Sunday, 8 September 2019

HSM '19 Inspiration: #9 Everyday

The challenge theme for the Historical Sew Monthly in September is Everyday: It’s not all special occasion frocks. Make something that would have been worn or used for everyday.


Look at those divided mittens! Also, hoods, and split skirts probably for greater use of movement. That's about as far as I get, myself; if you do Middle Ages, I'm sure you'll gain more from this.

That's one challenge idea that's near and dear to my heart - over the years, I have discovered that even though I do fall in love with those pretty frocks (and there are some special ones I'm head over heels in love with), on the whole I prefer to treat my historical wardrobe much like my modern one: as a collection of separates that can be mixed and matched according to current needs, rather than as special occasion head-to-toe looks. I have great admiration for people who can pull those off, but this one is certainly a challenge for us who like our clothes plainer or don't feel up to that yet. :-) And maybe a relief from the big challenges for the others. Or maybe it's a greater challenge for you if you've only been making special occasion clothes so far! ;-)

Now you may ask, what is everyday clothing? And the answer is, it probably depends.

The conservation bias that particularly preserves special occasion frocks and special occasion looks usually makes all the genre paintings and photos and the occasional extant piece where you can see what people were really wearing on an everyday basis all the more exciting. But the scope of what that group of clothing and accessories contains is still large, depending on many factors like era, class, or region; and while it is tempting to go to the other extreme and look for poor people's clothing, it's not so black and white. Which is actually good, because you can still tailor this challenge to your own costuming (or even your own everday) needs!

Interestingly, the more recent it gets in the timeline of the HSM, the more differentiated clothes types can get, concerning conventions for occasions - until you reach the 19th and early 20th century with so many different types of clothes it gets confusing - what's the exact difference between an evening dress, a dinner dress, and a ball dress? And then tea dresses, and for men, things like lounge jackets get thrown into the mix. A ball dress is definitely special occasion, but might a dinner dress or a tea dress actually count as everyday? I'm tempted to say they're definitely special occasion, but who knows what they were like for different people!


Dinner dress, 1841–46, silk, American. Metropolitan Museum of Arts, ID:  1977.293.3
For a lady of somewhat limited means, this might be her best dress. For a more well-off one, this could be just one of several.

What for one class of people would be everyday might be special occasion clothes for another class - or what would be special occasion clothes in one era might be relegated to everyday in another; or vice versa. Clothes pass-me-downs were far more common in history than they are nowadays and a noble lady's everday stays may become a maid's best pair...

There is also the fascinating case of the (tree) bast shoes that medieval Czech kings would put on during their coronation - in rememberance of the legendary Prince Přemysl the Plowman who, of course, in his previous life as a plowman wore such shoes as a matter of course, just like other peasants all the way to the 19th century.


1880s tree bast shoes - "lapti" - from Russia beyond the Ural. Národní muzeum, ID: H4-S3680. Felling trees just for costuming would be a bad idea, and there's probably a limited use for these in the costuming world. But it's a fascinating historical tidbit.

Of course, one can always use more chemises or shirts for one’s everyday wear. Undergarments – given they do not scream “fancy” or “for a special occasion” – are certainly something that would have been worn every day.

Man's shirt, linen or cotton, Dolní Němčí, Uherskobrodské Dolňácko, Czechia, early 20th century. Národní ústav lidové kultury, ID: 5351, Accession Number: 5051/1983.
(The date comes from this Esbirky listing.)
This shirt is yet another example of the blurred lines I am speaking of above: for the village man who would have been the original wearer, this was probably a special occasion shirt, as the lace on it indicates. But a pintucked shirt sewn along the exact same lines could have been a city man's everyday shirt in the late 19th and early 20th century. I share this particular example because NÚLK's online Badatelna, while somewhat clunky for searching, has listings for a number of these and other folk costume shirts with good quality flat photos that you can use for shirt construction research. (Search for "košile" and dig through the results.)

So this is all open to interpretation and if you can argue your case, we'll be only happy to grant it!
And therefore, for the rest of this post I'll just share more of my own favourite historical everyday items that I've stumbled on, and maybe some of it will spark an idea if you don't have one yet.

