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20 November 2017

Continental stays 2: The Garsault stays pattern

image from Garsault showing multiple views of stays pattern
M. de Garsault, Art du Tailleur
(1769), plate 12 (detail).
Source: gallica.bnf.fr / BnF.
The stays in Garsault's 1769 "Art du Tailleur" are of a very different cut compared to Diderot's 1771 pattern. Garsault's cut has a more comfortable fit in the lower back, and can be adjusted to improve bust support.

Garsault doesn't depict individual pattern pieces, but we can use his illustrations and written information to alter another pattern into his cut.

06 October 2017

Continental stays 1: Diderot à la Waugh

Waugh's Diderot stays pattern
Waugh's pattern in
Corsets and Crinolines, page 40.
Norah Waugh's classic book Corsets and Crinolines (1954, reprinted 1987) includes her "Pattern of stays from Diderot's L'Encyclopédie".

Comparing Diderot's plates to Waugh's pattern, I found that she'd not just resized it for real bodies, but also taken some liberties in redesigning the stays. Here, I'll describe some changes she made, and how they can be reversed for a more period accurate cut.

28 September 2017

(Pre-)shrinking linen

Some fabric dealers say their linen will shrink up to 10-15 % over the first few washes. Now, most extant linen garments have probably been washed several times, so if we use their precise measurements to sew an exact copy from unwashed linen, we'll end up with an item that will be smaller than the original once it's been washed—and probably disproportionate too, as fabrics shrink mostly in the warp direction. Did linen always shrink this much?
 

04 September 2017

Measuring linen

In the Western world today, we think in centimeters or inches. For sewing projects that don't involve fitting, it's easy to think in round numbers; perhaps different ones depending on if we prefer metrics or Imperial units. But European women in the 18th century and earlier probably picked other 'round numbers' than we do now.

27 June 2017

HSM #6: 'Metal' bobbin lace

My 'silver' lace, 2 cm (3/4") wide
Traditional metal bobbin lace is made from metal thread, which consists of a thin metal strip wrapped around silk thread. Today's 'metal' thread is wrapped with metallized plastic instead. (Experimental bobbin lace today sometimes uses solid metal wires, which is a completely different thing).

Metal lace is relatively coarse compared to linen lace, and typically uses simpler, non-figurative, designs. Heather Toomer explains in "Antique Lace" (2001) that the stiffness of the metal threads makes them unsuitable for complicated designs (page 119). Still, styles changed over time, just as for other lace.

12 June 2017

Fabric find of the year!

Close-up of today's find
Whenever I pass by my local thrift shop, I check out their fabric section. It's by no means a steady supply of fabrics for historical clothing, but considering how little I sew that's probably just as well. I've found vintage linen yardage there a couple of times, and today I found some really interesting fabric.

It's a pair of vintage window drapes, in a fabric imitating mid-18th century brocaded silk. All in all, I got 5 m (5.5 yd) of 110 cm (44") wide fabric for SEK525 ($55). Not super cheap, but a reasonable price for period appropriate fabric of a very unusual type. I'm especially impressed that they've even copied the use of a solid colored damask patterned ground, as seen in some period silks.

18 May 2017

Fabric samples book review

Quite some time ago, I mentioned a new book of mid-18th century fabric samples, intending to write a review of it. And now I've finally completed it.

This book is written in Swedish only; there is no parallel text in English like in "18th Century Textiles". This makes sense, as the samples are all from Swedish factories. Still, it includes a lot of samples from fabric types that may not be published elsewhere. E.g., many of the fabric names below are mentioned in "Textiles in America 1650–1870"—but without pictures.