Tuesday, 3 December 2013

All Glittering All Sparkling New Website!

The New Website has Landed!

Fully Boned Linen Stays by HandBound Costumes.
Our copy of a pair of stays
from the Philadelphia
A pair of Stays from the
Philadephia Museum
What a wonderful world this is! I'm working on a new pair of stays from the Arletan Museum, have just finished another from the Philadephia Museum and have been working on the new twinkling website. And I've had so much fun writing all the research. Each garment has the item or painting it was based on portrayed with it and historical facts about it, and a tab to read about the making of the garment. There is a Glossary based on Eighteenth Century Terms (that we've found so far - it will keep growing from here on), there are measurement video's linked in to help with taking measurements, and we're going to run some of the blogs from here onto it as well so that it keeps current with the research we're doing. It's like a dream come true. We are hoping to have a page designated to our garments in stock but that job is currently sitting on out list of jobs we have to do and will hopefully get done sometime soon.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Button Front Dresses:

Have just found this most amazing image....there's so much in here, use of make-up, the detail of the head wear, the ruffles, but mostly and most dramatically so: the Button front dress.

Miss Ramsey in Red Dress - Allan Ramsey 1760-65:

- Her ruffles, neck-lace and tucker all seem to be of the same very fine cotton/silk as it all has the same kind of crimply effect and has that peculiar lace trim to it. The Cunnington's in their book 'Handbook of English Costume in the 18th Century' mention the possibiity of these additions coming in sets. 
- Button Front Robe a la Francais (sack back) by the looks of it - although obviously we can't see the back.
- Sleeve knots made from self fabric.
- Black ribbon choker with pearls worn over the necklace or as a part of the same item.
- Make up - red front bottom lip with generous blusher and possibly enhanced eyebrows.
- Hair - rising up, but at a natural height and possibly all her own hair. NOT powdered.
- No other jewelery.
- And I am still at a bit of a loss as to the various different types of head wear. I need to get clearer on this. sorry.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Another Example of the Under-Arm Strip:

Went to Killerton Museum a year ago now and I forgot that I'd taken these images of a pair of stays that were on display.

The information supplied next to it said that they were made of leather and most likely handed down from mistress to maid and altered accordingly. Which means it's also a good example of the possible styles made for mistresses. Of course, it didn't say what class the mistresses were. In the eighteenth century quite a large proportion of the populatin had servants (Picard). Still, they are a good encouragement that such a practical looking garment could be worn by mistresses.
Also, they said in recent test, that it has come to light that there may have been a top layer, over the leather, of a worsted wool - I think they said it was a rust colour but I can't be sure, I am doing this from memory from a year ago. And I'm pretty sure this corset was early 1700's but were continued to be worn untill late 1700's.

Here, in the above image, is a clearer shot of the under arm strip. Which is interesting really because if it did have an additional top layer then it must have slipped out from the under the strip. I can see that I'm going to have go back again and double check this. It's daft because I normally take a photo of the information plaque.
Close up of Tab Detail:

Close up of Front Section with Stitching:

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Compere / Button Front Dresses:

Here's a list of dresses that have the button-front detail. I've included my notes on each dress, please feel free to comment to me, if you see I've missed anything.

Also, two of the images from the internet and one of the Janet Arnold images refer to these style of stomacher as a 'compere', but niether Cunnington nor Brooke ever mention this word in the works I have of theirs. I know; I looked it up in the indexes! Not important; just interesting.

Also a quick Glossary:
-Furbelows = "They were long ruched strips usually of the same material as the gown. Except for scarves, furbelows were unfashionable between 1715 and 1750 and never worn with closed robes." Cunnington 'Handbook of English Costume in the 18th Century' 1964, p.140

Robe a la Francais - 1765 - LACMA

- No robings (the pleated edge that runs alongside the stomacher) but the edge is finished with the furbelows (the ruched trim). These furbelows start off small on the bodice but the skirt trim appears to grow slightly broader.
- Sleeve knots made from the self fabric (sleeve knots being the bows on the sleeves - Cunnington '64)
- Buttoned stomacher with furbelows running the whole length and curving in at the top.
- Lace decoration along petticoat centre and furbelow on the hem.
- Two or three flounces - it's hard to see.
- Furbelow is edged with braid.
- Furbelows are not just gathered either, they're kind of a loose box pleat.

Robe a la Francais - c.1765 - Metropolitan Museum of Art:

- Not a very good close image - but there appear to be no robings just the furbelows mounted on the edges. These start off narrow at the shoulder but gradually broaden as they get to the hem of the skirt.
- Furbelow trim is edged with braid.
- Petticoat has a gathered frill in self fabric about 10" deep at about knee height and hemmed with furbelows.
- I think there's only one flounce on the cuff detail which is heavily braided along the top that joins the sleeve hem..
- 9 x buttons.

