Tuesday 27 July 2010

Progress for my medieval dress!

Once upon a time, I started mocking up a medieval dress (called cotehardie, cotte, something like that) from old bedsheets on myself. Draping it on myself. With no previous experience in draping. I'm crazy like that.
After three or four or how many mock-ups, I managed to arrive at something quite usable. Or almost.

It works in the front. It did not work in the back.

And I left it like that for over a year. *phew*

Now, thanks to American Duchess' post on a 17th century jacket - with gussets - I realised that her problem might be my problem, too, and started playing with the back gusset. In the end I decided to drop the center back gusset altogether and go with side gussets just like in the front, because the center gusset creates strange kind of drape in there. But it all started with the Duchess' post, so - thank you very much, again!

Now I'm going to play with some sleeves options.

And after that is figured out, I'm going to make a wearable muslin out of that blue-grey fabric from my grandma (remember, I have heaps of it). The point of making a wearable muslin in this case lies in
a) figuring out how much fabric it actually eats up before I cut into my silk (and eventually making amends if it turns out it eats up too much), and
b) having a version of it finished even if I don't manage to finish the silk dress by the time of the local festival. Because I really do not want to wear my first, poor, Halloween-y attempt on a medieval dress again. (It was made for a party in the second-to-last grade of Grammar school, so technically it's not a Halloween costume - but I did wear it to a Halloween party, too.)

Oh, and then there's
c) having something for the Historical Costume Inspiration Festival. Because I think this is much more doable than the 1848 jacket AKA kacabajka. For one, our local notions shop does not carry soutache, so I'll have to obtain it somewhere else. For two, for the jacket I'd have to make completely new mock-ups, while this thing is already mock-upped. For three, this is an even older inspiration than the 1848 jacket:

It's Les très riches heures du Duc de Berry: Juin by the Limbourg brothers, and the image is taken from the Web Gallery of Art, but I first came across it in Kybalová's book on medieval clothing, which was the second of her books I've got (the first was ancient clothing). So that was long before I set my eyes on the 1848 jacket.
With my love for blue and white, I naturally fell in love with those dresses... They're work dresses, worn in the fields, but from all I know, they're the basic shape used for all classes, so I think it can work for a townsman's daughter as well (that's me, if you didn't realise). I plan on making the silk dress with detachable lower sleeves, so that I can wear it long-sleeved for the festival, and short-sleeved to church or somewhere else in real life. So yes, those short sleeves work for me, too.

I'm getting really excited about this. Especially about the fact I'm going to make something that works for me on so many levels... I'll use the mock-up dress as a workdress around the house, with the possibility to wear it to the festival if I do not manage to make the silk version in time. It's going to be my favourite shade of blue. It's going to have a fun, long, flowing skirt. And it's going to be a delightfully subversive dress in my own way, a medieval dress worn in 21st century.

(Oh, and remember the rust-coloured velvet? That's going to become another incarnation of this dress. So is, hopefully, the Marimekko print. Now that's going to be one fun, delightfully subversive dress, guaranteed!)

Saturday 24 July 2010

Who's the most famous Czech artist?

The answer is obvious, I think... I wanted to celebrate the anniversary of his birth, because I really like a lot of his work. But I don't think I have to add anything else about him, because many other sites out there do that work for me.
With that Czech "national" costume theme I'm having lately, I think it's interesting that Mucha did design some Czech national costumes as well. In 1886, so the label is off, but I'm not bothering with a new label for only one post. (Besides, as I previously mentioned, the book on national costume in 1848 covers some years beyond that as well, so let us just take this very approximately).
What do you think of his version of it?

(Picture scanned from Ludmila Kybalová: Doba turnýry a secese, Nakladatelství Lidové noviny, Prague, 2006. I should remember to quote my sources properly!)

Friday 23 July 2010

Kacabajka-related thoughts

That's what the nationalist 1848 Czech type of jacket was called. Kacabajka. Which, you English speaking folk, is definitely pronounced differently than you would pronounce it. But I'm not going to try to give you an idea, because my ability to transcribe Czech words in English equals that of English speaking folk to pronounce them.

