Wednesday, April 29, 2020

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What Is a "Hedgehog" Hairstyle *Really*?

A lady sporting the hedgehog hairstyle - 1775-78. Gallerie des Modes, 44.1344
It is a truth universally acknowledged that all 18th century historic costumers, when we first start, quickly come into contact with the amusingly-named "hedgehog" hairstyle. And oh boy do we love our hedgehogs - the frizzed toupee and ponytail back are so easy to quickly create and embody the 1780s perfectly. I think we all love saying the name too...hedgehog. Hedgehog. It's just so darn whimsical.

But did you know the hedgehog, or "herisson," hairstyle, is older and more specific than just the frizzed 'do? There are distinct characteristics, so let's take a look at the ole primary sources...

The top two coiffures in this Gallerie des Modes plates are both "herisson" - note the ribbons and the spiky ends. 1776,, 44.1235 

In this 1776 plate the upper left is the hedgehog. Even more noticeable are the spiked-up end at the top, corralled by the ribbon. Gallerie des Modes,, 44.1243.

Another 1778 plate - the hedgehog is the lower left image - the hair is swept up and back and allowed to sortof fall over the back. It's kept in place by the ribbon, kindof like a headband that keeps the hair back. The hair would have to be cut to this specific length. Gallerie des Modes, 1778. 44.1249. 

The term "herisson" appears in Gallerie des Modes et Costumes Francaise between 1776 and 1785 and appears to be identified by the ends of the hair standing straight up atop the coiffure, encircled by a ribbon or band of some sort.

This combo appears on late 1770s very high sloped styles as well as 1780s frizzed or craped styles. The band is sometimes shown as a ribbon, but could also be pearls, or a string of flowers. For men no ribbon or band is worn, but the hair appears to be cut short-ish at the crown or toupee and creates the "spiky" appearance rather than being swept back smoothly into the chignon.

This lovely plate shows a couple Calches and Therese style hoods, and in the upper right the herisson hairstyle is mentioned. You can see the ribbon band, quite low on the coiffure, and indication of the end of the hair fuzzy at the top. Gallerie des Modes, 1776. 44.1265.

The lower right shows the hedgehog perfectly for 1776 - the hair sticks straight up on a donut-like cushion, and the ribbon is woven through it. Gallerie des Modes, 1776. 44.1291.

The upper right corner hedgehog style is banded with pearls and decorated with feathers and flowers in this 1776 plate. Gallerie des Modes,, 44.1292.  

One could even purchase a "bonnet a l'Herisson" to simply place atop one's hairstyle for added oomph. Literally a cap made of hair. WINNING! (this is my favorite thing ever I neeeeed to make one!)

Look at this madness! The lower left is titled "Bonnet a l'Herisson" - bonnet is the French word for cap. This is literally a hair cap. Just pop it on top and you instantly have a hedgehog! 1776, Gallerie des Modes. 44.1263
To achieve the "herisson" style today, it's so easy! Just pin a ribbon around the upper portion of your 1770s or 1780s hairstyle and let the ends be fluffy, even spiky uppy. Insta-hedgehog cuteness, and a fun little talking point for reenactments and presentations.

Here's a little live demo I did trying out a 1770s herisson hairstyle -

Hallmarks of the Hedgehog/Herisson Hairstyle -
  • c. 1776 - 1785
  • Some sort of ribbon or band tied around the hair
  • Ends sticking up or left fluffy - straight, curled, or craped.

As we turn the 1780s, the hairstyles are getting fluffier but still have the ski-slop shape. The hedgehog in this plate is in the upper right. Gallerie des Modes. 1780. 44.1459. 

Here is a later hedgehog from 1781 - the hairstyle is very craped and quite high. The ribbons still band around the top. Gallerie des Modes, 1781. 44.1510.
Here is the latest of the plates - 1785. The second from the left in the top row is labeled "Coeffure en Herisson" and has the ribbon ringing the top. It's fun to read the rest of the names of these hairstyles, too, because it shows the incredible diversity of romantic labels used for what we might assume is all the same hairstyle. Gallerie des Modes, 1785. 44.1609. 

It's easy to use the Gallerie des Modes plates because they are clearly labeled with names. We're not so lucky with portraits, of course, and often English fashion plates don't have names for things either. Now that you know the characteristic of the herisson/hedgehog hairstyle, though, you may start to identify it in portraits or prints. It's like a history treasure hunt!

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Thursday, April 23, 2020

Tuesday, April 21, 2020


Finished Vintage Dress UFO #2 - Simplicity 3280

Simplicity 3280 1939 dress in rayon faille
Two weekends, two finished vintage dress UFOs, and I have to say it feels *great* to pick up old projects and finish them! I hate waste, and I feel guilty abandoning things. I promised you two finished '30s dresses, so here's the second...

