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

Friday Review: Jill Salen’s 1900 Ribbon Corset

This is a review of the fit, comfort, and wearability of the 1900 ribbon corset pattern from Jill Salen’s Corsets: Historical Patterns and Techniques, and of the pattern itself. First, the pattern: The pattern, when you first confront it, looks ridiculously hard and completely incomprehensible.  This is true of all ribbon corset patterns in my experience.  As soon as you put a prototype together and figure out how it works, the logic of it all comes together in your mind (or at least it did in my mind!) and the whole thing makes perfect sense. There are some very interesting things about this pattern.  Because the side, back, and front pieces are perfectly straight, the seams that meet them are very curved, to give the corset its curving and shape.  The front and back seams are particularly curved.  I’m not used to sewing two very curved seams at the centre front and back, modern seamstresses are generally taught to keep both of these seams perfectly straight, so it did take a little mind-readjustment. Flaws/problems in …

Museums are not infallible

This topic has been brewing in my mind for some time, and I was prompted to post on it due to American Duchesses’ post about stays, and Abby of Stay-ing Alive’s survey (which you should take if you haven’t!). This post is based on my experience working for museums, and is meant to provide a greater insight into how we (as historical costumers), can use them. Museums are a fantastic resource for historical costumers.  As the caretakers of historical artifacts, they hold the ultimate resources: original garments.  They also frequently supply valuable research on original garments.   However Museums are not infallible. Everything that a museum or its representatives says or writes is not necessarily accurate.  As a more-than-averagely intelligent person (I automatically assume that anyone who reads my blog is more-than-averagely intelligent!) with a particular interest and background in the area, you should feel free to question and improve on their information. The Tate identifies this woman as “heavily pregnant”, but American Duchess suggested that the ‘pregnancy’ is in illusion/affectation provided by the fashions …

Friday Review: Underwear in Detail

Madame Ornata bought herself V&A’s new ‘in detail’ book Underwear: Fashion in Detail, and was kind enough to lend it to me to drool over use for research and review purposes. So here is the review! The Good: Images of lots & lots of gorgeous, unique, and interesting undergarments, all supported by excellent research. The book is particularly good at featuring unique one-off garments, or at least garments that are less discussed. The Bad: ‘Underwear in Detail’ has the same problem that all the ‘In Detail’ books have: it can’t decide what it is.  Is it a costume history book?  Than why some of the artsier detail pics?  Is it a history book?  Then why divide the information into such peculiar chunks around the book.  Is it an art book?  Then why all the background info and sketches? Despite their problems, the previous ‘In Detail’ books managed to walk a very narrow and occasionally visibly wobbly tightrope between coffee table pretty and serious history book, one that appealed to both the pedestrian fashion lover and …