Saturday, December 8, 2012

Bodiced Regency Petticoat

My bodiced regency petticoat.
Well, after I had somehow succeeded in sewing my first regency gown I realized that what I had been reading about the necessity of correct underpinnings was true. So I decided to try to make a petticoat of some pretty sturdy cotton I had lying around. I browsed a bit in the internet and ended up with a plan of a bodiced petticoat. I thought I would alter the Sense & Sensibility regency dress pattern and so I did.

I have no experience at all in altering patterns so my method bases mostly on wild guesses and desperate attempts to find instructions online. With combining these two tactics I managed to put together a rather large petticoat. I console myself with the thought that little by little I will hopefully get a more realistic grasp on altering techniques and such. But I am thrilled to have succeeded in sewing this petticoat anyway :)

Back view
- note the problems with the hem?!
I also had bought some plastic boning which I added in the hem and it gives nice volume to the garment - but ... how is one supposed to get the plastic boning to obey?! Because it had been coiled in the fabric store it absolutely wanted to continue coiling! With the result (that you also may observe in one of the pictures here) that the hem of the petticoat doesn´t quite hold the desired shape. I think I shall maybe replace the plastic boning with something else in the future.

Now I plan on beginning a new dress or a bonnet or... The alternatives are so many I have some difficulty deciding :)  

Friday, December 7, 2012

Completed Regency Gown

My first regency gown!
I am so happy about it :)
Dear readers,

I have finally done it! Completed my first regency gown! Well... Actually this happened some months ago but the dress showed to be a singularly difficult object to photograph. Finally today I had both the time and patience to complete the task. Even now I had to adjust the colors in the pictures, mostly due to the greenish light my mobile camera lent them. This might be because of that I took the photos in the evening and my camera has no flash.

Where is the nearest ball?
I should like to attend!
The regency dress is admittedly pretty clumsy and does not fit like a glow but I am really happy with it anyway! It was after all almost my first sewing attempt (after schooltime) that was more difficult than sewing curtains - that is if you don´t count the unsuccessful bodice and the trial bodice I made earlier. I now used the Sense and Sensibility pattern and I just love it. Although I am a beginner I could understand the instructions.

Back view.
I just love the almost train-like hem.
I altered both the bodice and the neckline and added some length to the hem. The neckline, sleeves and hem also has some lace as decoration. Now I just look forward to get my hands on a new dress. When I start over I will do some things differently but well - to practise is the only way to learn something :) I had the biggest problems with gathering and buttonholes. My efforts to gather turned to be something that resembled pleating. And I just could not machine-stitch the buttonholes and ended up sewing them by hand. 

The sash lacks a clasp which might
have contributed to my strained postures
- I had to press my arm to my side
to hold the sash in place...
Don´t mind the slightly strange postures in some of the pictures. I used the timer in my camera and had to both place the camera in right angle on the table ( with Jane Austen´s "Emma" as support :D ) AND run in front of it before it automatically took the photo. My sewing machine also broke down when I was sewing a bodiced petticoat (which I will soon post about). I have acquired a new one which I have yet to try :) Hopefully it will be good and easy to use!  

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Completed Regency Bonnet

Regency bonnet, side view :)
Finally I have some pictures of the completed regency bonnet! I am so happy that I managed to pull it through. It is kind of simple and far from perfect but still - my first successful bonnet of the regency era! It took a great deal of patience and stiching but here there it is. Actually it turned out to be quite roomy :D I mean, the brim is wider than I thought. I am a little bit uncertain if they used to be that wide. Or maybe it is just me not used to wear a hat. In some of the period fashion plates the bonnets seem to have quite a brim.

Regency bonnet, front view.
I really like the light violet color.
My regency dress has also taken some steps forward. If the hat-making requested some patience the dress has demanded at least a triple amount of it! I never thought it would be so incredibly difficult to for example insert a skirt plakcet. After a long and time-consuming fight I managed it somehow, I think. But I shall write more of the dress a bit later :) Let us just say that my respect towards the generations of women that sewed (and all those who still sew) their own clothes by hand has grown even more!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Regency Bonnet in Making

Yes, I have finally managed to begin the making of a regency bonnet! After a lot of searching in the internet I decided to try to make one with a lined brim. So, ladies and gentlemen! Here is how the attempt has proceeded hitherto. Let me present...

... the 10 steps in making my regency bonnet:

1. I bought a cheap hat from H&M and some lace and stuff from a craft store.
The fabrics that I used were found in my sewing / crafting cupboard.
2. The brim was cut to a "regency"-shape.
3. The crown was covered with a double layer of some white
muslin-like ( I like to think :D ) fabric.
I stitched it in the ribbon encircling the crown.
The ribbon was already there when I bought the hat
and it showed to be very useful.
4. Then the outside of the brim was covered with the same white fabric in a double layer.
5. I also pinned it on the inside.
6. After that a lining of some lilac "satin" (synthetic fabric from a sale box in the fabric store)
was pinned on the upper edge inside the brim.
7. When I had stitched the upper edge I removed the pins
and finished the lower edge of the brim as well.
8. Then it was time to start decorating my regency bonnet!
One ribbon...
9. No, two ribbons...
10. And some scrapbooking brads. I could not resist them!
They looked so delightfully old-fashioned :)
I secured the area around them with some stitches
and stitched the ribbons on the bonnet as well.
This is about it! I have to confess succumbing to the temptation to use glue in the final decoration with some lace. I just had to cover the stitches in the ribbon in some way :D Despite my best efforts they ended up less than representative. I hope to be able to show you the final result soon. The glue now has to dry for some time before I dare to pick up my little bonnet again.

