Author: The Dreamstress

Sewing with a Singer 27 for the Fortnight in 1916 thedreamstress.com

Sewing in 1916

As part of my Fortnight in 1916 project, one of my goals was to make a garment using period techniques and my Singer 27 machine, just as a woman would have done in 1916. As you can see, I succeeded!  It was quite an interesting experience, and I did learn quite a bit about sewing in the period. For the blouse pattern, I took a pattern from an original 1914-16 blouse in my collection: When I purchased the original blouse it was unfinished – the vestee part in front was only loosely basted in, and there was no front fastenings.  I secured the vestee, and added hooks as a less invasive alternative to buttons and buttonholes. I’ve worn it once, as it’s extremely robust, and I really wanted to understand the fit. As my original was unfinished, it made it easy to study the construction.  I’ll do a full post on the original shortly, rather than focusing on that now, but will note two of the interesting clues that it did yield.  First,  it was made from a commercial pattern as …

Rate the Dress: a paisley tea gown

Last week’s rate the dress was a probably-by Callot Soeurs gown in what-do-we-call-this-bronze-blush-champagne with intricate embroidery.  A few people weren’t so enthusiastic, but most of you loved the dress – so much so it’s going to get a bit polygamous, because a number of us are in line to marry it.  (me too!).  The final rating was 9.3 out of 10. I’m currently obsessing over paisley, because I’m giving a talk on Paisley at CoCo, so this week’s Rate the Dress is on-theme.  In fact, it manages to combine paisley with another one of my obsessions: tea gowns. This tea gown is an example of a mid-century paisley shawl which has been re-made into a fitted garment.  This practice was very common from the late 1870s onwards, as shawls fell out of fashion as bustles came in, but the actual shawl fabric was still valued. Though paisley shawls of the 1860s were ENORMOUS, they still don’t contain enough fabric to make a full trained tea gown, so the dressmaker has combined the wool shawl with …

My Costume College talks

I’m off to the US for Costume College this week, and I am SO excited!  I’ll be seeing costumers I haven’t seen in almost a decade, meeting costumers I’ve never met in real life, taking some amazing classes, and even giving two p myself! My first talk is a topic I’ve been fascinated by for years, and which I’ve given as a class or presentation in various forms: the history of the paisley/boteh motif. I just think it’s amazing that this one motif has become so universally recognisable (even Mr D knows what paisley is!): as much so as spots or stripes or checks, though its much more specific and esoteric.   The history of how it came to be so well known, and the different things it has represented in Western fashion, is quite phenomenal – and quite important to know as a historical costumer, so that you understand what your paisley garment would have meant to the people viewing it at the time it was made (spoiler alter: wealth!, knowledge!, sex!, security!, ethics!, conventionalism!, respectability!, …