* * *

Here's one for those who sew for children - these are almost certainly village children, most likely in summer, or maybe spring:


The Czech painter Václav Brožík, who was otherwise mostly gaining traction as a society portraitist and a painter of historic or romanticised historical scenes, actually painted a number of similar scenes of children, as well as other village people, so you can get a pretty good overall idea from that if village life at the end of the 19th century is what you're after. Probably specifically in France, actually, because that's where he spent most of his working life; but here's one I think is almost certainly meant to depict a Czech scene. (Notice the woman in the back knitting a red stocking!)

If you're after city life in Europe at the end of the 19th century, though, especially Central Europe, you really shouldn't miss out on the work of Jakub Schikaneder for some everyday insights, both of working-class people, and this company at summertime leisure that's probably middle-class (I love the proof that the blouse-and-skirt combo was definitely already a thing in 1887, and not limited to white, on the two ladies in the middle):



Or maybe you could make nice cozy mittens for winter! (Their suitability for everyday probably depends on what your everyday looks like...)

c. 1930s-40s wool mittens, Národní muzeum, ID: H8-20091
These are probably from the tail end of the HSM's time range, possibly already from outside it. It doesn't give the measurements, so I'm not sure if they are meant for an adult or a child... but child seems likely. The fact that they are mittens, rather than gloves, as well as the long cuff, suggest they were aiming at practicality, despite the colour and fancy braiding patterns. It is, of course, those fancy braiding patterns that landed these among my historical darlings. :-)

And as a long-time lover of Albrecht Dürer, I would be remiss if I didn't include something by him; this drawing of a girl, with her partlet and headband, has always been one of my favourite portraits by him:


Albrecht Dürer: Portrait of a Girl, 1515, Charcoal. Staatliche Museen, Berlin, via Web Gallery of Art

Accessories are always a good way to go with the challenges, and one that would have undoubtedly been used in everyday contexts is a money purse!



* * *

And while we’re on the subject of money and shopping, how about a reusable shopping bag, which will definitely come in useful even in your modern everyday contexts?

If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at netting, a string bag could be just the thing to start your netting adventures on. (The link leads to Wikipedia; note especially the Czechoslovakia part, which falls into the HSM range, and I confirmed from another Czech source that that part at least is fairly accurate, if brief.) It became all the rage (at least in Europe) in the lean 1930s when having a lightweight shopping bag of great space capacity ready at hand for whenever a good buy presented itself was quite useful, and bags of this style stayed in use for decades after that (but that's outside our scope of interest for the HSM). Although they were sold commercially, they could also be made at home, which undoubtedly added to their appeal. They are now making a comeback, although the commercially-produced ones are now no longer netted by hand.
(I'll even confess to keeping an indefinitely postponed sewing project bundled up together in one of those... a use for which its see-through quality comes in handy!)


 Despite their historical ubiquity, I had a hard time finding an indisputably 1930s example. So here's a photo from the above Czech source, clearly taken years ago at an exhibition, said to be examples from the 1930s and 1940s - it probably comes either from Vlastivědný věstník Moravský, year XXXIV, issue 2, 1982, which that site cites as its source, or from the Krčil family archive.

They can also be crocheted, and even the (homemade?) netted version would have crochetted handles, as a Czech advice article in Národní listy from 25.3.1928 attests - it also points out that the crochetted version is a bit heavier and bulkier than the super-lightweight netted bag. It suggests to make it, either version, from "perle yarn", "twisted yarn", so I'm guessing a thin crochet yarn that's at least 2-ply and quite firmly twisted will do. The article's instructions will probably give you a smaller bag of this kind - they refer to it as a "purse", and make mention of larger bags; so if you want a bigger one, size up accordingly.
For netting such a "purse", the suggested diameter of the stick is 5-6 mm - quite small, probably to prevent things from falling out. Starting with 30 loops and increasing until you reach 50; then you do 20-30 rows of 50 loops and start decreasing again, until you create a netted hexagon. This you then crochet around, with two stitches in every loop, gathering the sides a bit and creating the "rim" of your bag, with an opening of about 45 cm in diameter. You add two more rows of crochet and crocheted handles; both the rim and the handles can be strengthened by crocheting around a cord. (The resulting bag would certainly look something like this one, from the abovelinked Czech source - unfortunately they give no date on that bag. But it illustrates neatly what the article also makes mention of - that one can have fun with colours!)
The article also suggests you can sew a small envelope bag / pocket to keep your bag in when not in use; they extoll the beauty of keeping your hands free for most of your walk if you have a lightweight, easily packable bag like that. I'm definitely tempted to give it a try one day. :-)

But other types of bags are out there - this one is dated a bit outside the HSM range, but perhaps not too much so to make it implausible to use as inspiration for the very tail end of the HSM range. It is, interestingly, made of prefabricated straps in order to achieve a far more substantial, heavy-duty bag.

