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Rate the Dress: Chiffon, stripes & tucks ca 1900

Last week I showed you an 1880s dress, with a skirt that had been re-made from an 18th century petticoat.  You were almost unanimously in favour of the petticoat – though not necessarily remade into a 19th century gown, a bit of re-use which frankly, horrified some of you!  The more recent additions to the ensemble got mixed reviews.  Some of you REALLY didn’t like it (it’s hard to get past our modern sensibilities that see quilting like that as a home furnishing look, rather than a clothing look), and some of you REALLY liked it.  The dis-likers brought the score down to a still very positive 8 out of 10.

This evening dress by obscure French designer Raoul Lafontan features the soft, romantic, slightly transitional 1900s silhouette, with the bodice moving from the more fitted 1890s style, towards the full pigeon breast of ca. 1904.

The bodice fullness may be slightly restrained, but the colours, fabrics, and other design details are heading intp full-blown Edwardian mode.  The dress is made from fabric striped in chiffon and eu-de-nil satin, with the chiffon sewn together in tucked pleats for most of the skirts, only releasing to its fullness near the hem.

The dress is trimmed in eau-de-nil chiffon and a gauzy ecru fabric, looped round the neckline in asymmetrical swags, and bound around the arms in a style that evokes Greek & Roman drapery.

There is a slight suggestion of fading and darking in the fabrics of the dress, so it may have been slightly lighter and brighter originally, though the golden ecru and palest eu de nil were certainly fashionable shades in the first five years of the 20th century.

What do you think of the dress?  I think we can all agree that Lafontan displays exceptional technically mastery in this dress.  But does that make it a good design?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10

The HSF/M 2015: Favourites for Challenge #7: Accessorise

Some of the challenges we choose for the Historical Sew Monthly are meant to ask you to really push yourself, some just call for something big and spectacular, and some of them provide the opportunity for a little breather: the chance to do something small and simple, while you gear up for the next big challenge.  Or not!  Sometimes people make the most phenomenal, amazing, detailed, elaborate things for the challenges I thought would be small ones.

Accessorise is definitely designed to be an easier, breather challenge, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a whole range of fascinating, fantastic, creations: some simple, some very elaborate indeed.

I made four items for Accessorise, but they were mostly on the simple end of the spectrum (and two of them were rather late too…).  First there was a set of Baroque pearl accessories: a necklace  (not in baroque pearls) and earrings (in baroque pearls – so they are Baroque, baroque pearls 😉 ).  I started my medieval circlet and veil during the challenge, but didn’t get them finished quite on time, but they are done now!

For my favourites I select items that really represent the spirit of the challenge: to complete a period look with the right accessory, to research, stretch yourself, learn more, sew better, and get something made.

There are always amazing things that I can’t show you (because almost all the submissions were AMAZING) I do recommend you check out the comments under the blog post and the photos in the FB album (yep, you do have to be a member 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 answer, but if you are really interested in the HSF, as a participant or active cheerleader, we’d LOVE to have you) to see the rest of the fabulous things that were made.

And now, my favourites!  Entries with photos link to FB, entries without link to the blog post of the maker.

  1. Anna’s medieval aprons: I love that these aren’t pretty but yet they are so beautiful, because they make the whole picture of the outfit look so right. They make me happy through and through (and I want my own!).
  2. Hvitr’s paleolithic Natufian headband:  Every time Hvitr makes something, I learn something.  This headband is no exception – I’ve been introduced to a whole host of new techniques and a new culture.
  3. Allison’s 1840s double night-cap:  If you didn’t know, you’d never realise this is a period item, so it’s a great illustration of how little fashion and human needs actually change (and as far too many Kiwis can tell you, nightcaps like this are really useful in period houses without modern insulation and heating!)
    The Historical Sew Monthly Challenge #7 Allison's 1840s Double Night-cap
  4. Sharon’s 1780 cap:  The details of this make me absolutely weak at the knees!  It’s so exquisite!  It really, really shows how much really paying attention to the period and recreating the details look make the period look.

    Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge #7 Sharon's 1780 cap

  5. Hana Marmota’s Fichu en Marmotte.  Because guys, it’s a fichu en marmotte!

For the rest of the favourites posts see:

Favourites for Challenge #6: Out of Your Comfort Zone

Favourites for Challenge #5: Practicality

Favourites for Challenge #4: War & Peace

Favourites for Challenge #3: Stashbusting

Favourites for Challenge #2: Blue

Favourites for Challenge #1: Foundations

A trio of Medieval accessories

You’ve already seen my medieval dress, and a costume-y medieval belt, but I’ve been working on much more historically accurate accessories.

My first belt was fun and sparkly, but I wanted a proper belt:

A Miramar Gothic Dress thedreamstress.com08

(shown, with complete lack of properness, with my Miramar Gothic dress)

I made the belt from two strips of soft leather in mid-brown.  I couldn’t find a leather scrap within my budget that was long enough for a single strip (a $200 hide is out of the question at the moment), so I joined the two strips with a bit of stitching.  I have no idea if a leather join like that is accurate, but I suspect it’s plausible.  And it reminds me of the mended sashes of the sword-wearers of Damar, so, win!

A medieval belt

I used a vintage English-made brass buckle I found at an op shop: it’s not quite right for the 14th century, but isn’t too bad.  I had a stroke of luck the day after I cut my belt, but before I’d finished it.  I found a crappy pleather belt at an op shop with a cool brass end: and it was the perfect width for my belt.  Score!

A medieval belt thedreamstress.com1

I’ve also made a proper veil:

A medieval linen veil

The Fabric Store got in a bolt of very fine linen a few years ago, and I knew I’d regret it later if I didn’t buy some.  I was definitely right, because I couldn’t find it the first time I went looking for it for a veil, and spent a week with the devastating conviction that I’d decided against buying the fabric after all!  Luckily, another search revealed it had slipped in between the folds of another fabric.

A medieval linen veil

The linen is much too fine for a chemise, but it’s perfect for a noblewoman’s veil.

A medieval linen veil

I used the guide at Som När Det Begav Sig for the veil dimensions – mine is 107cm long x 73cm wide: a tiny bit longer and wider, but I like that it isn’t precise dimensions.

A medieval linen veil

I hemmed the curved edge with a tiny rolled hem, but I just used the selvedge edge for the straight edge, because erk, rolled hemming!  Also, I’m pretty sure using the selvedge edges is period accurate.

A medieval linen veil

And finally, to go with the veil when I feel like being posh, a circlet:

A medieval circlet

I used the same beading technique for the circlet that I used on my costume belt.

A medieval circlet

The circlet was a little too soft and flimsy the first few times I wore it, so I lined it with silk and a circle of pasteboard.  The lining is caught to the beading at every point where it reaches the edge of the leather.

A medieval circlet

I have no idea if any of the techniques I used in the circlet are historically plausible.

So, now I just need to find the time to put on my ca. 1369 dress again and show this all off!

The Challenge: #7 Accessorise (veil & circlet) #9 Brown (belt)

Fabric: 75cm of linen for the veil ($10), a scrap of silk for the circlet (from my scrap bag), and scraps of leather for the belt & circlet ($8).

Pattern: None for any of them.  The veil was helped by the information at Som När Det Begav Sig, a friend in the SCA showed me some belts, and I used period images and materials that would have been available in period for the circlet (though I suspect the decorations would have been studs, not beads).

Year: last half of the 14th century.

Notions: silk thread (veil) (>$1), faux pearl beads, gilded woods beads, linen thread and pasteboard (circlet) ($2), brass findings (belt) ($2).

How historically accurate is it?: The veil is close to 100%, the belt is pretty good, but not perfect (especially not if the mend is totally inaccurate), so let’s say 75%, and the circlet is lucky if it 50%.

Hours to complete: 30 minutes for the belt, 2 hours for the circlet, 3 hours for the veil (blasted rolled hem).

First worn: I wore the circlet unfinished for the historical dinner & my medieval photoshoot, and the belt with the Miramar Gothic dress, but I haven’t managed a proper wear + photoshoot yet.

Total cost:  $6 (belt), $10.50 (veil), $5 (circlet).