But I can already picture myself sailing along a beautiful avenue with the bonnet on my head, wearing an exceptionally stylish promenade dress...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Castles around Sweden, part 2 - Strömsholm Castle

Strömsholm castle and I ( with the sun in my eyes :) )
I thought to tell you about one of the other castles that we saw during the summer holiday. It is called Strömsholm castle and is the most beautiful building although it was under construction as you can see in the picture. Strömsholm means "a stream island" in English but I had no idea how literally the name was meant until we got there.

We arrived in sunset, the weather was beautiful and almost a bit crisp. We started to go through the little park towards the castle when an unusual sound caught my ear. "What´s that?" I asked my friend. "Can you hear that?" A kind of distant hum filled the lovely and otherwise quiet evening.

The lovely current that I found absolutely
delightful. What an excellent idea
to build a castle surrounded by a river!
Imagine my delight when we got nearer to the castle and saw that the whole house was surrounded by a fast-flowing stream. The castle actually stood on an island that literally lied in the middle of a current. We admired the view from both sides of the castle and then went on with our expedition with the sweet notion that we had seen something unique and marvellous :)

I can imagine the royal inhabitants of the castle waking up to the wonderful sound of the water running by the building and listenined to that soothing noise for just a moment before they called for their lady´s maid or valet to get dressed for a new day...

Friday, August 10, 2012

Generations of Knitting Women

Francoise Duparc: Woman knitting
Note also the lovely little 18th century cap
the lady is wearing!
Isn´t it fascinating that women (at least mostly women, I suppose) generations and generations before us have been doing needlework and knitting? I thought about it when I found this lovely picture of an 18th century lady by Francoise Duparc (1726-78). She is so concentrated in her work, I wonder what she is knitting and is it going to be a present for someone or shall she use the completed item herself? Maybe it is a sock?

I think even many society ladies knitted clothes as far as to the 19th century although by and by the concept of a fine lady doing nothing at all became more popular. A really cultivated lady of leisure did not have to work and could sit in the parlor without doing any household work (including knitting socks and so on). This I read in one of my school books.

I suppose the distinguished ladies still made needlework and did not quite abandon the knitting needles but the aim was now to show off with feminine talents, not to contribute to the daily domestic tasks. The place of a refined housewife had shifted from the managing the household work to supervising it from a distance.

My little blue socks
that I am so happy about :)
Well, I always thought that I could never learn to knit like my grandmothers for instance. They had always been phenomenal in that particular skill. During my time in school it was they who helped me through the difficult parties in socks and the like. But when I started studying my flatmate became interested in knitting ( or maybe she had always been :) ) and I got inspired by her beautiful handicrafts.

So I grabbed the knitting needles and a simple instruction and got to grips with them. To my amazement I soon had accompished a pair of socks, with heels (that I find is the most difficult thing in a sock) and all! Ever since knitting some simple little things has been a heart-warming set to spend time with and I love to pick up new yarns in wonderful colors.  

I thought to show you my latest achievement with some lovely blue yarn that I picked up during the holiday. These are the first socks of mine that are patterned throughout. I am so happy that I managed to pull through with knitting them :) !

Monday, August 6, 2012

Castles around Sweden, part 1 - Stjernsund Castle

Dear blog,

I thought I would tell you a little bit about my summer vacation that has included wonderful historical things. I have a) seen a good many of the Swedish royal castles (and some others as well) b) attended for the first time in an 18th century event :D In this post I will however concentrate on the first of those two and tell you about one of the wonderful estates that we visited this summer.

Stjernsund castle - it would be a nice place to live at!
As you may know Sweden is and for a lengthy time has been a monarchy. The appealing consequence is that there are castles and manor houses in the country, lots of them. The royal family still has quite a few at their disposal even though I am inclined to suspect that they are owned by the state now. Both the royal estated and many of the others that are private property are extremely well kept. So we thought to make a little castle sightseeing to enliven our holiday.

Here to the left you can see me and the Stjernsund castle that was built between 1798-1801 and represents the neoclassical style. It has a beautiful location on a high spot overlooking two different lakes. If you wish to read more of the interesting history of the building you can find information on the website of Kungliga vitterhetsakademien.

The castle is beautiful and they had a most splendid little castle shop also. There I surprisingly located the lovely looking book Empirens döttrar - -* (Helen Persson et al.) to the right. To think - a book of Empire style clothing and culture in Swedish! Or there maybe are several of those, I don´t know? I at least have believed that there might be a severe lack of such works in the Nordic countries :)

The interesting book about culture and fashion
in Sweden in the beginning of the 19th century.

We did not visit this castle inside but it should be beautifully furnished. One thing I also was really fascinated about was the carriage museum. I mean - how often do you get to see real and well maintained old-fashioned carriages stored in an old stable building? I can assure you they were studied and photographed in detail! All in all the visit was inspiring and interesting, the big manor park beautiful and the picturesque Castle Café also was a good idea.

I hope to soon tell you more about the other castles and manor houses that we also visited! It is so very nice to stroll in the fashionable parks and walk through ancient corridors and imagine the life that was lived there for a couple hundred years ago...

*"Daughters of Empire"