HANDCRAFTED HISTORY


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Project; the 18th century ball gown

This is my journal notes and photos from a fun project from the 18th century.

Finally finished!

This gown took a really long time to finish! I have worked on it on and off for two years I think, while learning about 18th century tailoring technics and different models. I find it more fun to learn as I go along handcrafting, the problem is when you learn too much too fast, realise your mistakes, and have to start over.

Fluffy, yet elegant?

I finally landed in some kind of Italian style gown, based on 1770-1780s fashion plates. The gown is made in silk taffeta and the skirt in silk satin- (Also based on fashion plates but made in 2019 when I was on my first 18th-century inspired ball. )

Back of gown, and braids in the back section of the hairstyle.

The back of the body does not continue down into the skirt like in a english gown, but is sewn as a bodice piece with the skirt gathered and stitched in place all the way around. Silk taffeta always shows every little wrinkle, but I am satisfied with the fit.

Wool would have made a better drape, but since the silk is so light, the skirt does not pull the body straight after I have moved around with my arms or twisted the body. This was also a new experience- my earlier medieval silk gowns are looser and heavier than this one. It was also really interesting to model a gown on a corset instead of my own, softer body. Both easier and more difficult.

Worn with a shift, corset, under skirt, skirt and padding in the back.

The front is overlapped and closes by pinning the opening, which I found useful as it allows the size to differ a bit. Say, if you for example loves snacks better than exercise…

The ruffles by the neck, sleeves and skirt front are made with the same silk fabric, scalloped and handsewn in place. The decor easily took more time than sewing and fitting the gown, but it was kind of fun!

I also made loose lace ruffles to wear by the elbow, they are basted in place when I need them so I may use them on different dresses. It got a little more bulky than sewing them into the sleeve, but I think they will work fine as soon as they have bent to the shape of my arms a bit.

I am not finished with this look quite yet; I don’t have proper 18th century shoes and my hair is styled with silly amounts of hair spray as I don’t have fake hair/hair pieces and correct styling tools for hair (yet?). The hairstyle is based on American Duchess book on 18th century beauty, but my hair is too short right now. I will have to get some good false pieces and more hair pins. And shoes. And maybe a pair of good socks too. Then I will be ready for…ehm, another project?


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Learning new things

The longer I’ve been doing historical handcrafting, the clearer it is that I find it important to improve myself and my knowledge all the time. In the first half of 2019 I spent making lots of outfits for customers, and some for myself as well. The projects were all fun and turned out nice, but I had the feeling I was missing something.

New challenges.

So, during the autumn I decided to spend time learning new things and chose some things I haven’t explored before. The result was attending a distance tablet weaving workshop to get new inspiration for patterns and workshops, and trying out a new handcrafting technique in the form of felting hats. The black one is my first, it got a bit uneven but I am getting better!

I also researched and made an (inspired) mid 18th century outfit and went to a historical ball event with that outfit, dancing and dining historical style.

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I feel very satisfied with learning new things and got new energy to continue to work on lots of projects. Yes, at once- of course. I am one of those handcrafters that fill the entire room with projects, stash them in baskets and have them lying around the whole house in periods.

I also felt inspired to take up some old research on brocades. I am interested in late medieval style brocades and have somewhat of a stash hidden in the shop (for customers, of course!) with small samples suitable to make pouches, purses, sleeves and details. Mainly, it is because I get so curious about the different weaving patterns and styles that I just Have To Order a small bit… (this is my pinterest board on the subject)

medievalbrocade

I also, kind of unexpected, happened to buy several meters of a lovely silk brocade that is going to be a new medieval dress. I am in the progress right now of sewing it together, taking photos and notes as I work to make it into a new tutorial when I have the time.

Alas, I do have time… But I am also working on a tutorial on Herjolfnes side gores, how to make a pair of medieval pattens and a handsewn project for a customer. I am not good at doing one thing at a time…

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As late as February I still thought I would have a normal, busy season with workshops, road trips and market work, beginning with next week. Now the world feels more unsure and I don’t even know if there will be enough work to put food on the table. On the other hand, I do have lots of time now to experiment and learn new things. Really trying to decide this might yet be a good thing, I am working on new tutorials, garments for myself and lots of new things to sell when there will be markets again.

I also put up a small webshop at my Fbpage in order to give all my followers and customers a chance to order handcrafting tools and have a sneak peek at all the nice stuff I’ve got for the markets. It would help a lot if you would like to check out the shop, follow me on social media or show my page to a friend. This too shall pass, and until then all we can do is our best.

How are you doing out there? I know I have readers from both Australia, the USA and many places in Europe as well as here in Sweden. I am praying for your good health and hoping for spring and summer that will be better than today.