Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Romantic Era Sleeve Supports Completed

Yesterday I made a great start on making the sleeve puffs/supports for my late 1820s dress project, and I have just completed them this morning.  From looking at the various examples of my research post, I decided to try to re-create the English pair from the Victoria & Albert Museum, London:

c.1830 Victoria & Albert Museum

I was drawn to this pair from the start; I liked the simple shape, and knew that it would be fairly straight forward to reproduce.

I ended up using a lovely and thick Irish linen, which is an ivory colour. As well as the thick fabric helping to hold them up, the wool that I have used to stuff them is cream, and the colour of that would show through a lighter fabric, so it worked well.

The only really tricky thing was deciding where those ties should go. Looking at the image from the V&A, it seems that there are 4 ties on each; one at each corner. So I stitched these on once the whole sleeve support was complete, again I can just about make this out from the image. I then started wondering how they attached, and to what.

As I was thinking this, I remembered that I had seen a sketch of exactly that in one of my books- 'Underwear Fashion in Detail' By Eleri Lynn through Victoria and Albert Publishing, which is below:

Accompanying the drawing is the following text:

''These sleeve pads were held in place with tapes...that were tacked onto the corset''

Right, mystery solved! I think that I will tack the ties onto the stays, but not tie them centre front and back as shown here, as I don't want it to look bulky around the bodice area, but I'll work that one out later.

My sleeve supports

Now I just need to make myself a pair of pantalettes, and all my late 1820s underpinnings are done!  I shan't blog about those, because they are not wonderfully exciting, and are on my shop for those who want to have a look at a pair.

Right, back to my ideas for the 1820s dress- just how do I want the bodice to look?!

with love,

Monday, 9 July 2012

Charlotte Grove - Regency Diarist

Whilst I was going through my father's genealogy magazines over the last few weeks, I stumbled across a small column about the publication of some Regency and Romantic era diaries written by a lady that I had not heard of before, Charlotte Grove. However, I had heard of her sister Harriet Grove, who is well known as the great love of the poet Shelley, who was a cousin of theirs.

Two volumes were written before she was married, then come 2 more after she was married, which are penned by Charlotte 'Downes'. Although the first three sets of diaries have been published, the last one (1839-58) is sadly 'to be published at a later date'.

They are all going on my 'Christmas List', and I do hope that the last volume is published in the not too distant future. They are only available to purchase here.

So, who was this lady? Charlotte Grove was born to land owning gentry in 1783. She was sent away to school, and by the time she was a young lady, became a very fine proposition for a man on the look out for a wife. It comes as a surprise to me that she was not married before the age of 44, in 1827 to a clergyman. Charlotte was a prolific diarist, but sadly fifteen years worth of documentation is missing, including all from the period 1847-56.

Charlotte lived a long and interesting life. Her diaries must be fascinating to read, spanning from 28 years of age until her death in 1860 at around 87.  They must obviously hold details and descriptions of both a privileged and auspicious Regency society, as well as the day to day lives of the less fortunate, whom Charlotte must have come to know through her life as a Reverend's wife and daughter of a landowner.

To read more about Charlotte and her diaries, please visit this website put together by some of her descendants:

with love,

p.s. I didn't quite get around to the sleeve puffs over the weekend (blame the tennis!) I will get them done during the next few days, I hope!

Friday, 6 July 2012

Late 1820s to c.1835 Romantic Era Sleeve Puffs

Last night I tried all of my underpinnings on for the late 1820s day dress project, to see how things looked, and to take the measurements. Thankfully all was well, and looked great. That done, my mind turned to thoughts for the dress. I do want sleeve puffs, or sleeve supports, as the sleeves I plan to make will be fairly large at the top, and then will form into a more fitted sleeve from the elbow down, much like these examples:

British 1825-30 Victoria & Albert Museum

(I may tone them down a bit from the size here.) Just look at the vibrancy of this printed cotton:
British 1825-30 Victoria & Albert Museum

LOVE that cuff detail and the buttons!! Here is the second dress/sleeve example:

