Artist Talk at MOWA Saturday, Jul 22 2017 

Several months ago I was approached with the prospect of giving a presentation on 19th century undergarments at the Museum of Wisconsin Art in West Bend, and I happily accepted!2017-07-11 (2)

The crowd was much bigger than the usual for these events, I was told, and they needed to bring out another couple dozen chairs. There were between 60 and 70 people, all told.(!! No time to get nervous!!)
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They had two mannequins available, and I utilized both. I gave an overview of the entire century, though my favorite period is Late Victorian. (Which I may have mentioned a couple of times)

I was able to pepper in some socio/cultural facts regarding the reasons for and impact of changing fashions, which I find to be just as fascinating as the garments themselves.

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I also used some images of my own finished gowns, in a shameless display of pride and self promotion. ๐Ÿ˜€

I did make a brief mention of men’s unmentionables, but there has been much less substantial change with men’s undergarments than with women’s.

I wasn’t used to using a handheld microphone, but I had a good time!

The crowd was responsive and had some good questions for me at the end of the talk.

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I closed with a scandalous (!) undressing of a mannequin in Victorian garb, to visually illustrate the logistics of all the layers I had been talking about. I also brought in several books I’ve referenced in my work and samples of corsets, bustles, and boning.

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It was a great experience, the people who worked with me to make it happen were very pleasant and professional, and I loved seeing the exhibit afterwards!

I’ve linked to the powerpoint below- please note that non-vintage images in the slides were used specifically for the purpose of this presentation and are not licensed for redistribution or sale.

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You can see the Powerpoint I put together for the presentation here!19th Century Undergarments

TC7- Teslacon Victorian Silk Day Dress Saturday, Jul 1 2017 

First: the bulk of my Master’s program is complete! So, here’s a post, finally!

I made several new items for the Teslacon 7, 2017, Fashion Show, Paris Edition. ย The crowning glory among the new pieces was a grey and cream striped silk Victorian day dress. My inspiration pic:

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I set my sights on making a fancy day dress. I’d fallen in love with a beautiful sample of cream and grey striped silk while visiting a tailor’s booth at Teslacon but he didn’t have any yardage left. He admired the dress I was wearing, and I believe if he’d *had* had any of the fabric he would have sold it to me.

So I set out to find a reasonable facsimile of that lovely fabric.

I knew I’d be looking for a drapery weight fabric, so I delved into Google and branched out from there… I ended up finding a striped silk in three large pieces all from one seller on E-bay. The colors, weight and finish were perfect, there was just one problem…
The stripe was twice the width I needed.

However, I’m not one to be dissuaded by a challenge.
I decided to buy the silk and create narrower stripes myself. I cut each stripe in half and then sewed them together. Here’s a picture of me with $300 of shredded silk (eek!)…

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Nope, not nervous at all…

I had chosen two Truly Victorian patterns to start from; TV466- 1887 Alexandra Bodice and TV367- 1887 Cascade Overskirt. The Alexandra bodice had the appropriate level of Victorian repression I was looking for, and the overskirt would show off the stripes wonderfully.

I was creating the look as part of (mentioned above) a line for the 2016 Teslacon fashion show, with a theme set in 1884 Paris. The color scheme I developed for my looks consisted of black and white, grey, cream, and deep purple, with silver accents. Specifically, I tapped a highly talented jewelry maker, the owner of Rogue Maille, to design and supply the jewelry for the line… they were all highly detailed, sumptuous chainmaille creations and each piece took my breath away.

For the cream and grey dress I decided to use some of the eggplant silk crepe from a gown I was making for myself as an accent for the bodice collar and cuffs. But the very first thing I needed to do was shred 8 yards of silk and sew it back together, alternating the stripes. Then, so much ironing of seams.

A before & after shot:

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Big stripes, little stripes!

I cut out the bodice first, with special attention to matching the stripes, because I knew I didn’t have a ton of fabric to work with. For the bodice, I wanted to made an offset front closure, with decorative buttons down the front. I gave the front panel additional reinforcement with a sturdy interlining, and used a hook and eye closure. It’s mildly cramp-inducing to close, but it lays beautifully.

The actual fitting was done with the skirt on as well, but I didn’t want to put EVERYTHING on for a quick pic of my progress:

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Before setting the sleeves in, testing out how the front closure sits. I decided to add the purple accent after this fitting, for shoulder mobility ๐Ÿ˜‰

The overskirt was cut out next. It seemed that there were discrepancies between how my cascade overskirt was laying in the back, the image on the cover of the pattern, and the image inside the pattern instructions… so I just decided on an aesthetically pleasing arrangement and called it good.

The skirt was a different challenge. Even knowing there wasn’t excess yardage, as I laid out the pattern pieces for the basic 6 gore underskirt, it was going to be closer than I thought.

I did everything I could, playing with placement on the pieces of fabric that were left, and I knew I’d have to sub in some cotton for the top half of the underskirt. After the cutting and stitching was complete, the seams between the cotton and silk were close enough to the hem of the overskirt to warrant tacking down the outer edges to keep them from peeking out during the runway show.

When all was said and done, I I barely had enough silk left over to make a pocket square.

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You can see the placement of the offset closure for the bodice…. it was a little tricky.

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Dat bustle!

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I lined the underside of the pleats in the back with the eggplant fabric also. this is before I put in the eggplant accent at the top back center.

Some adjustments I made to the pattern:
Besides the usual adjustments for fitting (done over the corset, undergarments and finished skirts, of course), in the end I decided that the classic high-necked Victorian style was a little stuffier than I really wanted, so I changed it to a modest V-neck, with a decorative cameo at the base. I interlined the bodice, but did not bone the interior. I may go back and do so to avoid the bunching seen at the waist in the picture of me in the outfit.

For the hat, I took an ivory 1950’s hat with netting I had in my collection and trimmed it with extra eggplant material and a purple butterfly.

Overall, the outfit was a success, though I really could have used just one more yard of fabric.

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The eggplant accents in the back really popped.

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A view of the front of the bodice, finished with bias tape of the same material and tiny silk buttons. Shawna, stand up straight!

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A side view.

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The full collection that day, with beautiful jewelry from Rogue Maille on nearly every lovely model.