Miscellenia

HSF Challenge #15: White

The Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge #15 is our first colour challenge* for the year, and I’m easing you into it slowly, picking a colour that has lots of options for really easy makes (you can never have too many chemises…) and has appeared in every possible period.

White has carried many connotations as a colour, from defining culture and social boundaries in Ancient Egypt (only foreigners and those connected to the afterlife wore colour), to denoting status (white was often an expensive colour to produce and maintain), to implying purity, or simply cleanliness.

For this challenge ‘white’ is defined as anything in the white family – from brightest white, through to ivory and cream and all the shades between.

Whether you make a simple chemise or an elaborate ballgown, your garment should be predominantly white, though it may have touches of other colours.

Here are some of my favourite white garments, from the sublime to the ridiculous.  I’ve posted a lot of fabulously over the top garments, but, of course, little accessories and undergarments are also an option.  For more inspiration, check out my ‘White’ pinterest page.

OK, so the early 17th century silhouette is a bit odd, but oh, the fabric of this dress!  Swoon…

Elizabeth Vernon, Countess of Southampton (1572-1655), circa 1603

Elizabeth Vernon, Countess of Southampton (1572-1655), circa 1603

And how utterly sweet is this:

Portrait of a Lady, thought to be the Hon. Anne, eldest daughter of Sir Jacob de Bouverie, 1st Viscount Folkestone ca. 1740-45 Bartholomew Dandridge

Portrait of a Lady, thought to be the Hon. Anne, eldest daughter of Sir Jacob de Bouverie, 1st Viscount Folkestone ca. 1740-45 Bartholomew Dandridge

This fabric is another swoon moment.  It’s so fabulous, and so strikingly modern:

Mantua,  English from French fabric, 1755-1760 from fabric woven between 1753-1755, Silk, silver-gilt thread, linen thread, silk thread, hand-sewn, V&A

Mantua, English from French fabric, 1755-1760 from fabric woven between 1753-1755, Silk, silver-gilt thread, linen thread, silk thread, hand-sewn, V&A

And I know I just showed it, but I still love this outfit:

Interior with three men, seated woman and a dog, Venceslao Verlin, 1768

Interior with three men, seated woman and a dog, Venceslao Verlin, 1768

And I adore Regency whites (or creams) in all possible forms:

White mull dress, American, early 19th c, MFA Boston, 53.206

White mull dress, American, early 19th c, MFA Boston, 53.206

And add this to the list of stunning mid-19th century dresses made from sublime 18th century fabric:

Dress, 1840's, the embroidery dates from the second half of the 18th century, Digitalt Museum

Dress, 1840’s, the embroidery dates from the second half of the 18th century, Digitalt Museum

The great thing about white is that it makes other colours look fabulous, and other colours looks make white look fabulous.  Also, this pleating?  Fabulous.

Girl's Formal Evening Dress with Sash. Charles Frederick Worth,  Paris, 1867, Royal Ontario Museum

Girl’s Formal Evening Dress with Sash. Charles Frederick Worth, Paris, 1867, Royal Ontario Museum

See?  Doesn’t have to be super, super white to count:

Evening dress, 1891–92, British, Silk, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Evening dress, 1891–92, British, Silk, Metropolitan Museum of Art

I ‘curated’ (oh ghastly internet phrasing, though using it for this post is considerably less ridiculous than some usages I have seen) this post, and then realised that all my garments got progressively less formal as I got closer to the present.  Case in point:

Woman’s Suit, 1913-14, Silk, FIDM Museum

Woman’s Suit, 1913-14, Silk, FIDM Museum

And then, the least formal off all, wide-legged white ’30s trousers:

Dutch couple on the beach, 1930s

Dutch couple on the beach, 1930s

*The next colour-themed challenge will probably be a little more challenging, as not everyone likes the same colours, but hopefully everyone will treat it as a challenge and find some way to work the colour into their historical wardrobe.

22 Comments

  1. Elise says

    Green and white is one of my very very veryveryvery favorite combinations! Looking forward!

  2. There is a lot of costume love in this post for me.

    And it’s a great challenge for me, because I had so many white things planned, and so few of them got made and so few of them are going to get made and maybe I’ll squeeze them all into this one. Ha!

    • Are you talking about true unbleached linen? It is, as we know, brown. 😉

      Really though, I’d rather leave super specific calls up the each participant. If you think you can justify including an item in the challenge without completely ignoring the spirit of the challenge, then it counts.

  3. Would a blue-scale print on a white background be acceptable? (Waverly floral indienne, like for the curtain-along a little while ago.) I posted a pic on my blog… too much blue? 🙁

    • It would be fine, but (trying not too give too much away here!) the next challenge I announce may be even MORE perfect for it. So you could use white to make yourself a shift to go under a sacque, or something else ;-).

      Food for thought for you though: that type of fabric was almost never used for RalF – it would be much more historical to use it for an Anglaise back.

      • Thanks! Ok, I’ll save it for later… maybe I’ll turn it into another (different style) anglaise or something instead if the cotton/print was less accurate for a française. I would love to make a silk française, but have yet to find silk at the right price since it takes so much fabric…!

  4. I have been wanting to participate in a challenge for a while so I’m so excited that I finally got my first one done and super early too! I didn’t see an album for this challenge on Facebook yet so I’ll go ahead and post it here. I was inspired by and attempted to recreate a 1916 Lucile white wedding dress! My post about it is over at http://lmsewing.blogspot.com/2013/06/hsf-challenge-15-white.html

    • Fabulous! I’m so glad you were able to make something! I don’t open albums on Facebook until the previous challenge is over, so there won’t be a ‘White’ album (hehe) until after ‘Eastern Influence’ finsihes.

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  7. Yolanthe says

    I wanted to partake in one of these Chanllanges for so lang, it isn’t true anymore.
    Finally I made it.

    Thanks for the idea as a whole. It’s so wonderful, ^^

    My Work piece is to be found over at Livejournal.

    http://jen-sei.livejournal.com/2014/07/12/

    Love,
    Yolanthe

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