Making a Hussif – Finally!

It’s here: The first post on the new (old) blog. For it, I give you a little sewing item I made quite some time ago: a hussif.

As most of you may already know, a hussif, housewife or sewing roll is the 18th-19th-century term for a roll-up or foldable fabric sewing kit, often made from pretty fabric scraps. The main inspiration for mine came from this late 18th-century one at the MFA.

While I used the same measurements, my hussif, which I actually call a sewing roll most of the time ☺, has slightly bigger pockets and is made of somewhat less lavish scrap fabric. The outside fabric is a modern, HA-ish, blockprinted quilting cotton I also used for one of my Georgian pockets. The inside pockets are from the same check fabric as my Regency smock apron and a cotton with woven candy-cane stripes I seriously bought to line a Christmas outfit once. So far it has lined my mittens and a few cloth masks…

I first bound the top edges of the pockets with linen tape and hemmed the bottoms. Then I basted them to a piece of calico. In hindsight, I should have reinforced it with some interfacing or buckram, as was the historical way. I wedged the calico lining with the pockets on top of the outside fabric and joined it all together with a binding of cotton twill tape. The finishing touches were a needle book of little felt leaves and an embroidered felt top for the scissor compartment. Anyways, here is the finished beauty:

The black tape for the binding is a remnant of the very first hem tape baby me bought when I started sewing as a hobby. Edging it nicely around the top point of the hussiff required the usual, excessive amount of pins. But, since I had my own point binding tutorial to follow along, it went swimmingly.

Like my museum inspiration, a number of hussifs had gorgeous, embroidered outsides, often but not only, in flame stitch, or another type of counted-thread embroidery. While I didn’t add embroidery to the outside, I added a little Regency floret from Ackermann’s Repository to the scissor pocket.

Embroidery for the top pocket.

After finishing my hussif, I actually started learning Bargello, or flame stitch, embroidery. My first sampler of crewel wool on Aida cloth became a little needle book I made for my Instagram’s 1.2 K giveaway.

My first Bargello sampler in the making.
The finished needle book which is pretty much my hussif’s little cousin.

And that was it for my first post on Désirée Historique already. I hope you enjoyed it and I shall see you again soon. Much love! x

PS: I’m curious. Do you have a historical sewing kit, too, and what do you keep in it? Please feel free to drop me a comment.


Regency Bodice Plays 2 : Sleeveless Bodice

Ever since I have been into Regency costuming I wanted to make a sleeveless bodice. This might have a little to do with my Bavaro-Austro-Czech aesthetics (dirndl bodice, anyone?). But mostly, I have always wanted to have some of the things Joséphine Bonaparte owned. This amazing silk bodice at Château Malmaison has been inspiring me a lot. I could also add many inspirational fashion plates here. But I will just ask you to flip through the Journal des Dames et des Modes on BNF Gallica at your leisure. You will find plenty of gorgeous examples there.

Like the bodiced petticoat, the sleeveless bodice started out with the Sense&Sensibility ELC dress lining. Only this time I reduced the width of the front pieces so that I had a little bit of negative ease to wear it with the front laced up. Then I made a mock-up to determine where I wanted the “waist” and neckline to be. For stability, I added a piece of plastic whalebone next to the lacing. The bodice is flatlined with some sturdy cotton percale, to get even more structure. Then, to be a little more decorative, I hid the boning channels under little, ruffled fabric tubes. In the back, I spruced things up with a peplum and faux, fabric-covered buttons.

Front ruffle and eyelets, hand-bound in blue linen twine.
Ruffled peplum and buttons in the back.
The whole number laid flat after lining it.

The fabric was a leftover of an old IKEA Alvine bed set which my mother’s friend had turned into a sheet and cushions for me. Here is some proof of the “deed” 😉 :

Cushion camouflage! 😀

During the lockdown, I finally had a moment to take pictures. In them, I wore it over my old S&S stripe gown, with a plain fichu, and some pearls. Here is some picture “spam” from the photoshoot. I think I had fun.

And, with this last photo, I shall turn my back and run off to new adventures, or the next post. Excuse the crude word play. I hope you enjoyed this belated summary of all things concerning bodices. Hoping to see you around soon.

