Wednesday, May 28, 2014


Bright-Ass Yellow 18th Century English Gowns

I've been obsessed with bright yellow 18th century (and Regency) gowns for awhile now, and yet I still don't have one. The marigold hue is swoon-worthy, but also intimidating, but now it's time to finally go there, with my own BrightAssYellow English gown.

I've already ordered this fabric from Puresilks:

Puresilks - model code TAFBIN69

And I'll be using this pattern from Larkin & Smith:
Larkin & Smith

Here are my inspiration images of English gowns / Robes a l'Anglaise. For the sake of not burning your retinas with *too* much sunny glory, I'm restricting my show-n-tell to just English gowns today, but there are *gobs* of other garments - sacques, caracos, redingotes, robes a la polonaise - in all shades of yellow, too.

Indicative of just how popular this color was, the one 18th century gown held at our local textile museum here in Nevada is, you guessed it, BrightAssYellow. That may not seem so special until you know that this collection is made up of only pieces with Nevada provenance...and Nevada became a state in 1864! (I'm prohibited from showing images of this gown, but I can assure you it's wonderful.)

My primary inspiration piece, from Kerry Taylor Auctions, c. 1770s (click through for more views)
Snowshill Collection, National Trust, c. 1750-60
Snowshill Collection, National Trust, c. 1750-60
Museum of London, c. 1743-1750
The Met, c. 1776 - a much softer yellow with a lovely floral motif, and lovely narrow back pleats.
Snowshill Collection, National Trust, c. 1770
KCI, 1770, with fabric from the 1740s
V and A, 1774 - this has a different pleating pattern on the back, and buttons for looping up the skirt.
The Met, 1780-85. This one is a Robe Retroussée, an English gown (Robe a l'Anglaise) with the skirts pulled up like a Polonaise, but there is a clear waist seam and pointed back. The back is not pleated en fourreau on this one - it's a later style.
You can see all my English Gown research images, yellow or otherwise, on my Pinterest board here.
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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Buyer's Guide to 18th Century Cotton Floral Prints

One question I receive a lot is, "where do I find appropriate 18th century floral prints?" I realize that it's taken *years* to source these out, so to save you time (and maybe some money, too), here's my personal, non-exhaustive, go-to list of vendors selling floral 18th century prints in cotton.

I've sorted them by price, though some of these are sold in lengths other than yards (such as the Dutch chintz and the curtain panels), so prices may be a bit deceiving (in either a good or bad way).

Most of these shops have LOTS of other designs and offerings (Reproduction Fabrics, Colonial Williamsburg, and Wm. Booth Draper, for example), so be sure to click through to see the whole range. Many of the shops also have silks, linens, and wool for sale. Links to the shops are listed at the end of the post, or you can click on each fabric swatch image to go directly to that fabric (and consequently the shop)


Dutch Quilts fabric - € 4,75 or approx. $6.48 per 25 cm or $23.70/yard - does not include shipping
Reproduction Fabrics - $10.50/yard
IKEA - Stenort Duvet cover - $49.99 full/queen, one-sided. Enough to make a gown.
IKEA - Hassleklocka Duvet cover - $24.99 queen size, double-sided, enough to make a gown and petticoat
**IKEA retires and introduces difference duvet textiles regularly, so if the two above are no longer available it is still worth a look at the Ikea website to see if any new 18th century style textiles are available.

Reproduction Fabrics - $11.00/yard
Reproduction Fabrics - $11.00/yard
Reproduction Fabrics - $11.00/yard
Discount Fabrics USA - $11.81/yard (price may change)
Colonial Williamsburg "Brandied Raisin Chintz" $14/yd
Colonial Williamsburg "Fanny's India Floral Cotton" $14/yd
Colonial Williamsburg "Francis Open Floral Cotton" $14/yd

When it comes to historical accuracy, the Colonial Williamsburg reproduction fabrics are *the best.* They're excellent quality, very reasonably priced, and are made from original textiles, many in the Williamsburg collection. See all of the Colonial Williamsburg fabrics here.

