Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Rainbow threads

I bought a job lot of vintage thread on ebay recently, so adding them to my collection required a bit of rearranging.  It's the little things in life!

Monday, 7 March 2016

HSM - Tucks & Pleating - Victorian Straw Bonnet

Learning how to make hats from straw braid was a bit of a revelation for me, and it's a process I've come to really enjoy.

For this late 1830s/1840s bonnet, I first cut out the shapes for the tip, side band and brim separately in buckram.  The straw is mostly machine stitched directly onto the buckram, starting from the outer edge, and overlapping so that the stitches are hidden.  For the tip I made sure the straw overlapped the outer edge slightly, so that when it came time to sew the tip to the side band, I could hand stitch down the overlapping straw to hide the join.  I also finished the inner swirl by hand.

The buckram provides quite a sturdy base for the bonnet, but I also added millinery wire to the outer edge of the brim by ziggering it to a length of straw, then attaching the straw along the underside of the brim edge, sandwiching the wire in-between.

The bonnet is lined and trimmed with thin black silk.

Prior to attaching the pleated trim along inner edge
My initial hopes of getting my sister's Natural Form ballgown skirt done in time for this particular challenge didn't come to fruition, so this bonnet is my entry instead.  It's difficult to see the black against black pleating, but it is there!  To decorate the inner brim edge I cut a long length of black silk, box pleated it, then stitched down the middle and gathered it slightly to give it a bit of body.

The Challenge:  February - Tucks & Pleating
Material: Buckram/Straw/Silk/Millinery Wire
Pattern: Based on one of my tutor's (Jane Smith) self-made patterns.
Year: Late 1830s/1840s
Notions: Poly cotton thread
How historically accurate is it?   Hmmm, not very.  The shape is, but I used machine stitching to attach the straw & millinery wire.  The silk was all hand sewn on though.
Hours to complete:  Difficult to say.  The initial construction was maybe a day's work, then it got neglected for a year.  Adding the silk would probably have been another day's work if I'd done it all at once.
First worn:  In my house, I don't have anything to wear it with yet!
Total cost:  Approx £15-20 for millinery supplies, the silk was long term stash.

Tudor Hats: Part I

   I've just gotten round to photographing some of my hat projects, so expect a few more of these posts in the next couple of weeks.

   Over the course of last year I got really interested in millinery.  In the spring term at Morley College I took up the Victorian Straw Bonnets class, which is taught by Jane Smith, a well known theatrical hatter.  Afterwards I was lucky enough to get a near-enough individual class with her (there was one other student) when the Tudor hat class for the summer term at Morley was cancelled, so Jane agreed to teach us in her studio instead.

   I worked on three different styles; a gable, a french hood, and a dutch cap(?).  I'm not sure of the proper name for the last one, but it's based on the one worn by Anne of Cleves in her famous portrait by Holbein.  In fact all were inspired by wives of Henry VIII, as I used Catherine of Aragon & Anne Boleyns' most well known portraits for the other two, and tend to refer to them by the name of their wearer.

   As is my wont, Catherine and Anne Boleyn had been on the verge of completion for a couple of months after the course ended, but got neglected when I hit a busy working period.  Luckily I eventually got them both finished, so here's Catherine for your enjoyment.

   I'm fairly chuffed with the finished result.  I usually get bored of trimming, but with the Tudors it's a bit of a main feature so I couldn't shy away.  'Making of' photos were sporadic at best, but I've included what I have.  The gable front is made from two layers of buckram, with millinery wire sandwiched in between.  I attached all millinery wire with a zigzag stitch around the edge of the buckram.  This was covered in stretch velvet and fake pearls and gemstones for decoration.

   The main panel was also in wired buckram; bent into the correct shape, then covered in a layer of  cotton domet (to hide the buckram texture) and stretch velvet.  The light gold brocade was a lucky find in my scrap box that I think brings out the pearls really nicely.

   The stripey fillets inside are attached to the main frame (historically, I imagine they are part of a separate head covering (correct me if I'm wrong), but this is a theatrical piece and not intended as a true replica - as my choice of materials has probably already made clear!).  The fillets are made out of vilene, and the striped fabric is black crepe de chine with strips of gold braid sewn across.

The veil is a half circle of stretch velvet lined in cotton lawn.  The stretch velvet was great for covering shaped pieces smoothly, but a bugger for attempting to sew through on the machine, but I persevered.

Stay tuned for Anne Boleyn!