Monday, April 29, 2019

, ,

A Little History of ... Hamilton / Schuyler 18th Century Shoes

New American Duchess "Hamilton" / "Schuyler" 18th Century Shoes for men and women.
Next in our line up of new men's (+ women's) styles are the beautiful "Hamilton" (mens) / "Schuyler" (womens) 18th century latchet shoes.

We based the Hamilton / Schuyler design on late 18th century examples in museums, such as this wonderful pair in The Met...

Shoes, late 18th century. The Met. 2002.537.2a,b These shoes are associated with William Cowper and are noted as being quite ordinary and typical of the time. 
...and, of course, the names were a given ;-).

This pair of men's court shoes from c. 1780 - 1800 are much fancier than the more common style from the same period, above. The Met, 2009.300.2179a,b 
Pair of shoes owned by Immanuel Kant. c. 1800. Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, i.0116.01
Gentlemen, you can wear these refined 18th century shoes for both day, evening, and formal occasions. They are sturdy enough for outdoor wear, with thick leather soles and a short, 1/2 inch heel. Pop any of our buckles on for various looks - we highly recommend the men's reproduction Dandridge buckles for a blingy late 18th century look.

Ladies, if you portray working class, cross-dress as a gentleman or soldier, or just want a low-heeled 18th century option, Schuyler is for you.

A very typical drawing of a working class woman wearing a simple pair of latchet shoes. Rather generic, low-heeled latchet shoes with varying sizes of buckles and latchet straps are shown throughout most of the 18th century - you could reasonably stretch the time period for Schuyler quite a ways for a working classic impression. Royal Collection Trust, Paul Sandby, after 1752. RL 14332
Hamilton - Men's sizes are 7 - 12 with half sizes and a men's standard D width.
Schuyler - Ladies' sizes are 6 - 10 with half sizes, and 11 in a women's standard B width.

There *is* crossover between sizes. You can translate the sizes using this handy chart here...

(example - if you normally wear a women's 9.5 extra wide, you can order a men's 8)

Read More

Friday, April 26, 2019

, , , ,

Meet our New Theatrical Footwear Line!

American Duchess Spring/Summer 2019 Theatrical Line
We are trying lots of new things this year in shoe-company-land. For years we have (rather unexpectedly) supplied historical footwear to the opera, ballet, and theater, shoeing many fantastic performers in all sorts of productions from Broadway, to university theaters, to community stage.

This was quite by accident. When I started American Duchess in 2011 it was to make shoes for reenactors and costumers. It never entered my mind that the entertainment industry also needed accurate shoes. I will admit I didn't know anything at all about the unique needs of Broadway...until last Spring when I went backstage at a popular Broadway show and got a real talking to by the associate costume designer on what we were missing in our shoe designs.

Long story short, that conversation (and a lot of research) has developed into our first theatre-specific line. We've worked in quick rigging and flexibility wherever possible while sticking to the historical shapes and flavors that make an American Duchess shoe special. Here's a bit about our first new styles...

Follies T-Straps

The Follies T-Straps in tan by American Duchess - modeled here by the incredible Bathtub Ginnys in New York City. Photo by Jane Kratochvil
These are our basic-but-baller character shoe. The Follies are an all-leather t-strap with unsealed sueded leather* flex soles with short shanks.

American Duchess "Follies" T-Straps in black
Follies have a buckle strap, but we have also sourced quick-rig hardware for productions who like to use the hook method for fast backstage changes. Additionally, the t-strap loop is elastic where it attaches to the cross-foot strap, which will wear without stretching out for much longer.

Follies on Follies - Bathtub Ginnys perform in American Duchess "Follies" T-Straps in New York City. Photo by Jane Kratochvil.
The Follies heel is our wonderfully-balanced 2.5 inch Spanish heel. They come in standard black and medium tan. These are great for dance and performance, but can also be worn as a general 1920s era shoe just all the time.

Garrick 18th Century Theatrical Shoes

In a quick-change setting, there's just no time to unfasten and re-fasten your authentic 18th century buckle shoes. The solution? Velcro!

American Duchess "Garrick" 18th Century Theatrical Shoes - quick rigged and flexible with faux buckles.
Our Garrick 18th Century Theatrical Shoes feature a velcro latchet closure with a pair of gold slide buckles included. These falsie buckles slide onto the top latchet and easily stick in place.