Robe a la Francais - 1755 - Musee Galleria

- As above. it's hard to tell if there are robings to this dress but I am getting the feeling that if a dress is heavily furbelowed they might lay off the robings...hmm....
- All trim, as the above dresses also, is self fabric (ie.made from the same fabric as the dress)
- This dress has CF edge decorated 1st with embroidery and then with the furbelows flanking it along side in a wavy pattern.
- Furbelows appear to be slightly wavy on the bodice aswell.
- 10 x buttons.
- Buttoned Stomacher has smaller version of embroidery in a similar style to military frogging.
- One flounce on the sleeve and again embroidery/braid - it's hard to tell - on the rim of the flounce that joins the sleeve.
- Petticoat has furbelowed hem, then a pleated frill and then another layer of furbelows.

Robe a la Francais - 1775 - French:

- Furbelows has a deeper pleat to it - similar to a cartridge pleat.
- Petticoat is hemmed with a deep frill about 9" deep but apart from that is otherwise plain.
- Furbelows remain even depth along the whole of the skirt CF.
- No Flounces to the Sleeve.
- 10 x buttons.

Robe a la Francais - 1775-1800 - Met Mus of Art:

- This time the furbelows aren't just a ruched trim but petal-like shapes of the self fabric trimmed with braid. A smaller version also runs along side.
- Bodice only has the smaller version that gets smaller as it nears the shoulder.
- Petticoat has the larger trim at the hem, a line of the narrower version and then a gathered frill of the self fabric at a guess 8 or 9 " deep.
- Seems like a single flounce with a broad-ish cuff section that joins onto the sleeve. This cuff section is trimmed with just a ruched furbelow - not the puffed look.
- Notice how light the trim is and yet there are no robings. I've just been studying a Janet Arnold dress in her book Patterns of Fashion and I was starting to wonder if I'd gotten it wrong about there being no robings on the above dresses, as hers clearly did but this dress is so clearly without robings that it is just simply reassuring.
- It's hard to tell but I think tehre are 9 x buttons.

Robe a la Francais - 1760's:

Robe a la Francais - 1760
- Sorry about the small image - I will try and find a better version.
- Don't know if CF edgings would be called a furbelow - I'll have to research this more - Cunnington refers to it as 'plaited or ruffled trimming' in the 'Dictionary of English Costume 900-1900' where-as this looks more like the fabric has been quilted/embroidered along a turned back facing, like an extension of the robings (although the robings weren't 'turned back facings' but a pleat at the side - but you know what I mean). On this dress these 'turned back facings' start off almost just as wide at the waist at they finish off at the hem. The bodice seems to have narrower version as does the buttoned Stomacher.
- There is a 'waist knot' or a 'girdle that ends with a bow' I don't know which is accurate as Cunnington seems to refer to this form of decoration as being possible to be both of the above and at present I can't find it mentioned in such detail anywhere else.
- Sleeves appear to have very short ruffles, almost just an extension of the cuff detail, which is deep and almost keeps in mind the turned - back cuff look.

Robe a la Francais - 1770-80 - made from cotton:

- With this close-up shot we can see (or I can as I have a zoom-in) that the gathered furbelows have a very thin trim that consists of an off-white circular braid folded into loops and held together by a green and yellow thread, woven into a braid around the bottom of this circular braid.
- Furbelows are just loosely folded and gathered with a centre line of stitching holding it on at the stomacher level but then two lines holding it on as it gets into the skirt. What's interesting is that you can't see the stitched - it looks like it's been sewn on from behind and just the smallest thread has been grabbed from the furbellow at the front. This is a much neater way of doing it than some dresses I've viewed - where they have hulking great tack stitches, about an inch long, just running the length of the trim, visible for all to see.
- Furbelows at the front edge of the skirt come right up close. Quite a few of the dresses I have looked at in closer detail, have had the front egde finished in any other way than just the furbelows mounted onto it. This could be possible with this dress.

Robe a la Francais - c.1770-5 - Snowshill Manor:

- Just a point of interest (as I'm constantly wrestling with which term to use when and which names were contemporary etc, etc), but Janet Arnold first calls this dress a 'Sack Dress' and then in brackets uses the definition: 'the french robe a la francais'.
- In her description she also tells us that the 'compere or button' front is infact a false front. This leaves it open to whether or not 'compere' means 'false' or 'button front' and it also leaves it open to whether or not this false front was standard. For example, all the dresses above could be false fronts - or sham (which is the modern day term).
The only main way to find this out is to either email the museums holding the above dresses or go and have a look myself. But this could take a while.
- 7 x Buttons (sham).
- This dress definitly has robings as Janet draws out the pattern for us - as seen below.
- One layer of Furbelows running along the robings, two layers on the skirt front, the wider being the second layer and two lines of the wider trim on the petticoat with a self frill - J.Arnold doesn't give the depth of this frill but I'd estimate it as being around 8 - 9".
- The sleeve ends in a ruffle cuff or 'pagoda sleeve' according to the Kyoto Institue. There are three ruffles or flounces and J. Arnold draws the dress with a ruffle also coming from the shift.
- Pleats are held down by a form of pad-stitching about 3" or 4" down from back neck.

