Thursday, 31 July 2014

Four Late Victorian Corset Covers

This week and last week I have been working on a very much enjoyed commission- four Victorian corset covers in varying styles:-

Corset Cover with tucks, antique large pearl buttons and ribbon lace
Higher Neckline, small antique pearl buttons, narrow lace at neckline and ribbon beading at the shoulders
Detail of ribbon beading and lace at neckline
Square neckline, lace at neckline, false hem to cover buttons and hidden drawstring
Detail of Lace at neckline
Antique linen buttons and ribbon beading at neckline

I am now off to complete for a toile for an 1860s blouse...happy days! :)
Naomi x

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Lapis Printed Regency Day Dress 1808-12, Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery - Devon, UK

Last week my lovely older sister was at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, on a day out for my brother-in-law's birthday. She sent me these images of historical dress that she whizzed past. The bonnet is c.1840, but it is the dress which is of special interest. According to the museum it is:-

  ''cotton printed with indigo and madder using a resist dyeing technique, know as lapis after the blue coloured gemstone lapis lazuli. The technique was developed simultaneously in Lancashire and north-east France between 1804-1808. This dress is the only known surviving example in England made from a lapis printed cotton.''

Gown 1808-12, Bonnet c.1840 -Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery Exeter, Devon, UK.

The print looks so unusual close-up, rather like a football.

RAMM is a diverse museum, but has quite a large costume collection, although only a very small amount is on view. It has a fabulous lace collection, appropriate for a museum in Devon. I was very pleased to read on their website that ''the bulk of the costume collection is women's dresses and underwear from the 19th century.'' If mum and I ever manage to move down to the west country (I can't believe that we sold our house over a year ago, and still haven't moved!!), then this is certainly a museum to add to my 'visit' list.

I did a quick search for the lapis technique, and came across a wonderful document by the V&A in collaboration with DATS - Dress and Textile Specialists titled Identifying Printed Textiles in Dress 1740-1890. They have other super booklets such as 'Identifying Handmade and Machine Lace', which I will certainly be downloading and poring over as soon as possible.

On page 22 of this document the lapis technique is explained a bit more fully, and along with it there is an image of a textile taken from a dress 1824-26 in the Manchester City Gallery collection; so maybe there is more than one extant dress in the UK made from this technique?

I'm off to stick my head in our freezer- it's too hot for me at the moment!
~Naomi x

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

1860s Corset Cover Project

I have just completed the first item for a customer for whom I am making an 1860s mini-wardrobe (8 blouses, 4 girdles/waists, 1 paletot and 1 corset cover). It is an 1860s corset cover, with piping and eyelet lace:-

1860s Corset Cover Project
My customer asked me to use the Heidi Marsh pattern, which was based on a corset cover (or petticoat body as it is described in the original) from 1862, below:-

Heidi's pattern was only loosely based on this pattern.You can see that the seam lines and darts are placed quite differently.

As patterns go it was fairly straight forward, with only a little tweaking needed on the toile I sent to her. She wanted the sleeves included, which I think look lovely. It does fall off the shoulders a fair bit, which is why I couldn't photograph it on my model.

The front has a false hem with original antique mother of pearl buttons, and hand-sewn button holes.

Peterson, 1862

The cotton we used was quilter's cotton. Here in the UK I find it very difficult to source good quality cotton, and have come to the conclusion that the only way I know that it is decent it to purchase it through online quilter's fabric shops such as Cotton Patch.  The neckline and the sleeve seams are piped, which was always satisfying to do. The lace she chose, and is very pretty.

I kept the seams as flat as possible, so that they would be more comfortable against bare skin (she is not going to be corseted).

For reference, here is an 1860s antique corset cover of mine:-


I am really enjoying learning about the 1860s. I have to admit that it was a decade that I didn't know much about. Now I am starting to fall in love with it a little bit, and can't wait to make the blouses and waists to complete the look. 

Next though I have a paletot to make for her out of a gorgeous dusky pink wool with silk lining; that is on my list for next week.

I am off to catch up on the tennis!!