Thursday, May 26, 2011

My Efforts to Promote Study & Preservation

Collections: My own collection of reproductions has been a labour of love for the past twenty years. While I may not finish a garment on a yearly basis, the scope of this project has been in the works that long. Basically, my aim is to recreate examples of the evolution of women's dress from 1800 to 1915. I have chosen to focus on five year intervals to best illustrate this development.  I have taken this trunk show to our local high schools, where I am able to work with grade 11 & 12 students in various aspects of their curriculum. Usually, I am able to find one or two young ladies who are anxious enough and small enough to be dressed and laced into corsets, underpinnings et al.  The response has always been very positive and encouraging. It has been great fun. I have also worked with our local historical societies. Often the result is the gift of a family heirloom or bit of lace to add to my collections or a new member for the Costume Society of Ontario.

Display promoting the Costume Society of Ontario at Montgomery's Inn.  Pieces are my reproductions.

Recollections:  I have to say that my favorite period to reproduce has been the Edwardian age.  The details and textiles that one can work with are the most fun.  It also places high demands on your sewing skills and your pocket book.  The black lace dress below, I created in the early 1990's.  The skirt consists of three layers of fabric.  That's 15 yards!  A satin lining, over that, pink chiffon and over that, black lace.  The lace for the skirt is of the period.  I was able to find it in an antique store and it was the impetus for the recreation.  Remarkably, it is woven in one piece!  Only a center back seam is employed.  The lace is one large ovoid shape of gored panels.  Quite an engineering feat!   Even more remarkably, I was able to purchase it for $45.00.  It is in mint condition.  The remaining lace used in the bodice and sleeves is basic yard goods.  I didn't hesitate mixing the laces, the Edwardians did also.

Ambitions: I have been collecting fabrics and trims, as you can see, to recreate an Edwardian tea gown. The process can be a long and involved one for me. Sometimes, years in fact. The printed chiffon I purchased over 2 years ago. The fuchsia linen was given to me over ten years ago and the laces that I am currently "auditioning" have been accumulated for several years. In all, between drafting the pattern and final execution, the project has been in my mind for the better part of this decade, but that is how I work. Don't expect to see the finished project any time soon.

Period photographs, fashion illustrations, colour references, and post cards are all acquired and filed away in my scrapbook for future reference and inspiration.

The dress that got away. Ebay

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