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

Friday, January 5, 2018

I Am Highly Distractible

There is a reason Janus has two faces, the common wisdom is he looks to the past and the future. I think it's so he can talk about you when you're not in the room.
I'm partial to the 'ember months, but they must all be gotten through. I could burrow into the sofa so deep it becomes an intaglio of my ass.....mustn't give in.  Sometimes you eat the bear, sometimes the bear eats you and sometimes you curl up beside him until Springtime.
Why be gloomy when the sun is out, it's not like I have to shovel snow. And since I am highly distractible, I'll use that minor power to get some things done.
Hunting on the interwebs I found a page for the Mechanics Institute in San Francisco. On their calendar is a celebration of Emperor Norton's 200th birthday. Champagne and dress-up, I'm in.

I have wanted to make a swiss waist from the 1870's/80's for a while, I've collected images and set up a Pinterest board. Maybe it's time I make one. I have scraps from a black satin underskirt and scraps are all you need.

This illustration is from 1890 and shows the pattern pieces. 
Not a corset, a "swiss waist" worn over a blouse or bodice.
Seen mostly with crinoline dresses this fashion lasted well into the 1890s and turned into those sweet shaped belts of the Edwardian era. No need to reinvent the wheel, I used Truly Victorian 416, 1875 evening bodice cut down.
Pinned together, it will button up the front.

It looks smoother IRL

Flirty tails
The underbodice will be the black stripe of the overskirt. Are you keeping score? 
 (Parenthetical aside- you know how I love them. None of my cutting tools have an edge, I might as well have gnawed on the fabric, I keep missing the scissor sharpener man. Why can't he go up and down the street like an ice cream truck, but more sinister?)
January and I started a thing, I call that progress.
Ever Your Thimble Servant,
Miss Brilliantine

Monday, December 4, 2017

Creative Constraints or That's All Ya Got?

Vintage fabric is a blessing and curse.
 Unearthed from who knows whose Great Aunties's world travels, time warped to you. Glossy, like thick cream and only 29" wide, it comes conveniently packaged in 5 yard lengths....And go!

Auntie was probably a Mad Man era vixen, Harilela's sold these brocades in their Hong
Kong Hotels.
This is more than enough for a cocktail frock or cheongsam, which I'm sure was the intent. Not so much for an 1880's ballgown, and you know that's how I like it. The dilemma is how much other visual information to add, by that I mean, taffeta-lace-embroideries? Do I drape the brocade with other fabric and lessen its appeal, or go a little more spare and let it speak for itself. 
Hey Muse.
The vintage trim and my favorite scalloped edge.

 I finally used the velvet and metallic trim I've had for years and was keeping for just the right thing. Some may think of it as a bit hoardy,  I like to think of it as eventual grave goods. You can't use all the things, but you can leave them for someone else to find.

I decided on side panels of embroidered silk with a golden taffeta lining

A liberal application of sew-on sparkles later, it came together, if a little slowly. When you have scraps left there is no do-over.
Post ball, after larks and hi-jinks, shockingly gloveless but surrounded by friends.
Ever Your Thimble Servant,
Miss Brilliantine

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Ladies who Labored

I am as fond as anyone of the dress-up. I started in highschool and never looked back. I've ebbed and flowed as life took turns, taking turns with my time and attention.  I'm still here (sometimes) sewing away.
I love and admire the artistry of textiles of the past. Artistry on a par with  great paintings, yet just starting to be recognized (needles and thread are the tools of ladies, after all).  I have no illusions about the toll our fore-mothers paid for their adherence to fashion.
On Labor Day, I'm always reminded of the toll in lives. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911 was the culmination of greed at the expense of a workforce without agency. A female workforce that was majority immigrant, was the perfect tinder for that fire.

I'm linking a post from a fews years ago, she wrote it better than I can.
Over one hundred years later it still has the power to move. Their sacrifice outraged the public and began to change opinions. It was a hard price.
 A workforce that is disenfranchised is always vulnerable to abuse.

Ever Your Thimble Servant,
Miss Brilliantine

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Crescents of Saturn Bustle and a Picnic

I have many dress lengths languishing for picnics/Summer wear. But I just didn't wanna, so this was a dress  do-over. I wanted to adjust the front drapes and 'oomph' the bustle. Not wanting to reinvent the wheel (bustle) I added some padded crescents to the old one. Presto!
Crescents of goodness.
As you can see, it's not an original idea. Collaborating with the past!
We have achieved 'oomph'!
It's all about the back, baby.
My yearly Impressionist's picnic was blessed with fabulous weather, I don't think it broke 75 degrees (it's scorching one week later).
Blah, Blah, Blah... here are pictures.
Chantal adds up the reasons why.

Karin, Adam and Athene as fashionable fashion plates of fashion.

Some fine gentlemen.

Lovely languid day on the lawn.

No one went thirsty.
The elegant, puffy and charming.

Zounds, the heat! How are delicate flowers to survive?

This is Rancho Camulos in Piru Ca. The actual place Helen Hunt Jackson visited before writing "Ramona". It's heavenly.

Ever Your Thimble Servant,
Miss Brilliantine

Friday, June 2, 2017

Wabi-Sabi, The Tale of a Pant

I have made this pattern several times, maybe half a dozen. It's a fun sew, and the pants come out with the lovely high waist of the mid-19th c. Linen, wool, cotton jean it all looks great. Except I keep telling myself not to ever make them out of plaid again. Checks, cross bar, window pane, whatever you call it, it has to be matched.
I sew along with visions of Daniel Day-Lewis in "The Age of Innocence" in my head. Crisply attired in cool summer linen.
Brava! Keep sewing, my friends will cheer on your "deftness".
Then the carefully pinned and matched seems start straying from match. After careful marking, the seams go a little off. I try pulling a little to true the edges but no. Consarnit! The words are milder in the re-telling.
Here is where wabi-sabi comes to my aid,  "the wisdom and beauty of imperfection".
If it can be applied to gardens, art, life, it can be applied to pants.

Beautiful, if slightly off grid. The champagne and sandwiches won't mind.
You know, I can live with it and as they are a gift, my brother can live with it too.

Ever Your Thimble Servant,
Miss Brilliantine 
Yes Girl, I'll come to your picnic.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Yellow Journalism

Literal, not figurative yellow.
I get colors stuck in my head, like songs in the brain. Sitcom theme songs and Theme Park muzak.
How to purge them is as singular as the head they are stuck in. I'm showing and telling in an effort to purge lovely, creamy, apricoty, Spring frothy, yellow.
Not a color I have been confident in wearing in the past.  However not all yellows are the same, some are more equal than others...
Yellow and pink and a froth of white

"The Lady in Gold" by Thomas Cooper Gotch

April May June

Lace and a little ice blue.

I didn't say "yellow fever" once.

Ever Your Thimble Servant,
Miss Brilliantine.