Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Museum Mystery Boxes: Child's Canvas and Leather Button Boots

These Edwardian children's shoes were built on left and right lasts, unlike the straight lasted leather button boots from my last post. I have found examples of similar shoes that date from around 1900.

The boot uppers are made from olive-green canvas. The boots fasten with 8 buttons along a scalloped opening; just like the straight lasted button-up boots, all of the presumably glass buttons are intact. The toes and heels are decorated with black leather. These boots have a slight heel.




Like the other button boots, the soles of these gems show very little signs of wear. However, the way they were stored has facilitated deterioration. These boots were stored with the canvas uppers folded, which wore out the canvas along the fold. The leather is also crumbling and wearing away.


These boots are lined with plain, beige (presumably) cotton. The lining is stamped with the number "589."


Since finding these at the bottom of a box alongside the the Silver 1920's Dancing Shoes and the Straight Lasted Button Boots, they have been stuffed and wrapped in acid free tissue paper.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Museum Mystery Boxes: Straight Last Child's Leather Boots

These straight-lasted leather button-up child's boots were found in the same box as the Silver 1920's Dancing Shoes. Though my area of research doesn't focus much on children's fashions, I believe these shoes are from the late19th century or the early 20th century. I've seen similar examples that date as early as 1860.

The shoes fasten with 5 buttons that feel plastic but are very likely glass as most period shoes had. The shoe is decorated with cut scallops along the buttoned edge. The upper back of the shoe has a slightly upward, elegant curve.



The shoes are in very poor condition. The leather has crumbled; a dark, powdery substance easily falls from the shoe. I would love to restore these but am uncertain if leather dyes and restoratives would work on leather that is this far gone. Additionally, the shoes were stored without internal support, such as a stuffed fabric "sausage" to maintain the shape of the shoe. The shoes are creased above the ankle.

The soles of the shoes show very little signs of wear.




The shoes are lined with a printed cotton. I tried not to touch them too much because of how easily the leather "dust" was flaking off.


These button up boots have now been wrapped in and stuffed with acid free tissue paper to prevent any further creasing and flaking of the delicate leather.

Stay tuned for more goodies from the Kearny History Museum!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Museum Mystery Boxes: 1920s Metallic Dancing Shoes

Picture this:

I walk into the Kearny Museum's attic (always very cautious because that place is so terrifying not even spiders want to live there), looking for somewhere to store a Scottish kilt that was recently donated. The shelving units have been newly labelled by the Museum Committee. Sports Memorabilia, Lighting, Local Artists, Faux Greenery, Victorian Dresses...Victorian Dresses??

And there on the "Victorian Dresses" shelving unit were indeed boxes labeled all sorts of crazy things like "Fur Capelet," "Chef's Hat and Utensils," and "Black Tafata[sic] Gown."

Uh-oh. I had never seen any of these boxes or their supposed treasures. At once I felt both ecstatic and panicked. What would I find in these mystery boxes?

I pulled out one of the smallest boxes and carefully opened the lid, revealing a jumble of hot-pink tulle (which would be a recurring theme for the rest of the mystery boxes), yellowed napkins and dirty plastic bags. More digging and...ooooh, shiny!

Well what do you know, crammed inside a sandwhich bread bag (also a recurring theme for the mystery boxes, including bags of buns) was a pair of glittering, silver metallic 1920s evening shoes!


They are accompanied by a faded display card, and were at one point in time displayed with the beaded 1920s dress. The 1920s dress was also donated by Mrs. William Schreiber.


Indeed, the strap has an interesting mechanism wherein a metal hook is latched over the buckle. This fastening technique is still in use and I own a pair of modern heels that fasten this way.


Unfortunately, the shoes are in very poor condition. They must have been truly loved because the heel cap has been worn all the way through to the nail! The sole is peeling back at the front and heel, and the metallic leather is flaking and cracked. There are several slices in the leather, the largest being on the inner left side of the right shoe. The rhinestoned buckles are also missing one or two stones, and the insoles have begun to detach.




The shoes were stored and likely displayed without the necessary support. The lack of foot-shaped support to hold out the shoe possibly led to the irreparable splits in the leather. I will be making muslin-shaped "feet" stuffed with polyfill to support the shoe and its straps. The shoes will then be displayed alongside the beaded 1920s dress in its glass case.

Stay tuned for dozens of more Museum goodies, including an 1867 mourning dress, an enormous tatted lace collar, children's button-up boots, a fur capelet, a fur muff of exaggerated Edwardian proportions, 19th century drawers, a taxidermied bird, an unusual piece of embroidery, beaded gloves, and much more!

