What it is:
The Rijksmuseum publication on the collections of the wealthy Six family of Amsterdam
To-die-for, drool worthy garments with great dating and provenance. It isn’t often that you get to see an almost pristine 1759 wedding dress, or even an 1812 wedding dress, especially where the bride’s names and history are known.
1759 wedding gown
Detail of the embroidery on the 1759 wedding dress
The reverse of the embroidery
1812 wedding gown
Either the writer just isn’t a great writer, or the book has been translated into English with technically accurate but moderately obfuscating results. All of the parts are correct, but somehow the sum is hard to read and doesn’t make much sense.
Also, the book is all about the Six family (who had various other last names as well), and some of the kids were named Nine. No, I’m not kidding. I’m sure these are perfectly ordinary and acceptable names in Amsterdam, but I spent some time reading bits of the book trying to figure out who the six [different] families were, and why a nine year old had a wedding dress.
To make the name confusion worse, I’m fairly certain the same people are referred to by different names throughout the book (pet names, full names, married names, initials), so I had to keep referring to the family tree, and I’m still not sure I am clear on who wore what when.
Finally, the images of the garments are too artistic. Garments from different periods are elegantly draped together, or photographed in soft focus, which is great if you want a pretty picture, but not fab for those of us who want to study the garment.
Pretty please can I see those stays right side up or on a mannequin!?!
1835 wedding gown in soft focus. Grrrr….
Very artistic, but hard to tell what the rest of the dress looks like!
The really odd, what in the Buggrit Millennium Hand and Shrimp Blazes is going on here?
There are random unclothed people in all (OK, most) of the images. Yes, you read that right. Beautiful historic costumes and people in the altogether. Not even attractive clothes-less people: ordinary wrinkled undressed people.
Don’t believe me?
Well: here you go:
And when there aren’t sky-cladders, there are unattractive dogs, or laptops.
I really hope that images is photoshopped and the dog and costume were never in the same proximity!
My inner museum professional is having serious issues with this picture!
The worst part is, there is no indication why anyone thought it was a good idea to have au natural models* interacting with the costumes. What does it mean? I suppose it is ummm…memorable. You aren’t likely to forget the dress that was framed by wrinkled old bums.
*BTW, did you notice how I cleverly managed to discuss all these images without ever once using any of the N words? Uh-huh. Booyah!
I love hats. And I love knowing how things are made.
But a large part of the hat-making process was a total mystery to me. Straw hats and pieced hats I understand, but those one piece felt ones…ummm…
A fabric hat – this I could make.
Well today, doing research, I learned something completely new.
The classic Australian hatmakers Akubra have a great description of how their hats are made, and what they are made out of.
I had always assumed that the felt they used for hats was wool felt, but now I know that rabbit fur is commonly used. This explains the whole fad for ‘beaver fur’ hats. All this time I had thought they used the whole hide for the hat (which sounds rather gross). It makes so much more sense that it was the felted under-fur which the hats were made out of!
A ladies beaver-fur top hat.
And while I was on the topic, I read up on the expression ‘Mad as a Hatter’ and learned that it might not actually refer to hatters going mad because they worked with mercury.
I was going to review Arnold’s pattern for the yoke-front Regency dress I just made this week, but then I realised you were all probably sick of my finding excuses to post pretty pictures of myself in it.
So I’ll spare you.
And post pretty pictures of me in another dress I made a year ago from another Janet Arnold pattern as I review it instead.
This is the 1870s Pink Extravaganza, aka Almost Scarlett, my take on Arnold’s pattern for a 1870-1871 dress with a train and overskirt and two separate bodices, one with a gilet (a thing that fills in the low neckline)
I only made up one of the bodices: the day bodice, without the gilet.
On the right
Don’t pay too much attention to the photos of me as a guide for the general attractiveness of the dress dress: they were taken on Christmas (hey, any excuse is a good excuse to wear a costume), and while they do show off the in-laws gorgeous house, I wasn’t wearing the full set of petticoats and bustles necessary to make the dress successful.
This is one of Arnold’s most popular patterns, and with good reason. Despite the elaborate effect it gives, the dress is actually very simple and straightforward to put together. The cut is very flattering, and the different bodice options make this a great project to begin your 1870s wardrobe with.
Evening bodice, day bodice with gilet, day bodice without gilet.
There are many different options for making up the dress in terms of fabric and trim, ensuring that you won’t end up with something that is too close to any other dress. You can choose to follow the original trimming, or make up your own. I particularly love the little puff trim, and used it to great effect both on this dress and on my Jeanne Samary frock.
The really clear diagrams are super helpful.
I never got the gilet to sit properly in my bodice front, and finally gave up on it altogether. Perhaps it didn’t work because I didn’t put the gathered ribbon band around the edge of my neckline as Arnold’s pattern shows, but I do think it would be a tricky thing to pull off under any circumstance. Arnold also doesn’t provide any details on how one would attach the gilet to the bodice front. Maybe it was intended to be basted in any time you wanted to wear the dress with the gilet?
I also had trouble with the final peplum overskirt. It just never looked right and fell right. Alexa wore it for the Capturing the Mode talk, but I am still not happy with it. I tend to wear the dress with a sash instead. I think this is one part of the pattern that would be easier to scale up exactly to size, rather than draping (which is how I usually make up Arnold’s patterns)
Finally, I rather wonder if the date of this dress isn’t a year or two later in the 1870s. Most images I can find from 1870 still show a rounder, less bustled silhouette, which doesn’t work with the tie-back tapes of this bustle, or with Arnold’s sketch of the dress.
Fringing. 90% of the time I hate fringing. I know the Victorian’s loved it, but I think it is revolting. The original dress may have had fringing on it, but mine never will.
A great project for a moderately experienced seamstress who wants to attempt a historically accurate dress (or an experienced seamstress who wants to have a bit of relief from pulling her hair out over costumes). The only historical techniques that might be unfamiliar are the cartridge pleating, and figuring out how to fasten the bodice. The bodice has ornamental buttons, but actually fastens with hooks and eyes.
The one tricky bit will be scaling the pattern: the original pattern is very small (24 inch waist), so pattern draping and sizing experience (or a healthy dose of chutzpah) is a must.
Have you made up this pattern? Please share how it went for you!