Friday, August 26, 2011

Snowshill Quilted Jacket: Cutting, Trapunto and Quilting

An update on the Snowshill Jacket.  It's coming along...just.  My hand is hurting from all of the hand stitching I've been doing.  Everything is is to be quilted...and from the look of the pile above, I will be at this for quite some time.

All of the Trapunto and Cording are done now.  You can see here the "feather" design I'm putting on the back panels is outlined and ready to be stuffed.  The Snowshill jacket doesn't have this design on it, but this was a common motif on other 18th century quilted items.  I love I'm using it.

Here it is in all of its stuffed glory.

And this is my interpretation of the floral design found on the Snowshill jacket.  It will be found on both sleeves and the hood.

Here's a snippet of what some of the quilting will look like.  This "scale" design (as I'm calling it), will be on the false front (and possibly on the hood...haven't decided yet.)  The rest of the jacket will be quilted with a diamond design.

I have a sneaking suspicion that by the time I get around to seam construction, I will want to use a machine...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Living on the Edge

Yet another Danny MacAskill short film.  This guy really does make me feel adventurous.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Snowshill Quilted Jacket: Muslin Stage

I've been alluding to a special project I have in the works.  Anyone with even a hint of historical costuming love in their bones could probably figure out what it is.  I've mentioned mid-18th century, outer wear, trapunto, cording and quilting.  So, it's not hard to deduce that I'm making a quilted jacket.  Specifically, I'm making the c.1745-1755 Snowshill Manor jacket found in both Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion 1, and Nancy Bradfield's Costume in Detail.  What I love about this jacket, (other than the quilting, trapunto and over-all look...ha!) is that it was made for a more stout me.  So, it's not hard to adapt to my size.

Here's a view of the jacket in Pattern's of Fashion.  This drawing gives great structural views, and of course the book gives a graphed pattern.  I didn't use the graphed pattern for anything other than a visual reference.  I used bits and pieces of other patterns I've drafted in the past and combined those with draping to create this jacket.

This is an image of the jacket from Costume in Detail.  What I love about this book is that it documents what the interior of the garment looks like, how the seam construction is done (somewhat) and it has great sketches of what the quilting on the jacket looks like.

Remember this "Marianne" Pelisse that I spent so much time on?  Well, it was almost a year ago that I started on this's been hanging in my closet that whole time, unworn, and very much unloved.  I'm REALLY very dissatisfied with the way it turned out.  It looks frumpy on me, not graceful like the one Marianne wears.  The collar is a mess, and no matter what I did to try to fix it, it still curled up around the edges.  The sleeves are too short, and the pleats looked ugly to me.  In general, I'm sick of it, can't imagine ever wearing it, and don't have the desire to redo it.  So, I've decided to recycle the gorgeous blue-gray wool and use it for the Snowshill jacket.  The original Snowshill jacket is made of white silk and cream colored satin, but I don't want to pay for good quality silk right now, nor would I wear a white jacket...think of how fast it would get dirty.  So, I'm more than happy to use the Pelisse wool for the jacket.

The muslin stage is complete at this time.  I have to mention that I'm not completely following the Snowshill jacket down to every detail.  What I've changed is minimal though.  First of all, I'm planning on wearing this jacket for modern life, even though I will be hand sewing it, and constructing it using 18th century techniques.  This means, of course, I will not be wearing stays under the jacket, nor will I be wearing hoops and a gigantic petticoat. 

I've shortened the back peplum ever so slightly, since I won't be wearing a petticoat and hoops.  I've lengthened the sleeve just a bit, so that I can wear more modern garments underneath and it won't look so proportionally strange to the length of my shirt sleeves.  I've also adapted the false front, to fit a curvy, or natural silhouette, since I won't be wearing stays. 

If I ever decide to wear the jacket as a "real" 18th century jacket with stays, petticoat and all, I can always re-work the false front to lay flat over the stays, and I can shorten the sleeves. Nothing major or life threatening to the jacket's integrity that can't be fixed.

