All posts tagged: 1800s

Rate the Dress: Madame Houbigant in all-white

Last week’s very vividly green 1840s dress sparked a lively discussion over whether it was actually poison-green (i.e. arsenic green) or just poison-green coloured.  Deadly or not, most of you liked the brilliant hue, and while not everyone was keen on the ruffles and ties and overall silhouette, it still came in at a rather nice 8.5 out of 10. Whew!  We’d been on such a bad streak, nice to have a good score again.  Will this week’s choice revert back to the poor scores, or set us on another winning streak? This week let’s look at Madame Houbigant, wife of perfumer Jean-François Houbigant.  Her feather-trimmed cap, heavy satin over-robe, lace chemisette and Kashmiri shawl provide a more mature take on the ubiquitous all-white ensemble of Regency and Empire fashion. Nicole Adéläide Deschamps was the daughter of a perfumer herself, and her husband entered the trade by apprenticing under her father in law, and then founding his own business.  After rising in prominence under the ancient regime, and surviving the revolution, Houbigant Parfum went on …

Experiments in ca. 1800 petticoat making

A part of my Jane-Austen sewing-a-thon* I decided it was finally time I made a proper set of Regency petticoats, and stopped just using my 1910s petticoats, pulled up to the underbust and pinned in place! The first dress that needed a petticoat was the ca. 1800 Madame Recamier gown.  It’s sheer, so it definitely needs a petticoat.  It’s also flat fronted, so the petticoat can’t have any front gathers, or it won’t sit smoothly over it.  The Madame Recamier gown is based on the ca 1800 bib-front dress in Janet Arnold, and the skirt panels are rectangles – no angles at all. I went looking for extant examples, period mentions, and period images, and quickly ran into a problem.  There aren’t many of any of those. There is this 1799 caricature, which mostly shows drawers worn without petticoats, though the woman having her stockings pinned up appears to be holding up a pink petticoat with no bodice, and the woman at the far right appears to be wearing a blue un-bodiced petticoat.  Neither tells us much …

A simple Regency chemise

One of my goals for the Historical Sew Fortnightly, both 2013 & 2014, has been to expand my Regency wardrobe. So far, progress has been slow.  I’ve made mitts, and my 1813 Kashmiri dress is a thing of beauty and a joy forever, but my wrap corset a la paresseus is a disappointment on. But look, now I finally have a proper chemise, so I can stop wearing my 1880s ones under my Regency dresses! (and I just feel the URGENT need to point out here that I’m wearing a bra, camisole, knickers, tap pants, and a slip under the chemise, so any weird shadows in the photo are JUST weird shadows!) It’s entirely hand sewn, in a lightweight (not quite handkerchief weight) linen I picked up at Fabric-a-Brac for $5. The chemise is classic fabric-saving geometric construction: one rectangle for the body, little rectangles for the sleeves, the extra fabric cut into long triangles to add width to the chemise, and square gussets under the arms to help with movement. All the seams are flat felled, to reinforce them and …