Sunday, February 15, 2015

Vernet 1814: Petticoat - Part 2

A dear sweet friend found and bestowed upon me a bit of antique, embroidered trim that perfectly completes my 1814 petticoat.  

Take a look at the original Met Petticoat

And now tell me the new trim hasn't been reincarnated!

It's absolutely gorgeous, and I am eternally grateful for the generosity of this friend!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Vernet 1814: Boots - Part 1

Call me crazy, but I'm actually attempting to make the shoes that are in my Vernet fashion plate.  I've been working and reworking mock-ups of my shoes for about 5 months now.  I've read and re-read Every Lady Her Own Shoemaker, published anonymously by a Lady in 1855.  Most of it is straightforward, but when it comes to working the leather, and attaching the uppers to the sole...I must admit, I am struggling.

The only other time I attempted to make something even remotely looking like a shoe it was an epic failure.  SEE HERE if you don't believe me.  I am hoping and praying that this time I am somewhat more clever than I was then.

The first step was to find a proper shoe last.  Any old last wouldn't do, because shoes in 1814 would have been made with a straight last.  In other words, there wasn't a left or right shoe...both would have been the same.  Finding an original antique straight last is hard to do.  Finding one in my modern shoe size 8 1/2 is even harder.   I searched and scoured Ebay and Etsy for weeks, until I came across IT...the golden last...the one that shone and made angels was perfect (well, close enough)...and it was cheap!

See how straight it is?  No curve in toward one side or another.  I'm guessing that this last was made in the early to mid 1800's.  
The only small defect it had was being a tiny bit too short in the heel.  So, I altered it with some scrap leather to get the needed size.

Once the alterations were done, it worked like a dream. 

Let's see....I've gone through how many mock-ups now trying to get the right cut and size?  
(Ignore the various types of fabrics, I was using up scraps for my mock-ups.)

Mock-up #1

Mock-up #2

Mock-up #3

Mock-up #4

Well, if it isn't obvious by now, I should tell you that I'm making boots.  Four mock-ups and many frustrated hours later, I finally felt confident enough to cut out the uppers in the real fabric...a heavy weighted black silk, with black cotton drill lining. 

With silk covered buttons attached, I'd say they are looking pretty sharp.

Now, for a look at the leather soles and how they are coming along...

Such a mess!  I'm nearly ready to call it a day and just GLUE the uppers to the soles in a modern fashion.  But...not being one to give up easily, I've ordered a different awl, one made specifically for leather working.  Hopefully, this will save my sanity.

To be continued...

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Vernet 1814: Preparation - Petticoat

My first post of the new year, and for the Vernet 1814 project, will be about a very important foundational garment....the petticoat.  I already have a long line set of stays that I made a few years ago.  I've since altered the straps on the stays...they used to slide easily off of my shoulders, but moving the back seam in toward the lacing solved that problem.  I have also made several Regency era petticoats in the past...examples here and here to highlight a couple...but most of my foundational garments have been made with long, floor-length or further, trained, early Grecian inspired gowns from circa 1798-1805.  The Vernet gown I will be creating is nearly a decade later, and requires a petticoat that barely reaches beyond mid calf, and is much more streamlined along the waist.  I suppose I could have gotten away with wearing my laced bodice petticoat, but the shaping of my Vernet gown is very important to me, and the  laced bodice petticoat just wasn't doing it for me, so I decided to start from scratch.  

(original Met petticoat - American, linen, early 19th century)

One petticoat from The Met Museum collection stood out to me as having the shape and fit I was looking for. So, naturally, I decided to reproduce it.  Normally, for the Vernet project, I won't be showing finished garments until December...snippets and construction will be all you will see...but, since this petticoat is not technically one of the fashion plates, I feel it's ok for you to see the whole thing. 
 I used linen fabric, and cotton thread.  And as everything for this project will be, it was hand sewn.  Most of the stitching used in this petticoat were back-stitching or whip-stitching...and of course the blanket-stitch used for the button holes.  These days I rarely use patterns, draping and drafting is almost alway what I do to create my garments, and this petticoat was no exception to that.  Here's a step-by-step picture tutorial of how I made the petticoat.

Part one: Drafting the bodice.

Part two: Sewing together the bodice.

My quality inspector, Owen.  He reserves judgement until the very end.

Part three: The skirt - Pleating and tucks.

Part four: Attaching the skirt to the bodice - finished petticoat.

A simple garment, but now I'm ready to dive into the yummy Vernet 1814 fashion plates!