British about 1828 Victoria & Albert Museum

And the gorgeous fabric close-up:

British about 1828 Victoria & Albert Museum
My lovely flowery green fabric will be perfect, I think. Right, so back to sleeve supports. Here are some examples of various shape and size:

c.1830s Metropolitan Museum of Art
1825-35 Manchester City Galleries (from the book 'Fabric of Society' 1983) 

c.1830 LACMA
*And here are some close ups of sleeve supports for this era:

1828-33 Manchester City Art Galleries UK
c.1830 MFA, Boston
c.1830 Victoria & Albert Museum
Thank goodness for online collections!! Some sleeves actually had the supports sewn directly inside them (some with wiring and net), which would mean doing that for each dress, which seems a lot of work. Surely it would be much easier to have these above, which were basted/tacked in, or tied to the stays somehow. Some of the detachable ones were made with baleen or wiring (see the first example).

I wish mine to be much softer, and a little more discreet; suitable for the late 1820s. I am sure that the size depended also upon your social status and position. For some reason my heart always goes out to the working women, maybe the lower middle classes (Jane Austen and Jane Eyre spring to mind here). I want to know what real women wore, and how they lived; not those in grand estates.  So when making dresses I try to aim for that station in life, rather than the nobility or upper classes, who would have been at the height of fashion.

Materials- I plan to make mine fairly simply; from a firm cotton, and stuffed with English wool. Down feathers were most often used for this purpose, but wool is fine by me.

Right, I am off to start playing around with patterns, and hope to have them completed over the weekend.  I hope everyone has a good one!


Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Regency Lovelies at Poppies Cottage

The lovely owner at Poppies Cottage has some awesome Regency items for sale over at her online shop 'Poppies Cottage'. How she finds these incredible pieces, I'll never know!!

So at the moment there is a stunningly beautiful and almost perfect Regency Reticule with ribbon and chenille work on offer (and the price is extremely reasonable!). The wonderful part of shopping at Poppies Cottage is that 1) this lady knows her stuff, and 2), as much provenance and information as possible is given with each item. Also, if she is not sure, the owner will say so, so you feel very safe when choosing what to add to your antique fashions collection. Even if you are not looking to purchase, and you are simply a fan of the Regency period and its fashions, you will learn much.

Now I must admit to being a bit ignorant when it comes to the various forms of embroidery. She writes along with the piece:

"Ribbonwork is always beautiful, if well done. Often it is difficult to date, because the revival of the craft in the late 19th Century was also very fine.
However, just one look at this superb reticule or pouch tells us immediately that it is Regency. This is because the delightful ribbonwork is joined by fine chenille work, the 'pipecleaner' chenille threads being carefully couched with the finest of silk thread to form flower heads and the structure of a flower basket to one side.
Each side is a different picture, both equally gorgeous. The flower heads of ribbonwork would include fine silk ribbons from France, in pinks creams and citrine yellow, so typical of the Georgian years.
The centres of each flower are French knots in silk thread and all of the larger flowers stand proud of the surface, some by the build up of ribbon, but one or two being padded and stuffed from below."

The other very interesting piece that she has on her site at the moment is an intriguing Regency Gentleman's Nightcap - so fascinating.

"The cap is labelled by a collector as wool and early 19th Century. It doesn't look or feel like wool, but wool would have been far warmer. Imagine the draughty, unlit and unheated bedrooms of the Regency period! Brrrrrrh! As the head looses more heat than any other part of the body, no wonder that a bed cap was essential! Clever Regency people!
The most interesting part of the cap is the top. Although there are no seams along the length, the knitter clearly had no idea how to reduce the sides to meet in the middle, so created 4 squared short joins to the pinnacle, so as to bring it to a peak! And how are there no vertical seams? was 'knitting in the round' possibly 200 years ago? I really need to research knitting."

She writes with such enthusiasm and fun, that she often makes me smile!

There is also a gorgeous Regency shawl, with no damage, and a Romantic Era dressing sacque! Wonderful!