Much love, Ness


Regency Bodice Plays 1 – Bodiced Petticoat

Again, it has been a while since I last updated the blog. But tonight I had an itch to write about some of the pretty stuff I finished earlier this year. So here’s a quick post to sum up the new bodiced petticoat which I have grown to love.

I drafted the it using the Sense & Sensibility ELC drawstring dress bodice lining as a base. There’s another costume piece I based off it. But more on that (hopefully) in my next post.

My visual inspiration came from museum pieces as well as from Chelsea’s petticoat. She made it using the La Mode Bagatelle pattern and it simply looks gorgeous.

As far as extant pettis go, this early 19th-century cotton underdress at the Museum of Fine Arts is one of the most complete surviving examples I found. As a plus, it has some beautiful embroidery. It was probably not worn as a mere foundation garment, but as an outer layer, underneath another gown. It’s oh so pretty!

Early 19th-c. underdress (likely 1820s), cotton, worn in New England, MFA Boston, Accession no. 49.867.

A little more practical than pretty is this underdress fragment, also from the MFA. It’s just a plain, flat linen bodice with tape for straps. As opposed to its fancy cousin above, this one was most likely really worn for unders… though who knows. 😉

19th-century underdress fragment, linen with linen tape, worn in Massachusetts, MFA Boston, Accession no. 99.664.5.

When making up my bodice from the dress lining pattern, I took some pointers from the bodiced petticoat tutorial Jennie Chancey wrote for her other S&S Regency gown pattern. As the front of the lining is made up of two long, overlapping pieces and already has a pretty low neckline, I only tweaked it a little.

For that, three things were important: (a) The petticoat bodice should cover the stays but be invisible. (b) It has to be flat to smooth out the silhouette and prevent corset lines from showing through. (c) It should help contain the bust at the top.

For the bodice pattern this meant I took down the necklines, front and back, so they just went over the top edge of my stays by about 1/2″. To get a flat bodice with enough bust room, I reduced the bottom width of the front piece. For that I redrew the side seams so they slanted upwards a bit. The rest of the fullness was gathered up for approx. 5″ over the bottom center front. The top end kept its original width and I added a drawstring. Since all the bodice’s raw edges were bound with twill tape, it did not need an extra casing. To flatten the skirt portion, I made a small box pleat at CF. The same thing was usually done to earlier petticoats from the 18th-century. Here is a picture to show you the front modifications a little more clearly.

Bodice front with drawstring, small bottom gathers and box pleat.

The petticoat fastens in the back with hooks and thread loops. To strengthen the seams against traction, I added double cording on both sides of each seam. The skirt, which is basically a long rectangle, has a placket over the back seam. I chose not to add any fastenings there because the amount of gapping was no bother. One could say that it is actually quite period. 🙂 There are some more gathers at the skirt’s center back, but not too many, to keep things nice and flat. Since my polished cotton fabric was a bit flimsy, I added a small pile of tucks near the skirt hem for weight. The finished petticoat ends a little way above the ankles.

The thread loops made me happy!

Here is a final look at the finished petti on me. I can say it makes a huge difference compared to just wearing single strap petticoat over the stays. I now wear it underneath pretty much all my Regency outfits. There is much more structure, just because of it and dressing got more comfortable, too. Mostly because I don’t end up sticking all the dress pins directly into my stays anymore…

And this is all for the first “bodice play” about making a bodiced petticoat. The next installment will arrive when the writing bug strikes again.

Until then. Much love, Ness


A 17th-century hood – a year later

Whoops, has it already been a year since I found the job? Apparently it has, and it has been a turbulent one. I spent much time adjusting, quietly sewing away in my corner, doing some creative writing, and tentatively volunteering at a local museum. Somehow, blogging fell short among it all.

Now I remembered that I have not yet told you anything about the early to mid-17th-c. linen hood I finished last summer, shortly before the move. Tonight I finally find a moment to do so. Here goes:


As it turns out, loose hoods in the 17th-century are a fickle thing. They appear everywhere and nowhere. The little solid evidence I have comes from two ladies’ clothing inventories cited in “Seventeenth-Century Women’s Dress Patterns 1”. Here a hood (one in each source) is listed alongside the ruffs. This can mean two things: First hoods might have been worn with ruffs a lot or second, someone meticulously grouped all the linen accessories into one section. 😉

Another source are two paintings. One is a less well-known English portrait from the British Prime Minister’s estate at Chequers. The other is a Vermeer, showing a plainer Dutch hood in a later, slightly different style.