Additionally, Garricks have hidden elasticated sides under the latchet seams, unsealed sueded leather* flex soles with short shanks, comfy toe boxes, and a curvaceous and stable 2.5 inch Pompadour heel.

Velcro straps and slide buckles, paired with elastic insets and flexible sueded soles make Garrick the quintessential theatrical shoe for 18th century productions.
Garricks come in black or dyeable ivory leather. They are extremely flexible, accessible, and attractive.

A bonus of the Garricks is that none of the quick-rigging is visible from the outside. Those with arthritis, limited mobility, and other difficulties will find Garricks a beautiful, comfortable, and accessible option for all sorts of 18th century costuming, dance, presentation, and performance.

A peak inside Garrick Theatrical 18th century shoes - you can see the elastic insets here, invisible from the outside. These, along with the short-shanked flex soles, allow these unique shoes to flex and point.
Bernhardt Theatrical Victorian Boots

The last of our theatrical offerings this season is the incredible Bernhardt boot. We've created an all-leather, curvaceous Victorian style boot with a roomy toe box, 2.5 inch Pompadour heel, and the appearance of a fully laced-up style benefiting from the interior side zipper for quick and easy on-and-off.

Bernhardt Victorian Theatrical Boots by American Duchess - quick rigged with an interior zipper and round elastic laces.
The Bernhardts also have the unsealed sueded leather soles* paired with rigid shanks, a roomy toe box, and a tight fit through the ankle (it's all in that back seam curve, yo). The elastic laces allow for flex and stretch when dancing, and also aid in the perfect fit.

Interior side zippers get these bodacious Victorian boots on and off quickly.
Lacing up a pair of boots with 15+ sets of eyelets is time consuming and inaccessible to many with arthritis and mobility issues. Bernhardts, like Garricks, are splendid for easy dressing and look wonderful and discreet beneath your petticoats.

American Duchess "Bernhardt" Theatrical Victorian Boots - va va voom!
We hope you're as excited about the new theatrical line as we are! Remember, while these shoes are made for the stage, they are certainly "real" footwear and can be worn all the time.* We put as much care, attention, design, and love into our theatrical shoes as our historic reproductions, and you'll find the same level of quality and comfort.

*For outdoor wear we highly recommend either applying rubber (or having it applied at a shoe repair), painting your soles with an acrylic-based sealer, or regularly applying mink oil conditioner to the soles to keep water from soaking in. Unsealed sueded soles are epic for dancing, but it's important to keep them away from the wet, as the raw leather is absorbent. The above treatments will help your shoes last much longer for outdoor wear.
Read More

Monday, April 22, 2019

, , ,

A Little History of...Albert / Bertie Regency Pumps

Zack Pinsent for American Duchess
This season we're very excited to launch our new men's styles....which are also women's styles!
One of our most basic and versatile styles is the Albert / Bertie pump. We based the Albs on several extant pairs of men's court pumps, but this style is also great for ladies late 18th century and Regency impressions.

Albert / Bertie pumps come in both men's and women's sizes, and are accurate for c. 1790 - 1820

Portrait of Nicola Chatelain, 1791, by Johann Friedrich August Tischbein.
A pair of gentleman's kid shoes, c. 1800, in buff colored leather. Christies.

A pair of mens shoes - the museum dates these to 1840/60, but footwear historian Nicole Rudolph confidently dates these to 1814-1820 based on toe shape and other factors. 
The Alberts / Berties are made in lovely black calf leather, lined in leather, with bound edges and a little vamp tie. The soles are leather as well, and you'll find these shoes comfortable and beautiful whether they're pair with knee breeches and stockings or peeking beneath the hem of a day gown.

An example of a women's shoe in this simple style - V&A, 1810-1820, T.385&A-1960
Another women's example from The Met, c. 1810. 11.60.203a,b

The men's sizes are 7 - 12 with half sizes. Men's standard width is "D" width. Gentlemen, you can wear these pumps accurately with daywear, for formal occasions, and dances.

Albert / Bertie Regency pumps for men and women
Ladies, your sizes are 6 - 10 with half sizes, and size 11 too. The women's standard is "B" width. Ladies, you can wear these accurately with daywear and for dancing as well.

There *is* crossover between men's and women's sizes. Here's a handy chart...

We hope you love the new Regency pumps as much as we do!

Pre-order is open
April 18th - May 10th

Le Beau Monde, May 1807. Regency World,

Read More

Thursday, April 18, 2019

, ,

Pre-Order is Open at American Duchess

Wow, where do we even start! There is so much new stuff this season!

