Saturday, September 12, 2015

Vernet 1814: The Dress, part 1

The top of my Vernet dress is hidden by (I'll just go ahead and say it since you've probably already figured it out...) a spencer.  I've already said in a previous post that I was going to make the top of the gown simple and cover it with a chemisette.  With the chemisette made, the time came to actually make the top of the dress.  

My gown is described as a "Robe de Perkale."  Perkale cotton is a bit hard to find new, but if you are a sleuth on ebay, there are some good vintage sheet finds out there.  I decided to go with new Pimatex cotton instead.  It is a similar type of cotton, dense and with a slight sheen to it.  It's a nightmare to hand sew, by the way.  One painful stitch at a time, and you develop calloused fingers by the end.

So, it turns out that I decided a bit hastily that I wanted my gown to be a gathered drop front gown.  Haste makes waste they say, and they're right.

I say hasty, because I failed to notice a tiny detail on the fashion plate that was a HUGE clue to what style of gown was hidden under the spencer.  

When I reveal my fashion plate at the end, you will notice a small vertical slit down the center front of the gown, just under the spencer. (similar to what you see above)  This slit is the says that the gown had a center front opening.  So, back to the drawing board I went, seam ripper in hand, and I designed a new, more simple gown bodice.

It's terrifyingly simple...almost boring...but I'm ok with that, because there's enough gaudiness in other aspects of the outfit to make up for it.  I wanted the gown to be sleeveless for two reasons: 1. It's cooler to wear.  2. Less bulk under a tight fitting spener.  After-all, a bare arm would be enticingly scandalous to a Merveilleuse.

Now, back I go to the never ending story of hemming and trim making.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Vernet 1814: Trimmings

With school starting back up, I've barely had time to breath.  So, one way I've tried to keep on top of this Vernet project is to squeeze in the little things during lunch break, or while winding down and watching a show before bed.  I'm calling this the "hum-drums" of this sewing project.  With repetitive motion and mind numbing sameness, I'm trying not to fall asleep before it's all over, and I'll attempt to not put you to sleep with this post.

Hum-drum #1...roll hemming 1,040 inches (approximately 87 feet) of cotton for the gown trimmings.

Hum-drum #2...weaving 90 yards of Au Ver A Soie Co. silk chenille thread (from Hedgehog Handworks - Joady is a saint to work with, by the way.) *Chenille means caterpillar in French! Isn't that cute!*  

Why weaving, you say?  Well, instead of buying ready made fringe like any sane person would, I'm following in the footsteps of the French Frangiers, or "fringe makers," and making my own. 

 I actually love weaving, so it's not really too bad...not as bad as the roll hemming at least...there's just a lot of it to do.  

Create a narrow warp, and weave the weft to your desired length.  Then, back stitch up one vertical side between the outer two warp threads just to hold the chenille in place.

Cut lose the outer two (or three is what I did) warp threads on the side that you back stitched, and knot them tightly and close to each end of the weft threads.

Then release the remaining warp threads on both ends of the loom.

Set it down with the back stitched edge to the top (this picture is upside down unfortunately), and dab fray-check along the bottom edge of the chenille thread.  Let the fray-check dry.

Once dry, remove the untied warp threads (the ones you knotted at the top are still there.)

Then carefully cut open each loop of thread along the bottom where the fray-check is.

Straighten your fringe, and it's ready to be attached where ever you need it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Vernet 1814: Hat

The next piece of the puzzle might just give it all away.  It was bound to happen sooner or later, I suppose.  Let's take a look at my Vernet fashion plate hat, beginning with some fashion plate inspiration (Vernet not included, of course.)

The shape of the Vernet hat could have been interpreted two ways.  The body of the hat could have either been dome shaped, or circular with a flat ramp on the the top.  After much trial and error, and a strong desire to give up, I decided on the flat, ramp-like shape.  Both shapes can be found in contemporary fashion plates.  See below:

1811 Costume Parisiens
Dome-shaped- Center column, row 1 and 2. Right column, row 2
Flat top- Left column, row 1 and 3. Center column, row 3. Right column, row 1 and 4.

1811 Costume Parisiens
Dome-shaped- Left column, row 3. Center column, row 1, 2, and 4. Right column, row 1 and 4.
Flat top- Left column, row 2. Center column, row 3 and 5. Right column, row 2.

