A dress for Victoria

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A dress for Victoria

I have loved the absurdity of the 1830s since I first discovered fashion plates of it almost 20 years ago. I’ve made four previous 1830s dresses and love wearing them but I had been longing for a formal dinner party. Wandering a historic site just isn’t quite as glamorous as candlelight and friends. Finally a friend suggested if you can’t find and event, make one! So the Young Victoria Dinner was born.

Major thank you to the Joseph Ambler Inn for being so welcoming!

Fashion Inspiration


But what to where?! Obviously any of the four other perfectly serviceable gowns I own just WOULD NOT DO. Why?…because I said so and it’s my party.

I ask you IS there anymore delightful than 1830s hair? There isn’t.

When looking around at fashion plates I realized there’s a pretty large range of things to choose from, but evening ensembles seems to have a few common threads.

Portrait of a lady by Antoine Plamondon

Short sleeves, or short sleeves with a net over sleeve, wide necklines (some off the shoulder even) and they are made of either silk or a sheer. In today’s world that sheerness in not-a-silk would be cotton or if the fabric gods love you a wool but I’ll never find that in my life time.

She gets major points for the jaunty headnecklace

I also really enjoyed the delicateness of many white gowns I found. Which I would hazard a guess is a hangover from earlier in the century when delicate white muslin gowns were all the rage. If it’s not broke don’t fix it? slash use up the fabric you already made…

All of the inspiration images I liked best (slash pretty much all the images of early-mid 1830s gowns) have huge delightful sleeves, full skirts and a wide waistband. Or what I’m assuming is a wide waistband because they’ve accessorized with a belt or sash. But you know same “wide band of waist” thing.

In the end this image from the 1832 Costumes Parisiens is what stole my heart. Except not in that shade of yellow/green as this heart looks very sickly in that shade. So I decided to do a smash of the white airy dresses and the hanging ribbons with lilacs (or maybe hydrangeas hard to tell)

Construction


I’m sorry to tell you I took not-very-many construction photos because I don’t really deem my Victorian dressmaking all that interesting. The dress is made out of Pure Silks cotton organdy which was both very reasonable in price, got here quickly, had a nice stiff hand and smelled funny. I flatlined the bodice and sleeves with a white cotton broadcloth.

I used the Truly Victorian 1860s ballgown bodice as my sloper…Yeah I know it’s marketed as being 30 years later but I promise it really is the same shape. Please note how far ON my shoulder it sits. I didn’t change this angle at all, the gravity and heat of my body caused my final neck shape to stretch. You have been warned if you make a cotton dress.

Standard Robin bodice construction

  1. Cut everything out. Forget something. Cut more. Hate cutting, and neglect to cut sleeves.
  2. Sew; side back seams, front seam, side seams, shoulder seams.
  3. Finish neckline with a bias strip facing, machine sew to right side, then turn inside and whip stitch.
  4. Turn in center back opening 1/4″ and then 1/2″, whip down.
  5. Try on bodice. enlist well trained husband to pin the back closed, remembering why back closing dresses are dumb. Pin in the darts.
  6. Contemplate making darts even, then realize I’m crooked so it’s probably better this way and sew darts as they were fit. (don’t do that it’s wrong)
  7. Realize you didn’t cut out the sleeves. swear at past Robin and cut out sleeves.
  8. Finish the arm slit in this sleeve pattern. gather giant circle into armscye.
  9. sew sleeves. take out part you caught from the underside. swear more. redo. ta-da have sleeves.
  10. Sew hooks and bars up centre back.
Plate from the 1838 Workingwoman’s Guide

My sleeve pattern is figure 30 in the plate above. Previously I’ve used the one from Patterns of Fashion that is a circle with no flat side, but my intelligent self didn’t pay attention when lining up my pattern and it hung off the side of the fabric so flat side it was! I did use the vertical slit opening from PoF though instead of the centered circle. Also my sleeves are always a 30″ circle as it’s an arbitrary measurment I picked the first time and it worked great.

there’s a theme in my house, have you noticed? I’ll give you a hint it has to do with dated carpet

The skirt is super easy. It’s 3 straight panels of 54″ width with a 6″ hem. I gathered it down to a waistband.