Mary Hawtrey, Lady Wolley, c. 1625, English School, attributed to the circle of Marcus Gheeraerts.

Young Woman with a Water Pitcher, c. 1662, by Johannes Vermeer, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Accession no. 89.15.21

There has been some speculation that these hoods were less visible in public than other headgear because they were probably a more private, indoors-y accessory. It makes sense as they would be more fuss-free to put on than some caps, for example during the morning toilette. Of the two extant hoods I found, one has a split back seam, which could point to the wearer’s hair being stuffed loosely underneath. But that is just a theory.

The extant examples are the c. 1610-20 linen hood at the V&A, from which the pattern in the book is taken and another, c. 1640, British cotton hood at the Met museum. From further away, this cotton looks a bit like a creamy silk organdy though. 😉 In the pictures, you can see the partly open back seam.

Cotton hood, British, c. 1640, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Accession no. 1975.203

Linen hood, c. 1610-20, British, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, Accession no. T.206-1970.


The construction of the hood is fairly simple. It only has two pattern pieces, the rounded hood shape itself and a gore that is set into each side.

Hemmed hood piece with the gore opening.

All pieces are joined together with insertion lace on the original. I opted for a simpler method and joined everything with a plain faggoting stitch, worked over the hemmed edges. I am not 100% certain how historically accurate my approach was. The crochet cotton I used was definitely not period correct…

Faggoting stitch between the pieces.

The folded hood with both gores inserted.

The Result

I am really pleased how pretty the hood turned out. The light ramie-cotton blend fabric I found on sale was perfect for it. I made a matching kerchief from it as well. 🙂

The finished product, showing off all the splits and gores.

And that was it for the first post in a long, long while. I am hoping there will soon be more were this one came from.

Thank you for reading. Wishing you all a pleasant week. 🙂



A Sewing Sunbonnet

While I was working on my entry for the current Historical Sew Monthly challenge, the weather here decided to become unusually warm for May. So I could sit outside and sew on the terrace. Because it was very sunny out there, I decided to whip up a quick sunbonnet over the long Pentecost weekend. Since this month’s HSM theme was “Specific Time of Day or Year”, it became a bonus entry of sorts.

I used the slat sunbonnet pattern by the wonderful Elizabeth Stuart Clark. You can download the PDF for free on the Sewing Academy website.

Being a mid-19th-century pattern, this is a little outside my usual sewing periods. But precursors of this useful bonnet style have been around since at least the 1830s. Most earlier examples are stiffened with cording like this one from c.1835. Twila made a beautiful corded Regency bonnet that is quite similar. You can find her tutorial for it here.

Sunbonnet, cotton, c.1840, Metropolitan Museum.

Slats, like in my version, came in a little later. Here is an especially pretty example in fine linen, with slats, from around 1850. A combination of both slats and cording was not unusual either. Very similar, quilted varieties of these bonnets could be worn in the cold season, too.

Sunbonnet, linen, c. 1850, Metropolitan Museum.

Slats were made from stiff materials that added shape to the bonnets’ fabric brim. The pattern suggests using manila paper or something similar. Since the slats are removed for washing, the stiffening does not have to be waterproof. Though I was not looking forward to having wet paper stuck inside the fabric when it rained. So I used the opportunity to try out Lina’s DIY buckram tutorial on a 12″ by 16″ scrap of cotton canvas.

Making cornstarch paste for the buckram.

It worked like a charm and the fabric can be re-starched as needed. She suggests to iron the buckram dry. A quick dry out in the sun worked fine, too.

The dried cotton buckram.

I cut most of my slats 2″ wide, to speed up sewing the channels. Only the outer ones, near the ear, are 1″ wide, like in the original pattern. It took a moment to fiddle them in between the voile facing and outer fabric. But now they sit snugly in their channels. I did not have to tack down the facing to keep them inside at all.

Cutting the slats.

Here is a front view of the brim.

All my fabrics are white, including the checked cotton percale from my stash. They go together nicely, though I might dye the bonnet a different colour, next time I decide to do a round of dyeing in the washing machine.

