November 15, 2019

Weekly Writings II: Cast On, Weave Off

Wow, thank you for all of the encouragement on my last post - weekly writings seems to be a hit, or least something worth continuing!  

Weekly Writings for November 4th through the 8th, and a little beyond. 

This second weekly writings was meant to be last week's, but since it just needed pictures, I decided to finish it off this morning.  I'll be skipping ahead a week in the next installment, so stay tuned...Also, for the time being, I plan to only record weekdays, giving myself weekends off to catch up on editing, life, and, of course, more studio work.  So, without further ado, let's dive in - 

Monday, November 4th 

Continued the weekend work in the costume studio.  By this point in the semester, I'm used to spending Mondays and Wednesdays in the costume studio, and Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays in textiles.  Ask anyone in either studio, and they probably know me - I basically live between the two studios and have since I've come to Kent - it's the running joke here.  I don't often mind it though, and I take pride in being considered the "studio mom."  I swear I spend half of my time working on my own projects, and the other half either chatting, offering my critique/opinion, or assisting the newcomers.

I'll also throw in that I dragged a friend to see the Fall musical, Hair, with me on Saturday and it was definitely the best I've seen at Kent so far - congrats to the cast and crew!   

KSU's production of Hair, directed by Terri Kent
in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the May 4th Massacre
Photograph by: Kent State University's School of Theatre and Dance

Back to sewing:  Despite making some progress on my 1860s dress over the weekend, in a brief panic of only having four days until I leave for the domestic symposium, I decided to switch gears.  Regency working class here I come!  Going back to my comfort zone, I patterned a new short gown based off a few examples in my pinterest board:19th Century Short Gowns.   

I've always been drawn to working class fashions -
and the bold mixing of colors, patterns, and prints.
(Image via: Pinterest)

Inspiration for the bodice pieces.
(Image via: Pinterest)

Inspiration for the sleeves and skirt.
(Image via: Pinterest)

I made a mock up, corrected my pattern, and will be using a turkey red, striped reproduction fabric that I picked up at Zinck's Fabric Outlet.  I'd also like to make a new, checked apron too if there's time, but, per usual, this may be too ambitious...

Short gown mock up sans sleeves.
The waistline was raised by 1" in the corrected pattern.

Apron fabric (left), short gown fabric (right)

Lastly, I had fun practicing with diamond netting on the pinnable sewing tables.  Tomorrow in my dimensional class I'll probably begin the final netting sample.  

My first attempt at diamond netting - definitely needs more practice!

Tuesday, November 5th 

Today in the textile studio, I continued practicing netting techniques, including increasing, decreasing, and changing threads: 

I also began a circular net: 

Then, I took a break to darn a sweater for an art history professor.  There were seven holes, so it took a while.  Here's a helpful diagram for the next time you need to darn something: 
Diagram for darning holes from
"How to Mend Your Knits"
(Image source:

In the evening, I continued to work on my overshot sampling.  The following sample is woven with a 3-step gradient that I dyed with Pro-Chem's WF fuschia and WF turquoise for the pattern pick, and a gradient of 10/2 cotton yarns from melon to yellow for the structural pick.

More overshot sampling in progress.
Pattern weft: hand-dyed 2-ply wool yarn
Structural weft: 10/2 cotton yarn

Wednesday, November 6th

Back in the costume studio.  Aside from my regular class work and few chapters of reading, I began to put together my short gown.  

Fashion fabric is a reproduction cotton print, lining of cotton muslin.

Mostly finished the apron: 

The apron is hemmed, gauged, and ready to be attached to the band! 

And finished the night with the college late night skate, a weekly event that runs from 10:30pm to midnight.  We all need our hobbies, right? 

Thursday, November 7th

For dimensional, I finished my first circular net in class, and began the final sample (this time for a grade) which will need to be completed over the weekend.  

Netting samples: 2 circular (left and middle), 1 square (right)

Circular netting sample

Detail of circular net

The sample collapsed

For advanced studio, I finally finished sampling!  In total, the sample warp was 150", and I ended up with eight color studies.  

This final sample was actually woven to trade with another art student.
Paige picked two textured yarns, which had an interesting effect on the pattern.

