All posts filed under: Reviews: resources, books, museums

Wearing History's Nanette Blouse thedreamstress.com

The Wearing History Nanette Blouse

I was super excited when Wearing History announced the 1930s Nanette Blouse Pattern, because: 1) it’s adorable, and; 2) I’ve been looking for a ‘girlie’ take on a formal shirt to wear with tails (well, waistcoat and trousers, I usually abandon the tails after 3 minutes), for AGES, and the Nanette Blouse was the perfect design. I was even more excited when Lauren offered me a review copy.  Yay!  Free vintage pattern goodness! So I got the pattern for free.  However my opinions on the pattern are totally my own, and not influenced by the free-ness of the pattern. The Fabric: My sewing goal was for my blouse to be ultra-feminine, but also to clearly reference the idea of a formal shirt. I absolutely love the white blouse shown on the cover of the pattern.  I wanted to replicate its sheer-sleeve and opaque body effect. A rummage in my fabric stash unearthed a white silk tissue with a slightly crepe thread, and a subtle stripe effect.  It wasn’t an absolutely ideal fabric, but it was the …

Book Review: Priscilla, thedreamstress.com

Book Review: Priscilla, an 1890s romance

I started this post for May’s Historical Sew Monthly theme of ‘Literature’, but due to my arm injury I wasn’t able to finish it during May. So, a little late, because I’m still on doctor enforced limited-computer time, a historical book review for a very fun piece, full of costume descriptions and illustration. Priscilla is an 1890s romance novel by E Everett-Green, a prolific writer of ‘pious and improving’ stories for girls, as well as historical novels (and daughter of the truly amazing Mary Anne Everett Green).  Knowing Everett-Green’s reputation for moralistic literature, Priscilla surprised me. Despite the titular Priscilla dominating the plot, the book is not really about her: it’s a picture of six possibilities of late-Victorian womanhood; archetypical ingenue Priscilla; her sister Ruth, the pattern card of the ideal 19th century wife, sister & daughter, in a style that was already a bit old-fashioned for the 1890s; spinster cousin Barbara Stillingfield, grown cold and warped with stifled love and hope; petted and fete’d society beauty Olive Gardner; society matron Mrs Pym; and Gwendolyn Pym, firmly …

The Carillon of Scarpa thedreamstress.com

Friday(ish) Reads: Flora Klickmann’s The Carillon of Scarpa

I’m a big fan of Flora Klickmann, because her books are such an excellent glimpse into life in England during and shortly after WWI.  Her ‘Flower Patch’ collections of autobiographical musings were so popular that she must have run out of personal material, so, in 1925 she decided to try her hand at fiction, in the form of a Ruritanian romance.  And thus was born ‘The Carillon of Scarpa’. I imagine the conversation went something like this: Editor:  So…it’s been a while since you wrote a Flower Patch book.  Ready for a new one? Klickmann: Oh, I don’t know, I don’t really have anything to say there.  I was thinking of another handiwork book, or something inspirational on how to be a good person… Editor:  Like the last three?  Yeah….those didn’t sell so well.  Why don’t you try something different! Klickmann:  Different? Editor:  Yeah, we were thinking you should write a Ruritanian romance. Klickmann:  A Ruritanian romance?  With Baltic princesses, swashbuckling men, gypsies, mistaken identities, kidnappings and governments in peril?  Ummmm…I write books about flowers and gardening …