23 Feb 2012

Léonard Defrance

One of the perks with being rather uneducated about The Arts is that you constantly stumble upon artists you'd never heard of. This happened today, to me. And it was awesome.

Defrance (1735-1805) was a Belgian painter and according to what I could find through an Google image search, he was very fond of painting ordinary people in ordinary and sometimes less than graceful situations. Things that I love!

These paintings seem to be the more known of his work, since I got many versions of them in my search results. The resolution is not always great, but here we go:

Men Fighting. Hermitage Museum

Women fighting.  Hermitage Museum   

Fish market. Some oil painting on demand site. Totally copyrighted.

Interior of a forge. Artnet
Recruting officer in a public house. Artnet
The breakfast. Hermitage Museum
Visiting the printers. Musée de Grenoble

And my absolute favourite...
The rope dancer The Met

Follow the link and zoom in! Look at her little outfit! Who's going to make it? It won't be me, I'm afraid - don't have the legs for it.

21 Feb 2012

Prequel to the last post

I was going to bust sooner, but... Yeah. At least I have been sewing, a lot!

But this post is going to about the things I made to wear to the outing a few weeks ago. And also, about the things I didn't make to said event.

The thing is, I really, really wanted to jump-start a Regency wardrobe for this event. After all, it was an 19th century themed event, and I have longed to study and understand Regency fashions better but always had things come in between. Now, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. I had the materials needed. I even had an unfinished pair of Regency stays that had been collecting dust since Spring... So it was just to finish said stays, and...

Ah. This was where things got awkward.

There was a reason I had left those stays in a miserable little pile since Spring. They had issues. Huge issues.

Unfixable issues, to be honest.

I won't bother you with the gory details, but things were very bad in the bust area. Think a very sad muffin top and a profile that associated more to mammography than those magnificent shelves we wish for from a good pair of Regency stays. I just don't have sufficient understanding of corsetry to pull off a project like this easily, I think. 18th c. stays, I can manage, if I try, but this... I need to learn more.

So, there wasn't anything to be done. They had to be scrapped (but saved and used as a "don't do this!"-reference for when, or if, I try my hands at Regency stays again). So now what?

To try and whip together a new Regency stays was out of the question (and impossible to boot), and I really didn't want to make a nice Regency gown without proper undergarments. I had to settle for a compromise, and then things got rather muddled.

With no real plan anymore, I did what any reasonable person would had done: I panicked. Something told me I should make something 1790s, since it's the precursor of Regency fashion and I could still wear it to 18th century events if I wished to, so I started to think of what gown I could make with fabric I already had (because I did NOT want to but new fabric for a quick-and-dirty scheme like this).

I dug up a pair of curtains I had bought at a flea market at one time, and for some reason decided I should make a wrap-front gown, like the one in Cut of Women's Clothes, or the Tidens Töj one. You could argue it had been smarter had I settled for a simple design like the ones I have made earlier (1, 2), but no. No. We couldn't have that.

So some time after I had this (pictures - FINALLY! you all think, right?):
I hadn't done a proper fasting here so it did look better on me than on the mannequin, but my overall sentiment was pretty much: Meh.
The fabric was very nice though - delicate and very sheer. Very suitable for frigging Winter weather.
But wait for the punchline, or whatever we shall call it...
I didn't take sleeves into account. I used up nearly every little piece of fabric, but didn't actually think about sleeves!
I know I can be easily distracted, but this is ridiculous even for me. This is what happens when you don't have a proper plan, folks!

So, as things stand, the poor dress still haven't got sleeves (although I recently scored another curtain at another flea market that I think will do the trick) but at that time, I didn't let it bother me much, because I was going to make a half robe to go over the dress! Yay!

I naturally thought of the half robe in Costume in Detail, and for the first time I could even see what it looked like in the flesh. So I got to work.

Some time after, I had this:
Disregard the ugly bathrobe belt I used in the shot.

Again, I couldn't afford new fabric so I turned to the stash. It is - you guessed it - another curtain, and the pattern is kinda 18th century, if you squint. It was free, and it was there, more importantly.
Anyway, the half robe was wearable and it would hide the fact that my gown had no sleeves. I had planned to wear one of my cloaks over it all, and make a cute little hat, and everything would be as fine as could be...

Until I decided that I wanted a spencer instead. With only days to go until the event. This is what happens when you don't make up proper plans .

So I actually made a go for it. Optimistic as always, I didn't think it would take as long as it did, and I chose a very unfriendly fabric for the task. Lovely green velvet, but heavy upholstery velvet (they were probably curtains, now that I think about it), which is not very good for a project like this. At least I knew that when I started so I' not complaining, and it also meant I could use a fabric from the almost forgotten corner of my stash.

I imagined some kind of combination of these two very late 1790s jackets...
...and the result was this:

Yeah. I was pretty "Meh" about this one too, but it looked like it should be (relatively) warm and if nothing else at least do its job. I guess it did.

So, that leaves me with three very "Meh" projects completed in a very short period of time. I guess I learnt a lot in the process (for example, that it's good to have a proper plan) and put my hand sewing skills to a few tests (everything was hand sewn, after all) but now I really, REALLY long for a huge, long-term project where I can spend hours and hours on planning, detailing and picking out fabrics I want and make something I can be really proud of!

Luckily, I can see such a project somewhere on the horizon, but first I'm going to finish the Pierrot jacket I started to work on many moons ago. Welp!

But that's another story!

Until then,

all the best to all of you!