Thursday, July 28, 2011

Award and Worth

I've been tagged by Jessie over at Some Things I Have Made for the One Lovely Blog Award!  She had just found my blog and tagged me, which is very sweet and came on sort of the perfect day (it's been a rough couple of weeks).

So, I am supposed to give five facts about myself and tag someone else, so here goes:
  1. My undergraduate degree is in early modern British history, with a minor in costuming.  Pretty much Ren Faire.  
  2. I have two dogs and an evil cat.  The beagle is a step-dog, smelly and dumb as a box of rocks.  The Chihuahua is scary smart and eats literally everything.  Socks, shoes, mulch, wasabi, whatever, she eats it.  The cat is just mean and we all live in fear.  She also licks plastic bags, which is the most annoying things ever.   
  3. I love baking.  Love it.  Sadly, the hubs is not so into the fresh baked goodness and sees no point in home-baked bread.  I can't get my head around that one at all, but it puts a major crimp in my baking activities.  I can only eat so much bread on my own.
  4. Before I moved to Virginia and went to law school, I worked in software testing in the San Francisco area for about seven years.  Breaking stuff for a living was sort of fun, having the engineers fear me was the bomb.
  5. I am dyslexic.  This has made many things I have chosen to do in life more challenging, like law school, and probably blogging, but I love to read and write so I've done what I can to adapt.  Just don't even ask me to sound out a word, that drives me nuts.
I'm passing this along to Katie Jacobs, a costuming blog with a later period focus that I usually do these days, but she does lovely work and is very inspiring and to Arachne's Blog which focuses primarily on historical textile arts. 

On a totally random aside, I came across The House of Worth on Flickr, which if you are at all interested in 19th century clothing, Worth, or just pretty cloths in general you simply must check out.  There are some truly drool-worthy gowns and very good quality images in the collection.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Wrap front gowns?

I've been battling a nasty summer cold (no fun in a heat wave in Virginia) and haven't been overly productive since I got back from my trip to California.  I have been reading though.  While out at my parents house I found 4(!!) boxes of books from my undergrad days, mostly on Medieval and early modern history.  I picked out enough to fill two large flat rate boxes and shipped them home so they would be waiting for me when I got back.

One of the books I shipped is on the history of private life in the middle ages.  It's quite interesting, if you are into academic reading and social history (which I am).  But what got me really excited was the picture on the cover.  I can't find a citation for the cover image anywhere for some reason.  What you see here is a small version of the cover.  Amazon has a larger, though lower quality scan of the cover here Any ideas where this image comes from?  What's interesting to me is the two ladies in the back who appear to be wearing wrap front gowns.  The image to the right, a 15th century miniature by Jean Bourdichon seems to show a artisan's wife in a similar style dress (of course her arm is covering the bit of her gown that I really want to see, but she's also holding a distaff I'm ok with that).

We also have this image by my old friend Gerard David, which shows Mary Magdelan (in the cloak) wearing what might be a wrap front gown:
Unfortunately the clearest image I've found so far of this type of dress is the book cover I can't find any attribution for, but I'm intrigued.  The ladies in the book cover look like attendants, the artisans wife is clearly at work, so perhaps this is some kind of working overgown?     If I can find some more information about this style of dress, it would be a fun project.  I don't think I've seen anyone wearing a wrapped gown like this.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Vacation Report

I'm back from vacation in Southern California!  I don't recommend air travel, Disneyland, or the Getty on a gimpy leg necessitating being pushed around like a luggage cart but it was still a good trip.  My fabric haul was mostly quilt related, so not really applicable to this blog, but I did get to visit the Getty Villa, which has a wonderful collection of Greek and Roman art, great for my collection of source material on Roman clothing!  Yay!  Of course, they also have lots of images on line but there's something about seeing the pieces in person and in life-size that makes all the difference.  Plus you can take pictures close up of whatever details you want and from odd angles. 

I haven't uploaded my pictures yet, so these are all from the Getty's website, but will give you some idea of what's in the collection and what I found particularily inspiring:

A Portrait of a Woman as a Cybele is quite large and striking.  I like how she has her palla draped leaving one arm bare, and the crown/diadem on her head (though that might be what sets her apart as a cybele).  Something about her pose in the gallery was quite relaxing and natural.  She just seemed comfortable, sitting there with her little critters.

