Halloween Theme: 1850s portraiture

Another theme for this Halloween countdown:

Modell: Matilda Tengdelius

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1690s Mantua (HSM 9/2017) – Photoshoot

With the dress finished a good month before, I finally got all the components (photographer, babysitter, day of work and nice weather) together for a photoshoot in early October.

For the location we chose (as so many times before) the park and creak right outside my home, including our parking-lot (super fancy, right? :-D).

I’m wearing the 1690s striped Mantua over the corresponding skirt, my 18th century stays, chemise, 2 small bumpads, quilted petticoat, an regular petticoat, stockings and Kensington shoes.
I’m also wearing a quickly made “Fontage” made from lace and cotton scraps pinned to my 18th century cap, fake curls, a pearl necklace and a peacock-feather fan.
The belt is just a piece of navy velvet ribbon pinned in back and the under sleeves of the chemise is fake, and made from  pieces of cotton voile and lace gathered and tacked to the sleeve cuffs.

Photos by: Maria Petersson

Behind the sceens:Last fix-up in the elevator

1690s Mantua fit for Versailles?(HSM 9/2017) – Construction part 2

Once the skirt was done (read about it here) it was time to cut the new fabric for the gown.

The only trouble was that not only did I not have enough fabric, The fabric also had the stripes running the wrong way to my cutting plan.
So I ended up spending an entire evening re-calculating and testing layouts until I finally cut the whole gown on the cross (to get the stripes running down the body) and pieced the heck out of the train in several places.

Then it was time to actually get on to the sewing.

I started by basting interfacing to the main pieces, but not after going through some decision-anxiety about which side of the fabric I was to use. The choice fell on the “wrong” side where the stripes was les pronounced.

I basted the pleats and stitching the front and back bodice together.

I basted the neck piece and did a first test drape of the skirt.Here you can clearly se the difference between the back bodice sober stripes and the horizontal “right side” stripes on the draping.

Then I put it on for a try.

The fit was pretty good, but a bit to snug.

So I stitched down the pleats and the front darts, forgetting to let it out a bit when sewing up the side seams.  Stitching the back seams.

Unfortuanly the fabric shows EVERY mistake, both puckering and letting out of seemsSo I decide to keep it as it where – better a tad to small then ugly markings at each seam.

The I added some boning to the back and side seams to help keep the shape on the fabric once worn.

Once the main bodice was done, I started on the front pieces/robbings(?)And as I didn’t had a pattern piece for them I’d just cut something along the right shape when i cut the fabric. And after some draping on the dressform (and myself) I ended up with a smaller shape which I then pinned and stitched down on top of the front hiding bot the darts and the strange seam that was the shoulder seamHere you can see the experimenting and draping of the front pieces on myself.

I also did some work on the sleeves and added a cuff and pleated the top to the armhole.  Trying out the sleeve before attaching the neck and front-piece.

Once the main gown was finished the only other thing that I needed to decide was what color would I trim it in?   Silver or gold?
Both have there merits – silver matches the gown fabric nicely, but the gold was more common in the time-period and brings out the copper in the petticoat.

After lots of back and forth (why is these decisions always so damn hard?) the golden trim won, and I hand basted and stitched 12 m of lace to the gown and stomacher.  I though for a while to ad eyelets to tie the gown on top the stomacher as seen in several pictures, but figured I’d just pin it in place for the time being.

The finished dress:

Just the facts:

Challenge: nr 9/2017 – Seen on screen – Be inspired by period fashions as shown onscreen (film or TV), and recreate your favourite historical costume as a historically accurate period piece.

What: a 1690s Mantua

How it fit the challenge: Gowns like this was worn during Louis VIX reign in France, and therefor fit perfectly with the TV-show Versailles.

Pattern: I drafted my own using the 1690-1770s Mantua pattern from Waughs “Cut of Womens clothes”.

Fabric: 5 m of striped polyester taffeta and 1 m of white cotton for lining for dress, and 2,5 m of copper polyester taffeta for the skirt.

Notions: Thread, boning for the stomacher and back/side seams, 1 m of bias tape for boning channels, 12 m of golden lace trim, and 1 m of dark blue velvet ribbon for belt. And 5 m of blue polyester fringe for the skirt.

How historical accurate: Not particularly I’m afraid. The fabric and construction techniques are all modern, even though the pattern and general shape is ok, and they did have a flair for stripes and fringes at the time. One thing I didn’t know until halfway done though, was the facts that this type of gowns usually closed center front omitting the stomacher of the later era completely. I’ll give it a 5/10.

Time: About 30 hours in total, but I’ll guess at 10-15 hours if I was to make another one right away.

Cost: Everything besides from the fringe (which I got from a thrift store) came from stash. But I’ll guess about 600 Sek (50 Usd) wen first bought.

First worn: Early October for photos

Final Thoughts: I’m feeling a bit mixed about this dress. I did feel fabulous wearing it (and most of the photos turned out great), but I’m not entirely happy about some of the constructions “mistakes”, like puckering seams in the back and the fact it’s not a closed front as it should be.

 Apparently it works as a driveway to 🙂

1690s Mantua fit for Versailles?(HSM 9/2017) – Construction part 1

The 17th century have long been on my wishlist to explore deeper (I have so far only made one dress from that entire century), and even though it seems to be a relatively forgotten part of costume history (at least if you compare to the ever popular 18th and early 19th century), It seams like it’s grown in popularity in the last year(s).

So when the news hit that there was to be a grand ball dedicated to the 1680s this fall, I knew that 2017 would be the year of the Mantuas.

Unfortuanly I wasn’t fast enough snatching a ticket (with the costs of the ball and a really clingy/mommsy toddler combined, I hesitated to long, and once I decided I was to go, it was to late), but the dress got done anyway and in perfect time for the HSM 9/2017 – Seen on Screan – “Be inspired by period fashions as shown onscreen (film or TV), and recreate your favourite historical costume as a historically accurate period piece.”

The only thing I needed to make the challenge was to find a tv-show/movie that would fitt the bill.
And what would be better then the Tv-show “Versailles” that airs its second season now.
I know the series focus it’s story around 1667 and the young king Louie VIX. But since his reign reaches into the 18th century I figured it wouldn’t be to far fetched to use it as inspiration.

As usual I started my process by doing some research on the topic.


After a quick glance at the existing pattern for this kind of dress (there is about 1 that I know of, and it haven’t gotten the best reviews) I decided to try and draft my own using The 1700s mantua from Waughs “Cut of Womens Clothes” and the great blogpost by Isabella of “A damsel in this dress”.Drafting on the floor.

I started by drafting the papper pattern following the direction and measurments from the book.

Checking the general fit and proportions.

Then I cut and made a mock-up
After some tweaking – like making the whole thing a little bit bigger, it was time to cut the fabric.

And here’s where I hit my first road bump.

I’ve been looking for a suatable fabric (for a good price) for a couple of months but hadn’t found any. So I decided to make do, and use something from my stash.
After some digging I surfaced with tre options: Green, red or striped?

I did a quick survey on my Instagram and got my own instincts re-asured
– Green for the win!

The only trouble was that I only had aprox. 4 m of it, and I the grown usually requires a lot more fabric then that.
But with some resorceful cutting and carefully measuring I was confident I could do it.
Sleeve and back pieces being cut.

Mind, this was around 23 o clock (11pm) and no cutting should EVER take place at that time…
Of course my eagerness to get started on the dress backfired,

And I realized to late, I’d cut two lefts and no rights…
With no possible way to rescue the situation, I had a quick breakdown and went to bed really annoyed and frustrated with myself.

It took a few weeks before I could gather the entusiasm needed to continue the gown.
Because I got upset every time I glanced at the pile of destroyed green fabric and un-cut pattern pieces.

But once I discovered a copper taffeta in my stash witch happened to match perfectly with the stripes in the grey fabric, and which would be perfect for the skirt/petticoat, I was back on track.

It’s hard do se in these pics but one of the stripes matches perfectly with the copper of the taffeta, and the blue/grey fringe is identical in hue to the main fabric/strip in the gown fabric.

Starting with the skirt/petticoat, constructing it as you would an 18th century skirt (using two widhs of fabric pleated to an overlapping waistband).
The only thing that took a bit of time was the decoration, made from two rows of fringe and a strip of grey/blue fabric, that needed to be measured and placed exact right to look good

Unfortuanlly I only gotten 1 of the two fringe trim avalable at the thrift store, and my dream of several rows of fringe fell short of 1 m. 😦
But I figured it wouldn’t be noticable benneth the train anyway (at least I hope so).

The finished skirt:

Click trough for part 2 (comming soon)

Re-made Spring Anglaise (Photoshoot)

It took me more than a month to get the necassary components togeter for a photoshoot (free time, 1 sister to photograph, 1 sister to take care of the toddler and nice weather…), but yesterday we did manadge to take some nice new photos of my re-made “Spring Anglaise”.

I’m wearing the dress over a white skirt, quilted petticoat, bumpad, stays, chemise, stockings and my beloved Kensington shoes from American Duchess. I’m also wearing a curly wig and my new Bergere hat.



Photo by: Maria Petersson

18th Century Light Feast at Ljungs Castle

So, in late August is was time for the event I’ve been working (sewing) like a mad for.

The “Light party” at Ljungs castle (webpage).
It was an evening in honor of the parties van Fersen d.y. used to host in the late 18th century.

As you now know I had a bit trouble deciding on what to wear (as I always do).
But the theme for the party was “light”, and called for light/white 18th century costumes.
So after some to and forth (read about it here) I finally had my ger ready.
Gown with skirt and bumpad.

The only trouble was that the party was on the same day as “Söderköpings medieval fair“, which caused me to be in a bitt of a hurry to change from one costume to another, and get myself to the party in time.
But after a quick pit stop at home where I handed over the toddler to my fiancé, jumped out of my Elizabethian gown and quickly laced myself up in 18th century stays, skirts and gown (gulping down a sandwich at the same time) I was ready to once again get on my way.

I made it with 10 minutes to spare…Before event” selfie

The party itself was held at the beautiful castle of Ljung perish about 30 minutes from my hometown.
The day was warm sunny and the slowly setting sun gave a lovely air to the place (and some of my pictures).

Once there I started by walking around talking to people and admiring everyones outfits

I only knew a few people there and one of them was maud from my dance team (who also done the fast-forward in time from medieval to 18th century an hour before). Picture by Ljung Castle

Some costume candy from the other ladies attending… 


After an initial toast and speech from the hostess we where all invited upstairs for some fine dining.A lovely dinning-room, with lots of food and drink being served. And for once, the vegetarian food was both delicious and plenty-full 🙂
 After dinner there was a lovely concert (with music from the 18th century of course) played by some really talented muschians. Then it was time for dessertby this time I (and surely a few others with me) was pretty sick of sitting down (after all we had done so in over 3 hours – in or corsets!) and was really happy when it was announced the dancing was about to start.

First there was a small dance-recital by the Ljung castle sociaty, and then we all got to dance a few of them.
 Picture by Ljung castle
As a dancer myself I was a bit disapoined by how little there was time for, and would have wished for quite a lot more. But a least we could fiest our eyes on the spectacularly good dancing of one of “Menuettakademins” recitals, who was projected on the wall.

After the dance we had some fun looking trough some of te rooms (all very dark by this hour) and taking some photos and selfies.A newly made friend and me.

Keit makes the most amazing 18th century dresses, and acted as the dance master for this event. IKEA dresses unite 😀
Our costumes are all made from different flowery IKEA fabrics. The evening ended with some champagne and a toast down in the main hall. 

I had a really good time, and I wished it could have lasted longer.
Especially since the most fun (for me) begun after the dessert was finished and it almost was time to go home…

And I do hope they will host more of these parties in the future.

To make a Bergere (Take 2)

Thinking about my costume for the up-coming 18th century event in late August, I know I needed to solve the problem with what to make of my hair/head.

As a (really) short haired modern person, I always struggle with my historic personas hair. usually I just put a cap/hat on it, but sometimes that is not an option (or at least a lesser option). (Here is how I solved it for the 1825s party this spring).

I have a 18th century “hedgehog”(ish) wig that I’ve tried to restyle before to better but not perfect result.  But to wear a synthetic wig, inside in the mids of summer was not something I looked forward to. And besides, I know there would be a really talented wig-maker at the party, and I had no desire to sow her my meager skills.

My other option was to wear a cap, Which I think work just fine with les fancy stuff.
I did consider making a fancier frillier cap for the occasion but without the correct hairdo, a sheer organdy cap would look even worse then my old cotton one.

So, how would I complete this outfit in the best way?

A would wear a Bergere, of course!

But my old one is not really up to my standard any more Here you can see both the wig and the Bergere in is first adaption

So I decided to make myself another one.

Starting the night before the event(s), I found a cheap (real)straw hat in my stash that I bought on sale from a big clothing store, a few months earlier for just such an occasion as this.

I started by removing the (glued on) black ribbon  And un-picked the stitching a few rows up on the crown so I could lift it of and snip the straw braid at good level.Then I continued to un-pick the stitches on the crown. This went really fast since it all was made with chain-stitches which (if you got hold of the right thread) you can just pull right out. 

I removed almost all of the hight in the crown and then used some hot water to reshape the rest of the crown and brim to match eachother before stitching them together again. I stitched it on my sewing machine, just like I did on my sisters 1860s straw hat, and in a minute it was done. sitting on my wig-stand to dry.

Once dry, I tried out some different ways to shape and wear it, using a piece of dotted chiffon to tie around the head.

once I shaped the brim to my liking (a bit up at the back and down at the front), I attached the ribbons to the underside of the hat, as seen in paintings and extant pieces..

Once the basics was done, I tried the hat on to see how I would best wear it.

With my wig


Or with my cap

Then, as a final detail I decided to and a narrow band of lace to the edge of the hat to make it softer and to look more finished. 

The finished hat:


Just the facts:

What: a modern straw hat reshaped into a 18th century Bergére

Material: 1 cheap straw hat, thread, 80 cm thin lace and

Time and cost: about 2-3 hours if you don’t include the time it took to dry. And the cost was less then 100 Sek (8 Usd).

Final thoughts: I really like it, but I´m not sure how to shape it to look its best. I wil defienetly be wearing it for more events in the future.

And a few behind the scenes shots: