Thursday, 14 July 2016

The Lady with the Comb

In March another miniature found it's home on the wall behind my harp, I call her 'La dame au Peigne Espagnol' or sometimes 'Lady with sprigged fichu' either would do. She's another lucky find of Monsieur, and we both fell in love immediately.
The picture of the seller

She's neither signed, not named, nor dated, so we have to let the pictures speak for itself. To me it's quite sufficient that she's in good shape, has no mould and no abrasions :-
Unwrapped, and ready for a gentle cleaning
The backing paper was gone, as we many
 of the teeth, and the lady moved quite
a bit in her setting
Luckily without major abrasions. She's painted on what appears to
be vellum, contrary to the "Dame au Schall Bleu" what is on ivory.
I love the fine details like her sprigged fichu and her Spanish looking comb

The glass has been cleaned, carefully dried
At the new place, close to the "Dame au Schall Bleu

By the way, for those who worry about me handling fragile miniatures with bare hands: I wash my hands carefully and use wiping alcohol to remove any left over grease, and keep the handling to a minimum. I prefer to have full control when handling fragile pieces than possibly snagging with cotton gloves. (also - if the gloves aren't clean, you won't be doing your objects any favour)

Monday, 11 July 2016

Un habit d'étiquette

Monsieur wished for some new clothes for the Grand Bal in Lucca, and he wanted it to be fitting for a court ball, thus he made it very clear that his green woollen coat will not do, and that I've promised him a new outfit years ago. True: I started the jacket and the culottes in black silk taffetas last year, originally destined for him to wear in Malmaison, for the 2ième Jubilé Impérial. As so often, it wasn't to be. He was sick like a dog the whole week before the event and dragged himself more or less out of the hotel room for the official bits, but wore his new silk waistcoat with silver bullion embroidery and his old reliable fraque (way underdressed, but I simply couldn't finish in time)

For Lucca, he searched for a year for nice cut-steel buttons, and was asking me more or less non-stop 'I will have my new outfit, won't I?'
To my friends great amusement I was sewing like a princess in a fairytale most of Friday and Saturday, stitch, gossip, eat nothing what could stain, stitch, stitch.
I managed the buttonholes in the culottes (don't look too closely), but had then to decide between covering buttons or setting in sleeves.
The sleeves won, as he could always wear his off-white culottes, but no fraque, that wouldn't do. And thus I've sat in our room, basting, matching, ironing, sewing. I discovered that tailoring is not my pleasure, nor my gift. And when he saw the state of my poor joints afterwards, he contacted a tailor the same evening to start a business relationship for his future wardrobe extension, to my great relief.

Anyway: here are some pictures, I am still quite proud he looked that handsome.
Picture by Coltrane Koh,

The outer material is silk taffeta, the curved edge reinforcement is very starched linen (basically glued linen. The body (and the tails, because they are cut in one) are lined with handwoven silk, the sleeves in muslin (I've run out of silk at the time). The pocket flaps are just that. Flaps. No pockets. The embroidered buttonholes didn't manifest in time, but I doubt anyone noticed, as his buttons were sparkly enough to attract all attention.
Sewing during the garden fete at Palazzo Pfanner
Picture by Antonia Mandic

The culottes were not finished (or rather the buttons were not), thus he's still wearing his woolen culottes, still with the 2 year old waistcoat (new one in red silk satin needs buttonholes, but I guess he'll have it for the next event)

For closing the most fairytale like picture (fitting to the enchanted seamstress, luckily not being the Lady of Shalott, even though I wanted so badly to leave my tower and go out into the town), by Charo Palacios:
Picture by Charo Palacios
I for myself wore the Vernet Toilette de Spectacle, the beautiful comb Monsieur presented me with two years ago in the back of the coiffure, the new comb flanked by silk flowers on the front. My dressing was actually faster than Monsieurs, including a quick wash and hairdo I was finished in 8 minutes. 

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Once in a while...

... A lady needs a new handbag. Or a new jacket. Or new lingerie. Or everything in one (slow) go.

As my sewing doesn't really follow a firm schedule, it can take quite a while until I finish a project. This one here took its beginning back in 2014 when Sabine made a delightful workbag in pale green. The little flame of desire was kindled, and I set off to create a base in cardboard, covered it in silk, and decided that I wanted knotted decoration, thus started knotting.

Fast forward two years, after having stashed both the knotted trim and the workbag-base so well away, that they were seemingly lost forever, they re-surfaced. A bag was made from white silk, sewn into (ouch, sewing through cardboard is NOT recommended if one has already slightly damaged joints), the trim attached.


The medaillons are copies from one of my books (l'ami des femmes, a wonderful book about female health and beauty written in 1804 and dedicated to Mme Bonaparte) and as no copy shop wanted to print on my lovely paper, printed on modern paper and stained with black tea. (Two times Venus/Venere/Aphrodite. I'm usually more on the team Artemis/Diana, but the Kaufmann print wouldn't have fit) 

During the same spree of productivity I finished another ufo: a new pair of 1790 stays, based on an 18th century stays what don't fit too badly. It features front and back lacing, is constructed of two layers of sturdy handwoven linen, one layer of silk taffeta, stitched with silk thread, boned with reeds, and bound in leather (what also re-surfaced in the same corner as the half finished workbag)
...And a new little transitional jacket. I used an old caraco pattern for the lining and drafted the silk taffeta shell onto it. The jacket is fully lined in old handwoven line, with the exception of the basques, and has some valenciennes lace around the neckline. It closes with drawstrings and a little belt in the front, the sleevils were set in while travelling with friends.

The pleats are freehand, I've just checked that it's more or less even, but I didn't really measure.
A picture of the free hand pleating of the back, somehow I don't have pictures from the front, but surely there will soon be some. The odd thing is: this jacket only fits over the early stays, the later more rounded shape makes it ride up :-(

Bag and stays and jacket in use, at the Ligurian cost: 

Picture by R. Dumke / J. Bennett.
Shortly after, the water nearly got me, and I decided to forgoe shoes and stockings, and have a splash. 

Other friends like lovely B. followed, and suddenly we've had a crowd of photographer snapping pictures, while we were laughing, chasing ripples and giggling like children :-)
Picture again R. Dumke/J. Bennet 

we can thank Roberto Fusconi, one of the official photographers for this one. Suddenly I've heard someone shouting "Alé!" - and he was waving 
Here a picture showing the coastline, J. and I standing with wet feet, wet petticoats and huge smiles :-)