Saturday, March 24, 2012

Preparing for Summer

Goodness, it's ridiculously warm for this time of year!  In fact, all this unseasonable weather has got me thinking about clothes for this summer.  In particular, things to wear out for picnics and strolling around the Boston Public Gardens.  I'm working on corsets and petticoats this week, but after a cutting marathon this morning I decided I really ought to have a a nautical skirt to add to my wardrobe, as I tend to wear sailor dresses all summer anyways.
in a dress/parasol I made last summer, hamming it up with Prince Justin (the hedgehog) 
So this post originally started as research on nautical summer wear for the turn of the century, but then I just couldn't stop it expanded into summer sportswear in general.  Yay for croquet!

From Harper's Bazaar, 1872
And here are some other lawn ensembles:

Harper's Bazaar sport outfits, 1898
labeled 'Archery Tournament, Boston' , 1906

Summer costume, 1888

Tennis At Newport by George Bellows, 1919

Golf ensemble, 1898

sporting outfits, 1890

Girl Playing Croquet by William Coleman, 1904

 I know this one is super small, but she has a be-pom-pom-ed beret! so cute!
Woman with Tennis Racket and Ball, 1887
And finally, the original images for this post--on the ocean by yacht, boat, and beach:

the shore in Atlantic City, c. 1904

beachwear 1910s
a pantomime costume from the V&A, but I love the blue/yellow!

illustration by Albert Lynch

Girl in Brooklyn, c. 1890s

too cute to leave out! German 'Tommy' bear, 1906

yachting costume, 1899

yachting, c. 1900s
I came across this next image while looking at swimwear, and while I plan to hit the beach as much as possible this summer, I certainly hope this doesn't happen!

Illustrated Police News, 1896
Oh, dear.  But the polka-dots are so cute!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Hark! Silliness 19th Century Style

I have a tendency to strike over-the-top poses when I'm fooling around, a habit I blame on performing in the works of Gilbert and Sullivan annually from the fourth grade through high school.  Unfortunately for my dignity, people occasionally catch me at it while holding a camera, such as at Returning Heroes last week.

Hark! I see a visitor approaching!

Anyways, I happened across these pictures of British burlesque performers from the 1890s.  The 19th c. form of burlesque (which, as you can see, still involved cute girls and not a lot of clothes) was a form of satire in which current politics, celebrities, trends, etc. were mocked with sketches and popular songs with re-written lyrics.  In fact, many of the tunes used were originally from the light operas of G&S.  As you can see, my penchant for silly posing isn't new.

Totally cute.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Embroidery Practice

As I mentioned in a previous post, I recently purchased Gail Marsh's book 19th Century Embroidery Techniques and have been practicing a small flower design from it to work on some stitches.  I've been practicing some form of needlework since I was in elementary school, when my mother taught be basic hand sewing and counted cross stitch (which she is really fantastic at!), but I've never actually attended to the styles associated with decorative embroidery in a particular period.  The biggest thing for me to think about has been scale: I'm good at the small, delicate work but not so much at the bigger things, and embroidery for costume needs to pack much more of a punch than little edges on a corset, for example.  Here are a few embroidered pieces I really love, to give you an idea of what I mean:



this one also includes sequins! 

detail from corded stays, 1820-39

white-on-white is a particular favorite, 1870-75

I really need to work on my undergarments before I start any more dresses, because fitting without all the proper layers just leads to more problems later.  Not to mention the fact that I'm swamped with homework and really can't afford the time to start anything big right now (even though I want to).  So I think I shall continue practicing my 19th c. stitches on my corsets and petticoats for now.

Also, just because it's fun and I like to follow runway fashion, I've been noticing lately that embroidery has been making an appearance...yay historical influences!

models backstage at the Dolce and Gabbana Fall/Winter 2012 show
lace/pearl applique embroidery at the Oscar de la Renta F/W 2012 show
metallic-embroidered bodice from Alexander McQueen Resort 2012

So my love of embroidery is well-timed for inspiration, both old and new.  The vine piece I did from Marsh's book included two vines of chain stitch, one sunflower with a french knot center and padded satin stitch petals, buds with 'brush' stitch (which is my favorite, I think), a lily mixing brush stitch and satin stitch, leaves out of a french twist I forget the name of, and stem stitch.
It improved as it went along, and while there are a lot of mistakes by the end I had the hang of everything, including working with different thicknesses of floss and how to tell when to use what.  Since it was just a scrap I hadn't really planned to do anything with it, but one of my friends really liked it and as she's currently knitting me a hat, I thought it would be nice to give it to her.  So please excuse the very modern text--it's her catch-phrase of sorts, and I thought it was quite funny juxtaposed with the soft ladylike flowers.

the lily

a bud (sorry for the photo quality, it was very late at night!)

the K, which was done using some of the monogramming techniques
Overall, I thought this was a pretty valiant first effort, and I'm excited to keep practicing as I expand my foundation wardrobe. Now I just need to get myself organized enough to start cutting...

A Side Note:
You may have noticed the blog underwent a makeover this week...I've been thinking quite a bit about aesthetics recently while working on my embroidery technique and thinking about ways to work it into my clothes.  I was especially pleased that I had enough images to pull together an entirely plaid header (even if the sheer plaid on the white skirt isn't totally visible).  Hopefully this will also be easier to read.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Returning Heroes Ball

As promised, I really did go to a lovely ball last weekend and wore my new tartan ballgown for the first time.  It still needs a lot of work (the skirt will get finished and the bodice will get a bertha and velvet ribbon) but it was serviceable for a first evening out and I had a lot of fun dancing in a whirl of red and white!
Returning Heroes is an extra-special ball, because it is the only ball of the year at which period attire is required.  It creates a really fantastic aesthetic for the evening, in addition to the friends old and new that were present.  Enough rambling, to the pictures!  I can't claim credit for any of these-they were taken by Antonia, and you can see more on her blog if you so desire.

My dress, as it is-I tacked on a black velvet bow so it wouldn't be totally plain

the remaining dance cards

dancing a German/cotillion figure called The Flags--you can read more about it here
pink meringues! always a highlight.

I borrowed a flag from the German and proceeded to be very silly

what a lovely group! they are dancing Les Rats Quadrille
whoops, so scandalous! but I really adore my scarlet tartan 
The ball was quite lovely and I look forward to finishing my dress before I wear it again!  In the meantime, I'm home to get some petticoats and corsets done over spring break, in preparation for picnics when the weather warms up.

Happy Women's History Month!

I know I owe you a ball post, and I promise to do it today! I turned in my thesis draft and that means I havea day off to do something fun.

In the meantime, though, I wanted to share this FANTASTIC parody of Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" video, dedicated to Alice Paul and the other women who fought for our right to vote.

The company behind this gem, Soomo Publishing, is an educational group working to make technology a relevant part of classroom learning and get kids motivated about subjects like American government, literature, and writing.  In addition to just being awesome, they have another super cool video about the Declaration of Independence you can watch here.

Happy Women's History Month!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Returning Heroes Recovery

I went to a ball! It was lovely!  Then I spent all day travelling and am totally exhausted, so my plans to come home and tell you all about it immediately aren't going to happen.  In the meantime, though, here is a brief update: I finished my tartan ballgown and wore it to Returning Heroes, along with my SCARLET TARTAN DRAWERS!

oh, the scandal
You can read more about this here, but the important thing is that one of Queen Victoria's lady's maids wrote in a letter about a picnic in 1859 at which the Duchess of Manchester "caught a hoop of her cage in [a turnstile] and went regularly head over heels lighting on her feet with her cage and whole petticoats remaining above, above her head.  They say there was never such a thing seen--and the other ladies hardly knew whether to be thankful or not that a part of her underclothing consisted of in a pair of scarlet tartan knickerbockers...which were revealed to the view of all the world in general and the Duc de Malakoff in particular" (C. Cunningham, English Women's Clothing in the 19th Century p21).

Oh my goodness! Naturally, I needed a pair.

More to come tomorrow--in the meantime, I need to rest my very tired legs and brain and toes...and then practice the mazurka step I learned.