1813 Costume Parisiens
Dome-shaped- Left column, row 1. Center column, row 2. Right column, row 1, 2 and 3.
Flat top- Left column, row 2. 

Also...because of the ostrich feathers, the hat in the Left column, row 3 could either be domed or flat!  This small, uncertain hat, was a huge inspiration for the shape of my Chapeau de Levantine (Silk satin hat) with ostrich feathers!  

Please forgive me if my description is not perfect...a milliner I am not.  I have done my very best to be historically accurate with the shape, material, and construction of the hat.  I found myself many times during this process wishing that this was a gown, or chemise, or reticule, or glove, or anything other than a hat.  I'll never say never, but I do hope that this is the last hat I make.

I started by making a small, doll-sized, paper hat.  This helped me to understand the scale and construction of the different pattern pieces I would be using to make the hat. The tabs are important for holding together the individual pieces that make up the whole.  The same tab technique was used on the real hat.

The brim and the side of the side of the crown of the hat were made of buckram, and the flat top was made of a light-weight cardboard.  The tabs from the brim and the flat top, fit inside of the crown. It is not shown, but I stitched a wire around the outside edge of the brim, and along the top edge of the crown, in order to hold the shape of the hat.  Each pieces was individually covered with silk before assembling the whole hat.  The secret to getting the silk to be smooth is glue...use a glue stick on the buckram/cardboard, and then lay the silk on carefully.

Salmon pink silk-satin was used for the exterior of the crown, and for both sides of the brim.  Pink linen was used for the lining.  After each piece was covered with the silk-satin, I attached the pieces together with a hidden stitch.  The lining was put in last. The brim turned out a little flimsy, and if I were to do it over again (which I won't) I would use a hardier, more stiff buckram for this part.

I gently curled each feather using the back of my scissors, and I made a base out of a wire coat hanger and some of the left over silk-satin.  Then, I stitched each feather onto the base.  The base is can be shaped to allow the feathers to fall forward over the crown of the hat.  It is also easily tacked onto the back of the hat for removal later on, if I decide to change the decorations on my hat.

Silk ribbon was added as trim, and a chin strap was sewn on one side, which closes with two hooks and eyes on the other.

Feathers were attached, and the hat was done!

If there ever was such a thing as a labor of love, this Chapeau de Levantine is it.  I don't even like myself in hats...but I love the Vernet project!  So, there you have it!  C'est fini!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Vernet 1814: Ruff and Chemisette - Side Trip...Sort Of

Another hint about my Vernet fashion plate... the top of my gown is covered by...something.  So, and here's the fun part, I get to imagine what it would look like without that something!!!

I've actually decided to make the top of my gown very simple to make it more versatile later on, and I'll get more into that in a later post.  But I am going to decorate the gown by covering it with a gauzy, frilly chemisette (or in this case it can also be called a canezou.)  

When looking through some fashion plates I found this one from the 1811 edition of Costume Parisian, and fell in love with the shoulder ruffles.  It will compliment the hem line of my Vernet gown.  *wink*wink*

I recently went on a vacation with my daughter and parents to the beach.  The long road trip, in which I didn't have to drive, proved itself the perfect opportunity to sew what seemed like miles of rolled hems, pleats and gathers.  I used a soft cotton voile fabric, and it feels like air on your skin.

I left off the ruffle at the waistline simply because I didn't want to add extra bulk to the outfit.  It's light, airy, whipped cream on top of a cake...very Vernet.  It can be worn with many different dresses, but I think it will work perfectly with the Vernet outfit

So that was the "side trip...sort of" part of this post.  This next part is an accessory that you will actually see a bit of in my Vernet fashion plate...the neck ruff!

Check out this fashionable beauty from 1808 and her collar!  Definitely my neck ruff inspirational goddess!!

I used a heavily starched cotton organdy for the ruff. Pleating it with my fingers was all it took.  No iron needed. 

I started by it folding according style into three long sections, and then I attached each section with a simple isn't noticed when all is done.

Scrunched up, it really holds the folds.  I laid it out on a template I had cut previously, to make sure I got the shape and length I wanted.  I ended up trimming it down a couple of times to get the right height at various places in the collar.

Once the shape was figured out, I whip-stitched it onto a small band of fabric.  This serves two purposes, it holds the shape together, but I have very sensitive skin and it also prevents the scratchy organdy from making an itchy mess of my neck.

Now, all that's left to do is to tack it onto the neckline of my chemisette when I'm ready to wear it!