I did find the passage about that particular jacket (which is in the collections of Umělecko-průmyslové muzeum in Prague). Yes, it was blue and white - light blue, with white borders, and the soutache trim was most probably navy/dark blue (it does look navy on the photo). So the fabric I have got from grandma is perfect in terms of colour.
It's not perfect otherwise, though, because the original jacket is made of silk, while my fabric is rather loosely and roughly woven... cotton, most probably.
Still, I think I'd give it a try. I like the colour and I have heaps of that fabric, so if it doesn't work out, it's not such a problem... I can always interline/flat-line it with something more densely woven to balance out its loose weave. Plus, it seems quite "period" in other aspects.
First, it's narrower than most contemporary fabrics - my guess is 1 m (roughly compared to our 90 cm wide dining table, because I was too lazy to measure it).
Second, a passage in the book says that some of the Czech nationalists of that era who promoted "national costume" also promoted the use of fabric from the mountainous regions of Bohemia, so called "plátno" - woven, and not woolen, as opposed to "sukno" which was, as far as I know, woollen, and which, as quoted in the book, some of the 1840s Czech nationalists equaled with Germans. Sometimes their logic really escapes me...
Anyway, I digress. As the book says, in order to support Czech weavers they promoted the use of Bohemian wovens from the mountainous regions, that were actually woven in satin weave - which my fabric is.

The colour is a bit off, but you can see the weave very well. And the fascinating way the weft and warp threads alternate so that the seemingly dominating direction of threads differs on each side of the fabric. If that makes sense described like this... I think, from satin-weaves, so far I've only encountered crepe-backed satin (AKA charmeuse) or damask (i.e. patterned weave), so this is new to me, and I love it.
I guess that "plátno" which they were promoting for national costume must have been very similar to this. Only most probably linen, not cotton.

The book says these jackets were worn with white skirts, which is an idea I really like. I imagine it worn with a long white skirt, and the OUATITW blouse underneath it... what a lovely mental image. Now I have to make at least one of those things. The OUATITW blouse is an obvious choice, seeing as I already have both the pattern and the fabric.

If I decipher the pattern draft correctly... if I do, to my great and pleasant surprise it seems the original wearer's bust and waist circumference was about the same as mine (at least the waist; I'm not so sure how to determine the bust measurement with the various pattern pieces).
In an ideal world, this would mean I could enlarge the pattern and use it without alterations. Alas, it is not so. Ms Ludmila Tomková of kacabajka renown was apparently very short torso-ed: 29 cm from nape of neck to waist. I, on the other hand, am slightly long-torsoed - about 41 cm, probably to balance out my undeniably short legs. So I'll have to lengthen it in the torso and, on the contrary, shorten it in the hips area, or my legs would look even shorter.

I'll conclude here with a photo of the pattern draft for your sewing-related dreams:

And here I'll leave you, waiting and drooling over its possibilities, until I finish at least some of my Regency-related and modern sewing, and that sontag from Stephanie Ann's Civil War Era Knit-Along.

(Also, this post seems to be an exercise in "How many labels can you squeeze into one post?")

The End. For now.

P.S. That was not long... I forgot to mention that, somehow, I managed to buy both a hat and sunglasses. The sunglasses are not of much consequence for this blog, the hat I'll get to later.

Tuesday 20 July 2010

Look what I've got! - the books edition AKA Books are gonna be the death of me

(Paraphrasing the title of this blog post.)

Because one day, they're going to land on me while I'm sleeping, all tens if not hundreds of them. Because I'm running out of shelf space and store most of my new acquisitions on the second store of the storey bed I sleep in. (That's, by the way, a pun that probably only works in English. But it's completely true in my Czech reality.)

In other words, I ought to get rid of some of the old things I've been hoarding, to make room for the books.

In yet other words, it seems I'm not going to get a hat anytime soon. Today, I wanted to try to buy a hat. The shop I went to first was already closed. So I went to a secondhand bookshop next door, and came away with more books than I originally wanted to. And strolling around potentially hat-offering shops was not an option anymore.

But it was worth it. Because I got this:

Picts and Martyrs by Arthur Ransome. One of my favourites by him, and until now one of the few I didn't have yet. (The cover is quite awful, but inside are Ransome's own illustrations.)

And this:


And a thick book that was the main reason why strolling around shops was not an option anymore, but I won't show you that, because it's a Top Secret Gift for my sister, and I can't be sure she isn't lurking around here. Besides, you wouldn't appreciate its greatness (or at least its assumed greatness) anyway.