Which went SUPER smoothly

I re-gathered to a new new-long-enough waistband and then tried it all on with the skirt over the bottom unfinished edge of the bodice and pinned where it wanted to sit. I then carefully hand backstitched through all the layers.

I tried to drape the bertha on Polly (my dress form) but Polly was a Christmas present in college back in *cough2001cough* and she just hasn’t…grown with me as a person. She’s kind of stuck in the days of our youth

FLOP right off the shoulder

And it turns out for almost-off-the-shoulder-just-kidding-it-stretched-all-the-way-off gowns you need an actual SHOULDER to drape the bertha around. So on Friday night before the party Amanda was super kind and did it on me. (and convinced an old lady it was my dress from our wedding-which-had-already-happened). The bertha is just a rectangle I ironed the edges under and gathered down the CF, the shoulders got pleated and to be honest I need to try ironing it a little flatter as I’m not a huge fan, it’s a wee bit to enthusiastic for me.

trying shoulder bows…and realizing berthas are stupid

The ribbon is from RibbonStore on Ebay and I give them two thumbs way up. The quality is great and shipping was immediate. The flowers were from Michael’s. I looked for vintage millinery or paper ones but that many flowers was prohibitively expensive.

The Dinner


I styled the dress with two pearl necklaces (more is more), new earrings from Dames a la mode that I LURVE and a pair of matching bracelets.

My I-N-C-R-E-D-I-B-L-E hair was a combo of custom piece from Jennylafleur and some cheap side curls from ebay. My apollo’s knot is probably the most beautiful hair I’ve ever had. My wedding included. It was fantastically easy to wear as well. I put my own center section into a high ponytail and pinned the hairpiece in front of it. I braided my hair and wrapped it around the base. My side sections I braided and crossed in the back and wrapped around the base as well.

Mr. Sewloud and I got married at this venue and I have a wedding photo in this spot
my net mitts were bought off an etsy seller that I don’t believe sells them anymore

Katherine found amazing square toed shoes and I ordered a pair from ebay. They came super quickly and the size 8s fit my dead average size 8 feet. Very comfortable, would order again.

Taylor is prepping the Pope Joan Board…I’m paying the bill…one of these is VASTLY more fun
I love this photo of all our hair!
I thought ever single person in the group was stunning! I have the most talented friends
you can just see my yellow shoes peaking out
I was STUPID proud of my pineapple centerpiece too
Mr. Sewloud and I looking tired. party planning is a lot of work!
a view from the dining room
Discussing the finer details
The background on this one makes me think I look like a 1990s glamour shot.
Our Victoria and Albert
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A recipe for 18th Century Mitts

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A recipe for 18th Century Mitts

Last week the Usual Suspects and I went to the Museum of the American Revolution’s History After Dark event which promised dancing and embarrassing the Couture Courtesan into admitting she knows us (did a fantastic hand sewn polonaise gown for them for an Eliza Hamilton exhibit). It being winter in Pennsylvania the forecast was brisk and I deemed it time to get around to making the set of silk mitts I’ve been meaning to make for 25 or so years.

Patterning

This is a pattern for a pair in costume close up. If you don’t have that book, get it.

I thought I might make this a sort-of tutorial, okay more like an old school dress diary for how I made them. I’ll even leave in my mistakes!

Step 1. You’ll need a few measurments

  1. Around the widest point of your hand
  2. Around your wrist
  3. Around your forearm
  4. The length you want them to be
  5. length from the base of your thumb to where you want your mitts to end

Step 2. Lets start badly patterning together! I began with scrap fabric and drew a straight line on the bias. Mitts are always cut on the bias because you need as much stretch as possible. This line will be come the point where you fold the mitts in half.

Why am I including a photo here…I’m sure you all know what this would look like

Step 3. (which is what I really SHOULD have taken a photo of) You’re going to take your earlier measurements and draw horizontal lines off your center line. You basically center your measurment on the line.

Divide your measurements by 2, use that number to center the amount on each side

Line A is the measurment around the widest part of your hand. Line B is the measurment around you wrist and Line C is around your forearm.

The length of your point is complete personal preference

Step 4. pick one side to be the top of the mitt. I picked the right side. from the center line to the edge is the width over the top of your hand, draw on a point on that side if desired. There are examples without the point but I think it’s very elegant.