Not to mention that certain 1790s reticules could well double as shopping bags, if one is to believe their size in the fashion plates! This one in particular seems suspiciously bulky (are those outlines of round shapes hints of balls of yarn? apples?!). No dainty special occasion purse for this lady!

Journal des Dames et des Modes, 1797-1798, Rijksmuseum, ID: RP-P-2016-8-125

And if you're going to be out and about on your everyday historical errands, you're definitely going to need some type of head covering, as this lady also shows.

* * *

It's apparently a costuming trend right now to sew things you can wear in modern contexts as well. I am all for that; just keep in mind that for the Historical Sew Monthly you should keep the modernising aspects of that trend well outside the sewing room door. There is still a surprising number of things that could pass the muster both ways!
 
Good luck, and have fun creating things that you will get much everyday use out of!

Friday, 2 August 2019

HSM '19 Entry for Challenge 7 - Unexpected: My sister's Moravian Wallachian bodice




What the item is: Moravian-Wallachian bodice for my sister

What is the unexpected feature? The colour blue. These days, the typical Moravian-Wallachian folk costume bodice is red (usually with green or gold trimmings). But in my research, I found out that's actually only a c. mid-19th century development; before that, red dye was more expensive and red bodices were only worn by well-off women, and for special occasions. One of the colours more common historically was blue, and as we hacked out the ideas for her costume with my sister, we found out she really liked the earlier version of it.
(Also, strikingly, it unfortunately came out much darker and brighter than expected - my inexperience with that brand of dye shows. :P I did use about 1/3 recommended amount as per Jacquard's instructions for "most saturated results", but apparently I should have used much less... :-( )
Here are two modern reconstructions of blue bodices in Moravian Wallachia in the beginning of the 19th century that were our primary inspiration for this - and show the sort of colour I was actually aiming at. :P The first also shows an extant picture - originally published in a book I unfortunately don't own.

Material: For the outer, overdyed cream wool worsted (a sort of brushed twill?) strengthened with woven cotton iron-on interfacing to roughly imitate wool broadcloth with my resources. Lining is a cotton-linen blend I bought in Ikea about ten years ago.

Notions: Dark red polyester satin ribbon for trim (sewed on with wrong side out to lessen the shine). Blue cotton thread for machine-sewing the outer, white cotton thread for machine-sewing the lining, white linen thread for handsewing the lining in, dark red silk thread for sewing on the trim. Blue linen buttonhole twist for sewing on the buttons. Dark red silk buttonhole twist for buttonholes & the embroidery in the back. (All links to Sartor, because they ship all over the place and I'm pretty sure they carry the same brands I used; but I only bought the linen thread there myself.) Metallic filligree shank buttons. (The plan is also to add hooks and eyes in case her figure changes, but I haven't gotten around to that yet.)

Pattern: My own, based on lots of Wallachian bodices viewed online, most of them not extant. Derived loosely from the basic bodice & princess seam tutorials by Bilikis Signatures on YouTube, because her simplified drafting methods struck me as a good starting point for a more rural garment; but I drafted front & back separately, because my sister is very busty. Then tweaked in mock-up.

(The centre front is actually cut on grain.)

Year: c. first half of 19th century

How historically accurate is it? About 50/50, I guess. Colour came out a tad too chemical. Material is mehish, though not too bad for our budget constraints & what's readily available (I'm not happy about the polyester trim, but the rest works quite well). Pattern is an educated guess. Machine sewing on seams & straighter bits of trim to speed it up. Aside from that, the construction method is plausible but not documented, and I think I made some mistakes because I was figuring it out as I went. I am not certain about the embroidery in the back, its existence is also a bit of an educated guess - I couldn't find any back pictures of extant bodices or historical depictions from the back; current bodices mostly have pom-pom-like decoration there but there are also some embroidered ones, and my sister wanted her bodice as smooth as possible.

The folds were, at first, delightfully neat - sew vertical seams, clip into seam allowance, fold, stitch seam allowance at the top of fold without stitching through to the outside, press.


