Latest Posts

Hot, talented and heroic (but with unfortunate relatives)

Have you ever heard of Edwin Booth?  He was one of the greatest male actors of the 19th century.  Also, he looked like this:

Hubba hubba

Unfortunately, he had a brother who was a bit of a troublemaker, which kind of sullied the family name, and the historical record.

This is really a pity, as not only was E. Booth hot and talented, but he was a bit of a hero.  Just read this letter from the young man whose life he saved:

The incident occurred while a group of passengers were late at night purchasing their sleeping car places from the conductor who stood on the station platform at the entrance of the car. The platform was about the height of the car floor, and there was of course a narrow space between the platform and the car body. There was some crowding, and I happened to be pressed by it against the car body while waiting my turn. In this situation the train began to move, and by the motion I was twisted off my feet, and had dropped somewhat, with feet downward, into the open space, and was personally helpless, when my coat collar was vigorously seized and I was quickly pulled up and out to a secure footing on the platform. Upon turning to thank my rescuer I saw it was Edwin Booth, whose face was of course well known to me, and I expressed my gratitude to him, and in doing so, called him by name.

Wow!  How awesome is that!

And the young man?  That was Robert Todd Lincoln.

Pity about what happened with Edwin’s brother and the other Lincoln a few months later.

Every rose has its thorns

Remember my briar rose corset?  That thing is evil.  Well, technically it is evil #2 (evil #1, of course, being pintucks)

I kinda knew from the start that making a straight fronted corset would be heinous.  I mean, just look at the advertisements for the things:

Graceless and illogical

How do you even make the human form look anything remotely close to that!?!  Not easily, that’s for sure!

But I tried my best.  I draped my pattern on Isabelle, following Waugh’s pattern from a real corset, which must have fit someone at some point.

Then I fitted it, or tried to.  It’s really hard to fit an anatomically improbable waist cinching corset on a natural figure.  I ended up doing about 6 fittings, and going through that many redrafts of the pattern.  The best luck I had with the fittings was fitting it over my nougat corset (which at least achieved some waist-cinching for me).

I didn’t take any pictures of the fittings because by the time I got the mock-up on and pinned I was so grumpy and flustered I forgot about the camera, and wouldn’t have wanted an image of myself even if I hadn’t!

At this point, you are probably wondering why I didn’t do a mock-up with boning, and a false laced back, and see how that fit me.  There are two reasons for this.  First, I hadn’t thought of my clever stunt-lacer yet, and two, have you seen the boning pattern on this corset?!?

Crazy boning patterns

Yeah.  Some of those bones cross four seams.  No way you are fitting anything once they are sewn in.

So, with a sort of pattern achieved, I just crossed my fingers, hoped, and went for it.

My sort-of pattern. Seam allowances are included, so the shapes look funny.

It totally didn’t fit.  Waaaaaaay too big.

Ouch.  Big thorn stab.  Time to rip apart and do some serious taking in.

(sidenote: I’m pretty sure this post wins the award for the most internal links yet.  Also the most over-use of italics.  Mr Carpenter would not approve.)

Rate the Dress: Velvet & Fur in 1900

Despite a few readers loving last week’s avant garde green and gold Lanvin jumpsuit, most of you didn’t.  It rated a rather dismal 4.9 out of 10, with opinions ranging from Stella’s “Who knew!?!? Harem pants can look cool” to comparisons to a trashbag.  Ouch.

This week’s rate the dress is brought to you courtesy of the exceptional weather we have been having in Wellington.  It’s been snowing.  Now, this wouldn’t be exciting if I lived in the South Island, but snow in Wellington happens once or twice a century.  And my suburb?  Never!  We live at sea level!  But we have been having hours long snow-storms, and the whole neighborhood has been outside with cameras.  It’s such big news it made the New York Times.  If that wasn’t a hyperlink it would be in bold, italics and underline, all at the same time.  The only one who doesn’t love the weather is Felicity.  Poor kitty is freaked out.  She doesn’t understand this white cold stuff that falls from the sky.

Obviously, I need to present a proper snuggly, furry, winter appropriate frock for your consideration.

How about the afternoon dress from the Met in plush black silk velvet and soft brown fur, with matching fur trimmed hat?

Madame Virot for Raudnitz and Co. Huet and Chéruit, French, 1898-1900, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Madame Virot for Raudnitz and Co. Huet and Chéruit, French, 1898-1900, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Madame Virot has tried to give the warm winter fabrics and dark colours a softer, lighter, more feminine touch by twisting the usual cold-weather cliches.  She has blended the patterned velvet into the delicately spotted chiffon at the hem, and adding girlie touches like a bow-effect hat.

What do you think?  Is this an unusual, but effective way to give a lighthearted and whimsical twist to winter fashion?  Or is the dress to frothy for winter wear, and too drab for spring?

Rate the Dress on a scale of 1 to 10

Want to see more winter wear?  Check out last year’s post on snuggly frocks.