Tag Archives: fashion

Old Photos

I went out into the frigid coldness, just to get out and do something, and wound up at an antique mall. Oops. I came back with a stack of 1880s-1920s photographs for very little. Huzzah! So here they are. All except one are undated, with no notes at all. So have fun imagining who these people were.

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This woman is just so fabulous – the anti-flapper. I love her (tiny!) shoes, with the added, contrasting strap, and her long necklace, a nod to one fashion of the day, and a stereotype decades later. Her hat is just too cool, too – I think it’s got a wire frame, you can make it out under the brim. She’s here to tell us that not everybody was a skinny jitterbugging flapper, and that’s awesome. This photo is dated July 4, 1923 – if she is about 60 years old here, she was a baby during the Civil War. Think of the things she saw.

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I dare you to find a photo of stronger, more independent, capable looking women. I love them – a range of ages, possibly all related, probably sometime between 1919 and 1923-ish. The two younger women have dresses to die for – look at the sitting woman’s sleeves. Ugh. Want. What I really like is the variation in fashion here. Take off those thick-rimmed glasses for the portrait? Nope. Crazy flapper eye makeup? Nope. Bobbed hair? Nah, I’m just going to wrap my 4 feet of Gibson Girl leftovers around my head in a braid (see the two younger women) – or just keep wearing my ca. 1905 poufy thing (the seated older woman). This undated photo is one of my favorites. I want to high-five them all.

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That mustache. Oh my gosh, that mustache. First came the ‘stache, then the ‘stache grew a man as a support system, so it could wear awesome ties and generally be the definition of ‘dapper’. Undated, but taken in a photography studio in Wilmington, DE.

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This poor woman looks like she’s drowning in her own dress. Mid-1890s, taken in Wilmington, DE.

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He shot the sheriff, but he didn’t shoot the deputy … haha. If I had half a chance I’d wear that jacket of his. How cool is that contrasting binding? Undated, from Wilmington, DE.

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She’s so pretty. If you look closely, you can see she has a little tiny watch pocket on the front of her dress, and a little tiny watch in it. Probably early 1890s, from Wilmington, DE.

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Probably from the 1890s – I think this might be a second photo of the poor woman who was being suffocated by her dress, above. Wilmington, DE.

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Wilmington, DE, probably 1880s-1900. This is one tough looking woman.

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Aww, a little baby, looking kind of lost propped up on that big chair. This photo’s also from Wilmington, DE, but as baby’s clothing isn’t easily date-able, I have no idea when it’s from. Sometime between the 1880s and 1910s, at the most.

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The net tea gown, finished!

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My net tea gown is all washed, dried and steamed out, so today I got her on my mannequin. Isn’t she pretty?

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The lower skirt looks a lot whiter than the rest of the dress because you’re only seeing two layers of net there, and then the white petticoat I photographed it over. The rest of the dress looks yellow because you’re looking through four or more layers of net, and the white padding on the mannequin is harder to see. Im thinking of taking photos later with unbleached cotton under it, to get a more accurate color. The brighter white kind of distracts me.

Disclaimer: The skirt has a weird hitch at the left hip because of an old repair gone wrong. It left a big pucker in the inner skirt and the hemline doesn’t fall straight now.

When I first saw this dress I thought it might be early, maybe 1905-1910, but I wasn’t totally comfortable with that date range – I couldn’t find a lot of similar dresses. It looks different on a mannequin. Now I think it’s probably 1914-1917.

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A 1917 silk chiffon and net Austrian tea gown from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

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Bingo! (Cotton) net, shorter skirt, layers, somewhat fitted sleeves, and that ruffly wrap front with the same attached under-shirt.

I wish I had a parasol, white shoes and a nice hat to pair with it! It’s the perfect summer tea party dress! I don’t have those things (yet …), but I do have the coat that goes with it, and that pretty glass bead purse in my last blog post. I’ll reunite them, maybe later this week, and get some more pictures up.


Some vintage clothing, finally …

It’s been difficult to get good photos of my vintage stuff, but today, my camera liked the light, and detail came out! Yay!

