Thursday, 31 March 2011

1820 Toile Beginning

This is the first of my toiles that i shall be pattern drafting and cutting on the stand.
I shall approach the construction starting with creating the right silhouette with the undergarments, from there I shall start cutting on the stand the bodice and skirt while flat drafting the basic two piece sleeve shape. The lattice decoration I shall leave until last to complete.

The undergarments I chose from the store are relatively appropriate for the time period and although i tried to get them as accurate as possible, this was not entirely achievable with the stock in the costume store, so I decided to look more at what shape they would create under the garment rather than them being completely historically accurate. I had trouble with finding a petticoat with the right shape that was also a good fit so I selected one that was accurate and slightly larger and tacked it in place onto the corset. This also helped it stay in the high waisted placement for my 1820's toile.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Toiles Choices

My final decisions on the shapes and time periods of the toiles I would be producing were decided with Dexter with the intention of developing my learning as much as possible and having different challenges from each. Therefore we have chosen 3 very technically different patterns of garments from 1820, 1852, and 1873, meaning I also have a good range across the time period. I will be confronted with very different silhouettes that will require different cutting skills that relate well and quite broadly to the century and will hopefully develop my learning as intensely as possible, having a week each for the half toiles and 2 weeks for the full toile.
This garment should be a nice introduction to the project, relatively simple in its silhouette it must also be very defined. It also has the complication of the intricate tabs and lattice effect across the bodice and top of the sleeves. As a garment from earlier in the century I shall be learning how to create the empire line and see how this works with the undergarments and changing level of the waist.
This garment from the middle of the century has a completely different silhouette and shall prove challenging  in its shape but also with the amount of pleating involved. The pleats in the skirt are tiered in size and must be aligned to sit and look right which will be one of the main challenges as well as the very even pleats of the front of the bodice. There is also the interesting feature of the inner sleeve with a bell shaped cap over the top which could be flat drafted or draped.

This garment from near the end of the century is an interesting mix of styles, somewhat between a polonaise and the princess line. It will be challenging to create the the long fitted shape and to try and create the rouching of the skirt with tapes, techniques which I will not have experienced with the previous toiles. As I am completing this last toile fully, there will also be the added time consuming factor of piping most of the decorative elements which will put pressure on me to work with speed while producing quality work.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Padding the Mannequin

I decided to pad a mannequin to create my toiles on because it gives the mannequin a much softer and flexible shape so the undergarments will sit more like they would on a human figure. It allows my to pull the corset in and achieve the right curves that a hard mannequin would not provide. The mannequin I padded to fit a friend so it will have close enough fit for photos of my final full toile.
This is Jen whose measurements I am using to base my padding of a mannequin on.
I was pleased with the final result of padding out the mannequin, it wasn't very time consuming and achieved a very similar body shape to the friend I had measured. I chose a mannequin with much smaller dimensions so I could pad it up with a lot of wadding to get a softer body shape that could be pulled in a lot by the corset. I measured my friend with and without the corset on to replicate her body shape first with the padding and then with the corset on top to get it as close as attainable.

I am planning on using the same mannequin for all my toiles. This is because of the limited stock in the costume store and the time consuming process of fixing the right underwear, also the corset shape did not change massively throughout the century and I will be able to achieve the appropriate shape by changing the skirt undergarments to achieve the right silhouette.

Research Evaluation

As one of the aims I set myself in my brief was to develop my knowledge of the 19th Century,  I spent a lot of time conducting and gathering a large amount of research for this project, enough to create a large file of images and patterns. This was a very hand reference tool that I will keep it for future use and hopefully add to. Having the abundance of images was really helpful when it came to analysing undergarments in the costume store and seeing which would create the right shape for the period of my toiles. 
The days we spent looking at original 19th century garments at MoDip and The Hampshire Museum was fascinating, and although I don't think it will influence my pattern cutting directly, the reference images I have gained from it and being able too see first hand the different types of decoration and ways of construction I think was invaluable. They also have helped to increase my knowledge, especially with having such an interesting guide as the costume assistant at the Hampshire Museum who passed on lots of interesting and quirky facts about the period and the garment we saw. 
I think if I had more time I would have liked to go to a museum where the garments were on display on mannequins or models to get more silhouette shapes, with real garments, rather than just drawings, into my first hand research. It was hard to picture the fit of some of the bodices when they were lain flat and it would have been nice to see them in a more three-dimensional manner to be able to draw inspiration from when draping.

