Friday, July 15, 2016

My 1740s "Mutton Chop" Cap

The Athenaeum - Lettice Mary Banks (William Hoare - ) English 1746

It's getting down to the wire on Costume College preparations. Most of my major projects are a few steps from wearable (gown needs a hem; jacket needs sleeves set), but we costumers know that "wearable" doesn't mean "complete."

To complete the outfits, one needs all the appropriate accessories. Since I'm teaching both an "18th Century Undress" and an "18th Century Accessories" class this year, I need to actually have those accessories!

While I do have a collection of neckerchiefs, aprons, bows, caps, etc., my focus has been primarily on the 1770s-90s and those items I have won't quite work for the 1740s and 1750s I'm wearing this year. So it's new caps, aprons, and kerchiefs for me. Luckily none of these things is difficult or too time consuming to make.

The first of this millinery accomplished is one of the common styles of 1740s cap, the variety that ties under the chin. In my research, it appears that this style of cap was primarily worn at-home, or as undress. The majority of portraits show the cap without additional headgear, but one or two show the cap being worn with a bergere hat, outside.

mrs john waddell wollaston
Mrs Iremonger of Wherwell Priory by Joseph Highmore, c.1745
1745 September - Thomas Burford (British artist, 1710-1770)
Philippe Mercier (1689 –1760) - Margaret 'Peg' Woffington (1714?–1760), 1740s - worn under a hat here, and the lady with gloves. This would seem she is going out.
The Athenaeum - George Rogers and His Wife Margaret and His Sister Margaret Rogers (Francis Hayman - ) English c 1750 - the lady on the right is holding a hat and the middle gal is wearing a hat. The whole scene is one of those weird pastoral family portraits. Still, that the blue lady holds a hat would indicate she might put it on over her mutton chop cap...?
As one Facebook follower put it - this type of cap was the yoga pants of the 1740s.

Ladies of all ages and rank wore this cap, some of them finer than others (the ladies and the caps). Some were decorated with lace, others with ruffles in the same fabric, which looks to be more opaque than the finer gauze (organza) caps associated with more formal clothing.

Detail from a portrait of Theresa Concordia Mengs by Anton Raphael Mengs, 1745
Anne Bayne (d.1743), Wife of the Artist Allan Ramsay

I didn't originally plan to make the mutton chop cap, but I needed some middling class undress headgear for my Outlander ensemble, and I just couldn't resist the silliness of the style.

My cap is made of cotton voile from Dharma Trading Company. I did not wash the voile prior to sewing, so it retained the factory sizing, which gave it a bit of body and made it easier to work with.

The cap is made in three parts - the crown/caul (puffy part at back), the front piece (draped over the top of the head and down over the ears), and the ruffle. Additional components are the ties at the bottom of the crown/caul, and the ribbon ties under the chin.

Killerton Fashion Collection © National Trust / Sophia Farley and Renée Harvey - This is noted as a child's cap, but the construction and style is the same. c. 1730 - 50
Now, I fully intended to sew this by machine (gasp! the horror!) because I'm way short on time, but I wanted to do the roll hem on the ruffle by hand. Abby Cox once told me that the closer something is to the face, the finer it should be, in both fabric and stitching. Luckily, cotton voile cut on the straight rolls really nicely, and I used the threads from the voile itself to very finely stitch the rolled hem.

Roll hemmed ruffle edge using a single strand of the voile thread. I used a 2:1 ruffle ratio, but many of the caps in the portraits look like they use less, maybe 1.5:1
Following that, I roll-gathered the opposite edge of the ruffle, but then realize that you can't machine sew a roll gathered edge to the front piece of the cap and have it look anywhere near decent, so I roll-hemmed the edge of the front piece, then whipped the ruffle to it, which looked fabulous.

The interior showing the roll-gathered ruffle whipped to the front piece.
At that point all that was left was to attach the crown/caul to the back of the front piece, and why bother doing it by machine on that curve, so.... yup, by hand. I made the tiny channel at the base, did a couple quick, small eyelets at the center, then gathered the caul and stitched it to the rest of the cap with a french seam. I'm glad I did it by hand, because it would have been tricky by machine.

Tiny ties at the back
Then it was done. Whoa! I made the entire thing by hand and it took about 4-5 hours total. Just like so many other things in the 18th century, this was really straightforward to put together, and actually much easier to do by hand than on the machine.

I don't usually go for ruffles and shit but I really quite like this thing
And look at this silliness! I'm SO glad I made it!

I just can't even.
Next time I will refine the shape of the lapetty part to curve and narrow more like the original cap shown above.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Bastille Day Sale - Freebies, Clearance Styles, and Imperfects


Bastille Day Sale!

It's time for our annual mid-Summer sale. We're clearing out the old to make room for the new!


This year we have free accessories on ALL our 18th century shoes, woo! Follow the little green "freebies" banners to save on silk stockings and 18th century shoes buckles.

In addition, enjoy nice plump discounts on clearance styles:

Each of these styles will be discontinued, but don't worry - we're working on new historical shoes to replace them.

And lastly, we have a handful of imperfects! Imperfect shoes are those we've found that don't quite meet our quality standards.
p.s. Flaws are cosmetic only. 

*Free goodies on 18th century shoes ends July 21st.
*The clearance sale has no expiration! The "SALE" section will remain as long as the stock does. Sale shoes are eligible for EasyPay Layaway and can be exchange while sizes are available, or returned for a full refund.

Don't miss the opportunity to own a pair of lovely American Duchess shoes for a fraction of the regular price.

 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Historicism in 1740s Dress

Portrait of a Lady by Thomas Hudson, c. 1740s - Hudson appeared to have done many many portraits of women in Cavalie-inspired dress.
It's been awhile since I've delved into a totally new-to-me period. I have my favorites - 1780s, 1870s, 1930s - and I've occasionally dabbled in others - 1830s, 1660s - but this time, exploring the 1740s, I've falled deep, deep down the rabbit hole.

It's no bad thing. I do love research! I love the questions that come up and hunting down the answers, or at least some speculative conclusions with terms like "appears to," "may have," and "looks like" attached.

Rooting around in the 1740s rabbit hole this weekend, I flipped through (and pinned) every painting depicting women's dress I could find on The Atheneum, according to year and also noting the region. I found most of my "rules" broken, but I also noticed some fascinating regional trends.

One of these trends brought to mind a controversial costume from Outlander Season 2. This one:

From Frock Flicks - click through for more on this episode's costumes.
From Frock Flicks - click through
Worn by Mary Hawkins, this dress has a very 17th century vibe.

It turns out that Cavalier-style throwbacks were a thing in the 1740s, particularly in Scotland as well as England. Here's a whole bunch of portraits showing this:

Gertrude, Daughter of John Leveson Gower, 1st Lord Gower (Stephen Slaughter - ) English, c 1742
Lady Grace Carteret, Countess of Dysart with a Child, and a Black Servant, Cockatoo and Spaniel (John Giles Eccardt - ) c. 1740 - Dysart is in Scotland
Portrait of a Lady By Thomas Hudson - on of many with this style. Hudson was English, and many of his portraits do not tell us who the sitter is.
Portrait of Susan, Mrs. Henry Hoare of Stourhead (1707-1743) – by William Hoare of Bath (c.1707/1708-1792) – c.1742-1743.
"Portrait of an Unidentified Young Lady", attr. Thomas Hudson, ca. 1745; NT 726085
ca. 1740 Lady, possibly of the Cholmeley family by Allan Ramsay
Allan Ramsay (1713-1784) Scottish Portrait Painter, portrait of Mrs Campbell
Anne Erskine (b.1740), Daughter of John Erskine, 14th of Dun and Wife of John Wauchope of Edmonstone, Allan Ramsay, 1747. Collection: National Trust for Scotland
Now some of these do look like masquerade costumes (like the black and pink one I'm obsessing over, or the one with the dagged sleeves), but in looking at the more subtle portraits as well, I see little throwbacks, particularly in the style of the lace and how it is being worn.

I'm intrigued as well about the prevalence of this style of dress in portraits by Allan Ramsay and Thomas Hudson, both prolific portraitist. This leads to the question of "why." WHY so much historicism in this particular period? Often these trends are tied to political events - so what was going on in the 1740s, in the British Isles, particularly Scotland, that inspired this Baroque revival? Or maybe it was just Ramsay's and Hudsons thing, like genre paintings in the 19th c?  Or all these dresses really are just masquerade costumes?

More research!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Simplicity 18th Century Stays - Adding Boning


I've been MIA on the Simplicity 18th Century Pattern Hacks lately, due to moving, but I'm back! Time for more helpful hacks and hints for constructing Simplicity 8161 and 8162 in a more historically accurate way.

Today I've got a short video on inserting the boning into your stays.

To recap, I've cut and sewn the pieces of my Simplicity 8162 stays, have drawn a new boning pattern and stitched all the channels, and now I am inserting the boning.

I am using zip ties for my boning, but you can also use reed or steel. Please note that the method I'm showing in the video is for zip ties only.



At this point the only construction variation from the Simplicity pattern instructions is when I re-drew the boning pattern. We won't diverge from the pattern instructions until we get to the binding next.

In the video I demonstrate cutting the boning, sanding the ends, and inserting into the channel. It's straightforward. Two tips - use canine nail clippers to cut your boning, and cut your boning about 1/4 - 3/8" shorter than the channel on each end, to leave a bit to stitch the binding to.

Note - the strap is sewn on after the boning is all inserted.
Another Note - The seam allowances are tacked down after the boning is inserted.

If you have questions, please leave them in the comment below!