On our upcoming trip to Bath, we’ll be spending a few days in London and heading up the list of places we’ll be visiting is the Victoria & Albert Museum (aka the V&A). The V&A has an incredible fashion collection to include items from the 19th Century and it’s been one of our main go-to websites for online research. Now we’re going to have an opportunity to actually see some of their holdings in person (at least the ones that are not in storage). Here’s one dress that we’re looking forward to viewing in person:
Day Dress, c. 1870 – 1880; V&A Museum (CIRC.606-1962)
According to the V&A website, the date is circa 1870 – 1880 although we would argue that it’s more like the late 1870s/1880s- the Mid-Bustle Era- the princess line combined with the nearly non-existent train would suggest that. 🙂 The princess line creates a large-scale “canvas” of sorts for displaying dramatic decorative effects, in this case rows of ruched silk. Framing it is a floral silk jacquard in a floral pattern. Also, the hem has two layers of pleated silk to matched the ruching material above.
Of course, as with all on-line research, it’s often hard to completely see the dress details and often there are subtle elements that are overlooked. However, it’s gratifying to know that we’ll be able to view this in person and hopefully the details will make a stronger impression. We’re definitely looking forward to visiting the V&A! 🙂
As we get closer to our departure for the United Kingdom, the pace of planning has increased and we’re building up our list of places to see and visit. Naturally, since we’re going to be spending time in Bath, we’re going to take advantage of the local sites and especially the Fashion Museum Bath. Naturally, we’re focused on the Mid to Late 19th Century but we’re open to everything. Here are a few examples from the 1870s:
Day Dress, 1874; Fashion Museum Bath
Evening Dress, c. 1871; Fashion Museum Bath
Evening Dress, c. 1876; Fashion Museum Bath
Unfortunately, not much information was available online but luck for us, we’ll hopefully be able to study these in person (assuming that they’re on open display). We’ll keep you updated as we learn more.
One of the many projects were working on is is starting work on a new early 1900s day suit design. We’re trying to base this off of original patterns and for skirt, we’ve settled on a pattern that was first published in 1905 by The Ladies Home Journal.
The original pattern was printed on tissue paper that’s now a hundred years old and needless to say, it’s not suitable for direct use for patterning so the first step is going to be tracing the pattern pieces onto regular pattern paper and then eventually creating more permanent pattern blocks. Fortunately, the pattern pieces had already been cut out (most likely back around 1905) but it took some careful unfolding and smoothing out before the tracing could begin. Also, given the age of the pattern, we dare not iron the pieces in order to flatten them out, which is the usual procedure.
In working with period patterns, one is struck by just how minimal the instructions and markings on the pattern itself are, especially compared against what’s today’s industry standard. We were able to figure out what the markings on the pattern pieces meant and when checked against the cursory instruction sheet, made complete sense. It’s a ten-gore skirt and it’s a fairly simple pattern, similar to standard skirt pattern blocks that are used today.
After tracing out the pattern pieces, we lined them up on proper order and made sure that the seams matched up properly and that the waistband and hem line up. We had to do a little truing up on the pattern paper but it was not a real issue. Finally, we noticed that one pattern piece for the belt was missing but this should be easy to remedy.
The next stage will be to cut out a muslin or toile and check it for fit and accuracy and make any necessary corrections to the pattern pieces. One final note, this is pattern that’s definitely designed for a slender person with a waist of 24 inches (corseted, no doubt). What’s also interesting is that the seam allowance is 3/8 inches- we’ll probably add an additional 1/4 inch to bring it to a standard home sewer seam allowance of 5/8 inches (that will give some more leeway for adjustments). Eventually, we’ll probably have to grade this pattern up to several larger sizes. As more progress is made, we’ll be posting updated on the start of what should prove to be an interesting project for 2018.
It’s been a long day flying back to LA from Virginia (actually Washington/Dulles)- The flight for Denver was scheduled for 5 am which meant that I had to be at the airport sometime between 3 and 4 am (which in turn meant that I had to actually wake up around 2 am). Dulles Airport is huge, now imagine it with almost zero people. Weird. After enduring the usual TSA protocols and waiting, I was finally aboard and headed west to Denver. Since the plane was mercifully empty, I was actually able to get comfortable and catch up on some sleep during the 3 1/2 hour flight.
Denver was COLD and rainy- fortunately, I didn’t have to go outside but I could feel the cold plenty as I exited the plane. It’s been awhile, to say the least- I’ve been dealing with temperatures in the 90s and 100s for so long that I forgot what anything else is like. 🙂
Heading southwest out of the Denver towards Burbank, the weather improved a bit and the sun came out…
And then for a short hop over the Rockies…
And finally landing at Hollywood-Burbank (aka Bob Hope) Airport where I’d started from some four days before…
And what was the fashion of the day, you might ask? Jeans, T-shirt, and overshirt. Yeah, nothing fancy and meant solely for practicality. Unfortunately, the nature of modern day air travel doesn’t really allow for anything else…certainly not this…
And as for meals, it’s not this…
But this… 🙂
But we make things work as elegantly as possible and that’s our motto here at Lily Absinthe! 🙂
Lately it seems that my weekends have been a blur of activity and this coming weekend is no exception. Today, I’m catching a plane for Dulles/Washington DC to participate in a WWII Era event at the Americans in Wartime Museum (aka “The Tank Farm”) in Nokesville, Virginia. I’ll be falling in with a living history group portraying the 26th US Cavalry, Philippine Scouts who will be portraying late 1941/early 1942. Previously, I’d worked with a number of the group’s members at a previous living history event in Columbus, New Mexico in March 2016 and had a good time with them, so I thought that I’d return them the favor. I’ll be on my own for this one and from a fashion perspective, the order of the day is the US summer uniform for officers. 🙂
It won’t the typical sort of WWII event in that we’ll be portraying some of the last days of mounted cavalry. I’ve already shipped the bulk of my equipment so there’s not a whole lot of baggage to deal with so that’s a plus. Unfortunately, there’s no direct flight (change planes in Denver) so it’s going to be a long day travelling. Fortunately, I’ll have some time to recover before actually starting the event itself Friday afternoon.
The Old And The New…
This sort of an event is a bit out of my normal zone when it comes to living history but I’m open to doing something different (2017 has been a year of changes and new things, to be sure). However, the idea of getting back on a horse and doing cavalry is just too powerful so there it is. 🙂 I’ll post some pictures when I have more so stay tuned!