The outer and the lining were sewn separately - I pleated the folds in the opposite diretion on the lining, without sewing down the top, and then I pressed the edges down and fell-stitched the lining in. This created a problem with the folds, however, in part because I had done a stupid and embroidered over them before I sewed in the lining - so it was even messier than it would have been anyway. (I've forgotten that I still want to sew pieces of fabric over the top inside to clean it up and secure it... see below how rather messy it is at the moment.)




The embroidery, though, makes me quite happy despite. I stitched tight triangles of overlapping stitches right above the folds to secure them, and then did a little decorative embroidery above it, in a bit of a spruce-branch pattern (or chicken feet, depending on how you look at it...) to echo the embroidery of spruce branches my sister made for her shirt.



(Callback to that post: As you can see now, I didn't interface this with downproof ticking in the end.)


Hours to complete: About 2 days for fabric dyeing & pattern creation & prep, about 3 days of rather intense sewing.

First worn: Not yet. It was meant to be worn at the final promenade at the Prague Folklore Days in July with the rest of her costume, but it was too hot for it so the bodice was left off. (She works as a guide for foreign dance ensembles almost every year and wanted to finally join in in her own folk costume.)

Total cost: I got the wool as a super-discouted remnant with holes and smudges at work, so this amount came at c. 30 CZK! The lining fabric was bought ages ago but I'm guessing it would have been around 80 CZK per metre (it's very narrow). Can't remember exactly how much the notions were - let's say also c. 80 CZK for the interfacing, c. 30 CZK for ribbon, 100 CZK for buttons (bought from a seller online), about 30 CZK for negligible amounts of thread, most of the cost being the linen and the silk? About 180 CZK for dye + shipping (my sister bought that, so I'm not entirely sure, either). So a bit over 500 CZK all together? Because of my extreme employee discount, mocking up broadcloth still came out considerably cheaper than actual broadcloth, which starts somewhere around 500 CZK per metre...

* * *

Sooo. That pattern-drafting method.

I discovered Bilikis a couple months ago through a YouTube recommendation when I started watching more crafting / historical videos on YouTube. I really like her demonstrative explanations, although some of her methods are not up to scratch if you're used to modern Western sewing methods. (Others, though, on the other hand offer some simple insights especially for a historical seamstress that modern Western drafting methods overcomplicate, so it balances out.) First thing I noticed is - that folded almost-symmetrical drafting method may create problems for busty ladies.

So I divided all of my sister's vertical measurements into front and back, and drafted front and back separately.

(She decided to wear her corset underneath her costume, which isn't exactly accurate but makes her a lot more comfortable, as a very busty lady.)

I also, initially, took away width in the front both at the sides and at the centre, creating a sort of trapezoidal shape; after I made a mock-up and found out there was length missing at the front and a bit of width missing in the bust (I think I underestimated my ease in that area), conveniently missing exactly where I stopped my angled "dart" in the front centre so I could just add it along that line - I rotated the pattern piece to put the centre front on grain and added length both on top to widen it there, and on the bottom to account for the missing length that her bust ate up, i.e., I lengthened the front to the point where the new hemline formed a right angle with the front.

Like so:


(Plus button overlap.)

Which was completely intuited, but may actually be a pretty good method to deal with that front length shortage due to bust while keeping the same side length as the back? I'd have to think more on that. Generally, I think I'll have to give more thought to this drafting method as relates to various historical patterns - it's a really neat starting point.

Because I had two princess seams in the back, I think I used smaller measurements for my darts than Bilikis uses in her tutorial. I had to take them in a little during mock-up after all, and generally had to balance the back a little - taking width from the centre and adding it on the other side of the pattern piece only at the waist, which I think had more to do with my sister's specific build (she's pretty sway-back-y) than the drafting method as such - the exact sort of thing mock-ups are for.

I also had to cut into the armscye considerably in the front - mostly because it's a sleeveless bodice, I think. And to adjust the shoulder slope - my sister has very mid-19th century shoulders! (The picture above already features these two adjustments.)

Oh, and I moved the shoulder seam very slightly to the back - which you can see with my abundance of cellotape in the pattern above. Now I think about it, with my aim date, maybe I could have moved them even further? But it would have messed with the neckline and my aim for a pattern that's as simple as possible.



* * *

I made the buttonholes following the tips in the buttonhole tutorial(s) from Fort Ticonderoga, which proved priceless.

