Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Stays Original

Just a quick add-on to my stays postings.  I took a tour around the Dewitt Wallace Museum today, and lo and behold they had the stays I'm building up in the Quilted Fashions exhibit.  There's not much light, but you can get an idea:
It's a bit hard to see, but you might notice the lack of boning casings showing.  This pair was originally made of silk, but must have worn too much because it's been covered over in cotton.  So, I will still be making mine visible.  The binding is green silk ribbon.  I'll probably use cream so it doesn't show under any of my clothes, but maybe I'll use a color to lace the front for fun, since I can always change it out.  The difficulty will be finding a good cording to lace the back.  Now that I got a glimpse of those and was able to examine a few others stored in back, I'm going to pick back up on my pair and start stitching channels.  I had been concerned with size since the original channels are all 1/8", but they were baleen.  Oak won't hold up to that, and even though I've managed to find spring steel that size, I'm afraid it won't have the resistance to permanent bending I need.  So, seeing a late pair of stays with mixing of 1/4" and 1/8" channels today I feel confident that I can mix in 1/4" steel correctly.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Cut-away Gown History

Here is the infamous portrait by Ducreux that shows a beautiful example of the style.  While this gown was most popular in the 1780s, it did actually show up in the colonies in the late 1770s and continued to be worn throughout the '90s as well.
Obviously, most of the gowns seen in portraits are made from silk taffeta, but a cotton print would be lovely as well.  For some reason, I seem adverse to linen, but I can't give a particular reason why.  Both solid colors and smaller stripes are acceptable.  The large 2 or 3" stripes seen earlier in the century would have been out of style by this point.  You can also choose a contrasting fabric for the leftover zone in front and even the petticoat.
In terms of the actual cut, there are a number of different looks to the front and to the sleeves.  At this point the back would have usually been quartered rather than an English style.  You could cut the CB pieces flat on bottom and connect them to the skirt to give that illusion of continuance without actually pleating the bodice if wanted.
Above you can see three examples of both front cut and sleeves.  Simplifying it, you can choose a straight angle or to curve it away.  From there, whether it will be a split zone piece or not.  And if it will be whether you fasten by pins, hooks, or buttons.  You can also add a tab, as I did, across the top of the front.  The sleeves can be the regular elbow length style, full length (you may choose to have the wrist area button since they're tightly fitted), or even cap sleeves over a contrasting long sleeve.  It gets more complicated when building, but that will come later.
The back, as talked about, is shown with two different styles of quartered backs.
Of course, in this period especially, accessorizing can make all of the difference.  Be it through a sash or ribbon around the waist, a crossed over kerchief, lace, or the ever popular hedgehog hair with ribbons, feathers, or over-the-top hat.  It's easy to see, from some of the portraits below how this style of gown evolved into the separate over-gown near the end of the century.