Tara wrote me last week with a fascinating query. She’s trying to recreate her great-grandmother’s wedding dress, but all she has is a tantalizingly brief description:
the bride looked charming in a gown of silk marquisette trimmed with Oriental lace and Irish crochet buttons over cream satin with lace coat to match. She wore the bridal veil and orange blossoms and carried pink carnations.
As Tara says, not a lot to go on. She want to know what the dress might have looked like, patterns that could use as a guide to making it, and what silk marquisette and Oriental lace (or their modern equivalent) are. I thought this would make fun series of posts, so over the next week I’ll try to answer, with lots of pretty pictures!
For starters, let’s do what all brides do when they plan their wedding: look at inspiration images in wedding magazines!
There weren’t any proper wedding magazines in 1911, but the Women’s Own Magazine did do ‘A Page for Brides.’ I’ve already blogged about the bridal headpieces they suggest. Here’s the rest:
A Page for Brides, Women's Home Magazine, 1911
The new trend for 1911: wedding wreaths instead of bouquets
And how to carry your wreath - just in case you couldn't figure that out for yourself!
And for your bridesmaids, have them wear their own mini-veils!
A suggestion for your veil
Another veil trend
If the suggestions in Women’s Own Magazine don’t do it for you, perhaps these ones will:
Two ways of arranging the bridal veil. In one, silver leaves and pearl "blossoms" hold the filmy lace in position on the hair. In the second, lace forms a dainty cap, adorned with bridal flowers, a clear tulle veil being thrown over the whole
With the accessories sorted, the bride of 1911 can move on to deciding on the most important thing: her dress! Die Gracieuse has a few charming suggestions:
A wedding dress from De Gracieuse, 1910
Wedding dress, De Gracieuse, 1910
Wedding dress, Die Gracieuse, 1911
And this is cheating just a little, but I found some fantastic images from 1912 and 13:
An exquisite example of a wedding gown in peau de soie interwoven with silver leaves and true-lovers' knots. The train is veiled with tulle and lace to match that composing the upper part of the corsage, 1912
Bride, 1913, Demoiselles
And finally, the perfect bridesmaid: one young enough not to argue with you! And in an utterly adorable frock:
Child bridesmaid's frock in cream and pink chiffon, garlanded with tiny pink roses. A chiffon veil is held in place by a chaplet of the flowers and leaves
Exciting news! The launch of PorcelainToy’s ‘Monsters’ music video was on Sunday, and the film is now available online.
Here it is, my screen debut as a costumer! What do you think? Can you tell the difference between my dress and the original? Is it the right mix of pathos and cheesy (just like the original White Zombie)? And isn’t Elizabeth de la Ray as Madge/Madeline gorgeous?
Porcelaintoy ‘Monsters’ from Rater/Coder on Vimeo.
The launch night was lots of fun. It was held at the newly refurbished Roxy Cinema (my neighborhood cinema!) with a dress code of black and white 1930s Gothic.
I wore vintage dress trousers (probably 1940s) and took in Mr D’s vintage dress waistcoat (probably 1930s, with 1950s alterations) to fit me. Alas, nothing would make his vintage tails fit, so I added a late 1930s evening cape as a wrap, and a diamante brooch. I was aiming for ”Marlene Dietrich as vampire” look.
Marlene Dietrich in a tuxedo
Bela Lugosi in Dracula
My 30s/40s formalwear trousers and waistcoat
Claire of The Vanity Case, Elizabeth de la Ray, and me in my evening cape at the Roxy
Well, hopefully! I think I need a white tie waistcoat, and a top hat to really make it work
If you crochet or knit you are probably familiar with a picot hem, or a picot edge – a series of looped threads along the edge of your knitting or crocheting, which can be used for functional or decorative purposes. A ‘picot’ is a single one of these loops)
If you are a really dedicated crafter, you might even know the same term from tatting (which is characterised by its use of picots), or know that some types of lace commonly use picots.
Lots of little picots on a tatted table mat
Picot edges are less well known in sewing these days, but you should, because 1) they are awesome, and 2) they are a common sewing technique in the 1920s and 30s, worked both by machine, and by hand.
A 1930s pattern from my collection with picot edges
Note instruction 13
In sewing, a picot edge is a rolled hem with a zig zag stitch sewn over the hem to hold it. It is usually worked on very fine, lightweight fabrics such as chiffon.
Chanel dress with picot edging, Metropolitan Museum of Art
When I first saw a picot edge, I thought it must have been a very simple, cheap, low quality finish, such as overlocked hems on modern clothes. However when I interned at the Met I got to see Chanel dresses with picot hems – you can’t get much posher than that!
Picot hems on a chiffon Chanel dress ca 1925, Metropolitan Museum of Art
The use of picot edging for this type of hem seems to have arisen in the 1910s, with numerous retailers advertising picot edged scarves and collars.
"A new and charming expression of the handkerchief vogue. In navy satin and pearl grey georgette with picot edges and a dainty design on the shoulder embroidered in yellow and orange."Evening Post, October 1928
It wasn’t just for dresses though. A 1935 advertisement extols the merits of ’bungalow curtains‘ (how modern!) with picot edges.
The technique was so common and popular in the 20s and 30s that the name picot was even applied to straw woven in small loops.
"A picot straw model in beige, with turn-up brim, a side-rever, and, jutting out from this, two bright green lacquered feathers." Evening Post, 18 August 1934
You can also see usages where picot refers to a zig-zagged or looped seam join – not an edge at all.
Stockings with picot seams, Evening Post, 3 April 1939
The earliest uses of picot (at least that I can find) are not for lace or crocheting, or knitting or hemming or straw at all, but for ribbon. Numerous advertisements from the 1880s market different types of picot ribbon, referring to ribbon finished on the edges with little loops.
Advertisement for picot ribbons in the Colonist, 19 October 1886
You can still buy picot edged ribbon, and it’s still sold under that name.
Vintage picot edged ribbon from my collection
I’ll add picot edging to my list of tutorials to-do, and hopefully it won’t be too long before I get to it!