Research - Costume Store - Undergarments

We looked in the costume store at university to see what range of undergarments there were and which may be of use and would be the right shape for our cutting. We studied the corsets and crinolines and crinolettes. The choice was a little limited in terms of accuracy for each changing silhouette of the period so I have decided to pick the garments based more on their shape and adapt them using layers of petticoats and bum rolls to create the right shape for my toile. It was really interesting to discover properly what the costume store had to offer in terms of undergarments and this morning had definitely expanded my knowledge of how the different structural under garments will work on a mannequin and what will create the right shape and how I can adapt this to fir my needs.
This short crinoline would be a day undergarment and is much like some we saw at the  Hampshire Museum service, and like those could be dated to suit some of the 1850s silhouettes with petticoats over the top.
This crinoline I've judged to be a shape from around the 1860s although I could also use it for an 1850s piece with its wide base. Petticoats would have to be placed over the top to soften the hard edges of the hoops and create the nice soft shape to the top fabric.
I have had to take a guess with this crinoline and suggest the shape may be from the 1870s and worn with a back volume, flounced petticoat. I thought this because it is relatively slim and only tapers a little at the back. I may use this for a later piece as it gives a nice silhouette and could even be a good shape for a princess line dress or something similar if I choose drape one.
This bustle I have dated from research to be of the period around 1880 when the fullness of skirts moves to the back. With the flounces this undergarment would make the dress protrude a lot and would give quite a full bustle. The volume of this could also be adapted by shortening or lengthening the tapes that sit inside.

National Theatre Blouse - Example

As well as my 19th century cutting on the stand I shall also be making a 19th Century Blouse for the National Theatre Hire Department. I shall be cutting the piece from pattern pieces the National Theatre have supplied and using fabric and accessories like the buttons and lace braiding that the supervisors of the project have supplied.
These are my photos I have taken on the example blouse and shows what I shall be striving to achieve a replica of. 
Overall the blouse has a very delicate feel and is very feminine. All its decorative elements are quite fine and understated but as a whole give quite an impact. I shall try to reproduce this by paying close attention to my stitching and make it as accurate as possible. 
The pin tucks and braiding are a key area, which I need to spend as much time as needed, getting straight and even in width and distance apart. It is also imperative the braiding is straight and matches up as it will be all to obvious if not and will spoil the whole look of the garment.
The collar is another prominent feature that will have to be sewn in correctly and with care to get the defined shape around the neckline. The pleats here also need to be accurate and even to get the pristine finish the National Theatre is looking for.
The small amount of gathering at the shoulder is subtle but must be even either side and fall across the same area width of area to make the sleeves look symmetrical.
Attaching the braiding will have to be done before the cuff is put together as it runs into the seam and the stitching is not seen through the inside of the cuff.

The cuffs will be bagged out the same as the collar, joining these to the rest of the blouse will be a question of following the same technique as the National Theatre and top stitching over the edge or possible machining one side and slip stitching the other which may produce a neater finish for the heavier fabric which I will be using.
This insert in the sleeve I will have to be careful creating as it involves cutting into the sleeve to create the opening for the placket that runs inside. Again I will have to ask whether this is to be top stitched the same or finished with slip stitching.
The button stand of the blouse has not been very neatly finished on the prototype and I should think that I will be required to double turn it to hide the raw edge and strengthen it.
The button holes I shall be doing myself and will make sure they are evenly spaced and are not too obtrusive on the overall effect of the blouse, and are just the right size for the buttons. I will probably do this on a domestic machine to achieve a delicate finish.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Research - Undergarments from the period

This section of research is necessary as it is important to know what undergarments were used to give the different silhouette shapes of the 19th century. It shall also help inform my choice in which undergarments to put on my mannequin while cutting for the different styles throughout the period.

This image shows quite well the changing silhouettes throughout the nineteenth (and twentieth) century. All would have been supported by different structures and shapes of undergarments and these are essential in creating the shapes I need for my toiles.
Image from :

Corsets; 1831, 1862, 1879, 1880, 1886 from Dress and Undress, Ewing. E.
These corsets I compiled together show how the shape of the corset does not vary dramatically  through the century, excluding the beginning of the century where bust improver's were worn. The length and style varies but not particularly the overall shape.
1890s bodices. Dress and Undress, Ewing. E.
Later in the century as the fashion was beginning to change, and under garments were becoming less restrictive, heavily boned bust bodices were worn. As I am not producing a piece from this late in the century I shall not be using this type of undergarment it is however interesting to compare silhouette with that of the corset.
Petticoats and crinolines; 1800, 1830, 1858, 1868, 1872. Dress and Undress, Ewing.E.
It is interesting to see here the changing shape of skirt throughout the century and where the volume changes from around to the back.

