Monday, September 23, 2013

A 1908 Poiret sketch: The inspiration for Rose's 'jump dress' in Titanic?

I was doing some research for a blog I'm writing for the Powerhouse Museum on corsets and fashion in the early 20th century when I came across this sketch by French fashion designer Poiret from 1908.

Les Robes de Paul by Poiret 1908

Is it just me or does the red dress on the right hand side look strikingly familiar to the red dress that the character Rose wears in the film 'Titanic' when she contemplates suicide?

 

Although the skirt detail is a little different (the beading at the bottom and the layering), the top of the dress looks an awful lot like the sketch, notably the beaded bodice with the sheer neckline and sleeves.

 vs. 


I'm sure that the film's costume designer Deborah Lee-Scott pulled inspiration from somewhere, I wonder if this was it? Although by 1912 you'd think Rose would have been a little out of fashion?

What do you think?

Monday, September 16, 2013

White Cotton Damask 1910-1914 Longline Corset




Ah, the corset. There's something about them that I just love, whether they are Edwardian, Victorian, or even seventeenth and eighteenth-century stays, they all fascinate me. However, I had never really attempted to make one myself as they always looked like rather complex garments to construct - after all stay-making and corset-making was completely separate profession from dressmaking and tailoring.

However after completing my 1912-1913 summer day dress I knew I needed the proper foundation garment to make the silhouette of that era really come to life; and my cheaply bought 'Victorian corset', which left a very obviously 'VCL' (visible corset line) where it finished just below my hips,  just wasn't going to cut it.

A corset advertisement from 1910 says it all, "If the corset is not correct, the gown cannot be."

Corsets during the teens era were under-bust, long bodied and more lightly boned their their Victorian and early Edwardian counterparts. This change in style was mostly on account of the fashions of the time, where a streamlined body shape was required for the empire waisted, sheath-like close fitting dresses and skirts.

 

Within only a decade the fashionable shape went from this:
An 'S-bend' corset from the early 1900s which created an exaggerated waist and forced the breasts forward and the bottom backwards (this style lasted from about 1900-1908)
To this:

French corset advertisement from 1911, notice how there is less emphasis on creating a waist and more on creating a slender, straight silhouette (this style lasted from about 1910-1919)

Unfortunately when it comes to things like corsets and stays there are very few commercial patterns that are any good, and ones for the Edwardian/teens era are pretty much non-existent. When looking around for a teens era corset pattern I came across one from Bridges on the Body.



This pattern was drawn from an extant example in her collection. Not only did she provide her blog readers with a pattern that would create a teen's era corset exactly, but she also provided a step by step tutorial!

The first thing I had to do was draw up the pattern to scale. At the time I didn't have access to a photocopier and I wanted to start that night, so I drew up the pattern up by hand on baking paper.


Lucky for me I'm around the same size as the original owner of the corset, so I didn't change any measurements. Therefore my corset is an exact replica (in terms of pattern and construction techniques) as the original.

The original corset
Bridges on the Body's reconstruction

Halfway through making the corset I came across this antique teens era corset for sale on ebay. It looks nearly exactly the same as the original owned by Bridges on the Body and as my recreation.

 

The first thing I had to do was to create a mock up, to test the fit and to see if my sketching skills were any good. Turns out they were because besides one minor adjustment to the bottom of one of the back pieces, everything fitted together great. I find that with anything that is worn over a corset, or in this case a corset itself, it is so hard to judge just how it will fit until it is complete. After all something you thought would never fit you actually can once you loose a couple of inches after lacing yourself up. With this in mind I proceeded ahead with the corset pieces exactly as they were.

 

While the original corset is made from cotton coutil and the example I found on Ebay from cotton drill, I decided to make mine with cotton damask for the outside and plain white cotton on the inside. This is just as historically accurate to use and during construction I treated the pieces of fabric as one, as was done with this historical example where the black satin and cotton lining are used as one (click picture to link off to this corset's page):


I stay stitched the inside seams (as the tutorial specified) and the raw edges were covered by the bias tape boning channels.

Stay stitch seams on the side
What stay stiched seams look like on the outside

After putting together all the corset pieces I then sewed on the boning channels which are made from bias tape.

Not quite sure what happened here. Needless to say I had to go back and unpick it. Doh!
Always check that your boning fits into the channels you've created!
I then sewed two extra pieces of cotton drill onto the centre back pieces which I then folded over so that they were on the inside of the corset, then I sewed them down. This was done to add extra strength to these back seams for the eyelets and lacing.

 

To sew in the busk I simply folded over the extra seam allowance that I had given to the centre front pieces, made the appropriate holes for both sides of the busk and then sewed them in place using a zipper foot. I decided to hand sew around the open seams where the busk latches together (even though leaving them raw is perfectly historically accurate) as the damask material is prone to fraying.