I wrote up four of my items on my other blog, The Everyday Clothing Project. Click on the links to go to that blog and see more pictures and stuff.

The Everyday Clothing Project isn’t to sell items, but to document and, hopefully, to serve as a reference for users. Or to supply images for Pinterest. That would flatter my photography skillz.

So here are the items. One: this homemade turn of the century linen and cotton corset cover, in a wearable size that’s just asking to be reproduced. Check out that lace and linen vandyked bit around the neckline.

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Two: This gorgeous turn of the century beaded purse, which I want to photograph with the silk jacket of awesome awesomeness and its associated net tea gown, eventually.

DSCN9463 DSCN9481Three: this linen purse from about 1900-1915, which has appeared here before in my reticule project posts.

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Four: these lacy, frilly, girly split drawers, ca. 1890s-1900s.

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Enjoy!


For Continued Awesome …

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Front view, with the fronts crossed more than they would be if it was worn.

 

This is my gorgeous silk coat, ca. 1905-1910 (edit: actually 1914-17, after a little more research!). It’s 30% air, 70% held together by luck, and 100% Art Nouveau awesome. So, to keep the awesome going, I’m taking as good care of it as I can, and finishing up a pattern to it.

A pattern! The next generation! Because it’s far too delicate to be displayed, and far too awesome to sit in a acid-free box forever. It has to live on!

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With the fronts folded back. The front buttons are backed with three small 4-hole shirt buttons, to keep the main buttons attachments from pulling the cloth.

 

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Cuff detail – There are three of these silk macrame buttons down the front, with silk loops instead of button holes.

 

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The back of the collar and upper back detail

 

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Front and shoulder detail, with a silk cord appliqué at each shoulder. The appliqués have three silk tassels with silk-covered wooden beads at the ends. And, by the way, the true color. Damn digital photography in low light.

The coolest thing about this coat is that the person I bought it from said it came from a trunk with a tea gown and a bonnet (both of which I have as well, and both of which are fantastic). The bonnet is decidedly older, ca. 1875-1885, but the tea gown is the same date range as this jacket. I would love to assume they were worn together, and since the jacket is so light (it’s unlined) perhaps they were. They look great together (I put them on my mannequin for a moment last week, before I began to clean and pack them).

So here’s the gown, kind of. Beware, these are very poor photos; I took them with my phone. They’re from while the tea gown was drying after I washed it. I’ll get the gown on my mannequin for some real photos later.

The gown’s completely made of cotton netting and lace. It’s got a net under-bodice and a net under-skirt, but it’s still super transparent. It would have looked so frothy and lacy on somebody, with all the proper under-clothes. The gown itself is in super condition, just a little yellowy. It was musty and yellow-er before I washed it. These photos don’t do it justice.

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The bodice of the gown, all net and three different types of lace. It has a bloused, wrap front.

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The two-tiered skirt, all net and lace.

So I’ll get a few pictures of the stuff later, and I’ll work on the pattern. It’ll be “a la Patterns of Fashion”, just a measured drawing on graph paper, but I’ll post it for anybody who wants to spread the awesome 😀


To (let it) be or not to (let it) be?

That’s always the question.

I have had a second tea gown hanging in storage for a few months now. It’s a little older than my first, and a little larger, too. It’s also been remade more times than my first one. I think it was made around 1900, remade in the early teens, and then re-remade sometime in the last few decades.

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I am hoping to get some better pictures this weekend, so stay tuned, I guess.

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The first incarnation had a longer, flared skirt (I can tell because the seams inside have been re-sewn, and the selvages show the original taper was much wider), and puffier sleeves (the insides of the arms have three ingenious horizontal tucks that persuade the puff to be larger and fuller to the back of the arm). The second incarnation had a narrower skirt, then, and the sleeves were a little longer and less poofy. The third incarnation just added snaps down the back and an ugly black ribbon through the lace at the neckline, creating a drawstring. 

