Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Better Dress Form

I started out my sewing career with a basic, cheap, dial-a-size dress form. Of course, this didn't work well with a stayed shape, so I moved on to a duct tape form. It was all right for a while, but the armature (PVC pipe) always poked through and made the shoulders oddly pointy and the torso itself was basically shaped like a sausage. I don't have a picture of just the form, but you can get a sense of its tragedy here:

The only plus it offered was that it was my basic size (if not shape) and didn't require me to put stays on it. I trudged along with it for several years, but it finally started to fall apart. Enter Lauren of American Duchess, with her post "Making a Workable Dress Form." I decided to follow in her footsteps, due to the awesome result she got.

I ordered the same dress form, and had my husband give her the same mastectomy. I didn't bother changing the shape of the waist as my measurements are quite a bit bigger than hers. I'm terrible about taking "Before" pictures, so this is the closest I've got:

Her cover has been removed completely and so have her boobs. I'm starting to cover her in batting.

I used polyester batting to cover her as it had more loft than the cotton I also had on hand. I first gave her and all-over coat as a base layer. I stitched it on with white quilting thread.

Then, I started adding layers in strategic places, especially her flat sides. I did this with some guessing. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Three Fabric Designs Now Available!

Due to the lack of printed fabric designs that are appropriate to a lower-class 18th Century persona, I decided to design some of my own.

There are scads of multi-color Jacobean florals available that are appropriate to the period, but the lowest classes often wore one- and two-color prints. Red, purple and blue were the most common colors and though florals were popular, there were other choices on the market in the last half of the 18th Century. A shelled motif (what we would call fishscale) was another common design, but the only 18th-C.-appropriate fabric available at the time was Duran Textile's. I really wanted to see it represented more.

Design (c) Hillary Rizen

The Pennsylvania Gazette - June 17, 1764 - "Was stolen ... 
one Irish Poplin gown ... one small shelled Ditto ..."

 I was also inspired by some of the Foundling Hospital samples I'd seen in various sources, both online and in print, and created my own single-color "sprigged" design.

Three of my designs, including the one pictured above, are now available to purchase exclusively through Wm. Booth, Draper! Click on "Printed Cottons" to view them.

Friday, August 9, 2013

18th Century Sack Races and Grinning Contests

While researching another topic, I noticed this detail in an engraving after John Collet's An Holland Smock to be Run For:

1770 - Lewis Walpole Library

It led to some research that first taught me that a flitch is a side of bacon and second that there were some unusual contests at fairs and other celebrations in the 18th Century.

American Notes and Queries, Vol. 3, 1889 - Wm. H. Garrison
referencing a 1776 handbill

Digging through flour with your mouth sounds just awful, and possibly smothering. I imagine there was a lot of coughing involved.

Wit, Character, Folklore and Customs of North Riding
of Yorkshire, 1898 - Rich Blakesborough

The most surprising thing was not that sack races had been around for so long,