Also, the inexplicable and widespread use of bread bags and hot pink tulle for storing antique pieces will be explored.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Pinterest Picks


This week's edition of Pinterest Picks begins with this American dress from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Though it looks very similar to the infamous Chemise a la Reine, this cotton beauty is actually from the 1890s!


Another stunner from the Met: this 1920s evening dress is a lovely example of Eastern and Middle Eastern influences on Western fashion. Note the vibrant, warm colors, the exotic print, and the unique batwing sleeves!


This velvet and chiffon beauty from 1914-1920 has been meticulously beaded with glass and shell beads. Imagine how heavy this dress must have felt when worn!


Notice a common theme yet? To celebrate America's birthday, I chose pieces that were not only American in origin but also American in design, and therefore, red, white, and blue! Additionally, each piece represents fashions or elements from other cultures and countries, indicative of America's immigrant heritage.

What is the most patriotic historical garment you have ever found?


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Edwardian Petticoat with Cluny Lace


This Edwardian petticoat, c. 1900-1909, was tucked away in a box in the Kearny History Museum's storage. It has since been wrapped in layers of acid-free tissue paper and stored in an archival quality box.


This petticoat is made of a fine yet sturdy cotton, which may have originally been a truer, brighter white. Its volume is achieved through shaped panels, or gores, and a large, gathered ruffle along the bottom of the skirt. The side seams of the petticoat are constructed with the flat-felled method for strength and durability.

The petticoat has one row of fine, [presumably] cluny lace insertion, and a matching, wide band of cluny lace trim. Both the insertion and the trim appear to have been applied to the petticoat by hand.


The ruffle has three lines of gathering stitches to create fullness. The entire petticoat, except for the decoration, appears to be machine-sewn.


There is an additional, shorter ruffle on the inside of the bottom ruffle which adds even more shape to the petticoat. This ruffle appears to have been gathered with two lines of machine stitching.


I apologize if any of the pictures make the details of this garment blurry. Photographing white on white can be rather challenging! If you would like me to re-photograph specific areas of this petticoat, please don't hesitate to let me know!

The petticoat has a large tear along the back, just under the placket. I wonder if the wearer tore this while walking, or if an inconsiderate perambulator stepped on her skirts!


The back panels of the petticoat are very tightly gathered with cartridge pleats to the waistband. The waistband is narrow, and remnants of a cord/drawstring closure exist.


Measurements:

Waist: approximately 26 "
Width of Hem: approximately 95.5 "

Note: All measurements are approximate; I didn't have a table or tape measure large enough to spread the whole petticoat flat and measure it. Please feel free to let me know if you would like more detailed measurements.


Monday, June 23, 2014

Summer Sneaker DIY


This summer, I scored an internship in the Fashion Department of Cliché Magazine, a free digital magazine covering topics such as Beauty, Fashion, and Entertainment. I was very excited to write my first post for Cliché, and decided to come in with a bang and pitch an original DIY idea. I had considered putting this DIY on my blog since I bought these cool purple canvas shoes last summer, but only found the right fabric recently!

I have seen tons of canvas sneaker DIYs on the internet (painting, studs, glitter) but never a simple change like a fabric applique.

This DIY is easy even if you're not too familiar with a needle and thread. To make unique, bold shoes, stitch a fabric applique on the canvas shoes of your choice! That's it! Select the area of the shoe to decorate, make a template of that area, cut out the fabric and sew it to the shoe! You can read the full post here!




And if you're not ready for a bold, printed shoe, just applique a small strip of the shoe at the back for a small hint of surprise!

I had a hard time choosing between the mosaic pattern and the floral, so I did both. If you could applique a canvas sneaker, what contrast fabric would you choose?

Friday, June 20, 2014

Pinterest Picks

Pinterest: the rabbit hole for sewists, crafters, DIYers, fashion afficionados, baking buffs, home improvement gurus, holiday decor experts, comiccon mavens,....In general, a place of seemingly endless inspiration for millions of people. It usually starts out as "lemme just log on for 5 minutes" and ends 4 hours later, with your head buzzing from so many amazing ideas that your brain cells are begging for a break.

During my recent *ahem* "excursions" through Pinterest, I stumbled upon several pins that held me breathless for a dangerous amount of time. I wanted to share these awe-inspiring pins with my readership, and decided to create a new weekly segment called Pinterest Picks, which may later have its own folder on my Pinterest, too.


Weldon’s Ladies’ Journal, August 1927
This fashion illustration represents the epitome of 1920's style: dropped waists, beaded trims, interesting skirt designs, sashes....! And how amazing are the embroidered clumps of flowers on the dress on the left?

Aerial views from Marie Antoinette's hamlet at the Palace of Versailles
This image really puts new perspective on Marie Antoinette's little pastoral hideaway!

Gold and enamel locket, c. 1915
Wow, isn't this piece a stunner! I wonder what outfit this WWII era locket would have been worn with?

Wedding Dress, 1850, silk embroidered with metallic embroidery
Could you imagine all the hours that went into this amazing gown? All the broken needles, all the silk thread, all the sore fingers...

Rules of Flirtation
Both funny and charming, these instructions for flirtation with a parasol and gloves is a fun read! Have you ever used these methods at a ball or historical event?

I'm still not too sold on the name Pinterest Picks for this new segment, and welcome any suggestions from you!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Liebster Award

I was ecstatic to learn that I had been nominated for the Liebster blog award by Gina of Beauty From Ashes! I am so honored and pleased that my contributions to the historical costuming community--small though they are--are inspirational and meaningful to others. It is this sense of community and support that keeps me going when I set in a sleeve backwards for the fifth time, doubt the practicality of a costume, or lose my sewing mojo altogether.

I would like to take this moment to thank Gina for her own contributions to the sewing blogosphere. I found her blog when researching dress diaries of Edwardian costumes, and was immediately blown away by her level of skill and expertise. Immaculately applied soutache braid? Check. Stunning use of fabric colors and prints? Check. Beautiful manipulation and lace, beads, and textures? Check! Gina's vision and skill for historical sewing is truly impressive and aspirational.


The following are the blogs I nominated for the Liebster award. Each blog is inspirational, fun, and interesting in its own way!

1. The Gibson Girl's Guide to Glamour
Talia's blog is loaded with recipes and experiments in early 20th century makeup and hair styling techniques. Who knew that women 100 years ago also had drawers stuffed with an endless array of beauty products?

2. Jenni-Style
Jenni churns out adorable clothes faster than a sewist secretly adding to her fabric stash. And have you seen her Pink Stripey 1970's Dress? I never would have thought that such a plain pattern drawing could turn out such a chic and effortless dress!

3. Temps d'elegance
All I can say is "WOW" when I see Fanny's historical costuming skills! And the historical events she attends? Absolutely fabulous!

4. Roses and Vellum
I wish my wardrobe was as cool as Laura's! Her outfits are so charming and she regularly finds the most fun, interesting links to post!

5. Folk Costume & Embroidery
Roman's blog has kept me captivated by national dress for years! If you follow my Pinterest, you may be aware I'm a bit obsessed with Portuguese Folkloric Costume. It's with great restraint that I don't make massive Pinterest boards for all of the fascinating costumes Roman presents in his blog! (Also, folk costumes are great inspiration for embroidery junkies!).

6. Truly Hat Blog
Are you sitting down? Good, because you're going to jump out of your seat when you see the historical hats this blogger makes! This blogger also sells historically-accurate ouches for the Elizabethan costumer among us.

7. Odette's Obsessions
I just discovered this blog and am absolutely enamored with Nina's forays into spinning, cooking, gardening, and sewing. Spinning and dyeing your own yarn? Hardcore!

8. A Sartorial Statement
Chelsea's blog is where I get my Regency fix. She actually printed fabric for one of her creations!

9. The Broke Costumer
Gee, doesn't that title describe all of us at some point? Cindy also creates lovely Regency clothing (and a hella cool and creative Myth Masque Ball costume!).

10. Mode de Lis
Lily's adorable dresses definitely fill a 1930's gap in the costuming community. Her relatively new blog is a visually stunning repository for 20th century-inspired clothing.

11. Swiat mrowki
Don't be phased by the foreign tongue: Fobmroweczka's delicious blog is chock full of historical fashion goodness!

12. The Costumer's Closet
I've been following Loren's blog for years and love every post! Her recent recreations of the Game of Thrones costumes have been particularly exciting to watch; check out the embroidery on her Cersei dress!

Now, onto answering Gina's questions for me...

1.  What/When/Why/Who was the inspiration for your getting into period/era costuming?
Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette (2006) was my gateway drug to period costuming. I had just started sewing--little things, like hats and pouches--and convinced myself a sexy Marie Antoinette Halloween costume was feasible. I began researching clothing of the period and was sucked up into the pleats, robings, embroidery...Eventually I realized the costume was far more complicated than I had anticipated, and made instead my Chemise a la Reine.

2.  What is your favorite part of the costuming process?  The research? Design? Sewing? Construction? End where you get to put on our garment and have your photo taken?!
I LOVE researching (not just clothing!), and really enjoy combing through internet resources or visiting museums and staring at a painting to determine where the seamlines are. My design process is pretty fluid and usually influenced by the fabrics I find or am unable to find. I also love applying decorative elements, such as embroidery or trim. The best moment is definitely wearing the finished piece!

3.  What is your end goal in the costuming arena?  Do you simply want to hone your skills or do you desire a career in the fashion/movie industry?
A little bit of both. I can never stop sewing and learning; if I don't sew for a few weeks, I become more tense and need the relaxation sewing brings. I have done several commissions, including for dance groups and short films, and very much enjoy that aspect of sewing. I would like to create my own clothing line one day!


4.  If you could travel to one place to attend an event to wear you costumes to, where would it be?
Definitely the Venetian Carnival. What's better than themed 17th and 18th century costumes in a historic city?

5.  What frustrates you most about costuming?
I sew in a corner of my parents' basement. Every time I want to sew, I have to clean the old kitchen table down there (a catchall for my parents' stuff), have my dad haul out my vintage machine (a Singer Merritt 2404), and pull out all my supplies. At the end of the day, this has to be all put away again. It wastes a lot of time and often discourages me from sewing for days or weeks. I know that a dedicated craft room with ample storage space will definitely help my creative flow and productivity.

6.  When looking for accessories, do you allow yourself to purchase reproductions or is it antiques only?
Purchase reproductions! I have never bought an antique accessory, partly because of cost, rarity, sizing, damage, and the small possibility that the item might be haunted. You never know! I do love buying costume jewelry; it's plentiful, cheap, and I don't have to constantly fear that I'll break or lose it. Recently I found a very convincing brooch at Macy's for $5 on clearance, perfect for decorating a stomacher or Edwardian gown.

7.  Do you allow yourself a lunch break or do you sew right on through the hunger?
Depends on how many hours I have to finish the project...after all, who needs food, bathroom breaks, showers...? However, if I'm feeling particularly frustrated, I take a mental health break and physically distance myself as far away from the offending project as possible.

8.  What is your most favorite ensemble?  
My favorite ensemble thus far is my Bronzino Italian Renaissance Gown. This gown was finished last year and worn on October 30th and 31st at my University. Shockingly, most people thought I was dressed as Disney's Merida...

9.  Why is it your favorite?
Mainly, the color! I love jewel tones, but this shade of blue is particularly brilliant. The fabric is a surprisingly high-quality polyester from a fabric warehouse, with a lovely drape. I also enjoyed learning all the new techniques I used on this dress, such as the cartridge pleating, handbound eyelets, and beaded neckline trim.
10.  What was your most wonderful event/experience/compliment concerning costuming?
Oh, tough question! Frequently people tell me that I have an innate ability for sewing, that I was born with this now dying skill. I suppose it's because no one in my family is interested or as intrepid with new techniques as me.

11.  What do you listen to/watch when you sew?
This question also depends on how much time I have left to finish something. If I have a looming deadline, my Pandora is set to heavy metal and sometimes rap, because I need the raw energy. If not, I'll listen to something calming, like classical music (Bach's cello suites for the win!), and try to watch a period movie, such as Elizabeth: The Golden Age. I avoid watching Titanic for the 100th time because I end up crying too much.


And my questions for my nominees:

1. What is your favorite resource or method for researching period costuming?

2. What is your biggest frustration when you sew clothing?

3. What is your biggest historical or sewing pet peeve ? (i.e. Marie Antoinette said "Let them eat cake"...NOT!)

4. What is your ultimate costume fantasy? Which piece, if you had the skill/money/time to make, would you make?

5. What does the name of your blog mean? How did you decide on that name?

6. What has been the biggest sewing lesson you learned?

7. What is your favorite seam technique (french, flat-felled, etc.)?

8. What is your favorite aspect of blogging about your creations and/or research?

9. What is your accessory guilty pleasure? Shoes, socks, jewelry, hats...?

10. If you could be any historical figure, who would you be and why?

11. What is your favorite painting, sculpture, or other artwork?


Congratulations to all the past and future Liebster Blog Award winners!