Wednesday, February 27, 2013

*UPDATE* Historical Sew Fortnightly: Embellish: Kyoto Half Stays - Embroidery Floss Designs

The inspiration for my embroidered Kyoto half stays was a random, unlabeled, Pinterest Photo of a Flossing Sampler...and I had NO idea who took the photo, or where the sampler was from.  Thanks to Cassidy, I was given a name, and able to track down the source via Facebook.  

Cathy Hay, of Foundations Revealed and Your Wardrobe Unlocked, is the one who took all of those gorgeous Photobucket photos of the Flossing Samplers (official credit for photos: c) Symington Collection, Leicestershire County Council Museums Service. Photographed by Cathy Hay,  Some more gorgeous corset photos from the same collection can be found HERE on her Flickr stream.   With Cathy's permission, here is what she has to say about the Sampler and the collection of corsets, in general:

"The Symington Collection is one of the best corsetry museum collections in the world, containing corsetry from the 1860s through support garments of the 20th century, right up to the 1990s. It was the collection of R & W H Symington & Co., a corset manufacturer that operated out of Market Harborough in Leicestershire, UK from 1830-1990 or so. They kept examples both of their own work and of their competitors, making it an unrivalled collection - I first came across it when I visited a corset exhibition at FIT in New York only to discover that most of the exhibits had been shipped over from my then home county!

The sampler is an extraordinary object. It's a collection of scraps onto which are sewn all the flossing and embroidery pattern they could do with their embroidery machines - by this date (1880s ish?) they were using cane in the corsets, both to keep prices down and so that the embroidery machines could stitch right through. Later on, these samplers were cobbled together to make one big sampler, which hung on the boardroom wall in the company's later years."


So, it would seem that my choice of flossing design for my Kyoto stays was off by at least 70 years.  Live and learn, right?!  I am still happy with my choice, because I do feel that the design remains classical in shape and color, and also because no one else will see it.  So, I'm not so concerned with historical accuracy in this instance, but I thought it important to clarify and give credit where credit is due.  A huge thank you to Cathy Hays, an extremely kind lady, for taking the time to 'speak' to little ol' me!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Historical Sew Fortnightly: Challenge #4: Embellishment

I must admit, I'm not one to embellish much when it comes to sewing, or even in my own every day fashion for that matter.  I wear the same 3 or 4 pairs of earrings that I've had for years over and over again...I don't wear rings, rarely wear bracelets or necklaces, and even though I like shoes, I am frequently stuck in the same rut, wearing a pair until the fall apart.  When sewing, I absolutely LOVE the designing, drafting, draping aspect of it...I like putting it all together...and I loath finishing touches.  Maybe I prefer the creative engineering part, or maybe I'm just lazy and tire of it before it's done.  But for whatever reason, I am not much of an embellishment type of gal.  

This challenge was hard for me.  Originally I thought I would put some gold braid and decorative (non-functional) buttons down the front of my 1884 Gypsie Jacket. Well, folks...I tried...I truly did.  I set it up on my dress form, pinned the braid on, and stepped back to take a look.  It was just too fussy for me.  It detracted, in my mind, from the structure of the outfit.  I just couldn't bring myself to guild the lily. 

 So, what to do...

The answer...embellish, as simply as possible, something that no one but myself (my husband - and a ladies maid...if I had one) would Kyoto half stays.

Through the Pinterest grapevine, I discovered some embroidery floss samplers made for corsets/stays. I have absolutely NO idea who the person is that owns these samplers, what era they are from, or what part of the world.  If anyone knows the answers to these questions, PLEASE enlighten me.  I am far from an expert in embroidery, and I'm not that good at it either.  So, I picked a design that I think has the embroidery aesthetics of the early 19th century, based upon what I know about contemporary art, fabric design, and interior design.  I hope my knowledge of these things has not led me astray.

Just the Facts:

The Challenge: Embellishments: Embroidered Kyoto Half Stays

Fabric: None

Pattern:  None...looked at embroidery sampler and copied it.

Year: Early 1800's...I hope.

Notions: Needle and Cotton Embroidery Floss

How historically accurate is it? Embroidered stays are historically accurate, but the design...only guessing on that, so...?

Hours to complete: 3 Hours

First worn: Not yet

Total cost: Free - The embroidery floss was a gift from one of my school kid's parent.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Historical Sew Fortnightly: Challenge #3: Under it All

This post is for the Dreamstress' Historical Sew Fortnightly  Challenge #3: Under it All.  I'm actually on time for this one! I am finding all of these challenges very inspiring.  I work better with deadlines and people to hold me accountable.  And the many gorgeous historical garments being posted in the Facebook photo album are incredible...I feel humbled by them, and am keenly aware of my amateur sewing abilities now.  There is always room to grow, right?

My project for this challenge is a set of stays.  I had considered making an early set of stays circa 1790, but in the end, I was inspired by the Kyoto Brassier, an early 1800's transition undergarment.  

I draped and drafted the pattern myself, looking at this page from KCI.  The stay fill out better on my squishy body than they do on my stiff dress form.

 I'm told by Sabine of Kleidung um 1800 that from her research in the Lady's Strategem, there is very little (if any) extent evidence of what we call "short stays."  It is hard to say, but the Kyoto Brassier might have been used for someone with health problems, or someone who is pregnant or nursing.  I am none of these, but the garment was fun to make anyway.  

It is actually very comfortable to wear...more so than a modern bra. I've been wearing it for a couple of hours now, and I feel like I could do anything in it.  They are easy to put on, without any help. Who knows...maybe these were a working woman's stays???

(original way of wearing the straps)

(my modified version)
I found that modifying the way the straps tie in the back actually works better for my body shape.  The original stays used a string tying together the top shoulder strap to the bottom side strap directly under it, but when worn like this, the straps fall off my shoulders too easily.  But, if I cross the top shoulder strap to the bottom side strap on the opposite side, they fit much better, give me a better shape, and stay on. 

I used linen for the lining, cotton for the outer fabric, and sandwiched between is a layer of cotton duck to give it a bit of body and stiffness.  They are hand sewn.  I'm not sure what the original was boned with, but I used reed...simply because it is what I had on hand.

Just the Facts:

The Challenge: Under it All: Kyoto Brassier

Fabric: Linen Lining, Cotton outer fabric, Cotton duck interlining.

Pattern:  Drafted and Draped by me.

Year:  Early 1800's

Notions: Thread, Embroidery Floss(for eyelets), 1/4" tape, 1/2" tape, Reed Boning.

How historically accurate is it? They are based off an extant piece, and hand sewn, so I think that makes them pretty historically accurate...with the exception of how I modified the ties in the back.  As far as what to call them...half stays, short stays, transitional stays, brassier...I'm not sure what the historically accurate term is.

Hours to complete:  Why do I hate this part.  I get so lost in my sewing hours...time means nothing to me when I'm working on a project.  My guess...8 hours(hand sewn)???

First worn: Today, for a few hours...very comfortable!

Total cost: Reed boning and other notions from my stash? Cotton and Linen, about $15-$20.