some of them are in the popular book "Kvinnligt mode under två sekel" which can be found in many Swedish libraries, and there are a couple of free patterns online in Duran Textiles' newsletters (here and here).

In spite of this, I chose to spend $30 on a full-scale pattern, that is 15 years old to boot…

08 May 2018

New "18th C" Ikea duvet cover—"Hässleklocka"

"Hässleklocka" duvet cover (photo: Ikea)
This duvet cover is in Ikeas mid price range, and has a slightly higher thread count than the discontinued "Ljusöga" duvet cover. It has 18th century potential, and was probably inspired by period fabrics (if it was more of a reproduction, I think Ikea's website would say so, like for the "Sprängö" duvet cover).

Edit: It's nice to see a print in just red/pink tones for a change—though as usual, the shades are a bit different from period print. 18th century block prints often did incorporate a lighter and darker shade of red.

29 March 2018

Ikea discontinues "Ljusöga" duvet covers

"Ljusöga" duvet cover (photo: Ikea)
Ikea is piloting a website redesign on their Swedish site, with a special section listing products that will soon be discontinued. The "Ljusöga" duvet covers are on that list.

This design has been somewhat popular as an affordable fabric option for late 18th century style gowns, and some examples can be seen at 18th Century Notebook: Ikea Dresses. It is also used in the 1780s Italian gown featured on the cover of "The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking". If you've planned to pick up one of these duvet covers, do so now before they're gone!

On a more positive note, Ikea will soon launch a new 18th century print.

10 March 2018

HSM 2018 #2: The Amazing Garsault Stays


My Garsault stays, worn over a working class shift and an
under-petticoat from a 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.