To tie up the back, I used two 14″ pieces of 5/8″ wide satin ribbon, also from my stash. The pattern says to add a pair of tape ties inside, to keep the sunbonnet from flying away. Mine is doing fine without. So far at has not even slipped around while I was out there, sewing.

All in all, this bonnet was a fun spontaneous project. It just sort of happened from one day to the next. I think it is even the fastest historical item I have ever sewn by hand, coming together in just over ten hours, from pattern drawing to finish. At the moment, it is the most worn one, too. Here is a selfie of me puttering around in it on the terrace last week.

Awkward terrace selfie…

Did I mention I am not good at taking those? Still I am very happy with this sunbonnet altogether. It is a lot of fun to wear and just shades the face enough to keep me from squinting at my handsewing. Now I am definitely ready for more outdoor sewing adventures this summer.



Adding Some Bling

Actually, wearing and making jewelry were never really my thing. But, since I am into historical costuming, I realized that the ladies of “my” eras really loved their bling. And that changed my mind. Now I really love the look of historical and historically inspired jewelry. Since my costuming budget is somewhat tight until further notice, I can only dream about buying pieces from one of the many talented makers of historical jewelry out there. Hopefully, one day I can support those wonderful people with a purchase.

Until then I had to find a way to make do and started looking around YouTube for some simple jewelry making tutorials. It all looked very complicated to beginner me but eventually I decided to give it a try. Then, some months ago, the only jewelry supply nearby was turned into an outlet store with 50% off everything. That motivated me to try and make some simple bling to go with my costumes. And this are the results so far:

The first I made was the string of corals and matching earrings from some beads I had bought ages ago. This was my first pearl knotting project and it got me hooked. The corals had teeny tiny holes and I probably swore a lot as I fiddled around with my extra fine pearl needle. But in the end, I was very happy with the finished mini parure. I am looking forward to wearing it with my Regency attire. 😀

A knotted coral mini “parure”.

Next, I made a sweetwater pearl necklace for the Historical Sew Monthly’s “Fastenings” challenge. Knotting these pearls went much faster. As with the corals I used matching linen twine, finished with clear nail polish.

Knotting away…

The necklace closes with 12″ ribbon ties, sewn through two pretty cast metal rings. Because I am a chicken about losing it, I added a detachable hook underneath. The finished thing makes me really happy. And the best part, neither of the two pearl necklaces cost more than €15 to make.

The finished pearl necklace.

Last week I found two matching fayx pearl drops which I just had to tearn into ear hangers. Now I am all set to wear some sparkle with my 17th-century outfits as well.

Matching pearl drops!

Slowly this is becoming a somewhat addictive side hobby. When I last went past the jewelry store, I discovered they had some pre-made collets, and they were pink! So I simply could not say no to them. It took about two hours to attach all the split rings. The finished collet necklace is more historical-ish.

My first collet necklace, sort of. 😉

Now I am pondering to make a matching bracelet, just in case I need something nice to wear with Regency full dress. And I do not even have a full dress ensemble completed yet. Oops. Looks like my inner Gollum put the cart before the horse. My precious… LOL

But now I have the best excuse to start planning for a new bib-front gown to match the bling. 😉



A Regency Apron Tutorial

Remember the smock apron I finished in March? Yesterday I found the pattern again. It was hiding in a vase in the living room. Not sure how it got there… LOL. Now I could get cracking on the drafting tutorial for you at last.

Federal-era smock apron, c. 1800, Colonial Williamsburg, Accesion 1995-33.

The pattern is based on this apron in the CW collection. It is pretty straightforward to draft and make up, even if you have not drafted your own pattern before. It uses some length estimates I took off the image in a plotter. The rest depends on personal preference and the figure of the wearer. To start off, you will need the flowing


  • Underbust
  • The distance from the top of your shoulder to your underbust. Usually it is enough to measure at the front, but I like to check this against the back, too. It may vary a bit.
  • Your armpit to armpit measure, taken at the front. You mainly need this for the width of the bib.
  • Desired front bodice height to/from the underbust. The extant apron has about 4″. I made mine a bit higher, at 5″ because I have a talent of dirtying myself just where the apron ends. 😉
  • Skirt length. It should come to the ankle or a little above that. Mine was 38″.