After my ice skating lesson, I removed the completed samples and gelled the edges in preparation for Fridays' critique.  

Ready to remove samples - and that's a wrap! 

Friday, November 8th

Today's the big day - packing for the weekend and then studio in the morning.  Several of us had critique in the afternoon.  I received some good feedback and direction for my final project. 

Drove home to NY to see the Mom and the dog.  Looking forward to the 2019 Domestic Symposium this weekend - stay tuned for the post on this event!  

November 2, 2019

Weekly Writings I: Beginnings

Trying out a new style for my blog posts with the intention of a more casual, conversational format and journal-like entries for this week's works-in-progress.  I'd love to hear what you think of the change - and if I should continue!

Monday, October 28th

I began a new passion project - an autumn 1860s dress!  This will be a "nicer" day dress of a striped, reproduction cotton with shirred coat sleeves and velvet trim on the bodice.  The goal is to have it wearable by GCV's domestic symposium if I can attend, and finished for Thanksgiving.  Not sure if either will happen, but here's to's progress included assembling the skirt and preparing the hem facing for hand stitching. 

Materials: (top) dress fabric, (bottom) hem facing, (right) gold velvet trim.

Inspiration for bodice trim.
CDV of a young woman, c.1860s
(Image via: Pinterest, sold on Ebay) 

Shirred sleeves
(Image via: Pinterest

Another example of gathering on the sleeve.
CDV of Isa Vanfossen from Wellsville, OH, c.1860s
(Image via: Pinterest, sold on Etsy)

Tuesday, October 29th

Spent the day, 10 am - 8pm, in the textile studio.  In my dimensional class, we began our basketry samples.  Simultaneously wrapping, coiling, and stitching proved a challenge...I can see why basketry is an art!

Afterwards, I worked for my studio hours on an overshot sample.  Currently, I'm testing colors for my next, much larger project.  I dyed a four-step green gradient (ProChem's WF golden yellow + WF brilliant blue) last Friday for the pattern weft, which is crown colony 2-ply wool yarn.  The structural tabby weft is another gradient of 10/2 cottons, over a 5/2 cotton warp.  That's three separate color systems to consider - it's looking a lot like Fall on my loom!

Weft color systems:
Hand-dyed 4-step gradient of 2-ply wool for pattern picks,
(5 colors) 10/2 cottons for tabby picks

Progress on the loom.

It's almost impossible to tell, but there is a color transition
from light yellow to lime green in the structural or tabby pick.
In the next sample, I will probably make sure the color change is more dramatic.  

Plans for the rest of my night include (1) hand-stitching the hem facing, and (2) beginning my basketry project.  It's already 10pm, so we'll see how much actually gets done.  Our critique for all of the basketry samples is on Thursday, which is a crazy-fast turn around!

Wednesday, October 30th

I wrapped, coiled and stitched a thing!  It took forever and my hands will probably hurt for the rest of the week from keeping the tension...Thank goodness for Amazon Prime though - I watched all six episodes of the BBC series Aristocrats (1999), re-watched The Fabulous Life Of Elisabeth Vigee Labrun (2018), and listened to more musical playlists than I'd care to admit.  I also really, really want to sew all the 18th century things now. 

Basket in progress - here you can see I am wrapping a rope core with light tan wool,
and alternating color blocks of brown and puce-colored cotton yarns.

Here's the finished basketry sample: 

Not too bad for a first attempt, but I'm not sure I'm ready to be a basket-maker.  Bring on the circular and diamond netting next! 

Thursday, October 31st

Happy Halloween - wishing everyone a spooktacular day!

Today's #OOTD or outfit of the day featured my glow-in-the-dark spooky skirt, paired with a black and white striped shirt, clocked stockings, and pointy-toed flats.  I intended to write a blog post just on the spooky skirt (and a matching witch hat that I neglected to bring to college), but that will have to here's a preview picture or two:

Spooky Hat
(Materials: cheap velvet, wire, gauze, thread,
plastic skulls, hot glue)

Spooky Skirt
(Materials: glow-in-the-dark fabric,
interfacing, thread, metal skirt closure)

As for other class news, the critique of our basketry samples went well, and now we're moving onto netting.  Oh, and I began a figure skating class, which means of course I'm watching Olympic reruns and dreaming up skating costumes now.  Like I need more projects...

