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Review: Wearing History’s 1910s Camisole & Corset Cover pattern

Wearing History has an fabulous new pattern out and I am extremely excited about it 1) because it’s a kind of pattern that I’ve really wanted for a long time, and that is going to make my life a lot easier, and 2) I got to be a pattern tester!  (yay!).

Wearing History’s 1910s Camisole & Corset Cover pattern has a low scooped neck back and front, slight fullness at the front and is suitable for wearing under or over a corset for all 1910s styles.  It can be made with or without sleeves, and with or without a peplum.

Wearing History 1910s r111E camisole

I’ve really been getting into 1910s fashion, but my 1900s and 1910s camisole pattern (taken from an extent garment) is really skimpy, with tiny straps.  It doesn’t provide enough coverage to wear under the sheer blouses that were fashionable in the 1910s (yes, really!), is too delicate to be made into a 1900s ruffle-fronted camisole, and can be a bit revealing for models in 1910s underwear when I do talks.  So a 1910s corset cover pattern has been high on my wish list, and this one is perfect!

As a pattern tester, I felt I should do as many of the options as possible, so I made the version with sleeves and peplum:

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I was a bit dubious about both these options, because I’m not always the biggest fan of teeny puffed sleeves and peplums, but once I had finished the camisole I decided that I actually really LOVE them.  The sleeves are adorable, and the peplum is perfect for helping the corset cover to sit neatly under a 1910s skirt, like my Wearing History 1916 skirt.

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While I loved the sleeves and peplum, I had so much fun making the first camisole (some sewing patterns are great because you are so pleased when you finally finish them, and some are actually properly a delight while you make them – this was definitely the latter!  It sewed up in a couple of hours, and had so many techniques that are just fun to do!)) that I immediately cut out the sleeveless, peplum-less version to try it.

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I made both versions quite plain and simple, with the recommended beading lace, but white ribbons, and no extra embroidery and embellishments, or fancy do-dads like hidden buttons, to make them as versatile as possible.

One of my favourite things about the pattern is that it comes with a TON of period illustrations of similar garments so that you can use them as inspiration (I’m definitely doing insertion next time!).  There are also whole page excerpts from period sewing manuals on how to sew camisoles, so you can try alternative period accurate sewing methods to construct your own camisole.  The pattern gives very complete instructions, but there are always multiple ways to sew any garment, and it’s fascinating to see all the different options that were available in period.

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I made a few small deviations from the official pattern instructions to the period excerpts, simply because some of the instructions in one of the period manuals was how I usually construct a garment like this, so it made sense to follow that.

The only other major change I made to the pattern was to carefully check the armband and waist measurements – I ended up using my bust size (36″) for the main body pieces and sleeves, but going up to the waist and armband sizes for a size 38″ bust, and having slightly less gathers.  It worked perfectly, and I’m really happy with the finished fit.

While the pattern is from the 1910s, it’s very similar to 1900s camisoles and corset covers, and would do nicely for that era.  It shouldn’t be too hard to add a front full of ruffles, if you want to do the extremely full pigeon-breast thing, or to simply give it a slightly fuller, droopier front.

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It would also be very easy to add a skirt a skirt to the bottom of the camisole, using the peplum or a general skirt pattern as a guide, to create a full petticoat slip/chemise, like these ones (or the really adorable examples given in the pattern pack) :

Don’t forget the lace insertion, ruffles, pintucks, and apricot satin bows!

If period isn’t your thing, Lauren at Wearing History has also made a version in fashion fabric to wear as a summer blouse, and I can definitely see myself doing that next summer.

All in all a great pattern – very well thought out, well put together, easy to follow, with lots of fun learning perks in the additional info (I LOVE a pattern that you learn from!), and a useful, versatile addition to my period pattern collection.  There will be more!

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Travels in Taranaki

As a tourist and then a resident, I’ve spent a lot of time travelling around New Zealand, exploring the country.  There are still a few places that I’ve never been though, and lots that I’ve only been to once.

Like Taranaki. (that’s the bit in green)

Taranaki, New Zealand

Taranaki’s city, New Plymouth, is only 5 hours away from Wellington (the little curvy-in-pointy-bit at the bottom of the North Island), but I’ve only been once, for a work trip (not that that was too bad – we got to go to Hurworth Cottage) .

So when my friend Rachel (who makes a number of appearances looking utterly adorable in my Art Deco weekend posts from this year) invited me to come up and visit her family farm (oooh!) and to meet with a family friend with lots of old stuff (OOOOOH!) I jumped at the chance.

I am a sucker for farms and old stuff, and Rachel is just a pretty darn awesome person to spend time with, so obviously, I was keen!

We drove up on Friday afternoon, arriving at the farm after dark, and waking up the next morning to a sparkling blue Taranaki day.

If you’re in Taranaki, it’s easy to tell.  There is a mountain:

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It’s called Taranaki.

Or Mt Egmont, if you are a bit old-fashioned and colonial.  But Taranaki means ‘shining mountain’ and Egmont was just some fancy English guy who gave Captain Cook some money, so obviously Taranaki is a better name.

We were staying on Rachel’s family farm, and not only is it a farm (oooh!), it’s a deer farm (OOOOOH!).  Deer > Cows or sheep.  Obviously.

So Saturday morning I got to hang out with the deer.  The stags had just finished their roar season, so it was safe to be in the pen with them, as long as you were a bit alert.

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Sadly we couldn’t be in the pen with their pet deer, Lucky, because Lucky loves humans SO much that she gets a bit excited when they show up, and she weighs twice as much as we do and has some wicked hooves on her, so we had to snuggle through the wires.

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She was basically like a deer Felicity.  She gets the same expression of utter delight and contentment when you give her chin scratchies.

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She was particularly interested in my wonderful ’70s does ’30s tweed jacket (by Hornes, London ‘by appointment to H.M. Queen Elizabeth II, Livery Tailors, natch) which she kept trying to eat.  Good taste that deer! 😉

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(small moment to appreciate the fact that I am wearing tweed and gumboots, like some Country Life fashion plate!)

The weekend wasn’t all country living though.  It turns out we’d come out on the perfect day: after literally decades of planning and arguing the Len Lye Centre had just opened in New Plymouth, and we headed in to join the festivities.

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The centre is…shiny.

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Like, really, really, REALLY shiny!

Light up the whole street, reflect everything going by, warm you up on a cold winter day, make it impossible to tell where the building starts and the street ends shiny.

And FABULOUS.  Way more amazing than it looks in pictures.

Inside it’s all wavy and smooth marble floors that are slanted just enough that you desperately want to get a piece of cardboard and a little bit of vegetable oil and go for a slide.

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It’s got cool lighting:

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And, of course, Len Lye artworks, which are fascinating.  They move and shimmer and make noise.

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And go quite well with the Steampunkers who had showed up for the celebrations.

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Len Lye, btw, was a groundbreaking film and kinetic sculpture artist.  His Water Whirler is a beloved icon of the Wellington waterfront, his Wind Wand has been (mostly lovingly) parodied across the ‘Naki, and his works are held in major museums around the world.  Despite being an American citizen for most of his life, he left his collection to New Zealand when he died.

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I can’t promise his artworks will come with hovering attendants to wipe away any fingerprints the instant they happen on a daily basis.

After the Centre, we made a quick trip to see another new and exciting New Plymouth landmark:

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Te Rewa Rewa bridge is a cycle and pedestrian bridge that evokes a wave, or the skeleton of a whale.  From the far side, it frames the mountain perfectly:

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Or, you know, me being silly!

I’ll be telling you more about the Old Stuff in more blog posts, because it’s very exciting….

Rate the Dress: Velvet poppies for a bright young ’20s thing

Last week I showed you a fascinating (even if you didn’t like it you have to admit it was fascinating) 1890s gown (probably a tea gown) with tucked shaping and floral appliqués.  The dress received a lot of criticism for the heavy lace (too coarse and gut-like (lace styles are clearly one of those things that goes in and out of favour)) and placement of the appliqué (too literal), but an equal amount of praise for the amazing shaping work with the tucks.  So, for masterful sewing, but slightly less masterful visual design, the dress came in at 7.2 out of 10.

This week’s frock features more floral appliqué, in the form of velvet poppies dancing along the silk charmeuse skirt of this aqua and metal gold lace frock.

The cerise pink and sunset orange hues of the velvet poppies are an unusual choice to pair with the aqua of the lace and silk charmeuse, but are a classic example of the ’20s fondness for saturated hues and deco pastels, with a nod back to wild pairing of ‘exotic’ colours made popular by the Ballet Russes and designers like Poiret in the ‘teens.

Evening dress of metal and cloth lace with silk charmeuse and appliquéd silk velvet poppies, 1920s, sold by Whitaker Auctions

Evening dress of metal and cloth lace with silk charmeuse and appliquéd silk velvet poppies, 1920s, sold by Whitaker Auctions

The velvet appliqué are a good example of the ’20s fondness for three dimensional design elaborations.  Along with velvet flowers frocks and accessories often featured flowers of elaborately folded ribbons, or bits of silk fabric.

What do you think of the frock, with its unexpected colour pairings, and juxtapositions of the heavy velvet flowers with the delicate silk of the dress and light openness of the lace?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10