Please admire my terrible photoshop skills here

Step 5. Connect the dots for the outline. You’ll end up with an hour glass shape.

Step 6. add a thumb hole. Honestly start small and when you try them on you’ll tweak this. But a word of warning. My first mock up I centered the hole on the line. But thumbs aren’t centered on our hand. The beefy part of your thumb is more on the palm side.

Off center thumb adds extra wrinkles

Step 7. Cut them out and pin up the side seam. Try them on. If you have a very large hand to wrist ratio you may need to add extra ease to the wrist measurment so you can get them on. But make them as tight as you can, I made mine super tight and by the time I wore them an hour they stretched so much I want to take them in.

mock up #2 with off center thumb, muuuuch better

Now the awkward part. The thumb. I started by drawing a straight edge and then folding it around my thumb and pinning.

If there’s a way to draft this it’s beyond my skills

I wish I had helpful thumb advice but mostly I just…futzed. I promise it’s not hard. Just wrap your thumb and trim away the excess. You’ll be left with a pattern that’ll sit nicely on top of the body of your mitt.

ta daaa a finished mitt…pattern

Here’s what my final pattern looks like. But again everyones arm measurements are different so no one-size-fits-all pattern will look good on everyone. It’s really very easy to fit your own, don’t be intimidated!

I kept my seam allowances small, 1/4″ to reduce bulk

Decorate

embroidered mitts from the MET

If you want to add any embellishment it is MUCH easier to do so before you assemble them. Mr. Sewloud got me a tambour embroidery kit for christmas so I wanted to try a small bit of practice embroidery on mine.

Drawing out a simple design
One of my mitts has WAY nicer embroidery as I was getting better as I went. Don’t look close

Assembly

Okay you’ve made a lovely pattern for a pair of mitts….now what? The fun part! Sewing them together. I feel the need to point out here that there is no one way to sew together mitts. Four sets of mitts went to the MAR in the car I was riding in, and all 4 were sewn together differently, and all 4 were documented ways. This is just the way that I found easiest.

Step 1. Iron all the seam allowances in on both the lining and the fashion fabric. I made mine out of silk taffeta scraps and cotton broadcloth scraps. You need such a small amount this is a great “use up scraps” project. Just remember to cut them on the bias. This is important for giving you the stretch needed to get them on over your hands.

why yes I DID burn my fingers, what makes you ask?

Step 2. Place the lining over the silk, wrong sides together.

it’s so pretty when all the edges are encased

Step 3. Fold in half and sew up the side seam. I personally used the “English Stitch” Which is demonstrated far better than I could by American Duchess Here. I was really pleased with this stitch though as it provided a stretchy very small flat seam allowance, and I didn’t want bulk on the inside of my mitts

Step 4. Sew the top and bottom hems, I used a hem stitch but a whip stitch would work, or really any hand stitch will work.

Thumb seam ready to be sewn before applying to mitts

Step 5. Thumbs! Thumbs are fiddly. No way around it. So I can’t stress this enough, it’s like 4″ long, it’s worth it to hand sew it. You just can’t fit that small space in a sewing machine. or if you can you’re a better woman than me. (making these did lead to a long thought experiment where I wondered how they mass manufacture barbie clothes). Begin by pressing all the thumb seam allowances up the same as the mitts. Overlap the side seams and top stitch into a tube.

Imma thumb!

Step 6. Pin the thumbs onto your mitts. Make sure they point in the correct direction.

It’s happy to see you…

Step 7. Sew your thumb! I used tiny back stitches. This is the one part of your mitts that will really take strain so take the time to really sew them on.

I use gutterman silk thread and I do recommend waxing it

ALTERNATIVE: Amanda made her mitts by folding under the seam allowance of the mitt body and inserting the thumb from below.

That’ll work

Step 8. Thumb lining. Assemble the thumb lining in a tube same as the thumb, now turn the entire mitt inside out so the thumb is sticking up, shimmy the thumb lining down over the thumb. Whip stitch in place to the lining and slip stitch to the top edge.

This would be easier to see if both my mitts and lining weren’t white

Step 9. If you want a facing of a contrasting silk or leather cut a triangle the size of your flap and iron the edges under. I used a scrap of lavender silk and whipped it into place.

