Saturday, April 16, 2011

Today has been a good day…

Not only has my gardenia bloomed yet again, but I finished organizing my costume closet.


I have managed to consolidate (nearly) all my costuming ephemera into one single closet. I took a “before” picture of the guest (costume) room, but decided I was too embarassed to actually show anyone just how awful it had become!


The closet is deceptively large – it extends on either side another three feet or so. I moved my wedding dress to another room, which was taking up a good amount of space, and stored all my hoops up against the far right wall. (Another space-gobbling culprit)


I recently found a new (to me) blog of note, “All Things Vintage Rouge”.  Yesterday, Lulu posted about some completely fabulous aluminum tubing panniers she found at the Berkeley Rep warehouse sale.  (of which I’m insanely jealous of.  That’s the ‘confession’ bit of the title)

They give an absolutely fabulous shape, and appear to be very rugged.  I had assumed that because they came from a costuming shop and looked so odd, they were the figment of a costume designers’ imagination.  How very wrong was I?!

Today while browsing for more information on panniers, I found these bad boys on Costumer’s Manifesto.

The image comes from Maurice Leloir's “Histoire du Costume”, a sketchy source to be sure  – however, I know there are extant ‘skeletal’ panniers out there, though I’m not certain any of them are made of tubing or have the articulation shown in the diagram above. 

(Fig. 17. – Baskets of steel hinges.  (Musee de Cluny).  After M. Leloir.  1:  profile – 2:  perspective. – 3:  folded view – 4:  folded and held under the arms.)

Apparently, these are the panniers that the Leloir sketch are based upon, however, I’ve not been able to find more detailed information about them.  I am guessing that they do indeed fold as shown in the drawing, and the ‘bones’ are indeed tubular metal.


Pannier dating from 1750
Inv. Cluny 7874
Paris, Musée des Arts Décoratifs

I’m not terribly sure that these three pictures are representing three different sets of panniers, or if they are different pictures of the same item*.


It’s hard to tell from the pictures, but they look similar enough to Leloir’s diagram, but it’s entirely possible that these panniers are also articulated.  I’ve yet to find any further information on them, but hopefully I will be able to find out where they came from and if they do indeed fold up like the diagram shows.


*I’m having a horrible time trying to find the original source of these pictures, – If anyone knows, please message me!!  My Google skillz are failing me.  I found the first picture here, and the other two here.

Friday, April 15, 2011

18th Century trims pondering

I’m not sure how much extra fabric I’m going to have, so I may or may not be able to do as much with self fabric as I would like.  So I’m going through my stash to see if I can find anything that might work as trim.

I have loads and loads of black lace, which might work as a trim.  I’m a bit worried about using it, however.  In my (admittedly somewhat limited) research, I’ve not seen any gowns trimmed with black lace.  I’ve seen lots and lots of gold and silver lace trim, and even some cream or white lace trim, but no black.  If I can justify black lace for my gown, I'm set – I seriously have SO much of this stuff.

The lace is gathered down the center, then I did a quickie job ‘dying’ some trim with a sharpie (just so I could see what it would look like as a combo).


I have quite a bit of the pink (top) trim, but I really like the color, and I am actually planning a pink gown sometime in the future, so unless I really need to, I may not use this trim.

The mint green (bottom) trim on the other hand, I have an entire roll of, and would not feel bad at all dying and experimenting.  (This is the same trim layered over the lace above)


I’m not sure if I’m going to use any of them, but I have some options when it comes to lace – I even have enough gold lace should I decide that the dress needs moar bling.  I have such a hard time with trimming anything, so something shiny like gold lace might be a bit too much for me.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Panniers Complete

I need to name these panniers – they have the destructive force of a full-blown hurricane!

I faked the angled bones with extra-long zip ties, and will probably need to switch them out with stronger boning when I get my hands on some, and there still is not boning in the very bottom casing, but for all intents and purposes, they’re done!


I also tried on my pair of bodies – they’re a bit snug, but if push comes to shove, will work. This is probably the most dangerous costuming-related picture I’ve ever taken. The only mirror big enough to show the (mostly) full width of the panniers was in my bathroom, and the side of the tub is quite high – I was quite the sight trying to scramble to the top of the tub and crouch just enough to be able to take the picture! I still need to mess around with the gathers – I thought everything was all perfect; but then I see in this picture that the line is certainly not smooth. Grrrr.


Things don’t look that different from the last picture I took, but I assure you, I’ve done a lot today. I finished the waist attachments, added all the internal infrastructure, and re-did the angled boning.


I’m not 100% that I like the change, but I was having difficulty getting things to lie correctly, so I took a proverbial page out of the “Truly Victorian” bustle construction book, and moved the bones to the inside, catching the boning in small loops, rather than fed through an entire casing. This makes the bones easier to remove, and also seems to be holding up the corners of the panniers better.

I may end up re-doing the waist – I’m not terribly happy with the way it’s puckering at the hip, but I think it matters what it looks like underneath a skirt rather than what it looks like all on it’s own.

This whole experience has certainly underscored my distinct dislike of making underpinnings. (Even though I know how very important they are!) I’m just not as comfortable with the process, I suppose!

I’ve taken a shortcut or two in the process of constructing these panniers – I’ve used zip ties for the shorter, angled bones; and I’ve used masking tape instead of real boning tips. I have some on order, and will hopefully remember to switch out the ugly masking tape for real tips. (Even though I’ve never had trouble with the masking-tape shortcut…it makes me nervous since I’ve not done a whole lot of costuming that has involved reinforced and hooped underthings.)


And for other-Noelle: I’ve used my dad’s old wire cutters for years now – on everything from hoop boning/wire, zip ties, and corset boning. So, no, you don’t need ‘special’ boning cutters, but I bet it can’t hurt to have them on hand.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spring has sprung! (At least until this evening, when it decided to start snowing again.)

I spent last night very restlessly, mulling over how to make the panniers better. I think I have come up with an idea or two, but I have yet to put anything into action, because I spent the greater part of the day in my garden, and haven’t sewn a stitch all day long. (WHAT?!)

But, because I’ve been addicted to posting on pretty much daily basis, I couldn’t let the day completely pass without sharing something!

Because I was in the garden, I kept thinking of all the lovely spring-y and floral-y gowns that have caught my eye lately! (These all came from “OMG that dress!” tumblr. Which you should go to and drool over, if you’ve never seen it before. OMG that dress indeed.

(I selfishly wanted to keep it my little secret, but I love ya’ll too much to keep it secret forever.)

Paul Poiret ensemble ca. 1910-1911 via The Kyoto Costume Institute

tumblr_liuksn8WU21qcddvlo1_500Dress ca. 1763 via The McCord Museum

tumblr_li13riR3zR1qcddvlo1_5001950s dress via Timeless Vixen Vintage

tumblr_ljeo8rsKdF1qcddvlo1_500Christian Dior dress ca. 1955 via The Kyoto Costume Institute (I didn’t realize this gown had a floral motif at first – look closely; doesn’t it just remind you of a whole swath of slips?)

tumblr_liukpt3jwG1qcddvlo1_500Dress ca. 1750-1775 via The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

tumblr_ljd2pzQiLn1qcddvlo1_400Dress ca. 1887-1888 via Manchester City Galleries (Not that I have the perfect fabric in my stash for this gown. Nuh uh. And not at all that I’ve been craving a tennis dress for like…….what feels like forever.)

tumblr_ljcyboQ55N1qcddvlo1_500Charles Fredrick Worth dress ca. 1875-1876 via The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

tumblr_liujdqdNF31qcddvlo1_500Dress ca. 1775-1800 via The Costume Institute Metropolitan Museum of Art

Hopefully I can finish up weeding the flowerbeds and get the dishes under control so I can get back to sewing! Wish me luck! (Or pray the snow keeps coming – no weeding in the snow for me!)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Panniers–Casings Complete

I’ve finished all the casings for the panniers, and I feverishly stuffed a couple of the casings with boning I had on hand.  I’ve over-stuffed the casings and they’re straining in an odd manner and I certainly need to spend some serious time getting everything balanced correctly.  But that time is not now!


Still to do:

-Buy and insert remaining boning

-Finish waist tape

-Balance hoops

Monday, April 11, 2011

Panniers–First ‘Official’ Post for the Double-No-L Project

I’m going to be doing panniers somewhat like the ones I saw at  LACMA earlier this year. 


I’m making mine out of tannish-brown linen, with casings made of cream twill tape.  The original is made of plain weave linen and uses cane in the hoops.  I have cane I can use for the hoops, but I may end up using steel instead – that’s a decision I’m going to make sometime down the road; after all the casings are done and I can make Bertha try them on for me.

These bad boys are HUGE!  They are so huge, in fact, that they do not fit on my table, and I can’t get the whole thing in frame, even while standing on a chair!


As you can see, I’ve constructed the ‘skirt’ portion, and I’ve been able to attach two casings before my shoulder (and other obligations not sewing-related) won out.  I’m not terribly convinced that I have this pattern all figured out, but I won’t know for until I get closer to the top and can mess about with the waist and gathering and whatnot.  I won’t be too terribly disappointed if I have to start over (other than the time wasted) since everything came out of my stash.

I originally was going to put the casings on the inside, but now I’m not so sure – I strangely like the contrast!  (Not that it’s going to matter a whole lot, I mean, it is underwear after all.


Another decision I will need to make is whether to do two bones at the corners as in the LACMA example, or one angled casing, like the one described in “Corsets and Crinolines.  I’ll most likely go with two, since I’m not sure how much strength my potential hoop boning will have. 

I have two more enormous horizontal casings to do before I make any foolish decisions, however.  For this, I am thankful.

And with that, I am heading off to bed!

Anyone have a spare $10,000 just lying around? (what, you mean you don’t??)

Well, because if you did, you could have THIS dress.  >.<


I particularly am in love with the trim – it’s fantastic!


And just look at the bodice detail – I love the little covered buttons!



I first heard of trapunto a few years ago when I found the “Tristan quilt” while browsing through the Victoria and Albert collection online. I went searching for more information at the time, but couldn’t find any, and gave up on it, but always had it in the back of my mind as ‘something I’d like to learn one day’.


Fast-forward to the Southern Regional Collegium, and there was a class being taught on trapunto – I was SO excited!

I was planning to just link to an already-existing tutorial on trapunto, but I haven’t been able to find one, so I’m going to do my very first video tutorial*. The technique isn’t difficult, but is hard to convey through pictures.

From the “World Wide Quilting” page on Trapunto:

“Trapunto is a whole cloth quilting technique which produces a raised surface on the quilt. Trapunto patterns consist of vines, leaves, grapes, cherries and so on. The vines and straight line patterns are threaded with a soft yarn or cording. The rounder shapes are stuffed with small amounts of batting inserted from a small slit made in the backing fabric. After the shapes are stuffed, the slit is whipped stitched closed. A second backing fabric is then added to the quilt and normal quilting is done all around the previously stuffed shapes.
Another style of Trapunto uses a loosely woven fabric for the quilt backing. Then, instead of making slits in the backing to stuff shapes, a needle is used to carefully push the backing thread apart to form an opening for the stuffing. The threads are then carefully pushed back into place. This eliminates the need for a second backing fabric.
Trapunto originated in Italy in the early 16th century. It appeared in the United States in the the late 1700's and remained popular until the Civil War.”


1. Draw the quilting design backwards on a loosely woven linen backing.

2. Layer the top fabric behind the backing fabric in a hoop frame & back stitch over the designs.

3. To stuff shapes, poke a hole in the backing fabric (being careful to only poke through that layer) and use the point of a stiletto to shove batting into the space between the backing fabric and the quilt top.

Trapunto–stuffing shapes

4. To stuff lines, use a large upholstery needle threaded with yarn and thread the yarn or cord through the channel. For curved lines, you will need to poke the needle back up at the apex of the curve, and sink the needle back through the same hole to continue around the curve.

Trapunto–stuffing lines & vines

5. The last step is to quilt the trapunto piece to the final quilt backing fabric. In the ‘Tristan quilt’ , the un-stuffed background is stippled with a running stitch, and additional detail is provided in the padded areas.

Trapunto–background stippling and texture detail

Other links of interest:

Wholecloth Quilts, Trapunto & Boutis

Labor of Love (an article about a group of people who made a copy of the “Tristan Quilt”)

* I’ve learned a lot going back through the videos – I need a better setup for sure! I apologize for the beeps in the 2nd video and the sea-sickening back-and forth in the 3rd video! I mis-spoke a couple of times in the videos, but I think you’ll understand what I mean even if I’m babbling like a loon most of the time! My stitching isn't the prettiest; especially the stippling at the end, but you get the idea!

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Collegium was absolutely the best.  I got to spend a good deal of time with both Jaquelinne and ReeceyPants; which I certainly don’t get to do enough of.

The one class I was looking forward to made the whole day worth it!  I have a new love, and that loves name is “trapunto”.  I’ll be posting more about that shortly!

I didn’t teach any ‘official’ classes, but towards the end of the day, I had gathered a group of people interested in learning some stuff, so I ended up showing people how to make cloth buttons, thread buttons, and how to do pulled work.  I think if court hadn’t interrupted the proceedings, I probably could have gone on for another hour or so!