Aside from the fabulous tip to rotate the thread couter-clockwise, it was especially the tip on focusing more on keeping them even than at keeping them tightly packed that came really helpful. I just somehow completely forgot about the cording...



Here four of them finished, with some of the basting already taken out. I originally planned on doing six of them, but then decided only five looked more balanced.

Not bad at all for someone who's mostly managed to avoid buttons for fifteen years of sewing! Definitely all thanks to Stuart Lillie's tutorials. (Okay, and maybe also my general ability to handsew surprisingly neatly, and the power of handbasting stuff - a little more work that saves you a lot of trouble in the long run!)


* * *

This is a placeholder where I may share the finished pattern one day, to make life easier for other busty ladies out there.



P.S. I've introduced a new tag, "Mess of making", which will be strategically placed at posts of particular importance to the truth of occasional sewing fails, messy insides and shortcuts taken. What with sewists online recently often bringing up how discouraging it can be when everyone keeps showing only picture-perfect finished makes, and how helpful it is to see others make mistakes, too: here there be my mess of making, as promised in the very beginning of this blog. I'm not going to show you the mess that's my room, but I do promise you I won't, ever, stick to picture-perfect finished projects only. After all, my love of sewing is just as much if not even more for the learning process as it is for the ability to make pretty clothes. :-)

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

HSM '19: Moderator Favourites for Challenges 1,2 & 3

For this year, we decided to switch up the favourites-choosing process somewhat. Last year we slacked off halfway through as we tried to keep doing picks from all the moderators and that became less and less feasible. So this time it's just the first three or however many more entries that anybody picks, which should hopefully make the selection process somewhat easier.

We said. It didn't quite happen so smoothly because I got busier than expected every time it should have been posted.

Yet another picture to keep the preview from spoiling it!


So this post combines both January, February, and March into a three-challenge post, just like Leimomi used to do it back when it was still the Historical Sew Fortnightly. But even then, especially with January, we really couldn't quite settle who was picking what! So this time around, you also get a bit of an insight into the picking process. :D Definitely check out the albums in the Facebook group to see all the lovely creations, we still couldn't cover it all!

As usual, items with photos link to the Facebook group's album, items with only a link lead directly to the maker's blog.

January - Dressed to the Nines:

Ninka: "The 1825 dress by Michaela Coy is one of my favourites: My immediate thought was "This looks like out of a fashion plate!" and it really is based on one. The colour, fabric and design give it a fancy look and there's clearly much work been put into creating the dress. Plus I always have respect for completely handsewn items, especially whole dresses. The extra effort in recreating also the depicted accessories really fits the theme."
& Carrie loved this one too, and her and Ninka couldn't quite decide between this and the following one!




Carrie: Jamie's 1860s petticoat - "The pintuck petticoat is beautiful and I think that might be my overall favourite."
& Hana: "I'm super impressed by this one!"
& Bránn: "Her petticoat is probably my favourite."


Leimomi: "My favourite is Ninka's: I love the clear but subtle inclusion of the theme, with nine roses, and the effort that went into creating a pair of beautiful undergarments. They are so evocative of their period."

Hana: And in addition to all that, I couldn't decide between:
Raquel's nine-gored skirt - "I really liked that she went with nine gores, such an interesting take on the "nine elements" interpretation of the challenge. And it is so neatly made and hangs so beautifully and elegantly!"
Leimomi: "That one was super cool!"




And Jeanette's "Day gown with dinner bodice option and Talma wrap with French bonnet" full outfit. "So much work, definitely dressed to the nines in the idiomatic sense, and she used nine different embelishment techniques!"
Carrie: "I really like Jeanette’s use of the 9 embellishing techniques."


February - Linens:

Ninka: "I pick this 1770s apron by Melissa. An apron is always a useful accessory to have, and this one is especially pretty. I love these blue stripes!"


Hana: "I loved Jeannette's 1913-1916 brassiere both because it was so neatly sewn, from a pattern based on an original pattern, and because it combined both interpretations of the challenge - it is lingerie, and linen was used!"

Leimomi: "Katie's embroidered pocket. It's absolutely beautiful - so meticulously worked, and striking."



Carrie: "My pick would be Dai Sanders' linen Belle Époque outfit. It was a lot of work in a pretty short amount of time, and I like that it stood out for being day wear in a pool of foundation wear (not that there is anything wrong with underwear of course!!). The colours are lovely and the outfit as a whole looked great."