Step 10. WEAR YOUR NEW GORGEOUS MITTS AND BASK IN YOUR GLORY

A note on fit

You may be like me, tempted to be annoyed that your mitts are wrinkly in the arm, live with it. The wrinkles come from the bias, and if you have any difference in the width of your hand and the width of your wrist you will have wrinkles. You NEED those wrinkles to get them on.

See? period correct wrinkles

Also fit them as tightly as possible because any fabric, even stiff silk taffeta will stretch with repeatedly be taken on and off. I could BARELY get them on when making them and in an hour of wearing them I need take in the palms.

also…I don’t normally flip my wedding ring that way..I blame the cold.

Lets end with more beauty shots

The Alphabet Dress

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The Alphabet Dress

Four Score and seven years ago, okay 1.5 years ago, the theme for the Friday night ball we were attending at Gettysburg’s Remembrance day was “Fancy Dress” and when browsing through fashion plates of fancy dress ideas I found the dress of my dreams. The Alphabet Dress. Incase you’re unfamiliar with what IS fancy dress, it’s basically the Victorians playing dress up. Imagine a halloween party, but not at halloween, and with no “sexy” everything.

Why am I just writing a blog from a costume that is over a year old you ask? well first of all stop nagging I’m a slow writer, and secondly because there were exactly zero good photos at Gettysburg but I just got to re-wear it to a fancy dress party and got actual photos.

I started with easy foundations, I used a bridal hoop I bought off e-bay and cut the bottom hoop off of, my standard 1860s off the shoulder chemise, and my 1860s corset which is from the Redthreaded pattern (highly recommend).

The skirt

I stared at the skirt for a long time deciding what was the best method of construction. I debated appliquéing grey stripes onto an orange skirt but I just didn’t think I’d be able to get them straight enough for my OCD. So I went with what I deemed the easiest method.

Prepare for incoming math: I figured out my pattern by measuring the circumference of my bottom hoop then divided it by 3. I wanted the grey stripes to be half as wide as the orange. So circumference divided by 3 = grey width, and circumference divided by 3 times 2 = orange width. I made patterns out of poster board and cut away.

I assembled in bulk. First I sewed every orange stripe to a grey friend, then I sewed the pairs together, then into quads etc etc until I had a whole skirt.

Did I mention I frenched my seams? looots of trimming
Before hemming or a waistband

I had a really limited amount of the orange silk I was using (it was a generous gift from Jenny-Rose that she got in the LA garment district) actually I had a limited amount of both fabrics as the grey was a generous gift from Adrienne. (it really takes a village to dress this Robin). To save on fabric instead of turning up a hem I faced it with a bias facing made of a different orange silk I had. No I do not have an orange problem, I have an orange solution!

Inside view
Lookit those pretty french seams

The Bodice

For the bodice pattern I used the Truly Victorian ballgown bodice. It’s a very versatile pattern. I cut the point off and piped it all with double piping. Because piping is my faaavorite detail. It’s flat lined with cotton broadcloth and boned at the center front, darts, sides and back. The finished bodice is sewn to the waistband to prevent gapping. I used to leave them separate in my 1860s outfits but they ALWAYS gap when I move so now I join them.

I never fit the darts till the very end as they’re always different than in your mock up
Back lacing is annoying as you need a friend to help you,
but please admire my hand done eyelets

The bertha is black cotton sateen that I am 90% sure Amanda draped on me but it was so long ago I can’t remember (this is why you’re supposed to blog right after the first wearing) I free handed the design onto it with gold fabric paint.

Fun fact: it accidentally spells S-T-A-B on my right shoulder
where it closes with hooks and eyes

The sleevey things are just strips of silk organza gathered to the armscye, I again hand painted the letters, and if I’m honest they’re the part of this ensemble I’m least happy with. I may revisit them again, if this ever gets a third wearing.

I know some people like to see the messy inside.

The letters

I was planning to print the letters on printer paper and pin them on. They used lots of cardboard in fancy dress costumes, remember it was a throw away outfit. But Mr. Sewloud was HORRIFIED that I’d put that much effort into the dress and just phone in the letters.

