I need a new sewing machine. I paid $99 for mine ages ago, and it’s temperamental on a good day. I believe there is something wrong with the tension mechanism, since it doesn’t seem to adjust.
I had an idea for a flopsy garden hat for the walk in the park, as opposed to a rigid bonnet. It’s affixed to the head with hat pins. The purpose of the hat is to protect the wear from the sun in a time before sunglasses. And it works. Looking at the camera required me to tilt my head up, and then squint. I suppose that to shield the eyes from the sun, the head couldn’t be lifted too high.
The hat is made out of items I had left over from previous projects: buckram, cotton/linen, 20 gauge florist wire (millenary wire would have been better), an extra 1/2 yard of lilac silk I bought from Joann’s, some left over ivory silk from my Venetian Courtesan chemise (see previous post), and 2.5 yards of antique lace I purchased in the fall. I sewed the ivory silk into a lined strip, gathered it into pleats and hand sewed it onto the hat. The sash was made with the lilac silk as well, and I sewed that by hand due to machine problems. It turned out well, but not without anguish and stress.
I trimed the arms with another lined piece of plum sash, which was basted on the body side of the top of the arm wrist, then tied it on the outside. I basted the bow in place.
I sewed another lined sash to tie around the waist, and sewed some large eggplant-colored tassels on the end. I wish I had made the sash a little shorter, since the large sash bow interferes with the view of the lovely back. But if that was the only mistake made, I am happy with the results.
Here’s what made up the dress, corset, bustle, and underclothes not included:
- 11 yards of plum silk
- 4.5 yards purple plaid silk
- 5.5 yards of lilac silk
- 1.5 yards of canvas for interlinings and hat
- 10 spiral steel bones
- ~.25 yards buckram
- 30″ 20 gauge florist wire
- strip of ivory silk
- Silk flowers
- ~3 yards of various antique lace
- Various findings: lots of cotton tape, hooks and eyes, hook and eye tape, etc.
Despite wearing all of that equipment, it’s not hard to wear. It’s far lighter than the previous red and black gown, primarily because the red and black gown employed something like 7 or 8 yards of velvet. The bustle I made moved more gracefully with this gown than with the red and black gown due to the lighter weight. There was less pressure on the back to shift forward.
Again, the dress does not translate well to car travel. It took something like 4 trips in and out of the car. I heavily ironed the pleats, so they didn’t need too much convincing to fall back into line. The bottom hoop wires and the hat are the biggest detriments to getting in the car. Getting out is something of a relief.
Acctually, I hated to take the gown off. It was right and comfortable, something about creating the silhouette, about being so supported, boned, and in place. It wasn’t stuffy or rigid. It was wonderful and beautiful, creating through movement and gesture, ever conscious of silhouette, location, and spatial relationships. One was aware of the dress, of how it helped and beautified, and how it needed to be maintained and supported. In a sense, it was like dancing.
What the dress is in complete antithesis to is club bumping and grinding, loudness, garishness. Expression must be achieved where the body shows: the hands and wrists, the posture, the neck, possibly the breast. And it needs to be subtle, and one needs to pay attention. As Balzac proposed, the dress speaks for you, and you have to move to coordinate with it to make it work. One looks ridiculous in jagged aggressive movements in a bustle and corset, so the conversation is soft and smooth by requirement. In opposition to the 20th century heroine, one moves and expresses to accomodate [the dress and silhouette].
When the photos were taken, a passerby mentioned to her companion “And to think they had to wear that everyday.” Maybe one could think the same thing though in the present tense about lots of people walking around today in unflattering, unmoving jeans that betray awkward gaits, clothes without structure that offer no forgiveness, or of the flocks of sparse garments of cheap fabric that give away interest as quickly and readily as they advertise it. Just a thought.
Fearing overspecialization, I don’t think a next project will be of a bustle.