BATMC.VII.04.28 - 1747-50:

Image courtesy of the Fashion Museum, Bath and North East Somerset Council

Image Courtesy of the Fashion Museum, Bath and North East Somerset Council.

- This is one of the few dresses that I've studied that actually has the skirt lined (the only other is the one below funnily enough).
- And I am not sure how this front actually closes - whether there was a stomacher that is now missing or they had a cuff-link type button, I don't know. But, there are button holes ergo there must've been some sort of buttoning.
- This could be an example of a Brunswick: Listen to Cunnington's Description in the 'Named Varieties of the Sack' section: And I quote: 'The Brunswick or German Habit: This was a sack with short robings and the bodice buttoned up with a sewn-in false front....The sleeves were long and close-fitting from elbow to wrist..."
I was trying to find a comment the Cunnington's had written about the long sleeve not coming in til the Polonaise and was about to point out that this dress was therefore against the rule, but then I found this description. The sleeves do have a 'riding habit' look to them which would fit with the travelling gown idea, riding habits also being used for travelling.
- I'm still intrigued as to how the buttoning worked but then atleast we can see that unless there was a further insert piece, these button holes weren't 'sham'.
- No Furbellows but this is near the period when it wasn't that fashionable and also, if this is a Brunswick, then it is more of a functional garment and maybe less likely to have such large trim.
- This dress is lightly trimmed with a metallic looking braid, along skirt front egde and the long narrow section of the sleeves.

BATMC I.09.21 - 1760-63 - French:

Image courtesy of the Fashion Museum, Bath and N.E Somerset Council
- According to my notes there were no robings on this gown, just the furbellows sewn straight onto the edge. These edges have been turned back, the selvedge just folded back, but it is not straight and comes in at an angle! I might ask The Bath Fashion Museum if I can use another image for you to see the inside of this bodice section and the large stitching used to hold everything down.
- You can see in the image below the 'pad-stitch type' of technique used in sewing down the pleats. The 'pad-stitch' being a stitch used in modern day tailoring - well maybe not so modern - it is a hand stitch after all!
- These sleeves are mid-length with what I call the curved sleeve. I love the detail on these sleeves and took some good close-ups of both the inside detail and the topside - I'd love to be able emulate it.
- Here beneath is a close-up view of how the Buttoned Stomacher isn't just joined to the bodice's front, but is set in on it's own piece of lining. This means that the Bodice's front lays on to it in the right position.

- What's also interesting is that the button holes are real and therefore aren't sham but there are no buttons on the opposite side. Nor are there button holes. It might just be that they have been snipped off. I can't really see from any of my images if there were buttons there, if there are soft marks where they'd been, or threads still looses from where they'd come off. What I'd really like to do is maybe on my next trip to Bath. is to ask them to pull this dress back out and really be aware of what is on the other side.

Image courtesy of the Fashion Museum, Bath and N.E Someset Council.

Image courtesy of the Fashion Museum, Bath and N.E Somerset Council
- I've included the above image as I think it's an interesting detail. The Cunningtons mention in their 'Handbook of English Costume in the Eighteenth Century' that the lace-up or more controlled sacks came later in the century which would tie in with the date of this garment. You can see the the difference between this garment and for example, the one in Watteau's 'Cousins' painting. These later dresses are far neater and restrained compared to the earlier forms.
- Here is also an image I took from some other website. I don't know where it comes from but it's interesting how the dress is very similar to the one above.
- This image refers to this as 'Corsage cote doublure, un de deux 'comperes' est indique a droite par un pointille.' Roughly translated that means the 'The Bodice and lining from the inside (Corsage cote doublure)'. 'And one of the 'compere' (which must be an old use of the word as it now means 'friend' well- ish),  is indicated on the right by the dotted line'. I was hoping for a more revelational statement but that is unfortunately what is says. (According to my very reliable french guys: Mathieu and Simon, who are indeed french.) 
I'd love to know what 'Compere' means.  
-genealogie-averty.over-blog.fr/article-la-robe-a-la-francais-84290627.html as far as I can tell uses the word to describe a 'stomacher' except that it says it replaced stomachers around the 1755's-60's.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Panniers and the Quilted Petticoat:

