18th Century gorgeous-ness.

So, a few years ago when I was about half way through my Costume Degree I decided to take a trip across the UK and visit as many Costume Collections as I could. Some eluded me because of refurbishments and opening times mainly however; it took about a month but I saw some amazing things, met some wonderful people and thought I would slowly start to share some of the amazing pictures I collected along the way with you.

waistcoat1

 

1700-20 Waistcoat – Fine linen top and coarse linen underneath, quilted all over with cream 20 ply silk in back stitch. Design of small feathers and ‘rose window’ marguerites threaded with twisted sheep’s wool. Ground of small lozenges. Fronts curve away – slashed at sides and centre back. Sleeveless. 9 eyelets over sewn for front  [Stomacher is missing] lacing.

The first is this simply stunning Waistcoat, still my favourite piece from any collection I have seen (and I’ve seen many around the World!) however; I hadn’t noticed its awe inspiring beauty until the Curator, Althea Mackenzie, lifted the piece and the cold blue light of the mid-morning sun illuminated the expert craftsmanship.

waistcoat2 waistcoat3

We had been gazing at Quilted Petticoats from the late 1700’s at the Wade Collection for some hours, and this piece was just one in many but it still resonates with me. I have long been a fan of Quilting as a decorative form- having been taught to sew through Patchwork and Quilting- and this is the finest example of that I have ever had the pleasure to be in the presence of. A Ladies waistcoat, dated 1710, with subtle flaring and two slits at the back to allow for the fullness of the skirt, this is just longer than hip length and the curve at the front would have also slightly flared out over the skirts. Gorgeous.

Similar to a Gentlemans waistcoat I have cut of the same period, I long to re-create it for myself! It is exquisitely quilted, with hand worked eyelets and genuinely has to be one of the most beautiful pieces I have ever seen in my life. They really could make fabric do things I think we have now forgotten- the neckline would have gently but oh so slightly turned back on itself when wearing, as would have the bottom hem line under the lacing. The combination of Quilting and Backstitch also interests me, and I think contributes to the Embroidered feel. Lovely. There are more Quilted Waistcoats out there, Killerton holds a particularly stunning one which has a slight contrast colour in the stitching.

I have a storage box stuffed full of similar images, and I shall start to sift through them and share the unusual (burnt and blackened Corsets found in a Chimney and Thatch, which was a slight trend amongst the Victorians’!), the beautiful (some hand painted silk with the stencil still showing) and more. I shan’t follow a time line, but pick and choose as I please!

I do hope you find this as lovely as I do… any collections suggestions? I shall be travelling across Europe later this year and would love suggestions any where!

Happy stitching!

Notions: Pretty Lace Edge

lace edging 1 NEW

To achieve this pretty Lace edge detailing- ideal for Slips, Pyjamas, Lingerie or Skirts- first decide upon the Lace & measure the garment to ascertain the length needed. There are some beautiful, & colourful, Lace edgings out there & it doesn’t have to cost the earth.

Next, fold the wrong side of the material over to the right side, to form a narrow hem. Then fold the hem back again to the wrong side.

This should have formed two folded edges on the material as in the above illustration.

Sew the Lace edging to these folded edges with small overhand stitches however; be sure not to use this type of French Hem on a curved edge. This is due to the straight grain of the lace, which wont curve.

To machine stitch this edging, make the 2nd fold in the fabric at least 1cm deep. Tuck the lace in to the fold as deep as possible. Top stitch the folded edge of the material with the machine with care to sew beautifully straight.

Happy stitching!

Wordless Wednesday

From La Belle Epoque: Edwardian Fashion 1900-1914, the ‘Beautiful Era’ of Edwardian fashion currently running at Peterborough Museum until 6th May 2013.

Happy stitching!

Some interesting things to peruse. . .

Some of the following blogs I have only recently discovered, others I have been following for years. All of them do what they do incredibly well & I have come to use them as reliable resources when designing for film & theatre over the past few years.

Bridges on the Body

Bridges on the Body

This is a wonderful blog full or humour and insight. Challenged to make every pattern in Norah Waughs Corsets &  Crinolines, & no stranger to these patterns myself having made most in the book,  I’d say she is doing a good job so far. There are construction notes, cleaning notes, tutorials from a range of sources & some very good close up images of these corsets being put together.Well worth a look if you are attempting any of these patterns yourself as the book itself gives little or no guidance in to construction techniques.

 The Ornamented Being

A great resource for all things fashion history in the world. Using museum, personal, film & book resources Ornamented Being posts relentlessly about fashion, fabric, jewellery & her passion leaps from the screen. If I am seeking inspiration, this is where I head! Find her also at The Mended Soul her ‘virtual atelier’.

Past A La Mode: A Historical Fashion Site

A recent discovery in my never ending hunt for good fashion plates, this blog has many. Past A La Mode posts on any period in history with an emphasis on Victorian to 1940s & there really are some gorgeous illustrations and fashion plates/photographic plates included.

maedermade

Maeder Made

Documenting an exhibition from Edward Maeder in residence as a ‘pop up phenomenon’ in Mt. Airy, USA. I would encourage a look as most of his work re-creating historical costumes, is constructed from paper using his vast knowledge as museum curator, artist and ‘needleman’.

Please click on the pictures, or site names, for links to the original sites. I think you will agree they are a treasure trove of delights!

Happy stitching!

Notions: Gorgeous Vintage details

McCALLS Shell EdgeAnother of the little gems hidden away in my collection. I am simply dying to use this on a top & as I am teaching a Pattern Cutting Course at the moment, & have to draft a simple top as an example, I may just cheekily make it up with this snazzy little detailing… maybe in rows down the front? Or as an edging so the final line is the hem? Oh, the possibilities!

Happy stitching!

 

Notions: The Language of Patterns.

No doubt the sketch of the design on the front of the envelope will catch your eye first.

From McCall’s Sewing in Colour

McCALLS Understanding Patterns 1   McCALLS Understanding Patterns 2

A beginning seamstress may feel Einstein’s theories are as easy to understand as the intricacies of a first pattern. Here is a place where first steps should be taken slowly […] &, whether you are a beginner or an experienced home-sewer, every pattern should be carefully studied before you lay out your pattern & start to cut.

A pattern […], not only gives complete instructions for constructing the garment, but also suggests the proper fabrics to use & provides basic information on preparing fabric, adjusting the pattern, cutting, marking & sewing techniques.

No doubt the sketch of the design on the front of the envelope will catch your eye first. On the back of the pattern envelope there is quite a bit of information to digest. Beginners may wish to avoid certain design features such as gussets, long button front closings, complicated collars & intricate darting. These features may not be clearly shown in the sketch, but will be noted in the description. Use this information to judge whether the construction of the garment is within your level of skill.

From McCall’s Sewing in Colour

Other useful information detailed on the Pattern Envelope is a section on Suggested Fabrics. Here the manufacturer has listed what fabrics would best suit the pattern such as light weight cottons for dresses & shirts or heavier weight fabrics for jackets. It is incredibly important to follow these guidelines as they will have taken into account things like the drape &  fall of the fabric to best suit the design & silhouette of the pattern. If you do decide to use a different fabric you may create a silhouette which is entirely different from the one intended.

Once you have decided upon your size using the measurements you have taken, you can use the Yardage Chart to buy the right amount of fabric for your design. By reading down the column from your size, & across from the widths of fabric listed, the exact yardage/meter-age needed is listed. I always tend to buy a little more to be on the safe side. This enables me to make things a little longer if needed. When interfacings or linings are required the amounts will also be listed according to your size.

There will also be a section for Notions. A strange word, I’ll grant you! Notions covers any Buttons, Hook & Eyes, Zipper, Ribbons or Ties, & any other items you may need to complete your design.

You will save time by buying everything at one time, & it’s easier to match colour of thread, zipper, buttons & trims if they are all purchased at once. Be sure to buy all the notions listed. It’s frustrating to have to interrupt  a sewing session just to run out & pick up a forgotten item

From McCall’s Sewing in Colour

Don’t you just love these Vintage sewing books for their pithy & helpful yet slightly rude advise? Brilliant, & so very much more to come!!

Also, check out our publication Understanding Vintage and Modern Patterns, available now on Etsy!

Happy stitching!

Look what I’ve just bought!

I’m so excited!!

Vintage Sewing Book 1930's Underwear and Lingerie Ebook Parts 1 and 2 Huge How To

I’m planning some new courses & one of the ones I am desperate to run is a Vintage Lingerie course however; a lot of what I have learnt, & indeed a lot of my techniques, have been built up over so many years I have been worried that my teaching style for this would be a little chaotic & not very informative. In trawling Etsy this morning looking for pattern inspiration for this and a couple Vintage 40’s & 50’s Dress courses I found the above which is from a 1930’s book entitled Underwear & Lingerie. 

Apparently it is a huge how to of the time, & I am almost swooning with excitement! Don’t you just adore ‘a’?

I have also purchased a pattern for a 1950’s Pin-Up Bra (which is very similar to ‘a’ above), because I simply couldn’t resist!

I am also in the process off a rethink of my Corsetry course & just might whip up a 1950’s Satin Waspie & a cheeky little Ribbon Corset, for the students who don’t want the challenge of a complete corset, or maybe want to make something slightly more unusual…

Happy stitching!

Birthday sparkles!!

It is my birthday today!!

My gorgeous Fella has made Laura After Midnight all official & purchased my domain name… so now Laura After Midnight is a ‘dot com’!! I feel a little bit grown up!!

In other news, I have added a Custom Spats listing to my Etsy store… this means anyone can purchase any spats they like by buying this option & messaging me with their requests. How fancy is that?! I shall be adding more as necessary so remember to check back with my Etsy store… click the picture for the link!

Image

 

With that I am off to make a lovely cup of Earl Grey tea & eat far too much cake!

Happy stitching!!

Lots more to discover!

I have added the last few days worth of work on to Etsy, & I have to say that despite Midnight Heights looking like a fabric bomb has hit it I am very pleased!

I have finally worked out my Bloomers pattern & have made them up in Black with striped detailing and White with black detailing. I’ve done a little bit of research & I think they have just the right amount of design over functionality. I have tried to keep them simple whilst retaining a fun ‘costume’ feel & I think I have succeeded. I have still to make the knee length and ‘Bloomie’ version- little knickers but with bloomer fun retained!

Black Cotton Bloomers with Black & White Striped covered buttons & Binding detail. Click here to buy.

White Cotton Bloomers with Black Lace and Black covered button details. Click here to buy. Alternatively buy a set of two for a reduced price here.

I think they’re rather lovely! Look out for more new products over the next few days…

Happy stitching!