Bodice Pattern:

Originally, I thought about writing up step-by-step drafting instructions. But since everyone has a different working order, I put all the measurements, and maths, into one diagram. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask anytime!

One thing I did not note down is that I continued the apron straps for about 3-4″ before starting on the neckline and armhole curves. The dots on the front diagram are gathering marks. More on those in the sewing instructions below.

Apron front diagram.

Apron back diagram.

Add seam allowances to all the edges, except at the center front line. I settled for 5/8″ here.

Making up the bodice:

Cut out one front piece on fold and two back pieces, aligning the CB line with the fabric grain. Next, run two lines of gathering stitches between the dots at the top and bottom of the front piece. Each dot is 1 1/2″ away from CF, so you will be stitching four lines that are 3″ long. Pull up the gathers. Secure the threads by knotting them together and sewing own the loose ends on the wrong side of the fabric.

Next, line up the front and back pieces at the straps. Wrong sides together, sew up the strap seams. Press open, trim and finish the edges. At the bottom, the bodice pieces will not be sewn together, yet.

After these steps, your bodice should look something like this:

The joined bodice pieces.

Go ahead and hem the bodice pieces at CB and around the armholes, taking up a 1/4″ hem.

Hemming the armholes.

Now measure along the bottom edge of your bodice and add 1″. This will give you the top width of the skirt, including a hem allowance.

Making the skirt:

The skirt pattern is basically a trapezoid. At the top, you have the width you just measured in the previous step. The bottom edge should have a width between 58″ and 62″ plus 1″, depending on how full you want your skirt to be. The height of the trapezoid is your desired skirt length, plus 1 5/8″ for the top seam and bottom hem.

You can cut the skirt panel in one piece and save yourself the trouble of sewing any long seams. This works if you are using a modern fabric that is 60″ wide.

For narrower fabrics, and to create a more “period” look, you need to cut two panels. For this, add another 1 1/4″ to the top and bottom widths, then divide both measures in half. Draw a skirt panel with these new measurements. It should have one straight edge at CF that equals your skirt length, and a diagonal edge at the other end. Now cut two of these panels out of your fabric. Join them lengthwise, taking up a 5/8″ seam allowance. You can either join them on the straight or the bias edge, as you prefer. The extant apron has the skirt joined on the bias. It creates an interesting drape.

No matter if you made a one- or two-piece skirt, the next step is to hem the two long, raw outside edges. Next, align the bottom edges of the bodice with the top edge of the skirt, CF to CF and CB to CB. Like this:

Aligning the bodice and skirt.

Wrong sides together, sew the bodice to your skirt. Trim/finish the seam and press it down towards the skirt. You now have a smock apron with armholes. Go and try it on!

Ties & Finishing:

Next we need ties and a neckline drawstring to fasten the apron. For the ties at the underbust, cut two rectangles from your fabric, each about 12″ long and 2″ wide. Wrong sides out, sew up the long edges and one short edge with a narrow seam (1/4″-3/8″). Turn them inside out using a chopstick or wooden skewer. Attach the ties at CB, around underbust level, folding in and stitching over the remaining raw edge on the wrong side of the bodice.

For the neckline finish, cut a 1″ wide bias strip, the length of your neckline plus about 1″ extra. Attach it to the bodice neckline and fold it over the raw edge. Feed a narrow (1/2″-1″) linen tape through the drawstring channel you just created inside the neckline. It should be long enough to tie comfortably at the back.

Alternatively you can use four individual drawstrings, two to tie at the back, and two to adjust the front. For this, add two small eyelets to your bias strip at CF before sewing down the inner edge. Then feed through the separate tapes, stitching each one down firmly to the outside of the casing near the shoulder seams.

And you are done! Put on your new apron and check it out in the nearest mirror. 🙂

Pattern Notes:

  • This pattern can be made up from plain-weave linen or cotton fabrics. Solid colours or yarn-dyed checks or stripes work best. Period favourites included black, white or purple/mauve linen aprons. Blue and white small checks were especially popular in colonial New England.
  • See my research post for more apron details and styles.
  • The yardage for this pattern is around 2 yards, depending a bit on how wide your fabric is.
  • If you are planning to wear the apron with your Regncy costume, I strongly recommend you take your measurements over the gown and underthings, to allow yourself enough wriggle room.
  • If you do not want the straps to sit on top of your shoulders, you can put the strap seam back by lengthening the front strap and shortening the back strap by approx. 2″ respectively. I did this to create a slightly more historical look.

