Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Broderie Anglaise Scalloped Edge for a 19th Century Petticoat

Last summer I decided to recreate a 19th century petticoat to enter in the Historical Sew Fortnightly Paisley challenge. I found eyelet fabric that had paisleys on it. I cut it down to later attach to a solid cream that I would tuck to replicate this 1855-1865 petticoat from the MET. The paisley is not a perfect match, but the idea is there.  However the edge was all wrong. It needed a scalloped edge but how in the world do I finish it off? I did some research and discovered the art of broderie anglaise, a form of whitework in the 19th century.

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Then my laptop that held all my research died. My sewing research turned to research for new laptops. Then my time went into setting up the new laptop, thankfully with my old hard drive which wasn't harmed...but I have no idea where my research went to. Then life got crazy so I packed up my project and stuffed it in the fabric closet.

This month the Historical Sew Monthly challenge is "Out of my Comfort Zone." Hmmm...that project in the closet waiting for a broderie anglaise buttonholed scalloped edge is definitely out of my comfort zone. After all, how many people jump at the chance of sewing a million and one tone on tone buttonhole stitches? Also, there is nothing like picking up a project nearly a yearr later and trying to remember what to do next. My research began again and this is what I've done.

This is a great reference on broderie anglaise from 1887. Another great resource is the book which is a favorite in my  collection, 19th Century Embroidery Techniques by Gail Marsh. There are six pages dedicated to this lovely type of stitchery!

How do I do the scalloped edge?

 I lightly sketch in the scallop border with a pencil as I go, about 2 at a time because they fade quickly. Then I put in my needle into that drawn line and come out to the left of the thread.

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I lay the thread behind the needle and hold it taut...
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I hold the end of the thread nearest to where it comes out of the fabric with my left thumb, while I manipulate the needle with my right hand. (Lefties would reverse this. They would also stitch this from right to left.)
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With my right hand I pull the thread through, while my left thumb continues to hold the thread down until all that is left is a loop...

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At that point I can let go of the loop (because now there is less chance of the long length getting tangled) and continue to pull the thread...

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Keep pulling the thread...

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Done with that stitch. Now to repeat that a million more times. Why? Stay tuned...

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Meanwhile at the end of all this stitching, I will cut away the excess fabric to create the scalloped border. This is a small test section that I did.

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This is why a million more buttonhole stitches are needed to create the scalloped edge.  This length for my 1855-1865 petticoat is 145" long!!! I have completed about 100" of it, some in front of the televsion and some of it in the doctor's office.It is boring but my stitches are getting better with all the practice. I'm over halfway there!

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In fact, since I sit at the doctor's office about twice a week, about an hour at a time, I have it packed and ready to go! Along with the eyelet fabric there is a book to lay the fabric on when I sketch the scallops. In the side pocket I store small scissors, a pencil, and lots of thread. The needle is always kept poked into the eyelet fabric where ever I left off.


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And now for the HSM details!

HSF 2015

The Challenge: Out of Your Comfort Zone

Fabric: 100% Cotton Eyelet

Pattern: Research from 19th century sources that are described above.

Year: 19th Century

Notions: Thread

How historically accurate is it? Pretty much.

Hours to complete: Forever.

First worn: Not yet.

Total cost: Honestly I forget since I bought everything a year ago. I probably  spent $20 at the most on this.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

An 18th Century Gown in a Day

In June we went to Colonial Williamsburg to see a gown made in a day at the Margaret Hunter Shop. Although they began shortly after sunrise, we didn't arrive until later in the morning. When we entered the shop we saw Mrs. Randolph in her dressing gown, patiently waiting any fitting duties she'd need to stand for as the mantua makers draped her. 

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The mantua maker and milliners on this side of the shop were sewing the silk version of the gown. Turns out they decided to actually sew two gowns that day: one of linen, which was sewn on the other side of the shop, and one of silk on this side of the shop. Since one of my good friends was sewing the silk swags for the petticoat, I visited with her! Hi! She happily greeted us when she saw us. It is always wonderful to meet up with her!

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And turns out I knew another one of the milliners too, on the far right, sitting next to my good friend on the left. She remembered me as well. We've all taken Burnley and Trowbridge classes at one time or another, together.

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The lovely gown they were creating was based on this print: a version in silk and a version in linen. I think I was told, if I remember correctly, that the style is actually called an Italian gown. Both were to be complete by sunset!

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Because we came later in the day, we had missed the initial draping. After a delightful bit of time here we went on a few jaunts through town.

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On display you can see the back of an Italian gown, that was used in the recent Italian gown workshop with Burnley and Trowbridge.  The ladies are working on the silk version of the gown...

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Mr. Anderson from the armoury arrived to share the sad news that his mother's mother had passed away and they needed funeral gloves. I think that is what he asked for. Did they have any?

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I loved watching this interaction with the 18th century people! They bring history to life!

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Here are the milliners and mantua maker working on the linen version of the gown!

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Then we went to visit the Oval Office Project and then Mr. James Madison! (details at the links) After a visit with them, we returned to the Margaret Hunter Shop. On this side of the shop was the linen gown in progress...

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While we were there Mrs. Randolph tried on her newly completed hat, based on the print shown above

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On this side the silk version of the gown was in progress.

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Preparing for a draping session...

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Meanwhile some lovelies about the shop...

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Sewing the silks...

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At this time we went to see General Lafayette, the Virginia Militia, and the Fife and Drum Corps. (details at link) When we returned, the silk work was continuing.

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By this time all the other trades had closed shop for the day. The sun was setting lower in the sky. Even though I didn't use a flash, the room was darkening a bit. Everyone was quietly working. Meanwhile Mrs. Randolph spent quite a bit of time engaging us in conversation. She remembered us from other visits so we had much news to catch up on.
At one point Mrs. Randolph asked my daughter if she'd like to read a bit of something for everyone to enjoy. This is something that was commonly done in the mantua maker trade. They often sewed bespoke gowns as a team, and while sewing someone would read literature to aloud to pass the time. This shop had recreated that experience earlier in the morning but alas, we missed that bit of historical time travel.
Shortly after 7pm, the linen gown was complete! The mantua maker in charge of the linen gown fitted Mrs. Randolph with her new linen gown, which had been sewn in a day!

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Ta da!

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Here is the friendly Orientation Interpreter, who checked passes to allow visitors into the shop that day. All the while, in between interaction with guests, she had sewn the rosettes for the silk gown.

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You can see them in her basket.

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Alas, the silk gown wasn't quite complete. However you can see the beautifully completed swag on the Margaret Hunter Shop's facebook page in the header photo.