I always try to have a bit of handsewing on the go, so I have something to work on while sitting in a waiting room, or whenever else I have a tiny bit of down-time (an all too rare occurrence in my life at the moment, sadly).
My last handsewing project was another 18th c fichu – a twin to the one I made back in December, because it’s easier to cut a square and divide it into two triangles than to cut an individual triangle, so you might as well make fichu in pairs!
I finished my fichu on the flight to Sydney, just in time for Theresa to wear it for my talk and our photoshoot at Old Government House in Parramatta, Sydney.
There isn’t a great deal to say about the fichu’s construction.* I cut it at 80cm/31.5″ along the straight edges, which creates a 132cm/52″ angled edge. The little slit in it is 12cm/4.5″ long.
The slit allows it to sit nicely and snugly against the back of the neck.
The dimensions were based off of a few museum examples, and the width of my fabric. It made sense to me to use a measurement that corresponded to a fabric width, which is, I’m sure, how historical fichu were sized.
The sizing sits very nicely around the neck and across the shoulders, and is long enough to just reach the waist in front, perfectly hiding any glimpses of blue stays under the ribbon ties of the pet-en-l’aire.
The fichu is made of the same voile weight linen that I made the 1780s cap from the American Duchess book out of.
It’s hemmed with very, very tiny turned hems.
Sadly, I got an ink stain on it while working on it, and my best efforts to remove the stain have not succeeded. Luckily the stain doesn’t show when worn tucked in, and if I ever needed to do a lower class impression, a few marks would only add to the verisimilitude.**
It’s not a particularly exciting item, but it’s an excellent addition to my 18th century wardrobe, and is helping to create all the details that add up to an authentic impression.
And it perfectly qualifies for the Historical Sew Monthly 2018 Challenge #5: Specific to a Time (of Day or Year). Fichu were worn primarily with daywear, to cover the neck and chest and protect them from the sun. They were also, generally speaking, more informal wear. Court dress, and other extremely formal garments, would be worn with an exposed chest and shoulders.
What the item is: a 1780s fichu / neckerchief
Material: linen voile
Pattern: based on extant exampels
Year: 1780 (but probably appropriate for most of the 2nd half of the 18th century)
Notions: silk thread
How historically accurate is it? I’m not so sure about my tiny pressed hems rather than true rolled hems, but it still can’t be very far off.
Hours to complete: 3 or so – lots of little stitches!
First worn: For photos at Old Government House, Parramatta, Sydney, 26 May.
Total cost: $10 or so based on the amount of fabric I used.
* So yes, this post is really just an excuse to show off a bunch of photos of Theresa looking gorgeous 😉
** My current favourite word. Theresa was most impressed by how lightly and fluently it trips off my tongue 😛