This is a modified princess-line dress. Those right angles on the bodice are tricky.

UFO #2 - Simplicity 3280 Original 1939 Pattern

This next frock started at least two years back firmly in that "quick, easy, satisfying" mindset, but I just lost steam on it and it lived in a plastic bag until last weekend. I am SO glad I pulled this rayon faille dress out and finished it, though, because I think it's my new favorite!

The only zipper I had of the right length and a not-white color was red,...but then I forgot how to put a lapped zip in! So there's a little peak of dark red on the side and to be honest, I don't hate it.
The original 1939 pattern was tricky with the right angles on the bodice. I won't say this is particularly well-made (don't look too closely), but it fits well and is quite flattering. I *love* original vintage patterns because they go together superbly well, are very easy to fit (this one had 3/4 inch seam allowance on the side seams - THANK YOU!), and somehow always, regardless of size, end up looking like the dress on the envelope.

Those right-angled princess seams are also on the back of the dress. One of the reasons I chose this dress to make way back when was because there isn't a waist seam. I have a long waist and at the time I didn't want to bother with adjusting and fitting the waist.
My favorite thing about this green dress is how versatile it is. Accessories can really change the look. I took the time to make a matching belt and finish all the little details I normally ignore or put off 'til never, like making the little loop and button for the neckline. These give options - open neck/closed neck, belt/no belt - and I do love having options.

I love how versatile this dress is. Here it is without the belt, no neck tie, and with matching shoes and a different style hat.

The dress is made in a wonderful pine green rayon faille. I had not-quite-enough to do this project, so there is some piecing on the front and skirt, but I don't even notice anymore. I appreciate the very simple but effective self-fabric decoration for the false pocket flaps. They're just square of fabric folded in half, offset, and stitched through the center. The '30s were so clever with economic trims.

Ironically, here at the outset of Spring and Summer, this is really more of a Fall dress, but that just means it's ready to go when we do get to my favorite season in a few months. :-)

I do love options!

Dress - Simplicity 3280 made by me
Shoes - "Maria" 1930s pumps in red and green from
Hats, Purse, Gloves - vintage
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Friday, April 17, 2020


Finished Vintage Dress UFO #1 - Simplicity 8248

Simplicity 8248 1930s day dress with alterations.
Reader, I must admit I am *terrible* at finishing UFOs - "unfinished objects." I have two sewing mindsets: I want something quick, easy, and satisfying -or- I want to nestle in to a long-term, complicated, hand-sewn project.

Unfortunately for the former, almost no make is as quick and easy as I want it to be when I start it, and they often end up in the UFO pile...a collection of bags full of pattern pieces, scraps, sometimes notions, shoved into every crevice of my sewing room.

And they almost never see the light of day again..........almost.

Since we're all tucked away at home these days, I wanted to do something along the "make do and mend" line, which translated nicely into stashbusting and UFO-finishing. I had two guilt-inducing 1930s dresses that immediately came to mind, which I'll share here and in the next post.

I quite like this pattern with the changed made. The fabric is plain weave rayon, which is very drapey and light. The patterning in the fabric hides the details in the dress pattern, though, like the gathered high bust and the pockets.
UFO #1 - Simplicity 8248 Modern Repro Vintage Pattern

I made this repro Simplicity pattern three years ago and actually finished it, but I never felt like it fit me well. True to all modern Simplicity patterns, a stupid amount of ease was added to this vintage repro and I made the wrong size (the size it said to on the envelope rather than on the usual), so it was quite a bit too big. I also have very narrow shoulders, so the puff sleeves were falling off the shoulder and looked sloppy, and I felt a bit too 1990s-grandma in this frock.

I took it apart three years ago to shorten the shoulder seams and re-set the sleeve, shorten the waist, do something about the unflattering collar, and shorten the hem. Then, of course, it sat around in pieces for the remainder of the 20-teens.

he sleeves of this dress are very gathered, with sewn-in puff supports, very essential to the look. To be honest, the sleeves could come even further in on the shoulders.
I picked it up again a few weeks ago and made all the changes. The dress had to come almost completely apart, too, because I made it before I had a serger and the seam allowances were so frayed the thing was barely staying together.

After stabilizing all of the seam allowances, I removed the collar and replaced it with a V neck with a facing. I brought the sleeves in much higher onto the shoulders and shortened the hem. The re-finished dress is still a bit granny, but I feel much better wearing it now.

I'm very happy with how the dress came out the second time. I might add a line of white trim around the neckline, but otherwise it's done and wearable once more.
All-in-all, the remake took one weekend. Three years on the hanger, two days to finish! Isn't that always the way?

Dress - Simplicity 8248 with alterations, made by me
Shoes - "Maria" in Red from
Gloves, Purse, Hat - original vintage 

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Friday, April 10, 2020

Coming Up: LIVE Youtube Q&A with Lauren - Covid-19 and Small Business

Hi everyone,

I will be going live on Youtube on **Monday, April 13th at 10 am PDT** to talk about Covid-19, small business, and how we've been affected.

You can follow us on Youtube HERE.

I'll be sharing how we've been doing and the impact the shutdown has had on our small niche business, reliant on events and performances now cancelled.

I will be taking questions live in the comments box during the session, but I will also try to answer questions posted here in comments. The video will remain on our channel as a recording and additional questions can be posted in the comments there too.

I hope to see you there.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Spring Cleaning 2020 SALE!

It's that time of year again...Spring Cleaning!

In the midst of all the madness you may be sewing up a storm. Even though all the events and shows are cancelled, don't miss the opportunity to grab the shoes you want for those future reschedules. We have *lots* on sale for *crazy* prices, and MORE than just what is pictured here. Check it out!

First, help yourself to any of the beautiful theatrical shoes - Bernhardt, Follies, or Garricks. These are great for quick on-and-off, dancing and performance. They're wonderfully styled with great accessibility:

Bernhardt Theatrical Boots in black leather with side zips, elastic laces, and sueded soles.

Follies 1920s character t-straps with flex soles. These come in black and tan.

Garrick 18th century theatrical shoes - flex soles with hidden elastic insets, velcro latchets, and faux buckles. Fantastic, easy on-and-off. Garricks come in both black and ivory.

Next, all of the Royal Vintage styles are now on American Duchess! That being said, we have quite a few of the old rubber-soled styles left and so we're offering them at a big discount to make room for new, fabulous, leather-soled vintage styles. Help yourself to these beauties...

Ginger 1930s sandals - all leather with perforated vamp. Available in blue/white and red/white.

Greta 1930s/40s side-button oxfords in suede and leather - garnet and black are on sale.

Alice 1940s oxforsd with sweet cutouts on the vamp - Carnelian, Nutmeg, and Black are all on sale.

Rita 1940s true reproduction platform slingback cutout peep toe oxford. Like a 1940s buffet of style - availabe in tan and black.

Zella 1940s evening shoes - luminous satin with a double strap over a d'orsay peep toe. These are splendid and come in black or cranberry.
You'll also find a few other American Duchess styles - Viennas, Tissots, Mansfield, and more...

Mansfield 1790s Regency boots - available in green or black.

Tissot 1860s-1880s slippers with large removable/clip-on rosettes. The last of these are available in ivory or black.
Lastly, we have a handful of Imperfects! A few dings, scratches, and other cosmetic flaws mean massive markdowns for otherwise lovely shoes. Find them in the Sale section as well.

Spring Cleaning Sale
April 8 - April 24, 2020
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Tuesday, April 7, 2020


#ADCapeCult - Free 1910s Cape PDF Pattern!

Free 1910s Cape Pattern - click here!
Hi! If you've been following us on Instagram you may have seen the explosion of capes. We've released a free PDF gridded pattern for a fabulous 1910s cape. It's very easy to make and is a quick weekend project.

If you'd like to download this pattern, please visit our Patreon post here.

Nicole modeling the 1910s wrap cape. It also have a distinctly vintage vibe to it - works wonderfully here for 1930s!
We release PDF patterns to our Patreon "Milliners" tier on a regular basis. You can see a list of all the patterns so far in this post, and if you sign up for the Milliners tier you can download all of these, plus any new ones we release coming up (and we do have lots of great ideas...and time on our hands).

The pattern is based on this original 1910s cape. Appears to have been sold by Martini Consignment.

We hope you enjoy the cape pattern! We'd love to see your makes too - tag us @americanduchess on Instagram or Facebook and use the hashtag #ADCapeCult .
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Friday, April 3, 2020

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History is Cool: 1890s Belle Epoque Linen Summer Blouse

Hi all! Well, during this crazy time in human history I managed to start and actually finish one (1) project, an 1890s summer shirtwaist made in lovely white linen.

I've been wanting to make a leg o'mutton sleeve blouse (and jacket and sweater and...) for awhile, ever since succumbing heart and soul to the 1830s and discovering how ridiculously fun gigantic sleeves are to wear and floop around in.

I bought the TV494 1894 Shirtwaist pattern last year at Costume College and finally got around to making it. I even made a video! I hope you enjoy it:

All in all the blouse came out swell! There are things I'll do differently next time (because let's face it, there will be a next time...ALL the gigot sleeve blouses, please!), but I'm quite thrilled with how this project turned out.

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