But the best part are these two:

My Favourite Book Ever, give or take a few. The reason behind my love for Regency, too.
One of those books worthy of a pretty cover, for sure. It's unfortunately a paperback; but a very pretty paperback from the 50s. And yes, those were the dark times of communism in this part of the world, but it must have been a golden age for editions of Pan Tadeusz... the Czech edition in our local library is from the 50s, too.
Now I'll see whether my conviction that I understand written Polish is correct... Seeing as I've read the Czech translation many times, and seen the Polish film from 1999 many times, I don't think it should be a big problem.


A monography on Czech "national costume" in 1848 (and some years beyond that)! Guess what it has to do with my reading of Božena Němcová's letters?
With pattern drafts! And not just any pattern drafts, with a pattern draft for the jacket I've loved in the series on historical fashions by Ludmila Kybalová! Most of the pattern drafts are for male costumes, in fact, but whatever, it has a pattern for that jacket which I've secretly wished to duplicate, hooorray!

And because I've wished so secretly, here it is:

I've wanted to make it in blue and white, and now that I've read a passage on this type of jackets in the book, I suspect the original might have started out as blue and white as well. (I didn't find the passage about this particular one yet, but it must be there somewhere. I'm sure to find it soon.) I even already have the perfect colour of fabric for it (another of my grandma's hoards), although I do not know if it is the correct type of fabric. From another passage in the book, I suspect it might be. *grin*
I'd probably make the embelishments simpler, because this screams "national Czech costume from 1848" (which is exactly what it is, after all), but I love the lines of it. A wonderful summer jacket, isn't it? Not this summer, but one of those to come for sure.

Monday 19 July 2010

Look what I've got! - the tools edition

How I managed not to post about my new pinking shears for so long is beyond me. (I bought them on June 3.)
They're from Ikea, and they were quite cheap, so I hope they'll last... but they certainly work the way they're supposed to work, and that's most important now.

But my best finds come from my wonderful crafty grandma. She's quite a hoarder (now I know where I got that from! - although father's an even greater hoarder) and she seemed delighted that her hoards find a use after the years...

She asked me whether I could do... a kind of embroidery. Sorry, I do not know the English term. Madeira? Eyelet? I said I had tried and could not get it quite right. She asked whether I had an awl. That she could give me one.
My heart jumped at that. I'd wanted a tailor's awl for a while already. Never quite got around to ask in the local shop whether they had it... and now I didn't have to!
Grandma set out to find an awl for me. And couldn't find it. And found lots of other things instead, mostly vintage or even antique.

Like needles.
Tiny needles in a lovely tiny needlecase.

I love seeing how things were made and used decades ago... the needlecase is just a piece of paper, a bit cut there, folded there and there, probably a bit of glue there, but it works very well! Although I do not know how old these are, I think they're really quite old.

So must be this needle threader - I love how it has its own tutorial on itself!

And a set of tools for netting, or maybe tatting, or something like that. Could be used for weaving, too, I presume.

I could take all these.

And some fantastic notions and hardware were unearthed, I'm going to share those in separate posts.

And finally she found the awls, too.

I got this one:

A lovely smooth wooden awl, and most probably antique, something other women in my family used to use... I love that feeling. Knowing that I continue in a tradition. (Which is, by the way, also the reason I'm veeeeryyy sloooowlyyy learning how to do bobbin lace.)

She kept these:

Made from bone. Awls, and what's probably crochet hooks, and a needle case with its cap plus one separate cap without its needle case.
I love this piece:

Grandma says there was probably a crochet hook inserted in there - it's a handle. With screw-on cap which would keep the hook in place. Lovely. Who makes this kind of things nowadays? Nobody, I'm afraid.

Anyway, from my previous post and the photo above, you know I've already put the awl to good use. :-)

And you could obviously see how excited I am about all these things. Just count the words "love" and "lovely" in this post!

Monday 12 July 2010

I finished something!

Not the chemise. I already wore the chemise on Saturday, as a dress around the house, but it's not finished yet - I still need to do the bottom hem, and maybe re-do the sleeve hems with bias tape - but it's wearable, and I needed to wear something cool (in the original sense of the word), because we're having very hot weather. It was fantastic for it. I'll have to make myself a dress of that kind, one day, when I will have finished at least something of the things I want to make now...