The hood has got to be one of my favorite parts of this jacket.  The pleats are gorgeous, and I love how the hood drapes.  I've wanted a hooded jacket for a very long time, but I've never found one that didn't look like a big snow-ski parka.

I've already cut out all of the fashion fabric, and the lining.  The fashion fabric, which is the blue-gray wool from the pelisse, will have trapunto worked into it, then it will be backed with a thin layer of cotton batting and quilted in a diamond pattern.  After that, I will construct the seams similar to the seam construction here, lining the jacket with scraps of silk from the "Marianne" Pelisse.  Most of the trapunto is finished and I am now moving on to the quilting stage of the jacket.  It is taking longer than I thought, now that I'm back at work.  But, I'm doing a little bit here and there, and hopefully I will be able to finish the jacket before October and cooler weather comes around.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Kid's winner?

A few weeks ago, I entered a give away over at A Field Journal.  Check out Olivia's  Blog if you haven't before.  She's an amazing artist, crafts person, graphic designer and photographer.  I've entered countless give aways since I started traveling through the blog world, always hoping, but never really believing I would ever win anything.  I've only ever won anything twice in my life.  The first time was when I was about 10 years old.  I won a children's, illustrated "New Testament Stories" book at my local 4H fair.  The second time was when I was in 8th grade.  My Jr. High School had some sort of "good behavior/no tardies" contest (my class was not particularly known for being a very respectful or obedient class), and the prize was a brand new CD walkman (yes...this dates me a bit...) At the time, I was ecstatic, because CD's were the cutting edge in music technology, and very few people I knew owned a CD player.  I was infinitely more thrilled about the second prize than I was the first.  What's that say about me?  Anyway...I digress.  What I'm trying to say is, I AM A WINNER!  AGAIN!  Can you believe it?!  And the prize is awesome!  It's a Kid's Crafternoon; Papercraft book.  It's filled with tons of fascinating paper crafts (hence the name) that will give Jane and I hours of fun, I'm sure.  Hey, and I might even try a few of them out with my students at school, who knows.  Fun. Fun. Fun.

All this blog-give-away-winner joy kind of makes me want to have a small give away of my own.  Maybe when I reach 100 followers...what do you think?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Costume Society of America Event

Last evening, the Jane Austen Sewing Society (or the Bluegrass Regency Society, we aren't sure which one of these groups we were we sort of morph together at times) met at Ashland, the Henry Clay Estate, for the Costume Society of America event. 

There were only 4 of us available for the event, but we actually have about 8 or 9 ladies that are a part of our sewing society.

Three of us dressed out, myself, Natalie, and Polly, and Jeannie was our unofficial photographer, dress help, comic relief and over-all moral support.

This was an outdoor event, but it was also in the evening.  So, we opted for evening attire.  I wore my Tiden's Toj gown, and V&A open robe.  I also wore my hair up as I did for the Jane Austen Festival Ball.  With school starting up, I simply don't have the energy right now to think up a new look, nor the time to make one. 

Inside the Gardener's Cottage, we became re-acquainted with a fellow Jane Austen Festival friend, Reva.  I had no idea she lived in the Lexington area, and was very pleased to hear she is interested in joining our Bluegrass Regency Society.  The more the merrier I say.

As I said in my previous post, I was demonstrating the art of Trapunto, a stuffed quilting method.  Polly, an amazing milliner, demonstrated how to curl feathers for hats, bandeaux, etc., and  Natalie showed off her amazing gold-working skills.

We set ourselves up at a small table just outside of the main tent, and prepared for a deluge of questions.

This regional CSA wasn't a very large group...maybe 40 members. 

I have to say how utterly delightful each and every person was that we talked to.

I'm not sure why I was initially so intimidated by them (maybe it's their amazing intellect and talent...hmm...perhaps), but I was pleasantly surprised to find them ALL to be so warm, friendly, and genuinely interested in what we were doing.

Not only did we explain what we were doing to them, but many of them talked to us about what they do. We met professors of costuming and design, textile artists, and even a couple of lovely ladies who have the privilege of working at Colonial Williamsburg. We learned so much, and I have an urge to join the the CSA....this probably won't happen anytime soon, wanting to do something does not equate getting to do it.

The weather was gorgeous, as were the grounds.  It was a lovely, inspirational evening, and I do hope it can be repeated again soon.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Trapunto and Italian Cording

This Friday, the Bluegrass Regency Society will be participating in an event at Ashland, the home of Henry Clay. The event is put on by the Costume Society of America.  I am not a member (and neither are the others in the BGRS), but we have been invited to participate.  I am extremely excited, and not a little nervous.  I mean...these people are the real thing!  Actors, professors, professional costumers, art and historical preservationists, etc, etc....all very academic types. 

When I say we've been asked to participate, I don't mean standing up to make a speech or anything like that.  (Thank goodness, because if that were the case, I would pack up and run for the hills!)  We basically just have to get all dolled up in our 1790's attire, and look pretty.  We are glorified eye-candy strolling the grounds of the estate.  But, we are also supposed to be doing a little something that is specific to what our group's interests are, in order to have something fascinating to talk about when approached by all of these uber-intelligentsia.  For example, we might demonstrate a certain kind of stitch, or seam construction technique of the time, or fan games, or jewelry making, or, or, or. 

I mentioned in my last post that I have a little something in the works.  And without spilling the beans yet, I will just say that I'm going to be quilting (hand quilting) part of it.  I wanted to make sure the quilting I will be doing is accurate to the time period of the garment (mid to late 18th century.)  So, I've been researching Trapunto and Italian Cording.  You can see both modern and historic examples of these methods here (cording), here, (trapunto), and here, (both)

Trapunto and cording seems to have originated in Italy some time during the 16th century. It was heavily used in European fashion during the next couple hundred years.  You can see examples of 18th century petticoats and jackets completely covered in the stuff on the Tiden's Toj site, Here, Here, and Here.  It would seem though, that during the Regency era, Trapunto wasn't as heavily used as it was during the previous generation.   But it didn't all together disappear.  You can see a lovely green Regency era spencer here (scroll down about 6 or 7 images).  The whitework quilt I posted in the previous paragraph is also from around 1800.  And don't forget the stays/corsets that were fully corded during the regency era.  

Trapunto and Cording came back into high fashion for a while during the 1820's, but then died down again in the 1830's.  It's gone in and out of high fashion ever since then, but never fully left our households.  Think of all of the whiteworked quilts and pillows people have in their homes today.  (A very special thanks to Dawn Luckham and Suzi Clarke for their invaluable expertise, wisdom, and for helping me find some of these resources.  I certainly didn't do it  all on my own.)

Front, design outlined.

Back, design outlined.

 Trapunto is a fascinating technique to say the least.  Basically, you baste a thin piece of muslin to the back of your fashion fabric, and then use a running stitch to outline the design you are making. 

I used 100% raw, top wool yarn for the stuffing and cording.

Stuffing the "pouch".

Stitched up, after stuffing.

On the back, you work a small hole into the individual "pouches" of the design, and carefully stuff with bits of wool.  After this, you sew up the hole, and you are done.

Yarn pulled through the channels.

Cording starts out the same, but instead of stuffing a "pouch" with wool, you pull a piece of yarn/string/cord through the channel.

Front, finished Trapunto and Cording.  Imagine an entire garment covered in this.

The result is a puffed up design on the front of your fashion fabric.  When finished with all of the Trapunto and Cording, you back your fashion fabric with cotton or wool batting, do more regular quilting if you like, then construct your seams and line it.

  All that being said... I've been practicing this method, because this is my social-instigating-"drug" of choice for this Friday's event (in other words, this is what I will be demonstrating.)  Wish me luck.  I'm almost certain to say or do something stupid.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Stash Project: Wrap-Front Blouse

With only 3 days left until I go back to work, my blog might be slowing down a bit.  The same goes for my sewing projects.  Oh, don't worry...I still have enough stash fabric left to keep me going for a while, but my sewing times will mostly be limited to the weekends.  I also realize that it has been a while since I've sewn anything Regency.  I think I got burned out after all of the sewing I did for the Jane Austen Festival, and then I decided to get my Fall, teaching wardrobe 18th or early 19th century costuming took a back seat.  But, I do have something in the works (actually in the planning stages), and I will post on that as soon as I have something to show for it.  I'll just say this about it... it's mid to late 18th century and it's outer wear.

