venerdì 29 giugno 2018

Ikea LJUSÖGA robe à l'anglaise (1770-1780s)

I joined the club, at last! I made my own Ikea Ljusoga robe à l'anglaise! Squeeeee! I waited this moment for almost two years. I purchased the fabric when I joined my group Le Vie del Tempo in 2016 and it laid in its envelope since then. I never had the time to work on this dress before, even if  I started to make a mock up last year. Then things happened and I have been forced (read: forced) to make an elegant  18th century dress for an event at Venaria court. I also lost weight in the last 6 months and I literally had no costumes to wear for our day. Any. My working class jacket now runs too large and same for my floral caraco I wore earlier this spring (le sigh...) so I only could sew something for myself. Three days before the event. Yes, three days. 

I made several italian gowns in the past for my customers but never had the chance to make one for me. I have been extremely lucky to met a buyer that is almost my doppelganger so I recycled the pattern I made for her with just fewer alterations. 
Since my waist is now sensibly smaller I also had to finish my new pair of stays, all made in linen. I now wear a size XS, that's almost incredible for me! So after finishing to bind the corset in a rush I started to work on the lining; the only alteration I made was to shorten the shoulder straps. The bodice length, the sleeves, the back were already perfect. So glad I never throw my patterns away ...

The dress is made of cotton for lining and fashion fabric both, worn over 2 cotton petticoats. The petticoat were made last year and worn only once since then. Of course I made all inner seams by machine and outer finishing by hand, including skirt facing, hem and skirt seam. I didn't bother about the lack of trimmings for now, I can always add them in a second moment. The neckline was filled with a cotton voile fichu. 

Bodice fronts are closed with pins instead of hooks. 

I didn't take photos during the construction because the process was really straightforward. 
The skirt pattern is based onto the 1770-1775 dress featured in Janet Arnold book "Patterns of Fashion 1" without alterations; it seems this lady was tall like me! It is pleated towards the back on both sides and since I'm a perfectionist, I measured every pleat with my seam gauge to be 2 cm wide. Yes, I do these things when I'm late...stupid me. The skirts and the bodice are then joined together using a pick stitch and not sewing them in the "normal way" (so putting the two pieces right sides together); I laid the skirt under the bodice, pinned it in place 1,5 cm approx from bodice edge and then hand sewn all in place. This took a while but the result was worthy and without bulk at the waist. 
The skirt is trained and it's polonaised up using cotton cords inside the dress that form a loop. This loop goes over two fabric buttons sewn at the side seams outside the bodice. Please note: a robe à l'anglaise is not a polonaise dress. Polonaise dress were totally different and did not have a waist seam as an italian gown. 

Now the fun part, the photos!!
The Ikea fabric is not bleached. You can see how the two different shades of white look in sunlight. I finished the look with this straw hat I purchased from Atelier Pietro Longhi. 

And you? Did you make an italian gown as well? What pattern did you use?

sabato 28 aprile 2018

A 1750s Ikea floral caraco

New season, new project! Well, to be honest this one was started this winter but you know, I don't have lot of free time to sew for myself. If you read my previous post about 18th century fichus you may have noticed a new, lovely, floral caraco.

I started it between January and February for an event at the end of March, using some cotton from stash as lining (you know, economy!) aaand approx two yards of this famous Ikea fabric. This kind of cotton is thicker than Ljusoga duvet so keep it in mind when buying: it wouldn't work good for a summer dress or jacket. The price is about 5€ at yard so it's definitely budget friendly! 
"Luckily" our event ended to be really cold and windy and the caraco worked perfectly as mid-season garment. 

I used the famous caraco pattern shown in "Patterns of Fashion 1" by Janet Arnold with some alterations. A very, very similar version if you're not good at scaling up patterns can be found on JP Ryan online shop; I loved her cuffs so I used her draws as reference to make mine. I also added a side seam to the bodice to make it a little bit different to my robe à l'anglaise. in reference was this beautiful extant piece:

First, I printed the pattern and adjusted to fit my body. I have very large back shoulders and I always have to enlarge period patterns a lot to fit this area. Then, I raised the neckline quite a lot, added cuffs,  attached fine cotton engageantes and a lovely small strip to the bodice to keep my fichu in place. I also omitted hooks and eyes closure for a more practical one with pins since I'm currently losing weigth. When I made the mock up the sleeves were perfectly fitted but now, in just two months, they run large but I can live with that. The rest is still perfect and the back so incredibly well fitted, yay! 
The front edges are boned with synthetic whalebone.