 I know it may seem like I'm going on about this but...I am currently reading C.Willet and Phillis Cunnington's Book 'The Handbook of English Costume in the Eighteenth Century' and what did I see on page 115 but a drawing of a portrait where the lady is actually wearing a quilted petticoat with a pair of panniers (or hooped petticoat).
I am so excited about this! It wasn't that I was stubbornly refusing to be believe it, it's just that it's really exciting to find absolute proof that these two items were worn together; conclusive as the lawyers would say. So please find beneath, a rather bad image of Arthur Devis' painting of the one Miss Lavinia Fenton.
Miss Fenton was an actress of the period and was the first actress to play Polly Peachum in Hogarth's Beggar's Opera. She later married the Duke of Bolton and therefore became the Duchess of Bolton. I believe Hogarth also painted her portrait along with featuring her in his paintings of the scenes from the Beggar's Opera.

Miss Lavinia Fenton by Arthur Devis 1743-45

I'm also going to scan in a copy of Cunnington's drawing of this painting used in his book - but not yet - I'm too tired tonight.
#UPDATE: Here's the drawing from Cunnington's Book 'Handbook of English Costume in the 18th Century'

Thursday, 27 June 2013

A Look into Lining!

I've been on the cusp of lining my corset for the last few months now and I'm really hoping to be able to get round to it at some point soon - we can but dream! So this is just a quick study on how the stays in the museum are lined and the reasons and techniques that seem to be behind it. - just so that I'm ready when I can finally get round to it.


(all images courtesy of the Fashion Museum Bath and North East Somerset Council)

Details: (or basic observations)
-This pair of stays reflects the apparantly standard technique of lining the tabs first and then laying the body pieces down after. You can tell this by the way the body lining is sewn down along the top of the tabs and not the other way round.
- This corset has 5 inner tabs in-between the CF point and the CB tab.
- This particular corset has had the 'Under-arm strip' sewn on after the lining has been sewn down.
Image courtesy of the Fashion Musuem, Bath and N. E Somerset Council
- As far as I can tell from my photo's, there is definitely one side of the lining (along the eyeletted edges on one half at the CB) that is not sewn down but remains loose. It is hard to see from my photo's if it is just one side; there does seem to be possible stitching marks when I look closely at one of the photo's but they are not definite. The reason I mention this is I have often been confused as to why some of the corsets have this one 'open-side' but the other side is firmly sewn down. There must be a reason. I've included an image of the 'open-side' so you can see what I'm prattling on about. For example, the other BATMC 1.27.85 has one side sewn down and one side loose as well.
-  There are three main body panels to the lining: The CF and the two CB's.I don't see how this doesn't make the lining very baggy compared to the corset as it cannot have the same shaping involved in just one piece compared to the two or three panels on the front, however the above image does not look so badly baggy as I imagine it should. Then beneath each of these panels are the tabs pieces sewn individually to each tab except where they've been grown-on.
- The CB panels have been cut with the first tab nearest the CF grown-on and also, the right side CB piece 
(that is, right when you look at the photo) also has the CB tab grown-on within that same piece of lining. The opposite side doesn't have this piece grown-on but treats it as a separate piece.
Image courtesy of the Fashion Museum, Bath and N. E.Somerset Council
- This particular corset has a side panel inserted between the CF and CB on the front side. You can see it clearly from the silhouette outline of the corset where there is a step between the first tab and the CF point.. There could be many reasons for this insertion. In my mind though, logically, I think it's most likely to be that this section was inserted after the corset was made so as to make it bigger. If this is so, then that means that the corset was re-lined once this section was added. Which also means they re-trimmed the whole of the corset at the same time, as the trim remains unbroken and of the same piece when it crosses this inserted panel.
- Just to carry on this thread of logic, it also means the under-arm piece was sewn after the alteration was made as it is not included inside the lining. Unless, of course, it wasn't standard practise to sew this 'under-arm piece' under the lining.
- There also seems to be a strip sewn on along the edge of the CB where the eyelets are - possibly as a protective layer, but my photo's are unclear as to where this ends and how it is sewn on. You can see it in the top photo as a slight 'step' in the outline that shows there's a piece sewn on. (Look far left at the first eyelet at the bottom).
- I've also included some close-up images of the lining. 