March - Sewing Kit:

Hana: "My favourite is Sharon's 1770-80s apron, because of the point she makes about fine, small needles. Fine, small needles are the best, and indeed a crucial tool for fine sewing!"


Ninka: "My favourite is Jamie's mid 19th century sewing bag. First of all it's really practical for storing and carrying projects around. And on top of that, I think Jamie really captured the style of the extant pieces with her design and choice of fabric. Definitely a pretty and useful item!"
& Carrie: "I vote Jamie's brown workbag. I love the fabric, the use of reference material and that she started using it immediately."
& Jeannette: "Yes, Jamie's bag is perfect."


Klára: "I like Raquel's pincushion very much."
(note from Hana: So did I, but I tried to stick with one choice... which doesn't really matter all that much by now. :D)

Bránn: "I quite like Taylor's blue/white huswife."


And, well, anyone who knows me will know that ending on something blue and white is just about perfect! ;-)

So that's it for the picks but, as I said, there are more nice makes and you should check them all out! And hopefully the next post won't take quite so long to write. :D Till next time!

Sunday, 27 January 2019

HSM '19 #2 Inspiration: Linen/linens

The second challenge for Historical Sew Monthly 2019 is Linen/linens: make something out of linen, or that falls under the older definition of linens: ie. underclothes (lingerie literally means linen).

Linen, made from the fibers in the stems of the flax plants, is one of the oldest textiles there are (at least in the Old World), so you're safe to use it even if you by any chance do Sumerian or Ancient Egyptian impressions!


Wikimedia Commons tell me that bunch of stalks before Ani represents a bale of flax. Whether or not that's the case in this particular artwork, the clothes he wears most probably are linen.

Egyptian linen was known to be so fine as to be transparent, an aspect of linen you may also be familiar with from fine caps, fichus and chemisettes in the later centuries.



And while your quintessential transparent white Regency dress is usually made of Indian cotton muslin, you can actually find some linen extants as well - taking that clothing article that much closer to the example of antiquity they were aiming at!


And throughout the centuries, it was a popular material for fine laces, more easily obtainable in Europe than silk.


Lace may be too much for you to recreate for the challenge (but isn't the one above adorable?), but of course these would often be attached to chemises and shirts, or separate collars, also made of linen.



Linen was a home-grown fibre in Europe, and as such, something that you find very often in peasant / folk costumes. One aspect of it I find particularly fascinating is that in several countries (or regions, specifically), women wore caps / bonnets made with the very ancient technique of sprang well into the 20th century. These were usually made with linen thread, although later also cotton (and I've unfortunately only tracked down cotton examples, but the style is the same).



Another use of linen completely hides the linen in your project. I mention it here because it often lands you with search results on museum sites that list "linen" among other materials, without the linen actually showing on the outside of the garment, so it's something to watch out for:
Linen was used extensively as a lining fabric underneath other fine materials - often, before the methods changed in the 19th century, you would drape the garment in the lining fabric, i.e. the linen, and then mount the silks or wools on top of this linen base.

This presentation on the Lengberg finds makes a case for it being the case back in the 15th century!


We discussed this particular application of linen with the moderators, and the final consensus was that if linen linings are a step towards greater historical accuracy for you, or you just happen to be working on a project like that right now, feel free to use it as a justification for your entry for this challenge.

Aside from the hidden linings, medieval depictions show white accessories like headwraps and aprons that would have definitely been made of linen.

And you can, of course, totally justify your linen linings if your outer fabric also happens to be linen!



But linen is also known as a nice material to wear in summer heat, and it was used that way in the past, unlined, in articles of clothing that were otherwise usually comprised of far more layers.



It's also known to be good at wicking moisture (that's part of what makes it nice for summer), and that, together with its ability to withstand repeated washings, made it an ideal material for underclothes like chemises and shirts.



Which ties us neatly into the other interpretation of this challenge: underwear.

Especially if it happens to be made of linen. ;-)




If you're going the underwear route, you don't necessarily have to use linen the fibre, though (it's not always easy to find in the correct weight for fine underwear these days). It is, however, the most accurate material for the earlier periods.

From cca the end of the 18th century onwards, you find cotton being used in the same underwear applications as linen fairly often.

And of course, for certain things you could use silk.



