All posts filed under: Textiles & Costume

Theresa with a Fichu at Old Government House Parramatta, thedreamstress.com

A new 18th century fichu – HSM 2018 #5

I always try to have a bit of handsewing on the go, so I have something to work on while sitting in a waiting room, or whenever else I have a tiny bit of down-time (an all too rare occurrence in my life at the moment, sadly). My last handsewing project was another 18th c fichu – a twin to the one I made back in December, because it’s easier to cut a square and divide it into two triangles than to cut an individual triangle, so you might as well make fichu in pairs! I finished my fichu on the flight to Sydney, just in time for Theresa to wear it for my talk and our photoshoot at Old Government House in Parramatta, Sydney. There isn’t a great deal to say about the fichu’s construction.*  I cut it at 80cm/31.5″ along the straight edges, which creates a 132cm/52″ angled edge.  The little slit in it is 12cm/4.5″ long. The slit allows it to sit nicely and snugly against the back of the neck. The …

The quest for Regency uplift: J.S. Bernhardt’s 1810 Stays, View C

I love ‘Regency’ and Empire fashions: the high waisted silhouette of the 1790s to the late 1810s. However, my body does not.  I’ve got small, firm, low-set breasts, very sloping shoulders, a relatively large square ribcage, and scoliosis.  It’s a natural fit for 1910s, but not ideal for ca. 1800.  Most of the bust supporting undergarments (whether they are stays, long or short, or jumps) of that 25-year span that I have made or tried on haven’t really worked for me.  Some are literally painful: twisting my already twisted spine into unhappy positions, or trying to use my shoulders to yank my very-resistant-to-upwards-yanking bust up, and thus cutting into my shoulders.  Others are just disappointing: flattening my bust into total nonexistence, or gaping sadly over each cup.  Some seem OK at first, and then get progressively less comfortable over hours of wear. I’ve felt like a total costuming failure with all my attempts at making Regency/Empire stays.  Some have been so bad I haven’t even been able to make myself blog them.  Some of it …

ca. 1907 Edwardian swimsuit by thedreamstress.com

Can you swim in a worsted wool Edwardian swimsuit? Let’s find out!

Yesterday I showed you my reproduction worsted wool Edwardian swimsuit.  Everyone wanted to know if I actually swam in it, and if you could swim in it.  Obviously I wondered this as well.  The swimsuit was lovely to frolic on the beach on, but could it actually work as a swimsuit. So I gave it a try! My reproduction swimsuit was made from worsted wool serge, and consists of a jumpsuit with attached bloomers, and an overskirt.  Both garments button down the front. I chose to swim with bare legs and feet.  While fashion plates generally show shoes and stockings there are enough period photographs that show wading women with swimsuits and bare lower limbs to make this equally plausible for a full swim. For the first swim I jumped off a little dock at Hataitai/Evan’s Bay beach.  It’s a popular swimming spot (as evinced by all the kids watching me), and very calm and safe, so a good place to try out the swimsuit. My first mini swim showed: It’s definitely possible to swim …