And that was all already. Sorry it took so long to post this. I hope the instructions are useful to you. Please have fun making your own smock apron. I would love to see the beautiful ones you have made. 🙂


Costuming, Tutorials

HSM #3: A Regency Smock Apron

As I take a break from sewing the sleeve wings on my 1630s bodice, I am using the time to finally share a bit about my new smock apron with you. It came together in the last “bodice break”. So far, I did not have the chance to wear it with my costume. But that is definitely still on the to-do list, now spring is finally here. And it definitely took its sweet time to come out this year. Another thing still on my blogging sheet is a drafting tutorial for the apron bodice. More about that below.

First off, let us talk about the construction process a bit. I started by self-drafting the bodice and skirt based on this apron in the Colonial Williamsburg collection. Their site does not have permalinks. For a look at the details, just type the accession number into the search box. 🙂

Regency smock apron, c. 1800-20, Colonial Williamsburg collection. Acc. Number 1995-33

Since I only had the one image to work off, I loaded it into Inkscape and scaled it up, based on the given length of 46″. This did not really provide accurate measurements, but gave a good estimate of the dimensions. Based on that, I drafted and mocked up the bodice pieces. Eventually I came out with this piece, which I hand-finished with 1/4″ hems around the edges. The insides are finished with a bias strip that holds a drawstring case.

The apron bodice.

Hemming the edges…

The bodice front is basically a trapezoid that gets its Regency-esque shape from the gathers at CF. The two skirt panels are joined on the bias in front and contribute to this look, too. It is pretty straightforward but since a few people asked about how exactly it is done, I will try to put up a drafting tutorial once I can track down my draft sheet and notes.

When cutting the skirt, I forgot that my fabric was printed, not yarn-dyed. Duh. So I ended up piecing one of the miscut panels. But it was only half bad. I accidentally matched the pattern and, besides, piecing adds some period appeal, right?

Joining the bodice to the skirt. The armholes are open at the bottom and only joined through the skirt seam.

The apron closes at the neck and waistline. At the top, the neckline drawstring provides the ties. For the waist, I made two narrow 12″ ties from fabric scraps.

Yay, waist ties, turned inside out with a shishkebab stick.

And that was that. The apron is done and currently sitting on the dressform.

The finished smock apron.

As a little bonus, I made a fabric bunny out of the scraps, just in time for Easter. He looks a bit like a Lindt bunny, but will last longer, due to lacking chocolate content.

Mr. Apron Scrap Bunny. 😀

And here are the HSM challenge facts:

The Challenge: #3 – Comfort At Home

Material: 1 1/2 yards checked cotton broadcloth.

Pattern: My own, based on an extant apron at Colonial Williamsburg (Acc. No. 1995-33).

Year: 1800-20.

Notions: 1 1/2 yards 3/8″ twill tape; cotton thread; linen twine for the drawstring eyelets at the front.

How historically accurate is it? I did not manage to source a yarn-dyed, woven check on short notice, so I went with a printed fabric (I found a much better one, just when the apron was finished…). So I have to mark myself down. Same for working off one image without a closer look at the construction details. But it is all hand-sewn. 🙂 Overall, I would give it 80% accuracy.

Hours to complete: About 24 hours.

First worn: Around the house. 😀

Total cost: € 13.



Regency Apron Research

I did it again! I finished a project without writing all the blog posts first. So now seems a good time to unravel the planning behind the Regency apron I just finished for the Historical Sew Monthly.

Some of you may still remember my Regency half apron from 2016. Now I wanted one that covers the top of the dress, too, because that is where I usually dirty myself. 😉 To get inspired, I had a quick browse through the full apron styles and colours popular in the Regency era. That was the perfect excuse to look through one of my favourite collections of period fashion plates, the “Costumes d’ouvriéres parisiennes” by Georges-Jacques Gatine and Louis-Marie Lanté, published in 1824. You can view it here on Gallica.