Or even, as a more affordable option in the 20th century, viscose / rayon.

And if you're currently in the cold part of the world, or on the other hand would like to prepare for when your hemisphere is plunged into winter, you could even use wool.



Just please don't take the interpretation even further and don't make household linen instead! The HSM is meant for garments or accessories worn by a living person, normally not for other types of sewing. (Some challenges, like the Sewing Kit challenge this year, may specify you can also make something else, but those are only the exceptions proving the rule!)

Hopefully that still offers you a wide choice of things to pick your project from for this challenge. Happy creating!

(You can search, on museum sites, not only for "linen" but also "flax" - the term for the plant - or "bast" - the general term for plant fibres like linen. On different language sites it depends on the particular language the site is using, of course...
On Czech sites like esbirky.cz, you can search for "len" - the material / fibre, or "lněný" / "lněná" / "lněné" - the adjectives. The downside to the adjectives is that, depending on the algorithm, you may accidentally end up with wool and cotton objects, too... "vlněný" and "bavlněný", respectively. Yep, Czech is fun!)

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

HSM 18 Inspiration: #8 Extant Originals

The Historical Sew Monthly challenge for August 2018 is Extant Originals: Copy an extant historical garment as closely as possible.

First and foremost, we would like to encourage you to simply give it a go - have fun with it, make that garment you love, find a garment you love, get yourself something you will love wearing. This post - fair warning, it is quite long - tries to compile further guidelines and advice if you want to up your game and do your best.
Sometimes, the idea of doing that may seem just like a very unrealistic dream: for example, I love this c. 1790 silk jacket from Severočeské muzeum in Liberec to bits, but I have not yet come across a good modern version of those late rococo silk brocades with scattered flower bouquets.



With this inspiration post, I would like to guide you towards finding a realistic and perfectly doable version of that dream. You may have to start small, but small steps can eventually lead to a full historical outfit.

Right up front, I’d better clarify what exactly we mean by “extant historical garment” and “as close as possible”.
We certainly don’t insist you actually find a historical garment to physically hold and study and copy exactly. What we want you to do is what many of you already do – find a picture, preferably more pictures, of a garment in a museum collection or on a trusted auction site, and make a garment for yourself (or a family member / friend) that looks as close as possible to it.
(If you’re lucky enough to have physical access to your chosen item, or have an heirloom / personal collection item from the HSM time range you can recreate, that’s a plus but by no means a requirement.)
“As close as possible” is definitely, at least to a certain extent, up to you and your circumstances, just like the historical accuracy of your HSM entries is to a certain extent up to you. If you have not yet, read Leimomi’s post on the various ways of approaching historical accuracy – that alone may help clear some things up.

1790s silk taffetta jacket, Abiti Antichi.
I love this one equally as much, and solid-coloured silks are easier to find. (Although I actually have other plans for this challenge, the comparison serves as a good example.)

What we would like to see with this challenge in particular, however, is a greater attention to the pattern shapes, techniques and details that make a historical garment historical – try to really recreate the construction, the seamlines and trimmings, and get inspired by garments genuinely worn in the period rather than prints and paintings (although those may also offer you insights the extants alone cannot).

Sunday, 1 July 2018

A historical costumer's progress

It's not going to be an overview for beginners's education / advanced amusement type of post.

It's just a fun little thing I noticed which marks my own progress.

Back in 2011 (whoa), I wrote about watching the Czech TV series F.L. Věk. I wrote also - how could I not - about the costumes.

What I did not mention in the post was that I had looked at the picture I shared there, of the character Márinka in a printed dress, and that I had gone: "Points for trying but that's a roller print and this is too early for that." (Early 1790s, I believe.)


The aforementioned progress is like this:

In 2018, I look at the picture and go: "That's modrotisk!"

Traditional indigo resist print. It's not roller print; it's block print. Even those that look like roller prints.

I still think this particular pattern is probably anachronistic for early 1790s, but now I actually know the technique isn't. :D

Bonus: I can get very similar fabric (or is it really the same?) if I were inclined to recreate the costume and put that kind of money into it (which I'm not, but I do badly want to make a historical modrotisk dress one day). I think the one in the costume got more indigo bath dips than the one the Danzingers are selling now, so I'd probably go with the version from Strážnice... also, how come they have the same printing block?!

... unless, of course, Márinka's dress was a cheaper modern knockoff of the fabric style. Entirely plausible with a TV costume.