So he painted them all, good job honey only 25 more to go!

They’re a layer of painted silk backed with muslin and tacked in two places. and yes there are 26 of them. Can we discuss how fun turning all those corners was?

It took exactly as long as you can imagine

Finishing touches

There’s a really tragic derth of orange boots on the market (please American Duchess get on that) so I was left with a bit of a quandary about what to put on my feet. I settled on using white dance boots that I bought from Amazon and dying them with RIT in my washer.

I thought the grey lacing tied in with the grey,
I’m unsure and may swap for orange

They were pretty perfect visually but have the distinct downside of not being waterproof so on a snowy day in DC you have to wear rainboots to the party then change there. Not the end of the world, but not my classiest grand entrance.

The first time I wore it in Gettysburg I ran out of time to make the tiara and just wore a generic one, but for the second wearing I really wanted to try to replicate the fun Alpha, Omega tiara. Sewcialist Revolution convinced me to try using Worbla and I’m glad she did. It was actually pretty easy and I was very happy with the result.

It’s on a cheap headband to keep it on my head

The Dress in Action

This is probably the most work I’ve ever put into a dress so please forgive me as I’m about to spam you with a bunch of photos from the party at The Modern Mantua Maker’s house in DC.

Okay first one in Gettysburg as proof it WAS there
Pre-party mirror selfie circa 2003
Her staircase was the most amazing thing ever, I wanted to stand there for hours
WHEEE it is SO fun to spin in
I found some naughty can can girls! Lauren and Carolyn are the most fun and you really lose something without sound as they jingled everywhere they went
Posing with Amanda for a tintype
While I’m fascinated by how dark the orange went, I’m more so amused by Amanda and my epic Derp Face
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Watch the magic happen!
Damesalamode really captured what a party it was
(I love that I’m not cool enough to really do rock on and did ‘I love you’ instead)
Did you know it snowed in DC this weekend? it was pretty

So that’s my most ambitious and lest blogged about project finished! What’s your big wish project? What should I tackle next?

An outfit for the Armistice

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An outfit for the Armistice

2018 marks the 100 year anniversary of end of WWI and our friends with the Royal Sussex Regimental Society invited us to attend a WWI event they were participating in at Ringwood Manor in NJ.   I personally much prefer the slightly fuller silhouette that was in fashion in 1916-7 vs the slim skirts of 1918 so I went with the “I still have clothes from two years ago in my closet” theory.

Skirt


I was doing this on a short timeline with limited brain cells (SHOCKING I KNOW) and decided to phone it in and buy commercial patterns. BEST DECISION EVER. For the skirt I bought Past Patterns #9384 Ladies’ Three or Four-Piece Skirt

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This is one of those historical patterns that only comes in one size, not mine. I just figured out the number of inches I needed to add total, divided by the number of seams and spread that amount around to each seam. A skirt like this is fairly easy to scale up. I think I ended up adding 1/2″ to each piece edge.

The fabric was a cotton shirting from Fashion Fabrics Club, lets just say I wouldn’t order from them if you want your fabric within the month. It was a painfully slow shipping/customer service/getting here experience. I think they walked it from their warehouse to my doorstep. But it washed up beautifully and had just the right amount of body for this look.

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I believe I can fly…

I really enjoyed the silly “wings” the second tier on the skirt creates. I did not bother to put pocket slits in the funny hanging tabs. It just felt like why put in pockets that will hold at most a chapstick.

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Look pensive Robin..

My one note on this pattern isn’t negative, just be aware it is a very wide waistband and that will come up…high. I know who’d have guessed? But when you’re short waisted to begin with, be prepared to tuck your tatas into your waistband. Perhaps not my most flattering life choice.

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baby got back

Blouse


For the blouse I got white seersucker from fabric.com and the Wearing History Elsie blouse pattern. Lately I’ve seen a lot of people making this blouse, and I love how it seems to sit a little bit differently on everyone, so even though they’ve all been white they still all look different.

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I did sewn gathers vs a drawstring at the waist and I did sew down my facings as floppy loose facings make me batty. and lumpy.

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I made the blouse first so I tested how it looked with a skirt with my 1904 suffragette skirt (balls I never blogged that either did I? someone remind me…) And I think I like the look better with a skirt that doesn’t quite come up to my chin. My fitting assistant was very encouraging.