The skirts have two lovely box pleats in the side seams which give to the caraco a very elegant, flattering look. They need to be worn over pocket hoops to show their volume at best. I wore the whole thing with a brown linen skirt and a cotton petticoat. I'm planning a lighter one in red. 

The caraco came together really easily. It doesn't have a waist seam and the wrinkle you have at sides is absolutely correct. I made the lining first and joined it to the fashion fabric as a separate piece; the lining and the fabric have been joined by hand. As usual, my garments have machine made seams but hand finished details. I skipped trims and decorations for now: they can always be added later. 
I could work on it for a very limited period of time but on a normal schedule I would have finished it in a week/ a couple of days.  

I didn't take many pics of the construction, it was really straightforward. I was thinking to add this lovely piece to my Etsy shop as made to order item in different sizes, who knows...

venerdì 20 aprile 2018

A brief summary of 18th century fichus

If you're into 18th century costuming or reenactment, you may have heard of fichus also known as modesty scarf. These little, versatile piece of a woman's wardrobe was an essential accessory to fill/cover a bare neckline especially during the day. It could also be used to project the skin from the sun during summertime. Women of upper and lower classes both wore their modesty scarves.

Fichus comes in a variety of widths and materials and were usually white, made of lace or linen, and could be worn tucked into the neckline or falling above the shoulders, or laced behind the back if very long. Hey could also being embroidered or embellishwed with lace. Usually they had a triangular shape with a small slit at center back to allow a gently fit. 

My fichu is made of beautiful cotton sateen produced locally and ends in a lovely point at the back. I tuck it into a strip of fabric pinned to my floral caraco, which is not only a practical solution but also a fashionable choice.

If you look at period resources, you can see how common fichus were and how different they could be from each other.

Did you already heard about fichus? Are you planning to make one to complete your 18th century outfit? Let me know! 

lunedì 5 marzo 2018

A 1750s brown linen caraco

Quite old project here, a creation I made last summer and I never wrote about! Shame on me! This little piece was a last minute project I made for an event last September but despite its simplicity, it turned out very well and it's lovely to wear.

Our event was set in the first half of 18th century and my closet wasn't equipped for that era. Being in the middle of the Halloween costuming season I really didn't have time to make a whole dress for me, including pattern drafting, mock ups, alterations and so on. So I looked in my stash and I found some scraps of the same brown linen of my previously made Outlander skirt. I cheated and used the same jacket pattern from Janet Arnold with some very basic alterations to draft the pattern of a mid-18th century caraco! The whole process took just about two days, yay! 

The whole thing came together so pretty that I decided to wear it again the week after in Tuscany. If you follow me on Instagram I'm pretty sure you already saw these photos. 

More are keep on reading! 

So, as told before I used the same pattern of my blue Outlander jacket with just a few alterations. I just added winged cuffs (now removed) and elongated the skirt, using the body pieces instead of adding a separate peplum. This was definitely easier but it had to be done carefully because a wrong side length could cause wrinkles in the waist area (and you want a smooth bodice, right?). My side length (measuring over hoops) is 19.5 cm plus 1.5 of sleeve seam allowance so it is 21 cm in total. I added 22 cm more to this measurement to have a lovely and flowing skirts (2 cm were for the hem). When drafting skirts, please be generous and measure twice before cutting! Skirts HAVE to flare over your skirt support without pulling or be too tight; use all fabric width if possible and if not, add gores. 

I sewed the cotton lining using the modern method right side VS right side and turning, then I hand sew some small running stitching to give the illusion of a hand-sewn garment. The stomacher is a separate piece and it's joined to the jacket with pins. 

Some construction photos...