Friday, November 1st

Fridays are my textile studio days!  Not only do I have the graduate/advanced studio seminar (a meeting time for critique and discussing our weekly readings with Professor Janice Lessman-Moss), but every first Friday of the month, there's a visiting artist lecture at noon.  This week featured Wayne Gonzales, visiting artist in drawing and painting.

Afterwards, I spend the rest of the day working...sometimes I don't leave the building until 2 am, which makes for a long (16-hour!?! 10am - 2am) day.  I often do all of my dyeing on Friday nights (since I'm usually guaranteed to have the dye lab all to myself haha), but today I continued to work on sampling.  Here are the two pieces I finished this afternoon:  

Sample #5
Hand-dyed 2-ply wool and 10/2 cotton weft; 5/2 cotton warp.

Sample #6
Same hand-dyed 2-ply wool and 10/2 cotton weft
and 5/2 cotton warp as above.

The plan is to finish sampling this week, and critique at the seminar on Friday.  Then, I'll be planning and prepping for the final project.  

Tonight, I also had the chance to attend two MFA thesis show receptions!  I've had the privilege of getting to know both Nate (MFA in glass) and Erica (MFA in jewelry/metals) through a few textile courses, and it has been an honor to weave side-by-side with such talented artists.  I will miss them both, and wish them all the best in their careers and continuing artistic practices!  

Nate's glass weavings are incredible!  These few pictures of my favorites from the show do not do them justice.  To see more of his work, please visit his website here: Nate Avery Glass

Glass weaving by Nate Avery, MFA.

Glass weaving by Nate Avery, MFA. 

Glass weaving by Nate Avery, MFA.

Erica's multimedia body suits are equally inspiring and just fantastical!  Her woven pieces often feature an array of found materials, and her transformation of "trash" or plastic bags in this costume is beyond words.  On a more personal note, the textiles studio will definitely not be the same without her - she's been so kind and supportive of my own work, in class and late nights at the loom, I will really miss her.  Luckily, you'll find her and be able to follow her work over on Instagram @eurrrca

"Chaosmomalia" body suit by Erica Hoosic, MFA. 

"Chaosmomalia" body suit by Erica Hoosic, MFA.
All of that weaving! 😍 

All in all, a wonderful way to end the week.  See you in the next weekly writings! 

August 27, 2019

Extant Garment: An Embroidered Petticoat

Having recently made another over-the-hoop petticoat for my mid-19th century wardrobe, I thought this exquisitely embroidered extant example from the Point Park University Collection would make for a wonderful 200th blog post - enjoy!

A mid-19th century embroidered petticoat with scalloped hem detail.
Point Park University Collection

Before diving into a brief background on mid-19th century petticoats, specifically those meant to be seen under a morning dress or wrapper, I'd like to share a little story of happy coincidences.  When I began this blog, one of the main goals was to document the experiences of my costume internship where I deconstructed and reproduced an original 1870s wrapper.  Two years later, I published my 100th post which celebrated the completed project; and now, as the 200th post, we're full circle once again with an extant garment intended for wear under a wrapper.  Some posts are just meant to be! 

Historical Context

The term wrapper refers to a semi-fitted or loose dressing gown that women would often wear in the morning or evening over undergarments.  While often following the details of fashionable dress, these garments were considered informal, best worn in the privacy of ones home "for breakfast, or in the exercise of domestic duties," as explained by Florence Hartley in her Ladies' Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness, first published in 1860.  In fact, Hartley continues, stating that wrappers are "not suitable for the parlor when receiving visits of ceremony in the morning," unless an acquaintance "call[s] at an unusually early hour, or some unexpected demand upon [the lady's] time makes it impossible to changer her dress after breakfast" (27-28). 