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It has four vintage buttons that came from my mom’s sewing box, they’re some kind of cut metal. I dunno they looked pretty and the mother of pearl buttons I ordered for the blouse were way too grey.

Finishing Touches


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The earrings are my very favorite grape clusters from Dames a la Mode and Adrienne nicely lent me the hat when I TRAGICALLY FORGOT MINE.

I had to do a little mini photo shoot to show off my hat. This time I dressed it as a suffragette outfit with my brand new Dames a la mode custom pin in suffragette colours! (yes they’re the British colours, yes I find those more attractive). This stunner of a hat was made by Amanda who makes all the best hats.

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Group Photo!

The Scarlet Pimpernel

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The Scarlet Pimpernel
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They seek him here, they seek him there, Those Frenchies seek him everywhere

Wherein my husband is a very “good sport”

Or at least that’s what my mother persists in telling me constantly.  Jenny-Rose and her family (they’re all just as amazing and talented but I don’t think they have blogs…) decided to host a very swanky 18th century dinner party called The Pimpernel Dinner, and one cannot have a Pimpernel Dinner without well a Pimpernel. So who’s got a husband with great acting chops and will wear whatever he’s handed? *looks around the room*…*crickets*…shit I’m making menswear again aren’t I?

Now I’m really not a fan of menswear making for a few reasons.

  1. I don’t get to swan around in the results and look pretty.
  2. Men are strangely shaped with bits in places. BITS I SAY.
  3. Pants.

The Inspiration:

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And that sassy pose

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They seem to have suffered microcephaly a lot though.

One of the things I like about this period in menswear is how patently ridiculous it gets. You do see some matched three piece suits, but more often then not it’s a free for all. My friend Ginger nicely picked up some silks in the L.A. Garment district for his jacket and breeches and I found some fabric for the waistcoat online. What I didn’t have a lot of was time (we’ll leave out the part about the party being announced like a year in advance or that I committed to two major events two weeks apart and that was probably maybe my fault…I said we won’t discuss it).


Breeches:

I was trying to keep the budget for this monstrosity to within semi-reasonable levels. I splurged on the silk so one of the ways I save money was to re-use a pattern I had for breeches that was just slightly off period. a68ec9e4f1a67f1d7a0571bf977ae08c

Technically this pattern by Country Wives is for 1800-1825 but the narrow fall is close enough and I was working with what I had.

I shortened the legs, then tried him on the victim husband and took in the legs till we reached foppish-vacuum-sealed and added knee bands. My knee bands gaped just a tiny bit…so bows.

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Waistcoat:

I used the pattern I draped for his Mr. Darcy waistcoat and added to the length and front width. Re-drafted the collar. It’s really a beautifully embroidered waistcoat…too bad you can’t see it worth a damn. I should have just skipped it.

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after party shenanigans


Coat:

For the coat I did spring for a real pattern and bought Laughing Moon 124. A word to younger costumers, when you’re choosing where to invest and where to cut corners. Sometimes if you don’t have the right sleeve pattern it’s worth the money to pay someone else.

Lets take a moment to appreciate the absurdity of the collar. I meant to cut it down to be more proportionate to Rob’s average height, but 11pm Robin forgot. So absurdity it is! For next wearing I would like to properly finish it with all the called for buttons, shorten it about 2″ and shorten the sleeves an inch. But considering I did zero mock ups and just made it…I got away with highway robbery in terms of fit.

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how DARE YOU MADAM! With Modern Mantua Maker.

His stockings were borrowed from my closet, Amanda gave them to me for Christmas a few years ago so I can’t be sure, but knowing her shopping habits they’re from sockdreams. (regardless of these stockings another highly recommended shop). And the absurd pointy shoes were from target the night before. Yeah the costume gods smiled on me on that one.

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There was stiff battle required to save the champagne!

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With two of our three beautiful hosts

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I happily re-wore my copper open robe and feel beautiful

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Did I mention the location was stunning?

Wow you’re still reading? Colour me impressed. Thank you to Ginger for getting fabric in LA, thanks to Jenny-Rose for styling his delightful hair and thanks to my husband for always being a good sport.