I made a headband yesterday. By taking a remnant of red velvet ribbon that I got from my grandma (along with many other amazing things) and sewing a piece of elastic to it. I got inspired by the things Disney from Ruffles and Stuff makes: simple, effective and feminine. It seemed to be the most natural thing to do with the ribbon when I laid my hands on it yesterday. So I did it.

I have to share at least something new about the chemise - my first eyelets made with a tailor's awl:

One bigger than the other and so on, but they work, and look quite nice.
The awl is another of the wonderful things I got from my grandma - actually the one that started the spree. More on that later. As usual.

And look at the tiny tiny tiny stitches I did at the neckline! I'm very proud.

Saturday 10 July 2010

I want a hat

More precisely, I need a hat. But when I need such thing, I might just as well want something I really like, right?

Right. Right now I really like this early 19th century embroidered straw Swiss hat from the Metropolitan Museum of Art:

Although I prefer the shape of this one. And I'd even more like it to have some kind of a crown, to more or less work as a modern hat as well. So maybe something like this one. Or this 18th century bergére.

But I really, really like the embroidered brim of the Swiss one. That'd make a hat I could wear without feeling I have put a basket or placemat on my head. :D

So now I need to get a straw hat with wide brim. The embroidery I could do myself.

Friday 9 July 2010

Look what I've got!

I found it in a secondhand bookshop, among lots and lots of postcards.
(I also brought some of the postcards home.)

I think the dress is really pretty. What I see of it. Her hairstyle is quite interesting, too. And, of course, it's a lovely vintage photo of a young mother with her child and that's sweet in itself.

How old do you think it is? 1910s? Early 1920s?

Saturday 3 July 2010

Progress, and old new fabric (2) + thrift shop finds

I'm still working on the chemise. I wanted to finish it by the end of June, which I did not manage. But now it's only the neckline and the bottom hem to go. So, right now (or, more exactly, few moments ago), I'm sewing together strips of bias-cut fabric to sew at the neckline, while watching Alarm für Cobra 11 and feeling slightly dizzy at it.
(Funnily enough - remember the film about apostle Paul I mentioned in one of my previous posts? Well, it turns out the actor who played Paul also played one of the main characters in the first season of Cobra 11. Only in the first season; he left the show after that. I only saw one episode from Season 1 and I personally think the actors who came after him were better suited for it. So, well.)

I went to the post office this morning, for a letter, and while I was in town, I bought some notions (short zippers for eventual new versions of Andrea or something - one pink, for the flowered seersucker) that were on discount, and dropped into a thrift shop. That didn't go so luckily. I found a lovely pair of vintage-y modern shoes - too small. Plus two drapes with pretty print that would be suitable for eventual Regency dresses - cotton/polyester blends. Eugh. Thanks, I won't take that. So I felt a bit disappointed about that...

The Very Pink Poplin is probably some kind of blend. More on that later, perhaps. (I seem to be promising that very often, did you notice?)

Here are the promised treasures:

Purple velvet drape-thingummy. It's a very, very pretty colour, but the person who made it into the drape-thingummy sewed a number of pintucks on it - on the wrong side. To attach some rings for the draping. So now, when I rip the seams at the pintucks, there are stripes of different texture (and colour) on it. Still, it's lovely. I thought of making a short-sleeved spencer out of it (if such thing existed), but then I decided it'd be better to make it into covers for some of my favourite books. You know, I really like books. And some of them really deserve pretty covers.

And more velvet, two rusty hues. I really, really want to turn these into a dress for winter. Something to wear to church and similar places. Based on the medieval pattern I'm draping for myself. I really think it would be lovely. I only have to figure out how to make it look not costume-y, just unique.

The velvets seem to be cotton or rayon. Certainly not the melting kind of artificial. Fantastic.

There are still more fabrics, but I do not have good photos of them, because the light changed after that. It's VERY sunny and very hot now. :P I want some rain!

Oh, and while I did not score at the thrift shop today, I did on Thursday, in the bookshop. I got C.S. Lewis' Four Loves. In English. As good as new. For 50 CZK.
Remembering that makes me realise that the shoes and drapes of today were far less interesting finds.
(I also got Hiawatha that day. Czech edition from 1952, with pretty patterned cover and Native-American-like illustrations. For 45 CZK. And the other day, a thick Hungarian-Czech dictionary from 1910, in perfect condition, for 80 CZK. I love that bookshop.)