All posts tagged: silk

Terminology: What are Bizarre silks?

Bizarre silks are silk fabrics (obviously) that were fashionable in Europe from the mid 1690s to the 1720s.  They featured large, asymmetrical designs, vivid colours, fantastical floral designs which were Oriental in inspiration, and an emphasis on the diagonal ‘serpentine line’ which would later come to characterise the Rococo style.  The first bizarre silks were woven in Lyons, France, but by the early 1700s they were also being made in Spitalfelds, England, and to a lesser extent in Italy. The name ‘Bizarre Silks’ is not period – it wasn’t used until 1957 when art historian Dr. Vilhelm Sloman coined the term to describe the style.  Dr Sloman believed that bizarre silks were made in India and imported into Europe, but subsequent scholarship has made it clear that they were exclusively produced in Europe. According to my research, there is no particular set of term that was used in the late 17th & 18th centuries for the fabric design – they might be described as Oriental, but generally they were just the popular style, and no particular distinction …

Terminology: What is blonde lace?

One of the most striking features of Queen Adelaide’s frock in this week’s Rate the Dress is her glorious blonde lace sleeves.  Perhaps you’ve read a Georgette Hayer novel and come across a description of the heroine heading out to a dinner party in a dress trimmed with blonde lace and wondered what that meant.  Maybe you already knew, if not, wonder no more! ‘Blonde’ is the term used to describe the natural colour of undyed silk, and blonde lace was originally the name for a specific style of continuous bobbin lace made in France (primarily Chantilly, Caen & Bayeux) from natural, undyed silk thread imported from China. While blonde lace was originally made from undyed and unbleached silk the name later came to refer to lace in a particular style made from silk thread, even if it was bleached white, or dyed black (and occasionally other colours).  In 1902 an ad offers it in white or ‘butter’, and a fashionable 1895 tea jacket is made up in ‘black blonde lace’.  Sometimes different shades were be combined in the …

Finished project: 1920’s inspired ‘Tango’ dress

I made this dress as a project in university. The brief was to make a basic fitting toile, and then to draft a garment pattern from that. This was not the dress to flat pattern draft.  It would have been much, much easier to drape it on a dressform. But it still turned out pretty well.  We call it the ‘dress that fits anyone’, because it does.  And looks good on them to. I based the design on a image of Edna St Vincent Millay.  The patterning isn’t at all accurate for a 1920s dress (princess seams!), but the effect is still charming. The fabric is silk crepe.  There was quite a story with the fabric – I looked and looked, but all the reds I could find had an orange tinge. So I spent my entire fabric budget on some muted jade green silk charmeuse because it was soooo beautiful. And then realised that this was the wrong dress for muted jade green silk charmeuse.  And whinged about it for days. So my dear, …