(Further bonus: I can show you part of how it's done. If I get my act together and finally finish the post on the workshop in Strážnice I started last August.)

Sunday, 11 February 2018

HSM Favourites for #1: Mend, Reshape, Refashion



When the Historical Sew Monthly started as a Fortnightly, and for several years after, Leimomi would choose her favourite entries for the challenges, picking not just personal favourites but also things that in her opinion best represented the spirit of the HSM and the particular challenge.

Then the group got even bigger, life got even busier and that practice fell by the wayside in favour of more pressing things to do. But for this year, we decided to bring the favourites posts back, because they’re a nice way to wrap up the challenges and motivate the participants. This time around, each moderator would choose one item, write a little blurb about why they like it, and the person doing the inspiration post for a given challenge will post all the favourites on their blog.


So obviously it falls on me to post about our favourites for Nr. 1, Mend, Reshape, Refashion.
Just like before, for our favourites we will always try to select items that really represent the spirit of the challenge: in this case, to remake a costume to be wearable again (just like our ancestors did), or to look at historical clothing and things around you with an open mind to see what could be used for a project; generally, to research, stretch yourself, learn more, sew better, and get something made.

 (Header image from the original post so that you would not get a premature peek at our choices, hehe.)

There will always be amazing things that we won’t show you (because there are only so many of us and so many of you!). So we recommend you always check out the comments under the inspiration blog posts, the photos in the Facebook albums and the hashtags on Instagram to see the rest of the fabulous things that were (ever!) made. (Yep, you do have to be a member of the Facebook group to see it, yep, if you ask to be a member we’re going to ask you some questions, and yep, it might take us a few days to let you in, but if you are really interested in the HSM, as a participant or active cheerleader, we’d LOVE to have you!)
And now without further ado, the favourites! Just like Leimomi used to do it, entries with photos link to FB, entries without a photo link to the blog post of the maker.


 
Okay, so nominally this is Kura’s pick, but really it was a common favourite! We all liked the historical accuracy / impressive amount of research into an earlier, less documented period. Kura has been too busy to devote much time to moderating recently, so she agreed to at least have this presented under her name. :D



When you wear historical clothing regularly, and actually do physical activities in it, repairs are a fact of life, whether patching a knee or elbow, splitting a seam, repairing a hem, or just re-attaching popped buttons. And quite often, it is a task we procrastinate over *looks guiltily at my own pile of garments needing repairs*simply because it’s work; it is generally not creative, but is tedious.
Only a few people chose to actually do repairs--either because it felt like something too simple to enter, or because they had other plans--and this one stands out to me because of the fabrics involved.
Dana decided to...with her self-confessed limited handsewing skills...t o patch a rather large tear in a silk chemise. Not a task I envy her doing. As near as I can tell, she cleaned up the edges, resewed them together, then applied a narrow patch over the top in order to spread the strain over a larger area.


Sarah remade a knitted mid-19th century hood her daughter would not like to wear into hood for herself. I like this project because it not only reuses material, but utilizes hours spend on knitting too. Besides, it is not just minor alternation, but the original hood is completely redyed and reshaped.

Leimomi: Dana’s 1860s hood (Hoods and headwear in general were a rather popular entry both for the participants and the moderators, it seems! - certainly not anything I foresaw when writing the inspiration post...)


I love Dana’s 1860s hood made from a cut-apart sweater. Historical costuming is challenging because we often ask ourselves to have more skills than the vast majority of clothes-creators would have had in the past: drafting, draping, sewing, knitting, hatmaking, hat-trimming, lacemaking - even shoemaking. And we ask ourselves to have these skills across multiple eras. As someone else who doesn’t knit, I really enjoy the way costumers use ingenuity create knit garments without actually knitting. Dana used a photo of a Civil War laundress as inspiration, and created a garment that will look and act just like a knitted hood - without knitting. So clever!

Because it's pretty, simple as that. I love the fall of the pleats and how Alyssa managed to make the plaid work for her despite not having enough fabric for a planned plaid-matching. And I also like  that it’s one of the entries that fit into one of the further possible interpretations of the challenge I originally suggested: that of changing a garment to a different figure.

So hopefully you can see you don't necessarily have to do a big project to wow us. :-)


Next time, over to someone else... see you in August! (Well, hopefully there will be other HSM-related things to post in the meantime. ;-) )