Unfortunately I was having a little bit of trouble with my sewing machine and the thread tension at the time, so in some places the stitching isn't great. After taking the time to clean out the inside of the machine I also found that it was super dirty and full of fluff, which is why it kept jamming when I was attempting to do these seams.

Nearly Finished!
For the boning I used cable ties and plastic dressmakers boning from a fabric store. I tried to avoid the latter as much as possible because they really aren't firm enough to add much structure, however I had to use them in the centre back boning channels and the side-back seam as the cable ties just weren't long enough.

All that was left to do was to finish off the exposed hem on the top and bottom. For the bottom I used some white cotton sateen fabic (left over from the collar of my 1912-1913 dress) which I made into a bias tape and sewed onto the bottom.

 


I decided not to add too many frills and lacy things to the top of the corset as the Edwardian combination undergarment that I made to wear underneath it already has pink satin ribbon, etc. So I added broderie anglaise (which the original also had) and white satin bias to the top to finish off the hem. I used white satin ribbon for the lacing and I didn't bother putting covers over the suspenders.




So here is the finished product, my 1910-1914 longline corset. Overall I'm really happy with it and it wasn't nearly as hard to make as I thought it would be! In fact its probably been the most enjoyable construction process out of all the historical garment I've made so far!

 

 

Top of the Corset

Corset Garters

Side Garter

Inside the corset


The Challenge: #19: Wood, Metal, Bone
Fabric:  0.5 metres of white cotton damask, 0.5 metre of plain white cotton for lining, scraps of white cotton sateen for hemming, scraps of cotton drill for centre back seam support
Pattern: I drew to scale this Longline Corset ca. 1910-1914 from a pattern provided by Bridges on the Body here and I constructed it using this tutorial.
Year: 1910-1914
Notions: Lots! Thread, Busk, cable ties for boning, bias tape for bone casing, 36 metal eyelets, 6.5 metres of satin ribbon, 1 metre broderie anglaise, 0.5 metre of white satin bias trim, garters
How historically accurate is it? 95%
Hours to complete: 10-15
First worn: Without garters (so incomplete) underneath 912-1914 summer day dress for photo shoot.
Total cost: $8 for damask, $4 cotton, $6 bias tape, $8 metal grommets, $3 satin ribbon, $2 satin bias trim, $2 broderie anglaise, $12 garters. The cable ties I owned already and the busk I took from an old, cheaply bought corset.
$40

Monday, September 9, 2013

American Duchess Giveaway!



The talented Lauren at American Duchess is having a giveaway!!

I must admit I do not own any of the American Duchess range simply because I am relatively new to the world of historical costuming and well, as yet I haven't had anywhere to wear my creations. :(

I do however ADORE her Astoria Edwardian range and could definitely wear them with modern outfits, but I guess I'll have to wait for the next pre-order to get those babies in my size as they are sold out.

Also, one day when I save up the $$ for the shoes and the postage (damn you Australia why do you have to be so far away?!), I will also purchase a pair of her "Pompadour" French Court Shoes (1680-1740) or her "Kensington" 18th Century Leather Shoes to wear with my planned 1660s and 1770s gowns.

Anyway so the pair she is giving away is her newest and probably most wearable design, the "Claremont" 1930s Oxfords. I already own a cheap pair of Oxfords, after all every girl needs a good pair of oxfords, but these are something else - real leather and real attention to detail. I remember when Lauren had a poll on her blog asking whether her customers would prefer them in a black or a brown. I voted black simply because I feel like black goes with more items in my wardrobe, however overwhelmingly the other ladies in the costuming world brown and that's why, for the mean time, they are only available in brown.





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Goodluck! :)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Recreating 16th & 17th-century Costume with Foam Packaging | Suzanne Jongmans





How cool is this?

These images are the work of Dutch artist Suzanne Jongmans who re-creates famous works by sixteenth and seventeenth-century Flemish artists, substituting their painted portraits, that "laid the foundations for photography", with modern photographic ones.
"Since 2007 I have been working on the series 'foam sculptures': caps and collars, inspired by 16th and 17th century paintings, made from materials currently used for packaging and insulation. This is also an inferior material which is often discarded after use. By using this material I make a reference to consumerism and the rapid circulation of materials. With these foam sculptures, but also an i-pod, a tattoo and a foot in plaster, we end up in the 21st century.
I use the elements in the present as in the past, the objects in my work are used as symbols of values. I mutate old costumes into new plastics and old masters in new photographic works. By using time foreign materials, plastics and techno's, I am creating a time crux, a tension of time."

Her portrait of a young girl is clearly a recreation of the young Spanish Infanta Margaret Theresa by Diego Velázquez.

Prinses Eva, Suzanne Jongmans, 2010

Las Meninas by Diego Velázquez, 1656
Others like this one I know I have seen before but I can't pin point where!


I think this is an awesome idea and one that pays off really well, most costumers can't get their garments to look this good when using traditional materials and construction methods.

I can't wait to see what other paintings she recreates! Check out more of Suzanne's work on her website via this link.