Friday, May 4, 2018

I Contemplate VCL

Visible Corset Line

We know the ideal smooth, round and without a visible break. It should be a cinch (cinch!), but it's more a struggle, fit and fashion v. restriction or as I like to think of it T.Rex arms.  Modern recreators dispute, condemn, rework, let out a seam. Sometimes to effect, but not always.
I present an assuaging collage, 'cause they didn't always get it right either.
A small and easily gathered sample, if you look you can see it everywhere.
Would I like creaseless perfection?  Yes. I would also like penny whistles and pony rides.  I know an extra layer would relieve most of the line, but I just don't wanna. It's one more layer- not gonna do it. So in solidarity with my sinuous sisters, you're going to see my corset.
There it is front and back, I like to think the multi-directional stripes hide it cleverly- but it don't.
I'm pretty happy with it's first run, I may tweak it a bit, the tail needs a weight to keep it from flipping and I forgot to add the stays to the channels in front (I only ever bone the front). It was light and crisp and really fun to wear. And that's the goal.

Children of nature....... and taffeta

The entire point of this dress was a GBACG outing to Roaring Camp. Steam train, BBQ and nature. So. Much. Fun. I'd do it again in a heartbeat, the day was perfection, the weather was fine and everyone looked primped and polished. All in all about 80 attendees, including your thimble servant and my dear friend Todi. 
Lovely Cynthia, one of the organizers and her not so little man.
Afterwards we rambled in the redwoods, the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park  to be exact. 
I contemplate Rousseau and his natural man. Uh-huh.

Heaven in every particular. 
In Super-Blurification! (But you can still see the corset line)
Ah well, I am content.

Ever Your Thimble Servant,
Miss Brilliantine

Thursday, April 19, 2018

I Go to ALL the Things

April may be cruel but it's also busy.
Since all the things are happening at once I'll not squander them. Opportunity is fickle, who knows when it'll come round again. To that end I'll gather as much joy as I can, while I can and maybe put some aside for a leaner time when joy isn't so thick on the ground. A sort of joy jerky, dried and put by for when I need it.
I heard you, "I'd never partake of desiccated joy". But you would in a hungry time, I know you would.
"Got any of that dried joy left...?"

Thing the First-
Last Saturday was our Spring ball given by the Social Daunce Irregulars in Pasadena. I wore the return of the Swiss Waist and a fine thing it turned out to be, the lace did not shred as I feared. Stalwart yet elegant. Why, I could jump out of a fox hole bayonets fixed and still look elegant. Maybe I exaggerate, a little.
A little repurposed and made over, but serviceable.
Thing the Second-
This Saturday is GBACG "Train Ride into the West". Steam train, 1880's period attire and BBQ, where do I sign? http://www.gbacg.org/current/western-train_2018.php
A re-blocked straw and inspiration ( Antonio Mancini)
I do love to re-block hats, sooo much easier that making them from scratch and very satisfying. ( I fear I may be losing brain cells to the vapor, though.)
I did make a dress from scratch, using a lovely silk stripe given to me by Loren Dearborn of "The Costumer's Closet" blog. Dearborn is the most apt name.
I'll post action shots from the day.
Thing the Third-
Then there is the Art Deco Society's Preservation ball, http://www.artdecopreservationball.com/
Wherein I'll be wearing a "this old thing", but the shoes are pretty.
The right tool for the job, says I.
I think that's enough, I will squeeze in a ramble because it won't stay green forever.
May is starting to look lonely by comparison.

Ever Your Thimble Servant,
Miss Brilliantine

Friday, March 30, 2018

Not Florence and a Little from Column B

Pastiche is a lovely word which has always sounded like something delicious to me. (Pastiche for dessert? It must be my birthday!) Since it's a celebration, or say a collaboration with the past, nobody's the wiser and we have fun. I finally took my thrifted linen duster out for a ramble in not Florence and not 1905.
With a nod to Eleanor Lavish without her baedeker.
Green, green, green Fernandez Ranch in Martinez Ca. part of the John Muir Land Trust
The cows had churned up the paths so thoroughly, that I couldn't get very far. But the rain is sorely needed and I had boots on. Not pretty American Duchess lace-up oxfords, boots.
Since I had brought all this up with me, and I don't pack light, I was undeterred.
Craftily blurred out hiking boots
"O mio babbino caro"
If the cows stop giving milk, it's none of my doing.....

Column B
The return of the Swiss Waist, or Corselete's revenge.
My brother always asks rhetorically, "Is it a sin to like your own cooking?" No, nor is it to be pleased with an object sewn and labored over.  Since I have only worn the Swiss waist once and it needed another outing, I'm giving it the fancy treatment as a ball gown.
Overskirt of turn-of -the-century satin Ikat, liberated from another ball gown

Corselete's Revenge

OG (original gown) with the unsuspecting Lynne B.
The lace overlay is a silk chantilly so old and fine, I fear it may be a one off. I'm trying not to get too attached and enjoy the impermanence, a few waltzes and it may shatter. I can live with that, it was worth the round and round on the dance floor.
See how we all grow.

Ever Your Thimble Servant,
Miss Brilliantine

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb

Mid-March can purr.
Mostly it roars, don't count on the fickle feline to give you fine days. She giveth and taketh away.
Buffeting your fine silk and new shoes, making you put a coat over it (nerve).
Then you find just the thing, waiting for you all along...... Roses!

She followed me home, and I kept her.

 Spring is coming when flowered hats fall into your hands unbidden. Then all you can think of is chiffon and the kind of mid-30's frocks and hats that go with champagne and French 75s. Swell strappy shoes with or without peep toes.
Dame Fashion proclaims that Spring is made for saucy hats that peep.
 In fairness I have to admit I live in a particularly benign climate. Not Narnia, not Narnia at all.
Enough with the Winter wonderland, if four adorable English school children come to your door, don't answer it.


My friend's backdoor in upstate New York. 1886location.com. Chantal, I grant you a Pimm's Cup.
I know "Some nerve!" also "Well, I never!"
Story with a moral-
When my mother was a girl she was sick with an anemia that would keep her in bed for weeks. Because it was the olden days and you could have your shoes made to order, her father would have them made for her. She would lie in bed with them on her feet and admire.
If you are snowy or icy or wet, wear those new shoes. If not outside, then in and wait for the lamby days.
My new American Duchess Tissots
Ever Your Thimble Servant,
Miss Brilliantine

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Emperor Norton and the Rest

I packed up, bags and baggage. All the hats, boots, petticoats, chignons and everything needed, or perceived to be needed for an audience with an Emperor. Let me tell you, that's a lot of stuff, my perception is keen.
 Held in the library of the classical stone and steel Mechanic's Institute, we arrived and I was immediately asked if I was wearing American Duchess boots. Funny kindred spirits.   

On my way up, in my American Duchess "Colette" boots.

 The Emperor was there in splendor, greeting subjects, he was everything affable and condescending.
All gussied up in epaulets and orders.
Waltzes and quadrilles played in the background, champagne and absinthe were there for the asking with a lovely spread of tasty things, all cheesy and sausagey. We mingled and when the toasts were held, they were (wisely) brief, the Emperor was invoked and we went back to imbibing.

The picture is slightly out of focus, I leave you to your own conclusions.
 In honor of the Emperor, a local distiller had made a gin called "Bummer and Lazarus" after his dogs. They may be apocryphal, but the gin was delicious. It was so smooth it rolled like round vowels, the beginging of a new Romance language.
My dear friend Todi happily joined us. She always makes it more fun.
How far would you trust them?

And the rest-
People are always giving me things. It's a generous if random impulse, it can be an attic full of turn-of-the-century clothing and mementos (I still have a box full of WWI postcards) which delighted my treasure hunting heart. Or the occasional discarded, unloved and unwanted wedding dress. (I don't want to know the backstory.) I accept them, they way you do when your dog brings you something she caught. "You like it, don't you?"  I do.
I was given a giant bright blight a week ago. The thing was huge and needed to be carved up and rendered down. like this-
It might be time for new proverb-

"Marry in polyester, repent in linen".

Ever Your Thimble Servant,
Miss Brilliantine

Monday, January 29, 2018

January Austen, Gaul-ic Fringe and Buttons


 January you've done your worst, but like an Austen character dear reader-let me persuade you to follow my example, and take a turn about the year. -- I assure you it is very refreshing after sitting so long in one attitude.
I did go to the annual Jane Austen Ball in Pasadena, dressed in my slightly out of fashion Turq(ish) jacket and "Italianate rump". Not cork, but padded and definitely not wearing mouse brows. I painted them on with burned cloves as fashion dictates. I should have stuffed by cheeks with wool and been a la mode 1789.....  We all re-live our youth.
Giving good Goya

Gaul-ic Fringe
Why Gaul-ic? Because it's divided in three parts. 


Individual drops, bobble trim and fringe. I added the cut down fringe, sewed on the bobble trim and added the drops between every other bobble.
That's going to kick up something fierce, all my edges tremble.

These have to be sewn on individually, a bead, a drop, another bead and home again. Repetitive work is kind of soothing.

See, three parts.
Buttons
Last month (was it only last month) my brother lost a button from a vest I made and became unaccountably sad. At the loss of a button. He is not sentimental, but he is effusive and grateful for a new bit of sartorial splendor. But buttons spill from my pockets, I leave them in my wake. I cry button tears and comb them out of my hair. I have them in pseudo-military metal and fragile tissue wrapped glass, with "made in Czechoslovakia" on the label. I have candy colored plastic ones from the Sixties ready for a knock-off A-line dress. I have Art Deco and Nouveau. I would never make a garment that didn't have extras, am I mad? I think ultimately I am made of buttons, buttons and clay like a sewing golem (I always knew). Animated by singular sentimental buttons.

Ever Your Thimble Servant,
Miss Brilliantine

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Fitz&Starts and the Kinetic Edge

Fitz&Starts, you know that august establishment. Frustratingly closed all weekend and then inexplicably open at 2am on a Wednesday.
Don't shake your dainty fist and curse the Gods, that's time better spent sewing, any minute you can be called away. Progress is progress, a sleeve cut out or buttons sewn on, it all adds up and it will start to look like something.
Pinning counts.



Bobbles and jet.

This tie silk shows it origins when cut on the bias.
 I want this to have movement and gravitas, it IS for an audience with an Emperor.

The Kinetic Edge-
We are so used to seeing dresses from this era in photographs and museums we forget that they were meant to be seen moving. The sculpted silk gave way to the kinetic edges of fringe, tassels, bobbles and pleats. The close fit belies the movement, it sways, winks, pulses out with every step. Never static. Walking in them is a joy, dancing ecstatic.
Imagine going to an Automotive museum and thinking they never went fast because they are standing still.


They were never still, can you imagine it?

Circumscribed by satin and velvet, distended by armatures, but revenged by the kinetic edge.

Ever your Thimble Servant,
Miss Brilliantine