Image courtesy of the Fashion Museum, Bath and N. E Somerset Council


(Image Courtesy of the Fashion Museum , Bath and North East Somerset Council)

- Again, tabs sewn down first and then the main body of the lining sewn afterwards. There are 6 inner tabs in-between the CF point and the CB tabs.
- And, as far as I can see (when zooming in); the main body of lining is also in three parts with the seam coming around-about the place of the beginning of the Side Back Panel, just after the second tab.
- The CF panel is a complete one piece that includes the CF point but has the first and second tab treated separately.
- On this corset, you can see from the photo, that the Under-arm tab has been sewn down before it was lined.
Image courtesy of the Fashion Museum, Bath and N.E Somerset Council
- Another interesting detail is that you can see the abrasion from the two inside front bones on the lining - like shadows, and therefore you get to see their positioning and see how thick they are.
- I can't tell from my photo's whether or not the lining has been sewn down or left loose on this on at all, they are just too vague and I thought I'd remembered to take a photo of this particular detail as I'd noticed it on the very first corset I'd looked at - but obviously I hadn't remembered as there's no record. Oh well. Maybe next time I go up...
- Edge trimmed with a soft leather, the same as the 'under-arm' piece.


Image courtesy of the Fashion Museum, Bath and N. E.Somerset Council

- As with the corset above (BATMC 1.27.865) the CF panel covers upto the second tab, although with this pair the seam sits slightly nearer to the CF, about midway accross the second tab.
- Again the corset is sewn with three panels - a CF panel and the two CB panels on either side.
- On this particular corset none of the tabs are grown-on, all are sewn indiviually with the main body of lining sewn down on top - this does not include the CF point. There are 7 inner tabs on this corset running in-between the CF tab and the CB tabs.
Image courtesy of the Fashion Museum, Bath and N.E  Somerset Council
- There's an interesting detail seen on this corset through the tear at the CF, which shows the panel having been lined with a layer of canvas. BATMC 1.27.865 also seems to have this oppurtunity to look at the under layer but the tear does not show so much. I will say though, that this is possibly only for the CF, maybe as extra support or even it could be the Centre Busks compartment as when lifting up the loose lining section near the eyelets on the one side, you can see the sticthing marks of the boning. (see opposite).
- Edge trimmed with a woven herringbone tape by the looks of it.

.BATMC 1.27.44:
Image courtesy of the Fashion Museum, Bath and North East Somerset Council
This is such a beautiful crisp looking job. See how neat the lines are and how clean it all looks - and I don't just mean the lack of stains - I mean the preciseness of it. It's just lovely. So...
- Again, the corset is lined with three main body panels, the CF which in this case runs to the end of the third tab and then the CB panel which covers to the eyelets.
- None of the tabs are grown-on apart from the CF tab.
- There are 8 inner tabs between the CF tab and the CB tabs.I wonder if this has to do with the size of the person rather than just style? Just a thought.
- I haven't recorded whether or not this corset has an open CB lining or not.
- There are does seem to be a slight shadow of a top bust line inner boning. running almost along the egde.

Monday, 10 June 2013


This is worth writing in CAPITALS! 
The tailors where I did my work experience once told me that the tailors that trained him used to chew on cotton threads so that when they pricked themselves and bled a little on the garment they were working on they could take the spittal-soaked ball of cotton and dab it on the blood and it would come off. He explained that only the person's spit whose blood it was could clean the blood up.
I liked the detail as a bit of social history and a pictoral fact, and imagined them crossed legged on the table, hunched over their sewing and chewing cotton.

BUT! I have just been sewing the final stages of yet another sample for a shift, in expensive linen and all white and glorious, and I don't even know what happened, except that while I was on the machine I felt a tug on my finger and the next minute there was a large (about 5mm) blob of blood on my white linen. Panic! This was supposed to be for photographs! 
So I shoved a bundle of the thread I'd been slowly chopping of and gathering into a little pile, into my mouth and chewed and sucked and got it all moist and dabbed it on the blood, and dabbed it on the blood, and got an off-cut of linen and held it on the back and re-sucked some more thread and dabbed it on, and dabbed it on. And do you know what! It's all gone! It really has.

Monday, 20 May 2013

The Difference A Steam Makes:

This is just a quick post to show the difference a good steam session has made to this corset. I have steamed this pair of stays once before - when I wanted to start on the ribbons and was trying to get the ridges between the panels to calm down - which they did a little. But this time, the effect of it was much more exciting.

It's a good argument for using natural fibres really. I know some people say you shouldn't use cane in Corsetry because although it is a fibre that was used back in the 1700's it was tended to be only used by the poorer section of the society and that it would be better to find a stronger whalebone substitute. But going into anything that can't be effected by steam and heat takes away one of the stages of stay building.
Norah Waugh in her book: Corsets and Crinolines, mentions how they'd apply a hot iron to the whalebone to shape it and steam can help set wood and cane. In one of my previous posts, the researching of the various types of panniers, one of the types used 'Oval Cane' which obviously must've been steamed or fixed into that shape somehow as cane does not handily grow in an oval shape ready for panniers!
It's all just very interesting stuff...
These photos are of the latest stage.
- The under-arm section has been sewn on.
- The inner boning and centre busk has been sewn down.
- and it has recieved a jolly good steam.
Now all that remains is the Lining.