I really do like that this dress has so much to tell. It’s been worn by two or three people in the last 100+ years, each leaving a mark. I would love to retain all that information, but then again, I’d love to repair the dress as well.

So to what point do I restore it? Do I even try? I’ve already removed the drawstring and I’m considering taking the snaps out. I can’t re-flare and lengthen the skirt, so it’s not going back to 1900. I could put the tucks back in the sleeves, but it won’t be complete without the longer skirt. 

Without a provenance, all this dress has is the story of alteration after alteration, owner after owner, for a hundred years. I may just wash it, repair the damage at the front (there’s a large tear, but it doesn’t show because it’s inside a pleat) and see how I feel about it. 


Excessive Fru-fru of the 1890s

In the late 19th century, women wore boas, made from lace, silk, and/or feathers. I guess it’s been obvious for others, but for me, I didn’t realize that these existed until recently – existed in reality, that is, and not as a part of polyester can-can costumes for Halloween. *gak*

This is one of my great-grandmothers, Elise. This picture was taken around 1896, in NYC. Elise is wearing a white boa, with flower-like lace ruffles at the shoulders and lengths of narrow tapes at each end. The color of her boa matches the shirt she’s wearing.

Wide shoulders were hugely fashionable during the mid-1890s, and it’s a little surprising to see that Elise is wearing a shirtwaist that doesn’t have gigot/leg-of-mutton sleeves – rather, she’s wearing the ‘bishop’ type sleeve, with fullness at the lower arm and wrist. It’s a nice visual reminder that not everybody wore massively puffed sleeves during this decade. That being said, her boa is placed around her shoulders, with the ruffle exactly where leg-of-mutton sleeves would begin. Visually, the boa is creating a similar silhouette.

Boas from the late 19th century seem to usually be the long, feathery type.

The image above is from England, and is dated 1892.

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The feather boa above is from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. So fluffy. The Met has handfuls of feather boas from this decade, in crazy colors like black, red, black, blue, black, pink, and black. I think they may have some in black, too.

Above: the Met has this boa too, which looks pretty similar to Elise’s boa, except it’s just the floofy part. This is the closest thing I’ve ever seen to Elise’s boa.

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And then there’s Mary, another of my great-grandmothers. She also lived in NYC, in Greenwich Village, in the 1890s. Her hairstyle, a bun with a curly puff of hair at the front, seem to have been most popular in the late 1880s and early 1890s. So I’m guessing that this picture was taken between 1888-1895.

In this picture she’s wearing a colored shirtwaist with little circular black appliqués on the folded collar, and what looks like either a boa (made from the same appliqués, maybe lace) or some sort of decoration on the front of her shirtwaist. Because it was the 1890s, and floofy, fluffy, fru-fru-y clothing was totally in.

I’m not entirely sure what Mary is wearing here; a boa or just a fancy shirtwaist. If she’s wearing a boa, it matches her shirt (like Elise’s) – but more than that, it is identical to the decoration on the collar. Maybe she had a boa specifically for a certain shirtwaist? I can believe that – if any decade had shirtwaists with matching boas, it would have been the 1890s, right?

 


Jazz Age Costuming: Starching Bedsheets

For the Jazz Age Lawn Party earlier this month, I needed to sew a handful of 1920s dresses. I wound up sewing four 1920s dresses from scratch, and one made from a modern shirt and dress. They worked, with varying degrees of success, and I wore one to the Jazz Age Lawn Party.

I had a few constraints in making the dresses. I couldn’t spend a lot of time on them, I have no luck with chiffon so I had to use cotton, and I needed to sew them all on a sewing machine, to save time (‘m better sewing by hand). I needed dresses that didn’t require historical undergarments (I had no time to sew those) and that were easy to wear.

I used my 1920s feed sack dress as an inspiration. It’s made with a very simple pattern, made from a thin cotton print. The maker used bias tape and two types of salvaged lace as decoration. I laid the dress out and carefully took measurements from it, and drafted a pattern from that.