And other photos of the caraco worn - again in working/middle class style. I definitely need a better cap. 
Photos by Letizia Taschetta:

Look at the back fit: yummy!

Aaaaaand...some fancy photos! Let's rock 18th century with some modelling attitude! Photos by Roberto Buonafina.

Little update: I DID talk about this jacket last year, but completely forgot about that post. You can read the original discussion here

mercoledì 3 gennaio 2018

Making a black 1890s outfit, part 2

Let's go with the second part of this project. To be honest the outfit has been finished and already worn but, as usual, I'm always late with the blog :( 

So, after finishing the skirt and hand sewing the trim all around the hem I started to work on the blouse. It was essentially draped on the dress form to fit since my pattern was incredibly short waisted, probably designed to be sewn to the skirt. I suppose this was called for a theatrical use.  
This process took a while but it was worthy.

The upper part of the neckline is gathered to fit.

The pattern didn't have any tips for fastening so after looking to some extant pieces I went for back fastening with fabric covered buttons. 

The hem of the blouse is bounded with black cotton bias tape and the seams are gently boned to keep it in place when worn. 

Now the sleeves. I didn't want exaggerate sleeves in my blouse and luckily, the ones in my pattern weren't so big! I just did some basic alterations to fit my arms and they were ready! They're flat lined in cotton as the rest of the blouse; for a more puffy look I should have added some padding (maybe organza ruffles?) between the lining and the fashion fabric but I'm happy with the result. 

And that's all! The making of the skirt and the blouse took about a week: I'm losing weight and I needed to shorten the waistband of the skirt, which took me a while (rip it off, measure again, shorten it, make the back pleats again, baste the whole stuff together, try it on,  remove hooks and eyes on the left side and sew again). The collar turned out too big but this can be easily fixed in a second moment. 
It was a very simple and fast project, not bad to be my first jump into the 90s! I also purchased a pattern for an accurate hat. 

lunedì 11 dicembre 2017

Making a 1890s black outfit, part 1

Hi everyone! The holiday season has started and so this means I have some spare time to work on my personal projects. This time I'd like to introduce my 1890s black outfit. I'm new to late Victorian costuming (oh well, let's say I explored very few of it) and let's say I'm not a fan of those huge sleeves. After looking at some extant examples I saw huge sleeves last

ed for a very short time and not every 1890s bodice had leg-o'-mutton sleeves so I decided to give this era a try. I found some beautiful examples of black dresses not stricky mourning and went ahead with that idea.

Both there dresses are beautiful and I love Cléo de Mérode hairstyle!

So, after checking the web for resources I decided my dress would have been in black cotton sateen with very minimal embellishments. 

Before starting to work on the skirt I worked on the undergarments. I took and old Edwardian petticoat from my closet and restyled it, sergin' again seams and adding a lovely ruffle at the bottom to help the skirt in keeping its shape at the bottom. Luckily I already had corset and chemise (no combinations yet alas!) so this part came together really quickly. 

Then I started to work on the skirt. I drafted a pattern by my own looking at some period layouts. It's really simple, trust me. All you have to do is to measure yourself carefully at waist, centre front and back if you want a train. Divide your waist measurements by 7 (the number of gores, since the front is cut on fold) and draft your pattern; the back and side back have to be more generous in size to end up with the pleats. 
Gored skirts ended in with very large pleats at the back to create the "fan" look and that's what I did. The front is straight all around my hips. My skirt is high waisted to use the waistband as belt. I have very large hips and  I have to say this skirt is incredibly comfortable, smoothing my curves and making my belly look really flat. AH! 

I wanted my skirt to be light, to be worn in summertime as well so it's not lined or flat lined. The hem is reinforced with some black bias tape 25 mm wide faced inwards. 
The back of the skirt closes with hook&eyes and two pair of snaps (they're HA, did you know? They were invented in the 1880s!) mounted over the placket. Unfortunately my waistband ended to be too large so it overlaps too much but it can be easily fixed in a second moment. 

When I was done with the skirt I hand sewn some yards of beautiful vintage velvet trim all around the hem as decoration. It's so lovely! 

Now the fun part: bodice and sleeves! 

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