Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Louisa's Costume - Fabric

Following on from my previous costuming post, I gained some information on how to create my own fabrics that would have a small enough pattern at this scale and resemble period fabrics and patterns and also how to better drape them.

One option from Marina Salume: " I have a book about making miniature draperies—the fabric is pinned in folds, then sprayed with starch or even “super Hold” hair spray. You can also soak the fabric in diluted starch, then drape over a form and let it dry"

I found a method using gelatin to weigh down chiffon and  make it easier to sew:-

"Gelatin Your Chiffon"

Also some more information from Meg Wilcox on the appearance of Louisa's dresses in the photos and how they were probably made:-

"I looked at photos of LMA today, and she's definitely corsetted in all of them. She might not have particularly liked corsets, but she wore them, just the same. Her dresses and hair-dos are very fashionable. It was interesting to learn more about her! The pattern that you found on archivedotorg looks very much like one of the dresses in her picture! Did you notice how her "front hair" was crimped? Very stylish. I particularly like the one of her seated at her desk, with the ruching all over her dress. It has a "watteau" pleat, that starts at the shoulder in the back, which is why the back looks so bulky. The bodice would be fitted underneath the pleat, in an homage to the 18thc sack-back robe a la francaise. Very up to the minute for the 80s. Butterick put out patterns at this date, and there are a couple of watteau backs."

In addition I queried whether they would have worn knitted and crochets clothes?

"They definitely did wear knitted and crocheted things. Almost everyone was expected to know how to knit, including men and young children. There are often patterns included in the magazines I mentioned on the main post. These can be challenging(!) for modern crafters, because they didn't use the same nomenclature that we're used to, but experienced knitters with determination can do it. As with most things "Victorian", nothing is simple, so the patterns usually include decorative stitches. Check on Ravelry to see if some smart, generous person has "translated" and tested patterns for us. I haven't been called upon to assign knitting from this period to our staff; they keep busy with 1860's Spensers (short knitted jacket/sweater) and Sontags (sleeveless cross-over vests)."

A conversation with James Carrington lead to some useful background info :-

"No brand name but a good hunt should produce cotton curtain lining, shiny on one side dull on the other. Easily dyed. Calico is firm originally from Calcutta, hence the name corruption, and dressed with China clay before chintz printing. Do you have a John Lewis store anywhere near you? They always have a great selection of pure cotton voices, muslins and linings. The alternative is habotiai silk which I've always used. I get white 12 momme (the official weight of silk) and dye or print my own."

And then more on printing your own fabric:-
"Printing on natural fabrics is so easy. You need Bubblejet 2000 and freezer paper. I get both from George Weil who are brilliant. Soak the fabric in the liquid and hang it to dry. Then iron the fabric to the shiny side of the paper. Not the paper to the fabric. Then print it on an inkjet. Does fade of run when wet. You can do solid colours then choose a pattern from Word and match the main colour with checks or stripes."

Thanks again to Meg and James and the IGMA community!

See the next post on costuming for my experimentation with printing my own fabrics...

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