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Pineapple stitch, or a stitch for all seasons

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Pineapple stitch, or a stitch for all seasons

What is a pineapple stitch?


I learned very basic knitting in college and then put it down for *mumblty* years because I got distracted by something shiny and wandered away, but a few years ago I started to get the historical knitting itch. Largely based on seeing the amazing projects Katherine was always making. Top on my list was a knitted pineapple reticule.

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The famous Kyoto knitted pineapple reticule

Popular starting around the turn of the 19th century up till the 1840s several extant pineapples exist as well as a few versions of the pattern. The most commonly used pattern is from Jane Gaugain’s The Lady’s Assistant for Executing Useful and Fancy Designs in Knitting, Netting and Crochet Work (1840).  “I could never knit one of those though right? that looks really complicated”

 

Incorrect! Once Katherine talked me into facing the pattern…why it’s actually quite simple! The same basic stitch makes both the leaves and the knobby, bumpy, whatsits. The body is knit inside out and you offset the rows. If you learn the one stitch you can knit the whole thing…and that’s when a new world opened as I realized…that stitch? It pops up everywhere in historical knitting. And why not? It’s easy, it’s versatile and if there’s one thing living history has taught me it’s that the crafty ladies who came before us? They were very ingenious at making things LOOK more complicated then they are.

When done flat pineapple stitch makes up as a chevron. The first rows are pulled into a zig-zag edge by the decreases. On the pineapple this makes the top edging. But on other projects this is used as the bottom to give trim a dagged edge.

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So without further ado I present to you the examples I’ve come across of what I’m calling “Pineapple stitch” stay tuned to the end for the simple instructions so you too can knit adorable lacy edges.

Reticules


This one is fairly logical. Of course someone said “oh I love a spiky bag with those funny knobby whatsits but I dislike pineapple colours what else can I do”

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A navy spiky reticule sold by Ruby Lane. This example has two beads on each whatsit.

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Another “spiky” pineapple stitch reticule from the V&A museum 1800-1829.

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Rainbow reticule 1800-1849 at the V&A museum. This one has no beads and unlike the pineapple reticule it’s not worked inside out for the section with the whatsits.

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Knitted reticule sold on Ruby Lane. I’m not 100% sure this is the same stitch as I can’t tell in the photo but I suspect it is. And I enjoy the jingle bell on the end.

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All yellow spiky reticule sold by Meg Andrews Auction.

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Reticule 1810-1825 from the MET. I shall call it the flying saucer reticule

Petticoats


I know this one seems a little farther afield but bear with me. The bottom rows of this Godey’s knitted petticoat pattern? The exact same stitch as the pineapple.

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Godey’s 1864 knitted under petticoat pattern

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Knitted petticoat from the Missouri Historical Society. Those five bottom pattern repeats? you guessed it. Pineapple stitch.

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knitted under-petticoat from the Wisconsin Historical Society.

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Sample book of stitches from the V&A Dated 1825-1840. Top left corner is the pineapple stitch. Also to the right of it is a swatch for what the Godey’s pattern uses for the next band of trim. I suspect this knitter had that issue.

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My example of the Godey’s Patten

Knitted Talma


Do you feel like doing a metric TON of pineapple stitch? Well for maximum impact may I suggest the giant knitted talma?

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Peterson’s 1859 Knitted Talma

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1860s tintype of a woman in a knitted talma very similar to the 1859 Peterson’s pattern

 

Sontag


What really inspired this post was the trim I made for a recent sontag based on this tintype. The lace is a border of pineapple stitch followed by two stripes of “plain knitting” or garter stitch.

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Mid-Victorian tintype, the lace edging is pineapple stitch

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This is four rows or burgundy, a section of pineapple (I forget how many rows), four rows of burgundy and four rows of white. Then I cast off and sewed it to the edge.

How To:


And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for:

k1, yo, k3-5 sl1-k2tog-psso, k3-5, yo repeat to the end. k1.

If knitting in the round then just continue the pattern, if you’re knitting flat purl all stitches on the wrong side.

Okay let me write that out for people who might need more instruction. I’ve seen patterns call for between 3 and five stitches for the width of the repeat. It doesn’t matter as long as you’re consistent and they mirror.  I will use 3 stitches in the below example but you can vary as long as it’s consistent.

Most variations start with one or two rows of plain knitting often in a contrasting color. If you don’t want to do that just do a cast on in number divisible by your repeat. In this example divisible by 10 + 1 as you need the end of the repeat to be a yarn over.

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The bottom most edge is the cast on edge. You’re working bottom to top. So four rows of plain knitting in burgundy is the start of this pattern.

Yarn over, knit one, yarn over, Knit 3 stitches, slip the next stitch, knit two stitches together, pass the slipped stitch over the two knitted together. You’re creating a triple decrease. knit 3 stitches. yarn over, knit one, yarn over. Start back with your 3 stitches and repeat the pattern to the end.

Summary


I hope this helps make a fun lace edging and very versatile stitch accessible for some people. I will continue to add examples if I find more….Anyone seen pineapple stitch anywhere else?

Also does anyone know it’s real name? I mean I call it pineapple stitch but I suspect it has a real name.

And I have to thank the amazing Katherine for all her help both in this post and supporting a new knitter!

You win some, you have to laugh at some

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You win some, you have to laugh at some

Have you ever wondered what it would look like if an 18th century petticoat and a caftan had a baby? Well look no further than the new Simplicity Pattern #8593. You too can sport the giant-baby-bib look. I bought the pattern as it was on sale at the J and I was planning to attend a 1940s airshow. It’s from their vintage collection, dated the 40s and sounds perfect right?…well…let’s start at the beginning…

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Always be suspicious if there’s only one sample

I ordered some very smart white seersucker from fabric.com, two thumbs up washed beautifully and lovely hand. For being a white on white stripe it’s not even that see through.  Will order again.

One thing this pattern has going for it is speed. I chucked my fabric in the wash on Saturday at 1pm and with a dinner break, and internet farting around still managed to have a fully finished garment at 10:45. With the speed I sew that was fairly impressive.

So what’s unique about this weirdo blouse/poncho/Chippendale’s sized apron? It doesn’t have side seams. The idea is that you tie the back around the front and the front over the back. The sides over lap leaving a gap for your hamhocks erm arms to stick out. Lets say this does not work exactly as planned.

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Would you like to see all the way through to my nipple or shall I angle myself so you just get tasteful side boobage? I wore a camisole as I would with any girdled outfit (sophisticated ladies don’t believe in chaffing)…but one small breeze and the world could tell you if I’d remembered to wear my bra right side out.

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Gonna go out on a limb and say this was NOT my most flattering shirt to date

I made version D with a peplum because what I lack in hips I make up for in abdominal girth and thought it might be slimming. I think the tucked in version MIGHT have gaped less, but any time you moved it opened amounts varying from “tasteful side boob” to “why am I feeling a massive breeze.” Whole thing felt very disconcerting to wear because of said breeze. Like that nightmare you have where you’re in high school and somehow forgot the side half of your shirt.

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Hey baby, like my target camisole? I’m so period correct

I thought it might be more flattering if I tried it without the peplum? tucked in maybe? Perhaps the weight of the skirt waistband would hold the sides together more firmly and I’d feel less of a cross breeze?

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I’m too embarrassed by what I’m wearing to look at you in the eyes…hiding my shame

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I swear all I drank was tea.

That would be a big ‘ole NOPE on the more flattering.

 

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Pro tip, cardigans hide a multitude of sins. like errant side camisole.

A few final thoughts: Do I regret making this weirdly aerated crumb catcher? Of course not! Firstly it was hilarious to wear, secondly it was more of a “what on earth would that thing that looks good on paper actually DO in real life” sometimes you just get so curious. I could probably put some buttons in the side higher up and limit the gappage. But honestly I look enough like a linebacker without 4″ of shoulder sticking out after me. And in case you were wondering if fit was part of the issue I did try it on my friend Alice who is smaller than me to see if more over lap front to back would lesson the wind tunnel effect. Nope. Still a girl in a giant art smock ready for a messy lunch who’s very concerned with getting proper ventilation to her pits. In summary: I’d probably skip this pattern, unless you get really really hot in the side rib 28672562588_35ab77dc77_ocage and require extra breezes.