Fashionable Frolick on Etsy - $16.50/yard
Discount Fabrics USA - $17.81/yard (price may change)
Waverly "Felicite" Curtains - $19.98/2 84x50" panels
The famous Waverly "Felicite" curtains are available in ivory, red, black, and in yardage from Joann's also in blue, and ivory/green. *Note: The Joann's yardage may be heavier than the packaged curtains from Lowe's. Be sure to avoid heavy upholstery weight or even medium weight cottons - you want lightweight.

Wm. Booth Draper - $35.95/yard
Wm. Booth Draper - $39.95/yard
Wm. Booth Draper - $39.95/yard
IKEA - Ingmarie Curtains - $39.99/2 98x57" panels
Duran Textiles - no price, but tend to be expensive (see how to order link below)
Duran Textiles - no price, but tend to be expensive (see how to order link below)
In the future, some of these fabrics may not be carried by the vendors, so here's a list of each shop (and a few more) so you can click through and search on your own:

p.s. I am unaffiliated with all of these shops. I don't get any kickbacks for any of these links.

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Monday, May 19, 2014


The Beginnings of a Little Pierrot Jacket...Finally

This weekend I knuckled down, found some motivation, and did some honest-to-goodness historical sewing.

I've had this gorgeous Colonial Williamsburg print since 2012, but it's taken me this long to make it into something. Always having had a pierrot jacket in mind, I intended to get it done for this year's trip to Williamsburg, along with 923109210 other things, but it was not meant to be.

Well now's a good time, right? On Saturday I washed and dried the fabric and lining, while working up a basic 2-piece bodice from the historical bodice sloper I toiled over several months ago.

On Sunday, I cut the pattern out in the cotton lining. Pinned together, it fit perfectly, so I stitched it together at the side and back seams, and began mounting the back of the pierrot in  pleats fanning from the waist. In hindsight, this wasn't the most efficient use of the limited fabric I had, but it appears to be working out fine for yardage, and I'll have enough to do the long sleeves I want, and create the self-trim ruffle on the bodice tail.

The pleated back - left is sewn down, right is draped and pinned.
There is quite a variation in pierrots, in the ways they transition into their tails particularly. Some have waist seams, and the skirting is attached separately. Some pleat into the tail, like I've done here. Some feature the back and cutaway front ("zone front") all of a piece. I wanted to recreate the look of this back panel...
...but I didn't quite realize the pleated back extended around to the front before I hacked off my excess fabric from the back, so I ended up with a side seam. I'm not bothered, but it's something to remember for next time.

The bodice front, with the 2-part "zone" completed (but un-trimmed) on the right.
I made good progress, and everything is fitting nicely, so I hope to have this jacket done soon. Where to wear? No idea! Maybe the Bastille Day Picnic in July...
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Friday, May 16, 2014


Introducing the New "Georgiana" 18th Century Shoes, And How to Dye Them Perfectly

Today, after years of re-development, I'm happy to announce that "Georgiana" 18th century shoes have returned!

"Georgiana" was the first American Duchess shoe style ever, but after we sold out of our first run, I wanted to make some changes based on customer feedback, and my own experience working with the materials.

18th century shoes

Years later, we finally got it right. It took several factory changes, overall improvements to our craftsmanship, and hunting down the right materials, but now I'm very happy with the second generation Georgies, and I hope you will be too.

The new Georgianas are made of dyeable cotton sateen, lined in leather, with thick leather soles. They have a more elegantly pointed toe, straight side seams, and round latchet shapes that place them nicely in the 1770s-1790s.

18th century shoes

The dyeable fabric has been a real challenge. It turns out that dyeable satin is incredibly hard to source, and very difficult to work with. I spent months looking for an alternative, and found this wonderful sateen, a slightly glossy 100% cotton textile that is easy to work with, looks great as-is, and also takes the dye *perfectly.* Instead of me just telling you, though, I thought it best to show you...

Dyeing Your New Georgiana Shoes

What You'll Need

The Georgianas are ready to be dyed out of the box. Be sure to put down some paper or a cloth to protect your surface, put on gloves, and set aside 20 minutes of uninterrupted time.

Starting at the back seam of the shoe, I applied the dye with the wool dauber, moving around to the toe quickly. Use the paintbrush to get in any little crevices. Do not over-saturate the fabric. Adding more dye will not darken it.

Start at the back seam and move around the entire shoe. Leave the heel for last.