Now, for my final summer stash project.

I had some semi-sheer Autumnal colored plaid cotton in my stash, and I know that plaid was a very casual print worn quite often in the 30's, so I set out to drape this blouse.  I was inspired by this 1930's wrap front blouse, and this 1930's butterfly blouse. 

A part of me feels very 'cowgirl country' in this blouse....which, if you know me at all, is almost exactly opposite from my personality.  Since I live in Kentucky, I'm a bit sheepish about wearing this blouse out and about...I wouldn't want to give the wrong impression of who I am, now would I.  What do you think?  Too country?  Or does the design of the blouse take away from the 'country-ness' of the plaid?

There are two ways I can wear this blouse.  I can simply wrap it across my front and tie it, wearing it with a deep, lose v-neck.

Or....I can button it up at the top, closing the neckline.  Either way, I think it still has a very 30's feel to it. (Except for the lil' bit a country, right y'all?)  I think I prefer the buttoned look.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Cincinnati Zoo Trip

Jane feeds a Giraffe.

As a last Summer hurrah, Carson, Jane and I accompanied Nana (my Mom) to the Cincinnati Zoo yesterday.  I've always loved going to the zoo (seriously considered studying zoology before I decided on getting an art degree, and to this day I wonder if I might have been better suited to take care of animals than teach art to kids...), and the Cincinnati Zoo is really fabulous.   Not only do they have an amazing selection of animals, but their conservation programs and their desire to educate the public, especially children, is outstanding.  They are also, technically a "botanical gardens", and the flora throughout the zoo is breathtaking...with everything from tropical flowers to bamboo forests, you really do feel transported to the ends of the earth. 

The Zoo is so large, and with so much to see, it took us 8 hours to explore the entire park...that's a lot of walking.  When we left, Jane fell asleep in the car not 3 minutes after we fastened her seat belt.  The exhaustion was worth it.  She fed a cracker to a Giraffe, got to brush the goats, feed Lorakeets, rode a train, learned about endangered and threatened species, explored habitats, etc., etc., etc.  I'm going to now bombard you with a gazillion photos of our trip.  I might make a few comments here and there, but other than that, it's just going to be a visual display of our day.  You've been warned...there are many.  But, I do hope that you will be inspired to locate a zoo or wildlife preserve near you.  They are doing so much to help preserve our beautiful earth, and they deserve to be patronized.

Austrailian penguins.

I loved the 'old' look on this tiny little goat's face.

Jane had to brush every goat before we could leave...she didn't want any to feel left out.

Feeding the Lorakeets.

I loved feeding the lorakeets...and they loved me.  One special little sweety liked my hair...or rather the bobby-pins in my hair.

The sea lions were adorable.

It was fun to watch the polar bears eat....they were inches away, with only a thick sheet of glass between.

A train ride around the zoo.

Jane called this the 'bird with the funny hair.'

There's something so beautifully graceful and yet awkward about giraffes...

The elephant house was built in 1907 and is a national historic landmark.

We actually got dangerously close to being in the middle of a peacock was rather scary.

The beautiful bamboo forest.

Jane meets a dragon.

They have several rather impressive indoor exhibits at the Cincinnati Zoo.  The nocturnal exhibits, inparticular, were stunning.  Of course, they were difficult to capture on film, but none-the-less, they were cool.  Yes...this is a REAL owl.

And yes...these are REAL birds.


Seriously felt like I was in India here...

The manitees were rescued from nearly tragic accidents involving boats in Florida.  They've come here to recover.  You can see the white scars on their bellies and tails.

The penguins were nesting.

Thank you for joining us on this zoo journey!