The silhouettes created by these different undergarments are dramatic and I find interesting the different draping and manipulation techniques required to cover these structures. I hope to learn some of this during my project and also learn more about how the different undergarments work together, for pattern drafting but also my general costume knowledge. I was interested to see that the corsets did not change dramatically in shape as the skirts had done, although some were more restrictive and tightly laced. I also researched into petticoats, and found they were worn on their own with a bustle earlier in the century, and then over crinolines later on, to reduce the hard lines of the boning and give a softer effect to the skirts.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Research - MoDIP Historical Garments

In a studio session we had the opportunity to look at some 19th century garments that had been donated to AUCB's Museum of Design In Plastics (MoDIP). This was a very engaging session and allowed me to look at how the garments were constructed and get a feel of the materials as well as proportions and the way they were constructed. It was a really useful session as it gave me an insight to the reality of the clothes, rather than just seeing them two dimensional in pictures. It was really great to be able to touch the garments (with gloves on) and turn them over to look at all the details and construction inside.

This exotic looking bodice I have dated around the 1850's, it being almost identical to one found in Nancy Bradfield's Costume in Detail, Womens Dress .It is not boned  and has signs of heavy wear, with sweat patches inside and possible watermarking on the silk top fabric. I was quite surprised at the extravagance of this piece and would love to see what skirt accompanied it.
This bodice I would guess is around the later 19th century possibly 1880's. It is quite plain with only a small gathered collar with lace as decoration. Its well worn nature and hand stitched repairs on the sleeve and underarm suggest it may belonged to a working to middle class lady.It was originally boned but the boning has been taken out. The boning channels sat along the seams on top of the seam allowance. It is interesting to note this construction method and how the lining has been sewn as one with the top fabric with the seam allowance on show inside.

This pin tucked chiffon bodice was particularly beautiful and in good condition. It is thought to be part of a bridal outfit.  A particularly interesting feature was the fitted inner sleeve and how it worked holding the position while the large chiffon top sleeve created the balloon effect. The boning remained in the bodice and the waist strap  can be seen clearly. This was in most bodices to prevent the bodice from rising up when bending over or sitting. The technique of having the supporting, hardy under lining and the light chiffon (or muslin) on top seems to be a relatively common technique and one I may have to use in my toile construction.

This dress was unusual as its pleating of the skirt was a-symmetrical having one side much more pleated at the back than the other. We thought this may be because of the pocket however we couldn't find a good explanation as to why. It was quite a simple dress that had a cotton lining through all of the skirt and the sleeves, this was probably for warmth and suggests it would be a day dress. The faux fastenings of the buttons can be seen in the lower to photographs.

Research - Hampshire County Museum Service

A visit was arranged to the Hampshire County Museum Service just outside of Winchester. It was a very useful day and a great opportunity to get some primary research looking at the 19th century clothes they had in their collection. The pieces were in very good condition, making it easier to imagine how they were worn in the period. The Museums costume assistant who ran the day was very helpful and knowledgeable and enhanced our experience on the day, being able to answer our questions and providing interesting histories about the clothes and the period.
1860's dress with gathered and padded front panel. Has later period style of  flat front to skirt with  pleats and gathering  at the back, would be worn over a crinolette. The decoration of this bodice I find is its most interesting feature, I do not find the gathering decoration particularly attractive in the colour of the fabric and the blue clashes with the colour quite a lot. The shape of the sleeve is unusual being notably wider at the elbow than at the cuff. I do not think I will use any features of this dress but it is interesting to see the different elements in their real form.

1850's corset, had few bones at centre back and was mostly corded. It has a large rigid wooden plate at centre front to help keep shape. I imagine this would have been particularly uncomfortable as the rest of the corset is quite flexible.
This corset was thought to be a young women's corset as it is small and only has a slight under bust support. It was a well kept specimen and had delicate lace decoration. 
1870's corset, this was thought to belong to an more mature lady because of its larger size and being very heavily boned, there was not much of the fabric that did not have a bone channel and it was a particularly heavy undergarment.
Here is a working class corset, it is quite a rare example as not many clothes of the working class of the period survive as they were worn out, handed down, sold or the fabric reused to make something else. The corset is less boned for flexibility, and cost, of working or manual labour, and quite thick meaning it would have been warm and generally quite comfortable to wear.

It was very informative to see some actual corsets from the period, to get a better idea of the varying shapes but also to see their construction and decoration. It was particularly interesting to see how the more heavily boned corsets, how much structure was required of the fabric and how it bumps and curves when laid flat. I would have loved to see the corsets worn to get a proper idea of their shape and what effect they had on the silhouette.
 I was most fascinated by the working class corset, having not seen one before, and how it was very functional as well as being a fashion statement. Quite thick and bulky, the corset seems very practical and I would have liked to see how it would sit under top garments. 

1835 dress, presumed to be a maternity dress as has opening at front.  Has sloping shoulders of early period with gigot or leg-of-mutton sleeves popular in the late 20's and early 30's of the century. The skirt was created with tiny cartridge pleats and fastened simply with hook and eyes without faux-fastening buttons. It had tiny, delicate piping on all of its open edges like the neck and centre front and also in the inside seam of the sleeve.