You won't want to miss these! Men's and women's sizes for pumps, flat 18th century latchet shoes, and Hessian boots.
New MENS collection

We can all credit Albert Roberts for convincing us to finally (finally!) explore the world of men's historical shoes. We have three offerings from the last quarter of the 18th century and into the Regency period...

Albert Men's Georgian Pumps (1790 - 1820) - perfect late 18th century into Regency pumps to wear with stockings and breeches. Suitable for both military and civilian impressions. All leather with top edge binding and a vamp tie.

Hamilton Men's 18th Century Shoes (1770 - 1820) - Refined and elegant, our 18th century latchet shoes are lined in leather, have a common sense heel, and a sturdy leather sole. Hamiltons are the gentleman's shoe of choice.

Hessian Men's Georgian Boots (1790 - 1830) - The quintessential gentleman's boot of the late 18th century, Mr. Darcy and Beau Brummel would approve. Hessians come nearly up to the knee, feature the curved top, tassels, and slouched vamp seen in originals, and are suitable for military and civilian impressions alike. THREE calf sizes available - measure the broadest part of your calf, over your stockings and breeches.

Have a look at the new late 18th century men's shoes, also available in women's sizes!
These styles also work very well for ladies, so we're offering them all in women's sizing as well. If you've been yearning for a flat pair of walking shoes and 18th century latchet shoes for working class impressions, you can purchase these styles in your normal size. Cross-dressing and cosplay also benefit from these styles.

Bertie Ladies' Georgian Pump (1790 - 1820) - pretty little black flats with vamp tie and almond-shaped toe. These can be used for both day and evening and are a little more substantial than a basic ballet flat.

Schuyler Ladies' 18th Century Shoes (1770 - 1820) - Georgian era flats that work for a broad time period. These close with 18th century shoe buckles, have almond toes, and sturdy leather soles.

Linden Women's Georgian Boots (1790 - 1830) - tall Georgian boots with square toes, *tassels* and the fashionably slouchy vamp. Wear them for riding/hunting impressions, in cross-dressing, or with jeans this Fall because dayum they are that sexy. THREE calf sizes available.

Check out our entirely new line of performance-specific shoes.
New THEATRICAL collection

While we've often supplied historical footwear to operas, theaters, and other productions, this is our first stage-specific collection, featuring quick-rigging, flex-soles, and versatility in design. We have three offerings for our first Theatrical release...

Bernhardt Theatrical Victorian Boots - A great basic late Victorian design comes with an interior zipper paired with elastic laces for a perfect fit. You'll find our stable and curvaceous 2.5 inch French heel paired with a generous toe box, and well-fitted ankle.

Follies T-Straps - An excellent character shoe, our open-sided t-straps have unsealed flex soles (they're bendy!), well-balanced 2.5 inch Spanish heels, and an elastic loop on the strap to prevent stretching out. Quick-rig hooks in matching colors are available to purchase with the Follies (unfitted).

Garrick Theatrical 18th Century Shoes - Iconic Georgian style with none of the fuss. The Garricks have velcro latchets for instant on-and-off. They come ready to wear with gold slide buckles, and the ivory leather is dyeable. The Garricks have a comfortable toe box, our 2.5 inch Louis heel, and hidden elastic insets paired with unsealed flex soles for excellent danceability. Wear these incredible shoes for both performance and mobility-accessible costume shoes.

Gorgeous Garricks in black leather with gold faux buckles and Louis heels.
**All of our new theatrical shoes have unsealed leather soles. They are perfectly wearable and functional as all-the-time, off-the-stage shoes. We do recommend treating the soles with Mink Oil or having a rubber half sole applied at a shoe repair if you plan to wear them in wet conditions, though.

New REGENCY booties!

We have one new ladies-only release this season - the new Emma boots in bright red and Federal blue.

These new Regency boots are ankle-height, have round soft toes, and flat leather soles. Dress them up with rosettes on the toes, fringe around the top, you name it. These pretty little boots are perfect for c. 1800 - 1820.

New "Emma" Regency boots in blue and red - the blue are shown here with clip-on rosettes in ivory, also available in our shop!

Read More

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

, ,

How to Scale Up Gridded Sewing Patterns with Adobe Photoshop

If you've been into historical costuming for any amount of time, you will be familiar with many a book featuring gridded (or scaled) sewing patterns. The Tudor Tailor, Patterns of Fashion (all of them), Period Costume for Stage and Screen, and The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking all have gridded patterns...but little to no information on how to scale these up.

There are a number of ways to scale up gridded sewing patterns. The most direct method is to plot the points on a 1 inch square piece of paper (buy large grid paper pads or draw your own on butcher paper). I've seen others use projectors. My particular favorite method, though, is to use the power of the almighty computer, and that is the method I am going to show you below...

How to Scale Up Gridded Sewing Patterns in Photoshop

1. Scan in the gridded pattern you wish to use. It's important that you get a good, straight scan with no distortion. Open the scanned file in Adobe Photoshop.

Open your scanned pattern in Photoshop. I am using the 1780s cap pattern from The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking in this example.
2. Using the selection tool, draw a box around 4 grid squares. Right click and select "copy" ( ctrl-C).

Select 4 of the grid boxes and copy (ctrl-C)
3. Create a new file (File > New). When the new file box comes up, it should have the dimensions of the copied portion of the grid already in place. Click OK.

You don't have to change anything on this new file box, so long as you copied the four squares - it gives the dimensions of the copied portion automatically.
4. The new file will open with a long, skinny aspect ratio. Paste the 4 squares (ctrl-P).

5. From the "Image" dropdown menu, select "Image Size."

6. The Image Size dialog box will open. Under "Document Size" in the middle, set the document width to 4 and make sure the unit measurement is "Inches." The 4 corresponds with the 4 squares you selected earlier.

The "4" in "width" corresponds with the four boxes you copied earlier
7. Still in the Image Size dialog box, click the dropdown arrow next to "Width" in the Pixel Dimensions box (the top box). Select "Percent." The number in the "width" box will change - write this number down. In my case the number changed to 206.19.

The "1200" in this screenshot changed to "206.19" after selecting "percentage" here. Write this number down! You'll need it later.
8. Going back to your scanned pattern file, click the "Image" dropdown menu at the top and select "Image Size."

9. In the Image Size dialog box, click the dropdown menu next to "Width" in the Pixel Dimensions box (at the top), and select Percent. You will see the number in "Width" change.

Once you select "percentage" the number to the left will change. It won't match the earlier 206.19. You have to do that manually in the next step.
10. Change the "Width" number to the percentage number you wrote down in step 7. Click OK.

11. You will see the file auto-scale. This is now at actual size and the grid boxes should be 1 inch.

How to Print Your Gridded Pattern

12. In order to print out and use your pattern, select "File" from the dropdown menu at the top, then "Save As."

13. In the Save As dialog box, select "Photoshop PDF" from the Format dropdown menu. Rename the file and save it.

14. Now open the PDF file in Adobe Acrobat.

13. Select "Print." Set the correct Printer at the top (if you have more than one), then click "Poster" under Page Sizing & Handling. This tiles the image. Under "Tile Scale" it should say "100%" and there should be about a 0.005 Overlap. No other adjustments need to be made unless you want to play around with the cut marks, labels, or paper orientation. Click "Print."

Check these four places in your Adobe Acrobat Print dialog box.
14. Before you print the entire tiled document, print just one of the pages and check the scale against a ruler. Make sure those boxes are 1 inch. If they're not, make sure your printer scale is 100%, and/or revisit the scaling instructions above. Once you're happy, print the entire document.

Print one page out on paper and check the printed grid against a ruler. It should measure 1 inch by 1 inch exactly.
Final Tips and Thoughts

For a small cap pattern like this, it took only 6 sheets, but dress patterns can take many, many more. Tape the sheets together, overlapping the edges and getting the grid to line up in both directions.

Most gridded patterns in books do not have seam allowance. There may be enough space to add it on the taped-together pattern, or you may add it as you lay out and cut your pieces on fabric.

Lastly, simple patterns like caps don't need size adjustment, though you can certainly reduce or increase scale in Photoshop before printing. Dress patterns, on the other hand, are usually taken from real women's clothing and are not a one-size shot. Your pattern will need adjustment. Some of this can be done in Photoshop prior to printing, but in all cases, you'll want to do a mockup and futz from there.


While this is not the only method, it's one of my favorites. Please note I'm using Photoshop CS6 in this tutorial. Newer and older versions of Photoshop may have some functions in slightly different places, but generally speaking the Image > Image Size dialog box hasn't changed much in a very long time.

I hope you find this tutorial useful!

Read More