I've asked Bath Fashion Museum for permission to use yet more photographs, so I can do a blog looking into the techniques and pattern options used in lining the various corsets I have viewed, and once I hear back I shall publish that post.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

More Stays with the Under Arm Strip:

Dated 1750-1780, this corset is from the Snowshill Collection based now in the National Trust. It's inventory number is: 1349941. 
Interesting Features are:
- The sharp angled lines at the CF.
- The boning is quite obvious, maybe even chunky, in comparison to others. The indentation they have left seem far more outstanding than the three I've looked at in the Bath Fashion Museum.
- 10 Panels! There is a panel in between the very CF conical shape and what is usually regarded as the Side Panel due to the way it wraps itself round the rib cage and down to the front. You can see the extra ribbon as the cone shapes away and meeting midway at the CF point. You know, I don't think I've seen one with 10 panels before.
- Quite a wide and blunt CF point at the bottom and it is made up of the two panels meeting. 
- No straps.
- 6 inner tabs in-between the CF point and the CB tab.
- Fully Boned.

This is the back view of the Corset from the V&A, also featuring in Eleri Lynn's Book: Underwear - Fashion in Detail. They are British and from around the 1780's. 
Interesting Features:
- V&A list the fabrics - Linen and buckram, applied silk, chamois leather and whalebone, lined with linen.
- Circumference, bust = 86 cm, waist = 62 cm, hip (over flared tabs) = 71 cm.
- Length; front = 28 cm, back = 40 cm
-Half-boned, but I'd say a dense half boned. It's only really the front bust and a small angle at the CB that aren't fully boned.
- 8 panels with decorative blue silk ribbon.
- non-matching lace up holes and interestingly you can see the marks left from the lacing and in which way they were laced.
- There is also a shadow on the CF which suggests inner boning also.
- Straps

Here are just some old photo's of mine that I found from a trip to the V&A years ago.
It really is a beautiful corset - such neat tabs.

Under-Arm Leather Strip

This is just a quick post to look into the techniques of sewing the Under-arm leather strip on. I could have just gone through the photo's myself but thought I'd make a post out of it.

I'm currently on the stage of sewing this section of the corset, hence the sudden need to look into it closer.

Here's an image of piece I am talking about:

Image courtesy of the Fashion Museum, Bath and North East Somerset Council

This piece is not exactly an essential piece of the corset - only 2 out of the 3 stays that I have viewed had this piece on it and one of those wasn't so much as a decoration as a slightly thicker binding trim. But I think it makes the corset look more stylised and if the comfort of the client is wished, then I'm sure it's a piece that would be wanted.
The hard wearing linen and rigidity of the boned corset would be very abrasive to the soft skin under the arm. This small strip of zig-zagged leather just gives it that smooth feel that would be far more comfortable to wear.

This image above is of a pair of stays (I just write 'corset' for the pure ease of it) in the Bath Fashion Museum and is currently not on display. It is the one I have chosen to base my hand made corset on.

Image courtesy of the Fashion Museum, Bath and North East Somerset Council.

In the above image you can see that this strip has been sewn on by a top stitching running parallel to the top of the corset and then stitches holding down each individual zig-zag. In the photo above most of these bottom stitches have come undone but in the following photo they are more evident. 

Image courtesy of the Fashion Museum, Bath and North East Somerset Council.
As I've already mentioned, only one other of the stays that I have viewed during my trips to the Bath Fashion Museum have had this strip and that one was barely a denser trim, but there is another image of a corset from a book that also has this more decorative strip on it's scye section. It is a corset from the V&A collection.

You can only see the corner of it in this image and is of a slightly different design, being more of an eliptical or inverted scalloped edge fhan the zig-zags of the previous corset. The zoom in version also shows the very gentle stitches that hold this piece down.

Well that's it for now - just a very basic post but it has helped me in my research of how to sew this thing on.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Update on Grain Discussion for the Side Front Panel.

During a quick research moment - with me trying to double check the methods used in sewing down the under-arm leather strip - I discovered that I could also get close enough to be able to see the grainline for the Side Front Panel.
So just thought I'd quickly post it up.

As you can just about see, once again, the grain tends to be going with the forth tab nearest the Side Back Panel. Although in this image that tab is slightly blurred and at an angle, you can see from the rest of the panel  which way the grain lies and how it runs in a similar direction.
Here is also the smaller version of the photo so you can see what you're looking at as a whole.

