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Pictoral Review, April 1916 thedreamstress.com

Fashions for Staying at Home, 1916 Style

Today was the first day of New Zealand’s lockdown. It will go on for at least 28 days. I work from home a lot, so other than Mr D being there, it wasn’t much different from many days: except I knew it was.

It’s night now, and I’m feeling a little melancholy. Mr D is out taking groceries to someone who can’t go out at all, and the stress of the last few weeks has gotten to me. I’ll get past it.

I know how incredibly privileged I am: we’re financially stable, we have a lovely warm house, a yard big enough to hang out it, and the lockdown rules allow us to go for walks in our neighbourhood. And it’s a pretty neighbourhood (pretty much all neighbourhoods in Wellington are pretty. It’s a very pretty city). But, like so many other people, I’m worried about family and friends, and grieving for those already lost.

For now, I’m going to keep doing what I do: working on ways to help practically, just working (because I’m still doing that – teaching costume history and pattern drafting over the internet for Toi Whakaari students, and working on Scroop Patterns, because I’m using the income from that to help friends & family out of work), and providing a space here to de-stress, and learn.

So, let’s do a little de-stressing, looking at some lingerie, negligée, and dresses for home wear from the April 1916 issue of Pictoral Review.

Pictoral Review, April 1916 thedreamstress.com

Dresses for home wear means that they were practical enough to do light housecleaning and chores in, and tidy enough to have informal friends over, maybe to pop over to a friends house or to the shops in a small town, but not nice enough to host a formal gathering, or to go into a larger town, in.

Pictoral Review, April 1916 thedreamstress.com
Pictoral Review, April 1916 thedreamstress.com

They were meant to be made up in practical fabrics. 6540 suggests black and white checked worsted wool for winter trimmed with satin and faille collar and cuffs, or gingham trimmed with blue & white linen collar and cuffs. 6530 is “adapted for serge and gabardine (both worsted wools) and wash materials (colour fast cottons that could be washed at home). 6629 is “equally good for home and street wear” in “serge or linen, dark blue gabardine, striped or figured percale (tightly woven cotton with stripes or patterns – geometric or floral), or plain chambray (cotton).

Pictoral Review, April 1916 thedreamstress.com

There’s also a maternity dress:

Pictoral Review, April 1916 thedreamstress.com

The dress uses elastic to gather in the waist and provide flexibility in sizing, and extra fabric at the top of the front skirt gorge, so that the skirt can be lengthened to go over an expanding bump.

Pictoral Review, April 1916 thedreamstress.com

Note that the fabric suggestions for the maternity dress are a little fancier: taffeta as well as serge, and trimmings in satin. With less patterns available for maternity wear they needed to be able to be made up as practical or formal options.

You might also enjoy some lingerie and negliée fashions, for your less formal home time. Plus, vacuum cleaner ads!

Pictoral Review, April 1916 thedreamstress.com

Check out these sweet corset covers and camisoles! And that cute nightdown with the lacing down the front.

Pictoral Review, April 1916 thedreamstress.com

You can see how the camisoles in 6662 would fit nicely under evening dresses with tiny sleeves. They could also be made as under bodices: the support structures that those dresses were built around.

Pictoral Review, April 1916 thedreamstress.com

There is also an apron dress (the forerunner of the hooverette), and a very fetching bathrobe. Note how the apron wraps around and fastens at the front left, so it could be slipped over another garment to protect it.

Pictoral Review, April 1916 thedreamstress.com

And finally, there are princess combinations, to fit under a slim fitting dress, and a kimono jacket to be made in “cotton crepe, flowered lawn, or Japanese silk”. I’d love to see the pattern piece for that – I suspect it’s very simple.

Pictoral Review, April 1916 thedreamstress.com
Pictoral Review, April 1916 thedreamstress.com

Hope you’re all well and safe in your own homes.

Dress, 1898-99 Silk crepe, silk taffeta with velvet ribbon and lace trim Albany Institute of History and Art 1980.2.2ab

Rate the Dress: Late Victorian Lace & layers

I went looking for a Rate the Dress option this week, and everything that sparked my interest was either too similar to something I’d done recently, or came in a weird print, or muted half shades, both of which I was hoping to avoid, because that’s what we did last week!

I finally had to concede that this week was simply going to have to be shades of last week, although in a different hue.

Last Week: an 1840 dress in harlequin pattern

I’ll admit that I wondered what the reception to last week’s dress would be, but it turns out that most of you are harlequin fans – or at least appreciate a bit of wacky pattern now and again! Not everyone was convinced that the pleating was as successful as it could be, and there were a few people who really didn’t like the print.

The Total: 8.4 out of 10

We’re creeping up…

This week: a late Victorian dress in muted pink

This week’s Rate the Dress is an excellent example of fashions from the last years of the Victorian era.

Dress, 1898-99 Silk crepe, silk taffeta with velvet ribbon and lace trim @Albany Institute of History and Art 1980.2.2ab
Dress, 1898-99 Silk crepe, silk taffeta with velvet ribbon and lace trim
Albany Institute of History and Art 1980.2.2ab

The huge sleeves of the early 1890s have disappeared, replaced by a slight puff and a bit of shoulder decoration. The silhouette here is trim and streamlined (at least as streamlined as the 19th century got) with just a suggestion of the slight fullness that will later become the Edwardian pigeon breast.

Dress, 1898-99 Silk crepe, silk taffeta with velvet ribbon and lace trim Albany Institute of History and Art 1980.2.2ab
Dress, 1898-99 Silk crepe, silk taffeta with velvet ribbon and lace trim
Albany Institute of History and Art 1980.2.2ab

The dusky rose that forms the main body of the dress is trimmed with two kinds of lace, and dark pink-red silk velvet.

Dress, 1898-99 Silk crepe, silk taffeta with velvet ribbon and lace trim Albany Institute of History and Art 1980.2.2ab
Dress, 1898-99 Silk crepe, silk taffeta with velvet ribbon and lace trim,
Albany Institute of History and Art 1980.2.2ab

The velvet is used a decorative belt around the waist. Narrow ribbons of it form stripes which follow the collar (or is it technically a yoke ruffle?), sleeve caps, and layers of the skirt, highlighting the pick-ups of the collar, and the bias ruffles of the skirt.

Dress, 1898-99 Silk crepe, silk taffeta with velvet ribbon and lace trim, Albany Institute of History and Art 1980.2.2ab
Dress, 1898-99 Silk crepe, silk taffeta with velvet ribbon and lace trim,
Albany Institute of History and Art 1980.2.2ab
Dress, 1898-99 Silk crepe, silk taffeta with velvet ribbon and lace trim,  Albany Institute of History and Art 1980.2.2ab
Dress, 1898-99 Silk crepe, silk taffeta with velvet ribbon and lace trim,
Albany Institute of History and Art 1980.2.2ab

A line of heavy lace running down the front of the dress interrupts the velvet stripes, providing a vertical balance to the curves and horizontal lines.

Dress, 1898-99 Silk crepe, silk taffeta with velvet ribbon and lace trim, Albany Institute of History and Art 1980.2.2ab
Dress, 1898-99 Silk crepe, silk taffeta with velvet ribbon and lace trim,
Albany Institute of History and Art 1980.2.2ab

A lighter lace frames the collar/yoke ruffle/shoulder swag, and edges the wrist cuff.

Dress, 1898-99 Silk crepe, silk taffeta with velvet ribbon and lace trim Albany Institute of History and Art 1980.2.2ab
Dress, 1898-99 Silk crepe, silk taffeta with velvet ribbon and lace trim,
Albany Institute of History and Art 1980.2.2ab

What do you think? Is the dress an elegant example of its time? Do all the elements achieve balance?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10

A reminder about rating – feel free to be critical if you don’t like a thing, but make sure that your comments aren’t actually insulting to those who do like a garment.  Phrase criticism as your opinion, rather than a flat fact. Our different tastes are what make Rate the Dress so interesting.  It’s no fun when a comment implies that anyone who doesn’t agree with it, or who would wear a garment, is totally lacking in taste. 

(as usual, nothing more complicated than a .5.  I also hugely appreciate it if you only do one rating, and set it on a line at the very end of your comment

A 'St Birgitta's Cap' thedreamstress.com

A St Birgitta’s Cap

There’s a slightly funny story to this post. I finished my St Birgitta’s cap back at the end of January, photographed it, and wrote most of my post.

And then my Costume History students at Toi Whakaari picked their topics for their first research paper, and I remembered that I’d given them a picture of a St Birgitta’s cap as a research option – and it had been chosen.

Ooops…

So obviously I couldn’t publish a blog post (even a fairly lightweight one using only the most obvious basic internet references) about making a St Birgitta’s cap until the student had turned in their paper.

But the paper was submitted this afternoon, so here’s the blog post! (and I haven’t read the paper yet, so I’m not cheating off it either…).

A 'St Birgitta's Cap' thedreamstress.com

I’d always put St Birgitta’s caps in the ‘too hard and time consuming’ basket, but then Hvitr made one and wore it to our 2019 Historical Sew & Eat Retreat.

Now, Hvitr is infinitely more patient and precise than me, and makes notoriously crazy and impressive stuff. So I had no illusions that I’d be able to do something as perfect as her, but there is still something about seeing a thing in person that makes you think “yeah, I could give that a go!”

And having a lovely cap to keep my hair all tidy when wearing Medieval was awfully tempting. And I had a fair bit of hand-sewing time on my way to Hawai’i and back to spend time with my parents.

I used these as my primary references:

And, also looked at:

My fabric is the very sheer linen I made my Medieval veil and the now-missing wimple I made just before Christmas out of. My goal was to have a full matching set of headgear. I used a linen thread for all the hand-sewing, and cotton tatting cord for my interweaving.

I cut my two main cap pieces, basted them together along the centre seam, and then felled down each seam allowance:

A 'St Birgitta's Cap' thedreamstress.com

Then I unpicked the basting, and basted each hemmed edge to a strip of fabric (an old waistband unpicked from some project, as it happens) to hold my cap all tidy while I created the interlocking. I thought I was being very clever and innovative, and then it turns out that Elisa (who’s album I hadn’t discovered yet) did exactly the same thing. There’s never any truly new ideas in costuming!

A 'St Birgitta's Cap' thedreamstress.com

I then marked lines as a guide for my interlacing pattern. If I did this again I’d mark the lines before sewing in my centre strip, and mark them in permanent pen, rather than heat reactive pens.

A 'St Birgitta's Cap' thedreamstress.com

At this point I thought I knew how to do a double-interlacing herringbone stitch, so dove in to it:

A 'St Birgitta's Cap' thedreamstress.com
A 'St Birgitta's Cap' thedreamstress.com

And at some point I got nervous that I might not be doing it right, checked other people’s posts, and ended up on Sarah’s Hand Embroidery tutorials, and freaked out because I was clearly doing it wrong, so I undid all the work I’d done, and re-did it following her tutorial.

And then I realised that Sarah’s method with a double herringbone only allows for a double-interlock, and I wanted to do a quadruple-interlock, and there was no way to change it from a double to a quadruple without unpicking and re-doing everything I’d done. Of course, the way I’d originally started doing it was the right way to do it after all…

A 'St Birgitta's Cap' thedreamstress.com

I decided I couldn’t risk unpicking and re-doing it a further time, because the linen voile I was working with was so delicate. I was simply going to have to go with a double interlock – and a much more lacey, open, delicate look than the original cap.

So, on to the first interlock of my double herringbone!

A 'St Birgitta's Cap' thedreamstress.com

And then the second:

A 'St Birgitta's Cap' thedreamstress.com

I really enjoyed this part of the cap: the double herringbone and the interlock were really meditative, and rather addictive. I desperately want to do the proper quad interlock now!

A 'St Birgitta's Cap' thedreamstress.com

I was extremely pleased that I had exactly the right amount of thread, until I remembered that I was meant to have ended the interlacing a couple of inches before the end of the cap, to give me room to add a band and tie the cap on…

A 'St Birgitta's Cap' thedreamstress.com

Oops! So I had to unpick some of my weave pattern at the end, and simply knot it off. Not the prettiest, but this was clearly a learning experience.

Next I got to unpick my basted-on marker band, and start on the band that finishes the cap and holds it on to my head.

A 'St Birgitta's Cap' thedreamstress.com

Tiny safety pins may not be Medieval accurate, but they certainly made that part much easier!

A 'St Birgitta's Cap' thedreamstress.com

So did some nice un-stressful background TV (can you tell what I’m watching?)

A 'St Birgitta's Cap' thedreamstress.com

And then it was on to the final finishing seam:

A 'St Birgitta's Cap' thedreamstress.com

And the cap is done! It fits nicely, but I haven’t had an excuse to wear it properly.

A 'St Birgitta's Cap' thedreamstress.com
A 'St Birgitta's Cap' thedreamstress.com
A 'St Birgitta's Cap' thedreamstress.com
A 'St Birgitta's Cap' thedreamstress.com
A 'St Birgitta's Cap' thedreamstress.com

It’s certainly not as beautifully precise as Hvirt’s, and I’d love to have the time to make a better (more HA) one someday, but for now I’m pretty pleased!

A 'St Birgitta's Cap' thedreamstress.com

And, since we’re doing the 2020 Historical Sew Monthly in any order that we like, I think this would fit nicely into October’s challenge: Get Crafty.

What the item is: A 14th century ‘St Birgitta’s Cap’ 

How it fits the challenge: The double-herringbone interweave was definitely a new craft for me! It’s almost like making your own lace.

Material: linen voile

Pattern: Katafalk’s St Birgitta’s cap tutorial for the general shape of my cap

Year: 14th century

Notions: linen thread, cotton tatting cord.

How historically accurate is it? I don’t know if linen of this weight was used for caps in the 14th century, and my interlacing definitely varies from the extant original, both in material and weave. 50% maybe

Hours to complete: about 20

First worn: Not yet. We were planning to do an autumn ramble ‘back in time’ in Zealandia, but Covid-19 has probably made that an impossibility.

Total cost: $10 or less