Often fastened from the top at the neckline to the waist only, the skirts of the wrapper could be worn open to reveal a decorative underskirt.  As Hartley suggests, wrappers made with "handsome trimming, open over a pretty white skirt, may be worn with propriety" (28).  Extant examples of this fashion from my pinterest board: 19th Century Wrappers, as well as the following period plates and manuals clearly illustrate the popular pairing:

Blue wrapper trimmed in brown silk
The Graceful Lady: Underpinnings - Including Wrappers

Interestingly, this next piece was advertised as an original, "wearable," "maternity wrapper," with an interior drawstring to fit the skirts at the back, while allowing for adjustments in the front to accommodate the figure.  It does have "tiny pearl buttons all the way to the hem," but is shown open from the waist down over a beautifully embroidered petticoat from the same period:

Civil War Era Wrapper
(Image via: Ebay)

As described in Godey's, 1859: "The [wrapper] material is of plaid cashmere, silk, or poplin, the upper part fitting closely to the figure, though the trimming is continued from the open front breadths over the shoulder.  It is of a broad embossed black velvet ribbon; and the same surrounds the loose wide sleeves; plaited frill of cambric about the throat; wide cambric undersleeves gathered into a band at the wrist, from which a plaiting turns back...cap of muslin and Valenciennes, with a torsade of ribbon; under-skirt of alternate tucks and embroidery."
Morning Wrapper from Godey's Ladies' Book, 1859
Google Books: Godey's Magazine, Volumes 58-59

As described in Peterson's, 1863: "Breakfast dress of lilac cashmere, trimmed with quillings of ribbon and large mould buttons covered with lilac silk. The skirt is open in front, and shows a handsomely embroidered and ruffled skirt. Cap of white lace, trimmed with lace and roses."

Fashion Plate from Peterson's Magazine, 1863
Los Angeles Public Library 

Here are a few more extant examples of the embroidered petticoats suitable for wear under morning wrappers:  All of them feature the elaborate eyelet or whitework embroidery commonly referred to as "Broderie Anglaise" during the period, which creates patterns through cut holes or "eyelets" that are overcast (or buttonhole stitched), as well as areas of satin stitched designs.

Embroidered Petticoat, 1860s
Notice the center front panel & scalloped hem -
decorated with "leaves, berry clusters, blossoms & 3 large birds"
Augusta Auctions, Lot 463 

White Cotton Hand Embroidered Petticoat, c.1863
Antique Dress, #7027

Petticoat, 1860-1865
Featuring "whimsical eyelet embroidery with birds, the form of which
is inspired by folk embroidery, and fruit on the vine"
Metropolitan Museum of Art
(Accession Number: 2009.300.3177)

Point Park Collection: Embroidered Petticoat 

And now to share the mid-19th century embroidered petticoat that I came across when I was given permission to study and photograph pieces from the university's collection!  (More details here: project background)  The following images may be shared and saved for educational and personal reference, only, and must credit the "Point Park University Collection" - thank you!

A Mid-19th Century Petticoat with Broderie Anglaise
Point Park University Collection 

At the height of fashion, luxury, and artistry, this hand-embroidered, cotton petticoat from the mid-19th century would have looked stunning when revealed by the open skirts of a morning wrapper worn by a lady of propriety.  Measuring 38" at the center front, the fullness of the underskirt is controlled with stroked gathers and attached to a 2" deep by 23.5" wide waistband:

Detail of the waistband with stroked gathers, front.
The waistband measures 2" wide by 23.5" long.

Five-petal flowers and climbing vines form the large, central motif and centers of each scallop along the hem:

Front panel embroidery.

Detail of a large flower motif and vines.

The petticoat measures 38" at the center front, and 39.75" at the center back.  The total circumference at the hem is 155": 

Full front view, measuring 38" at CF.

Full back view, measuring 39.75" at CB.

There is no evidence of closures (buttons or hooks and eyes), aside from ties that were cut off.  Also, the petticoat may have been deaccessioned from a museum as the numbers "20089/64" are written on the inside of the waistband:

Interior view from the back.
Possibly a deaccessioned museum piece with the
previous accession number at CF reading: "20089/64"

Around the hem, the embroidery measures approximately 7" from the topmost eyelet to the bottom edge of each scallop:  

Detail of the scalloped edge and embroidery at the hem.
The total petticoat circumference measures 155". 

Please visit the Extant Garments page if you're interested in more collection items, and feel free to leave a comment if you'd like to see more posts like this in the future - thanks for reading!   

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