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The feed sack dress was made with one flat piece of fabric in the back, from the shoulders to the hemline. But more than that, this piece was folded over the shoulders, so there was no shoulder seam. At the front (dropped) waistline, the flat fabric was trimmed away and replaced with a wider piece of fabric, gathered to make a fuller skirt – but only in the front. That design characteristic made the dress fuller in the front, full enough to be worn comfortably; but the back is flat, disguising curves and creating a fashionable 1920s aesthetic.

I went to the garment district and picked up some nice 1920s-looking cotton prints and some solid cottons. I also sacrificed one of my bed sheets to use for scrap. I covered my trusty rusty 1902 Singer in tinfoil so the oil and rust wouldn’t stain the cloth, and I got to work.

The first dress I made was made from the bed sheet, a little white linen I had from other projects, and a handful of vintage buttons. Halfway through the dress I decided I liked it and would make it wearable. I wound up liking this one the most.

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So here’s my basic battle plan, boiled down to a downloadable format!

Step 1: Start with a large rectangle. Fold it in half, as it would be over your shoulders, then fold it in half lengthwise, so you’re looking at 1/4 of the dress’ width. Cut it a bit longer than the length from your shoulders to your knees. Then fold the side over so it makes a truncated triangle, with the diagonal line spaced to mark 1/4 of your bust and hip measurements, from the lengthwise fold to the diagonal fold. 

Step 2: Cut at the diagonal fold line. I cut the armholes by eyeballing them, then trying the dress on after I had cut the neck hole and trimming them down.

Step 3: Cut the neck hole. Make sure you know how you will finish the collar, so you know how much selvage to leave.

Step 4: I went for a V-neckline, so I folded the extra cloth over in this picture, to see what it would look like. I eventually trimmed them off.

Step 5: After trying the cloth on, mark where the front falls, and where you would like the front waistline to sit. Then cut it off, as I marked. But only cut it off in the front. 

Step 6: Cut a wider rectangle, as long as the piece you just trimmed off but up to 2x as wide.

Step 7: Sew it to the front. The original used four large inverted pleats, so that’s what I’m using here. Gathers might work better for gauzy fabrics. Sew up the sides, and you have the basic shell of a late 1920s dress, ready to decorate!

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I made two dresses with this pattern, and a third that was a great idea but the execution could have used some tweaking.

IMG_1639 IMG_1643 This dress was made with a great cotton print I found. I went with a bold appliqué at the neckline, and an even bolder tied collar in the back which I may just cut off because I’m really not that sartorially bold. My hat is all crushed.

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For the third dress that I didn’t use my pattern for, I tried an early 1920s look, but I didn’t have enough white cotton to pull it off well. It probably would have worked better with thin white linen or silk, anyway. I had to re-sew and re-re-sew the sides, and that’s why there are ugly white lines there. My hat’s still crushed. The appliqué was based on this Paul Poirot dress of unbelievable awesomeness.

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Step 1: Cut a rectangle out of a non-stretchy, non-gauzy cloth. Cut a slit in the narrow end, about as deep as 1/2 of the width of the narrow end.

Step 2: STARCH – lots of it. 

Step 3: Iron one of the long edges over. It’s better to do these one at a time, so just do one for now.

Step 4: Fold diagonally from the point of the slit to the edge of the lengthwise fold, and tuck the edge under the lengthwise fold. 

Step 5: Repeat steps 3 and 4 for the other side.

Step 6: Iron until the starch is dry, then let it cool down. Clip the two points, where the selvages from the lengthwise fold are still showing. 

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The lawn party itself was very nice. It’s pretty much a daylong picnic/concert with a little dancing, a few performances, some food for sale and a little shopping on the side. We went kind of expecting to stroll around for the duration, and were a little lost; there’s not a lot of room to stroll, and by the time we got there, at midday, there wasn’t a lot of space to park a picnic. So we strolled around until our feet hurt, and then we took off.

As for next year, I now have yards and yards of cotton lace to create something super awesome from. I’m doing early 1920s – real Gatsby styles, not the mid/late 1920s like this year. And I’m doing a real picnic. Get excited.