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This is the blog of a constant crafter - a 'showcase' for some of the things I make, some hints for crafting & recylcing - lots of photos and some words. I hope it will inspire.
Please Note: all photos are Copyright.

My Blythe Dolls have their own blog where they are showing lots of photos from our holiday in France - it is here.


Thursday, 18 February 2010

La Mondaine 1891

I've been asked for photos of my Major Work costume - the costume I made as my final project for the Tafe Diploma of Costume course in 2006. I can see lots of faults in this costume now but I'm still quite proud of it all. It represents over 6mths work and now lives in a large box, so any excuse ...

This was the inspiration - an illustration by Sandoz originally on the cover of Harper's Bazaar 6/6/1891 "A Seaside Toilette ... Summer is come and the graceful mondaine quits the delights of the town for the invigorating breezes wafted over the sunlit water ... her gown is of the simplest, {eh!} fashioned exquisitely by Worth ..." btw mondaine = a woman of the world - intelligence, sophistication & beauty.

The costume I made was "as historically accurate as possible" - and here it is worn by my lovely model, Karen.




















Here is the suit without the cape, there is almost 8m of fine Italian wool fabric in that suit, a good deal of it in the back skirt


the back view is a funny colour as that is with stage lighting - it had to be presented on stage at the ShowCase















And in order to give the audience something more exciting to look at than a model in a costume walking up & down & up & down ... and so my model wouldn't get too nervous ... and so that people would see something of all the undergarments - I made myself a "Lady's Maid" outfit and did a bit of ham acting ... here I am flouncing m'Lady's petticoats. There were 10 pieces to the costume - in order of dressing ... first the Drawers (though actually my model refused to wear these!) Yes they are authentic and they are split ... but before you start sniggering remember that elastic was in its infancy in 1891 and the drawers had to go under a corset that came down past the hips.

Then the Chemise - I copied this from one I got to study at the Bath Costume Museum in England :-) and it is the only part of the costume that does not live in a box - I wear it as a summer frock. The Chemise was an important garment - going next to the skin, under the corset and keeping that impossible to launder item relatively clean.

After the chemise came the Cotton Petticoat - here needing an iron. I had to exercise some restraint with the

petticoats - the early 1890s was when underthings started to become pretty and they became more flounced, be-laced and be-ribbonned over the following decades. Here are some of the laces and panels of tucking I used -



Over those things came the Corset ...
the silk fabric came with the rose-bud embroidery but I did the "flossing" at the end of the boning channels - there are corded bust gussets, hip gussets, a mix of steel and plastic bones ... lots of work!

Next the Taffeta Petticoat - a self-striped fabric and I had lots of fun matching the stripes in 'Vs' on all those godets !
And that was just the underwear - mind you the next garment ain't exactly outer-wear ... the Dickie Front or Chemisette. A false blouse, it has no sides or sleeves.

I'll post lots of pics of the vintage Maltese Lace piece which I bought at auction - originally it would 've been meant as a bodice front, it is shaped to go round the back and has a stand collar. I had to mend it and there was a nasty stain (still there but much fainter, it smelt strongly of gravy when I washed it!)



that's the back neck, I dyed the linen fabric with tea, also the silk used to cover the buttons and the button-holes are by machine with hand-stitches over the top (faked authenticity - no zig-zig sewing machines in 1891). Looking at it now I think I might have mounted the lace with the wrong side facing out - at the time I chose what would 'read' the best under lights.


Well, you've seen the suit and the cape - there was also a HAT - which could not be seen at the ShowCase because the background was also black!

Here it is on a wig-stand - it ended up quite Gibson Girl.
I loved researching for all the bits of the costume - the original description on the Sandoz illustration (btw: it is from the Dover publication "Victorian Fashions & Costumes from Harper's Bazar: 1867 - 1898" ed. Stella Blum) said "The hat, from the Maison Virot, is of transparent black horse-hair popularly known here as Neapolitan braid."
Well, we use "crin" in millinery, mostly as a trim - it is made of nylon but was it originally made of horsehair? After all crin = horsehair (crinoline originally meant fabric made of horse-hair & linen ... like tailor's hair canvas I guess). I researched as much as possible but I still didn't know if a hat made of horse-hair would look much like a hat of modern nylon 'crin'. But at the end of 2005 we went on our 1st ever OS holiday and I managed to arrange a Study Day at the Bath Costume Museum ... in the course of all the emailing to arrange it, I had mentioned that I was trying to find out about horse-hair hats and the lass looking after me at the museum gave me a lovely surprise ... they had a late Victorian hat made of horse-hair and straw braid ... EXACTLY like some hat braid I had at home, only mine was nylon ... That's it stitched together to make the brim - the crown is leeno foundation covered with satin, not that you can see it under all the ostrich plumes!

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