This dress I find to be one of the most engaging in its form. The sloping shoulders and mutton sleeves are classic of the period and bring fashionable elements to what should be a practical garment, as a maternity dress. I love the shape of the mutton sleeves with the gathering and may produce some in my toiles. The tiny cartridge pleats are another interesting technique that I may come across in my toile research. The pleats were sewn to the waist band of the bodice with a small stitch in each pleat. 

1870's Princess line dress. Was not boned, but heavily structured, with panels and piping in a lot of the seams. The two tone fabrics enhance the shape of these panels and the decoration. The princess line was a dress shape that had no seam between the bodice and skirt. 

This style of dress has a lot of impact and  is quite a statement, possibly being an evening dress, because of its train, of a monied ladies day dress. I particularly enjoy the way the shiny and slightly more matt fabrics are played off against each other, and accentuate the lines of the panels. This would be an interesting dress to create and no doubt a challenging one with its numerous panels and decoration.  
1878 Horse hair bustle. Wicker structure with padded front that would stand out when the bustle was bowed. This undergarment was, like many, able to be stored flat with the ties would hold the the structure in place when it was bowed. It would be held in place by ties around the waist rather like a backward apron.

It was nice to see an original bustle in its horse hair form, as the recreations I have seen have only been with ridgealine and calico. It was a lot stiffer and of rougher fabric than I imagined and didn't seem very much like a feminine undergarment, or been very comfortable to wear.
This bodice had an unusual curved pin tuck front that i thought was particularly interesting with its S shape velvet panels that run down the front. The small  pocket at the front for a pocket watch was another delicate feature.

The shape of the panels can been seen clearly in this bodice which may be useful for my pattern drafting. The decorative elements are quite unusual but really beautiful and i would like to try the panel shapes if they are suitable with what I am producing.
1860s child's bodice and skirt. Children were dressed much like the adults of the period. The bodice displays the popular V-shape of the fashion at the time with attention to detail in the double piping and matching of the stripes of the fabric. The volume of bustle at the back was created by ties, one from opposite side seams and three vertically. The skirt may have been worn over a crinoline or crinolette but also may have been worn on its own or with a petticoat.

I find the feature of the ties to create volume in the skirt interesting as it is a simple solution to an elegant decorative feature. As I understand this was a widely used technique to create this effect and I would like to experiment with it if given the chance, depending on the patterns I choose. I think the technique to create the right shape and volumes, would take a little practice, and I may produce a skirt after the project to experiment with this.
The emphasised V pelerine on this bodice has the added detail of pin tucks. It is identical front and back with leg-of-mutton sleeves that are separate at the elbow creating a striking difference in volume.
It is possibly from the 1840s although the V shape bodice was popular through the century. Although it could also be later due to its strong lines of shape and quite controlled mutton sleeve.

This is another V-shaped pin tucked bodice however the shape of the sleeves give it a very different silhouette. The tight fitting sleeves with the high slightly puffed shoulders suggest it is from later in the century, possible 1880s or 90s. It is interesting to relate the pin tucks on this piece to the blouse I shall be creating for the National Theatre, of which are the same size (5mm). The tiny pin tuck seems to be quite a fashionable technique although I do find its placement on this bodice a bit odd.
This is a beautiful example of a crinolette which would have been fashionable from 1867 to the mid 1870's, it had binding around its scalloped edge and was fastened with buttons at the front and a draw string around the waist. The lacing that can be seen inside was to adjust the shape of the structure and also allowed it to sit flat for travelling and storage. The crinolettes were interesting as they came along with the growing air of more freedom for women, and were reported as being more freeing for movement and easier to walk in than the previous crinolines.
This type of crinoline appeared in the late 1850's. It was suggested that this would be more of a day-wear crinoline as it is quite short in length. The hoops are made of sprung steel and the tapes a heavy cotton. It has much the basic shape of any crinoline and would have been worn under petticoats which would have softened the steel hoops.
This Thompson crinoline shows a different style to the hooping and was again thought to be a day-wear item because of its size and width and the amount of hoops. The Thompson company were popular English makers of crinolines.
Late 19th century liberty bodice. This undergarment had no boning but was still heavily structured with cording, however without the boning it was quite flexible. It was seen at the time as a liberating garment, freeing women from the compressing nature of corsets. This was a garment worn like a corset to give support, but was also a popular garment for children with the idea of keeping warm like a vest. It was still a very structured and probably would not be comfortable by today's standards however I imagine after a lifetime of corsets this garment was probably quite liberating
All my images are of garments from the Hampshire County Museum Service's collection, I thank them in being kind enough to assist in my research.