Dye the heel last. Use a small paintbrush to get in the small areas.
You want to dye the shoe in sections - so the quarters and latchets, then around the toe and tongue, then the other quarter and latchet, until you have gone all the way around the shoes from back seam to back seam. Dye the heel last. Make sure you do the entire shoe without stopping - stopping halfway through will result in spots or streaks!

Cock the latchets so the dyed areas aren't touching.
When you're done, place the shoes apart and place the latchets edge-to-edge so that no dyed part of the shoes are touching. Allow them to dry overnight.

Spray those puppies with Scotchguard
Once completely dry (24 hours +), spray the shoes thoroughly with Scotchguard, or a similar fabric protector spray. This will not distort the color, and will keep them from spotting if they get wet. Spray the inside a bit as well, as some of the dye may have soaked through.

The finished Georgianas, dyed blue to match the stripe in the dress. Shown with Fleur buckles.
And that really is it. There's no "dye creep," no having to "chase" the dye, no lightening or darkening of the color. You literally just put it on and it dries exactly the same way, with a wonderfully consistent result. With nearly 200 colors to choose from, you can dye your shoes to match *anything* in just 20 minutes, creating a completely custom pair of 18th century shoes just for you.


  • The Georgies have not been tested with any other kinds of dye besides International. We do not recommend any other kinds of dyes, especially hot dyes that require rinsing - use these at your own risk.
  • Shoes that have been dyed but not sprayed with a sealer can be dyed again, but only a darker color - example: dark purple over light blue, or black over yellow.
  • Shoes that have been sprayed cannot be dyed again.
  • The dye can soak through the lining in some places. Be sure to spray the outside and inside of the shoe with the Scotchguard. Test to see if any dye will bleed onto your stockings by running a damp cloth inside the shoe (after you've sprayed them!).
  • For instructions and more in-depth information on dyeing your fabric shoes, see our Information page here.

18th century shoes dyeable
The finished Georgianas, dyed blue to match the dress.
Can you imagine the possibilities?
Purchase your pair of Georgianas at

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014


My New Old WWI Blouse

Last month, directly after our annual Titanic Tea, I went a-hunting on eBay and found this lovely blouse. I'm sure with more research I could date this to a more specific year, but until I look at it more closely, I'll put this one in the middle of the 1910s - more specifically, 1915-1917.

Edit: Thanks to reader's comments, I went inspecting the interior finishing on this blouse, and have confirmed it is NOT antique, but from the 1970s/1980s instead! I admit I was fooled, but actually I feel a lot better about wearing it now. The style is certainly similar to 19teens blouses (as you'll see below), so I do intend to still wear it with 19teens ensembles.

Edit 2: After inspecting this blouse even further, I'm not convinced it is 1970s. The interior seams are overlocked with cotton or linen thread by what I'm confident is hand, but not ALL the seams are overlocked. My guess is that somebody stabilized or repaired this antique blouse at some point after its initial manufacture. Other parts of the blouse, such as the type of fabric and interfacing, bone buttons, cut, and finishing point to it being much older.

So my final verdict:

I just don't know.

I haven't had the blouse cleaned or pressed yet. I've paired it here, just for photos, with a blue wool skirt - not period (probably 1950s, but could be much younger), but has lines similar to later 19teens skirts.
It's silk, thin but in quite good condition. It's very blousey and is meant to fit loosely, paired with the appropriate skirt. It seems like a versatile style - could be worn with an earlier, slimmer skirt, or a later, fuller skirt.

What you can't see in the picture is that the back is gathered to a twill ribbon tie, which comes around the front, to corral the blouse - very Edwardian
Here are some similar blouses shown in period:

1916 - via
Woman's Home Companion, Summer 1916
McCalls, 1918 - the blouse on the right
Past Patterns #9025 - Ladies' Blouses of 1915. Original pattern from The New Idea Pattern Company. The blouse on the left is very similar, especially the cuffs. (click through for pattern information)
Past Patterns #9056 - Ladies' Waist, c. 1917. Another New Idea Pattern Company, and very similar to the above waist designs, and my antique blouse.
I love wearable antique garments (though I know the wearing of such things can be controversial in the community). There's nothing quite like an original - no matter how I try, my modern version are just never the same. They may look the part, but they don't feel the same to wear. I'm greatly looking forward to the next event I can wear this to!
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