This corset is from the V&A and features in their book 'Underwear - Fashion in Detail' by Eleri Lynn an pages 80 and 81.
The passage beneath this corset reads:
' These stays are made of densely woven linen, high at the back and wide and low across the bust. They are made with 8 pieces with pale blue silk ribbon overlaying the seams...'

What is also interesting is that she gives some information as to how they might have been made up.
'The bones of these stays are cut very finely, in some instances as narrowly as 3mm. Cutting whalebone this thinly required a high degree of expertise and physical strength, which was also needed to PUSH THE BONES INTO THEIR TIGHT FABRIC CASINGS.' (Capitals mine)
I wonder where she got this information from or if it was deduced from the corset itself.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Panniers and Petticoats!

Panniers and Petticoats!

Just a quick image list of all the pannier's I've found whilst doing research online. I want to be able to update this post as I slowly discover where these images come from and which museum etc, but for now it's just a 'here they are!' kind of post.
If anyone knows anymore details about each of these, I'd love your imput. Thanks.
Also, I've changed all the words from 'pannier' to 'petticoat'. It's funny how you stick to what you first learnt but Pannier was the French word and 'hooped petticoat' the English. I might as well get used to using the correct term now, it's only a few extra letters.

Full Length Hooped Petticoat.

Details: English 1750-80. LACMA describe it as 'pannier made of linen plain weave cloth and cane hoops'
Also interesting features are: 
* Two arched canes at top.
* Four complete round canes.
* Hem is caned.
* Finished Length is about low to mid calf.
* Plain unbleached colour.
* Large and Triangle shaped pockets - similar to Norah Waugh's pannier pattern.
* Sounds silly to say - but a flat cane is used as the ridges to each channel are not bumped.
* And again, this may sound odd, but when I zoom in closer to the image, the stitching for the top two cane arches disappears before it reaches the first complete circle cane. I mention this because construction is an important point and Norah Waugh mentions in her 'Corsets and Crinolines' that 'The top pieces vary in depth according to the size of the waist' p.46. Could this be a retractable option?
* I have emailed LACMA and have asked for some more details about this item.

Mid-Length Hooped Petticoat and Cage Frame Petticoat:

All the website said about these two was: Panniers c.1760.

Blue Pair:
* Two arched canes at top. 
* The bottom of these two arched canes does seem to join the first circular cane rather more fiercely than the top. Similar to the zoom in on the above image. Again, could this just be the stitching come undone or a way to reduce the length of cane?
* Three Complete Circular Canes deep.
* Hem is caned.
* Larger looking pocket openings.
* Blue; I'd presume Linen.
* Probably finishes around knee level.
* Length of hip is similar to torso so about 14"- 16"

Cage Frame:
* Two Arched Canes at top.
* 4 round main canes.
* Probably mid calf in length.
* Looks like 16 connecting straps coming from Waistband.
* Wonder what the materials are - what the boning is?
* Length of hip is longer than torse so I'm guessing about 18"?

Cage Frame Side Hips:

Can't seem to find the museum this particular pannier cage is from. The web site I got it from was: wilhelminamarquart.blogspot.com.
* Not made up using a single circular cane/boning but has what is similar to 3 arched canes that join to a cf single cane or boning.
* 4 straps at front and two over the arched sections.
* It would be interesting to find out what the cane/boning actually is, it could be whalebone as it is relatively dark and doesn't look covered. I need to find out where it is so I can find out more about it.

Short Hooped Petticoat:

In the Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection.
They label this pair of panniers as: Panniers ca. 1750. British. Tan Linen and Baleen.' 
Interesting Features:
* We know then, that it's definitely baleen that's been used for the boning.
* One Arched Bone.
* Two round circular bones.
* Hem's been boned also.
* Unable, from this view to see if it has pocket openings.
* I'd also like to be able to feel this fabric and see how stiff the linen was. I'm sure it's in one of Iris Brookes books that she uses the word 'canvas' to describe the weight of fabric used for the panniers, but I can't at present find the quote so we'll hold on that one til I can find where I've read it.

** UPDATE: I have found the quote and it was in Iris Brooke's books after all. The comment comes while writing about the references later on in the century to 'hoop' and how they probably were more likely to be referring to a 'hip-hoop' rather than, and I quote: "the whole whalebone and canvas petticoat".