The first thing I noticed was the range of different colours. Black was very fashionable, because hey, it hides most stains. It’s for a similar reason that 18th-century surgeons turned to blue aprons. (See this post by Susan Holloway Scott). Of course, there was lots of white around, too. From my research into the other apron, I already knew about rosy and powder pink being fashionable. But that did not prepare me for this very flashy purple. Just wow. And the one below is not the only example in the collection.

Earthenware seller, in a stunning purple apron, c. 1824.

Beyond the high-waist half aprons, like the one above, there is one rare example of a pinner apron among the plates. Offhand, I could not think of an extant one in this style.

Dairywoman wearing a pinner apron, c.1824.

Much more widespread were bib aprons with narrow shoulder straps, at least based on how many there are in these fashion plates alone. Here are two examples, one black and one white.

A hatter, in a black, strapped apron, c. 1824.

Chamber maid, with a back view of the shoulder straps, c. 1824. See how they are angled?

Sabine made a beautiful repriduction of such a strapped apron. On her blog, I saw a different strap style, too, which makes the apron look a bit like a pinafore, or smock. I still wonder which parlor game these ladies might be playing, too.

Apron with wide straps, Le Bon Genre, Plate 89, June 1816, British Museum.

This made me think a bit, since shoulder straps are my known enemy, in historical and modern clothes. As a lady with sloping shoulders, I could really use a smock-style to keep those straps from slipping. That is why I have been ogling this Russian folkwear apron at the Met for quite some time now. It has a nearly full bodice in the back. But that style is not really documentable for general Regency fashion.

Russian apron, 19th century, Metropolitan Museum, New York.

But then I found this beautiful smock apron in the Colonial Williamsburg collection, and I fell in love! It dates between 1800 and 1820 and is made from blue-white checked linen tabby.

Checked high-waist apron, c.1800-20, Colonial Williamsburg, Accesion No. 1995-33.

In New England, blue and white checks were quite common for aprons, as was the high-waisted smock style. Kitty Calash wrote a wonderful research post on surviving examples and the provenance of checked linens. She also made one for herself.

This became the main inspiration for my own apron. As time was short (yay for short-term sewing projects), I went out to get some checked fabric and settled for a printed cotton tabby. When I found a yarn-dyed variety, known as “zephyr cloth” here, halfway through sewing the thing, I was a bit annoyed with my planning skills. Oh well, next time. One can never have enough aprons, right?



1630s Bodice Update

Since the last post, the work on the bodice has been puttering along nicely. The main body is put together now and the sleeves are waiting to be finished.

The 1630s bodice so far. Sleeves are up next. 🙂

Last weekend, I decided to give things a little break to work on something for the Historical Sew Monthly’s March challenge. So now is a good time to share some progress pics from the bodice construction on here. Please excuse the quality of some. A lot of it has come together in night shifts by the fire. 😉

All the front and back pieces after cutting out and a bit of assembly.

After finishing the draft, things started out with cutting lots of layers from lots of different fabrics. The foundation consists of two layers of linen canvas and one layer of linen buckram (I used heavy, pre-starched embroidery linen). For the boning, I used 1/4″ wide plastic whalebone. I already used it in my stays and absolutely love working with it. My 30-yard roll is almost used up now and I will definitely order more soon. Here is a closer look at the boned and pad stitched foundation pieces:

The finished front and back foundations.

The rest of the bodice pieces each have three more layer. There are the outer fabric and lining which are flatlined together. The foundation is placed on top of these and finished off with a separate foundation lining that goes on top. Putting all these together was a tad repetitive but definitely gave me a lot of practice for the next bodice. 😉

Putting together all the layers.

Since the outer layer is a velvet, I stitched a tape into the bottom hem for extra stability. Though, with the layer of heavy silk on top, the hang would have been fine without, too…

Stitching a tape into the bottom hem.

When that was done, I started on the sleeves. They are just two layers, one silk, and one velvet. Last weekend, I flatlined them. Next up, is binding and gathering. After that, I have yet to pattern the shoulder wings, but an end is definitely in sight now. Yay!

Working on the sleevils…

Meanwhile I have been sewing on a Regency apron for the HSM. I have already posted a few pictures over on Instagram. Right now, all it still needs is a hem, and you can look forward to some blog posts as well. 🙂

So please stay tuned for a round of Regency fun and updates on the bodice, too!