Leda and the Swan not cloths, but her hair is pretty and for some reason I just love this piece.  It's not huge in person, but strikingly beautiful and amazingly well preserved.  Probably my most favorite sculpture in the villa.
Faustina the Elder another way to wear a palla, this time much more modestly.  In person, it looked like the palla was tucked into the belt of her tunica somehow, which made me feel vindicated as I have done that myself to control the inside end of palla.  I also like the hair piled up on top of her head.

Muse what you can't see from the museum's picture is that she's got her hair in a ponytail!  The gallery this statue was in had several other muse's in it and at least one other was also working the ponytail look, which made me very happy.  They both looked to have hair that hung to just below the shoulders, maybe the middle of the shoulder blades at the longest.  Very cool on several levels, though again since it's a muse and no a portrait it's hard to say if a normal person would ever wear her hair that way.
Roman Necklace this was probably my most favorite piece of jewelry in the collection, it looks like something you could get today in a better jewelry store.  They actually had a reproduction of it in the museum store ($250, which isn't really bad at all).  They have a pretty good collection of jewelry and such, which you can look at here.  Lots of rings, but there are some of lovely necklaces and burial diadems as well.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Waffle Towels

I managed to finished the waffle towels just in time to get them washed (to bring up the waffle weave texture and pre-shrink them)  and photographed before I had to get everything packed and ready to go for the surprise visit to California for my mom's birthday.  The actual surprise will be at lunch time today, then we're going on a boat to watch the fireworks from the water.  One of the nice things about being born on the 4th of July is everyone makes a big fuss about your birthday!

Anyway, here are the towels.  I used cottolin from Webs, working at 24 ends per inch.  This was my first experiment working with an actual pattern (which I modified a little bit of course!) and working with stripes of color.  I did change the stripes, adding more colors.  The original pattern would have just had the outside red stripe and one less cell of waffle in between.  I wanted to add more colors to go with her kitchen so I added the yellow and brown.  Once I get everything on the loom I realized it would have looked better with brown in between each stripe, not just in the middle, and that the whole striped section should have been placed another couple of cells in from the edge, but oh well.  Next time. 

The other interesting (?) feature of the towels is the hem.  The pattern called for a one inch band of tabby weave at each end of each towel to make the hem.  Which is all well and good and sounds just fine, until I realized that waffle weave draws in more on the loom than tabby does, and also shrinks up a huge amount more than tabby does.  This is what gives it the fun waffle texture.  So the band of tabby ends up making a weird wavy shape and sort of deforming the whole shape of the towel, which is pretty obvious in the pictures but not as bad when you see them in person.  Very annoying.  Next time I do this pattern I think I will leave off the tabby hem.  Or possibly double up the weft somehow so it draws in a bit rather than fanning out.

In other news, both of the supportive gowns I was working on for myself are totally done.  Yay!  I still need to get pictures, but that will have to wait till I am back home and I can get someone to photograph me in them.  I'm not going to be able to go to Pennsic after all so there won't be any event action shots for quite awhile (probably post-surgery).  I'm very happy will how they turned out and my ability to fit the things on myself. 

I also fixed my green hose, it turns out the major issue was having cut the foot portion on the bias.  One of the extant hose that I had based the pattern on was done this way but it turned out not to work well with the combination of my foot and fabric choice.  Turning the pattern piece back to the straight of the grain and taking the toe in a bit help tremendously.  Now I know I can be a lot more aggressive in my fitting of the hose and it will still be fine.  In fact it will fit better if I fit it more snugly to begin with.

The fundraiser project is going well (pictures, again, will be coming after I get home next week).  I'm doing more fitted gowns.  By all reports the client is very happy.  The supportive undergown is nearly done, I just have to finish the hem and sew in the eyelets.  There will be buttons and button holes down the sleeves, but the client is casting the buttons herself so that is going to have to wait till she has done the buttons.  I've brought that with me so I can hopefully get the eyelets done while I'm visiting with my parents this week. The overgown is cut out (except for the sleeves) and should go together pretty quickly.  That will be a button-front gown with modest trumpet sleeves, again with hand-cast buttons.  I've still got to do hose and a shift, which should go pretty quickly, then it's all done!  I'm hoping I can get her to wear a veil at least for pictures, even though that's not really her thing.  It will complete the whole thing so nicely.

It looks like my next project will also be a commission, this time Italian.  I'm  in research mode, trying to decide how long I think the various parts will take and how best to construct things so the client will (a) be comfortable (b) be supported in the gown and (c) be able to get dressed on her own, all the while looking like she stepped out of a portrait.  It looks like the gowns she likes close either down the side or in back, which makes putting on the supportive layer yourself next door to impossible.  So I'm thinking and plotting and coming up with options.