Short Hooped Petticoat:

This garment is from the V&A's collection and is described as: British made for the retailer A Schrabner in 1778. Made of Linen, cane or whalebone.
Interesting Features are:
* One single arched Cane/Bone.
* One complete Circular Cane/Bone.
* Using a 'Zoom', it's quite hard to see the stitching round the circular cane/bone. The reason I mention this is that it could be the fabric is made to drape over a cage frame - although they would've probably mentioned this in their notes. Scrap that - I've just found a closer image, and it looks more like they've made what I call a 'French Seam Channel' i.e, they've sewn a casing out of the actual garment - this is suggested by the way - if you look at the second image - the top of the arched cane is strictly gathered (which suggests stitching) while look at the way the fabric flops down over the cane, all bunched up and ruffled and not controlled by any stitching. The cane would then be pushed through this channel but only the ridge where the stitching makes the casing is it seen. Does that make sense?
* Pockets - as seen in second photo.
* The Top panel is made up of segments and with just a fold over channel for the ties.
* There is the smallest of glimpses into the inside of the pannier and although we can definitely say it's not a cage pannier with cloth draped over - it's really hard to see anything beyond that.
* Hem is NOT caned/boned.
* The linen fabric itself doesn't look too heavy - the weave is fairly textured and obvious and certainly there is a strong look about it, but I wouldn'e describe it as 'canvas looking' - I'm really going to have find that quote.
* On the second image there is also a piece of extra fabric sewn on - possibly an attempt to mend it -  as I cannot see this on the front or anywhere else - for a minute I thought it could've been a boning channel starting.
* Length of hips seem to be about 15" going with the curve of the top. I say this because it seems to be about equal to the torso of the body and my mannequin measures 15" from waist to shoulder.
* Also, last thing - there are ties at the front - is it right to assume they are for shaping the petticoat? Part of the essential process in pannier making as I make one now, is to have the ties in at each level. These then get tied to their partner on the opposite side of the pannier and tightened to depending how narrow you want the panniers to be (i.e to the waist size of the customer). Is it that the cane has now so long been set that the ties aren't needed to hold the shape? Or is it that they were never needed to hold the shape, but just to pull the oval cane in when needed to adapt to the waist size? There is another pannier (or hooped petticoat) that I haven't as yet put up on this blog, having run out of time where there are many, many, many ties. Surely they can only be for the same use which we use them now? If anyone has any thoughts, or more knowledge on this matter please message me.

Short Panniers:

Panniers from the Kyoto Costume Institute.
But I can't seem to pin an image of this particular pannier down to my blog page - I will yet continue to try but for now - check out the following site: www.kci.or.jp/archives/digital_archives/detail_8_e.html .
This should take you to a page which has a mannequin wearing a beautiful 18th Cent shift, a brown corset and a pair of short panniers: Have a good zoom in.
- In fact - I've just found it on someone else's blog - so here's the image but I've left the above information up as it is still better to go to the website and have a close up look.
What's interesting about this is the details they give with the photo.
* One full circular round Cane - they depict as Rattan Cane.
* Looks like two side arched canes going into the waistline rather than arching round like the others.
* Website says fabric is 'Cotton Chintz' which is quite interesting.
* Website also uses the words 'oval hoops'; as in plural but I can only see one and that's probably accidental and referring to all the canes used, oval or not.
* The panniers literally sit at hip level.
* From the image it's not possible to see if there are pockets and perhaps with the side canes going into the waist it might limit the amount of pocket space.

Hoop Petticoat 1755-86 - Cora Ginsburg

- Now this is an interesting example of a hooped petticoat and the following details are mostly based on complete guess work as I have at the moment, only this image to go from.
- Obvious detail is that the cane is only joined to the seen-skirt at the CF in three places: not including the top cane/bone. Now, the only three reasons I can come up for for this go as follows:
               1) Only this small CF detail has been caned and for some reason it gets                       caned with a smaller piece of cane/bone for each level.
               2) The cane/bone is ONLY joined to the fabric at these centre points but                    carries round un-covered and presumably held in place by connecting ties and                straps as seen in other panniers.(see above).
               3) That the canes.bones are ONLY joined to the fabric at these centre                        points but that another skirt layer is underneath; allowing an extra                          covering over the cane/bone so that it is less likely to come through to the                 top-side of the skirt.
In my mind the least likely and least logical is the first option.
- Top complete cane holding out the top of the skirt.
- No top arched canes.
- Gathered in top section with side pockets or easy access - I can't figure it out which is the correct reason for these gaps.
- Quite long in length - say lower mid-calf.
- Hem not caned or boned.
There is an example of a top layer of fabric covering the boning is Iris Brooke's Book 'Dress and Undress'. Here's an image below. Her notes on the page say 'All these are to be found in various collections in England'.
(It's the one in the bottom left hand corner if you hadn't figured it out!)

Also, having just brought the book 'Costumes Close Up' by Linda Baumgarten and John Watson, they cover this particular item. I've scanned it in to my laptop so you should be able to see it below....

Mid-length Striped Hooped Petticoat: