Crafty Manolo » Historic Costume

Archive for the 'Historic Costume' Category

The Gospel According to Tim

Thursday, August 30th, 2012
By Twistie

You all know how I feel about Tim Gunn. He is totally my gay imaginary celebrity boyfriend and I long to feed him fresh-baked scones.

But I also enjoy reading his books. He’s got a breezy, opinionated flair for language and he knows his stuff, even when I disagree with him on  how to interpret it.

Well, now he’s written Tim Gunn’s Fashion Bible: the Fascinating History of Everything in Your Closet.

Ever wondered what Queen Victoria’s corset has to do with what you’re wearing now? Tim can tell you. What togas then mean for you now? Tim is here to explain it. How the Sixties were the downfall of underwear? Well, my guess is that one is one of those issues where he and I would have a lively (albeit friendly) debate whilst dripping clotted cream in our excitement… but I’m still interested in his argument.

It’s available right now for pre-order on Amazon (release date September 11, just in case anyone is wondering what to get me for my birthday on the thirteenth) for just $16.46 (list price $28.00) and eligible for Super Saving free shipping on your purchase of $25.00 or more.

Oh, and I’d also like to note for my fellow Project Runway fans that in an article that ran on Racked National just yesterday, Tim called contestant Ven Budu ‘atrocious’ and let it be known that the editing in last week’s episode was actually flattering to Ven. Also, gird your loins, folks, he let slip that there’s going to be an upcoming challenge in his least favorite category that ‘will not disappoint you in terms of horrible.’

Victoria Had a Secret in the Fifteenth Century

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012
By Twistie

It may be badly deteriorated, but this scrap of linen may be one of the most important discoveries in the history of human dress for many a decade. Why? Because it proves that women’s underclothes existed in the fifteenth century.

For hundreds of years, most costume historians have believed that until well into the sixteenth century, women’s undergarments consisted pretty much entirely of the smock, a sort of undergown.

How did this amazing discovery come to light? Well, some renovations were recently done to Lengberg Castle in East Tyrol. During the work, more than three thousand fragments of clothes and other items of day to day usage were uncovered. The pieces were believed to have been buried when the building was expanded in about 1480.

The piece pictured above is described as a bra, but there is a strip down the lefthand side of it that clearly shows holes for a lacing to go through, indicating to me that it’s more along the lines of an early corset. There is apparently another garment similar to this one and two ‘shirts with bags’ that appear to have been meant to serve a similar function of breast support.

Perhaps even more amazing is the fact that two pairs of what seem to be women’s underpants were also found.

My guess? From the number of layers of cloth in the front, and the fact that there don’t seem to be so many layers in the back, is that this is actually medieval Kotex. Some experts in the subject believe that women didn’t do anything to contain menstrual flow back in the day, but there have been some vague references here and there to ‘clouts’ for women which seem to have been worn at certain times and not others. Hmmm… this looks like some strong potential evidence to me.

I don’t know about you, but I’m eager to see what new facts can be gleaned from these exciting finds!

If nothing else, SCA costuming will never be the same.

As Mr. Spock Would Say… Fascinator

Thursday, July 5th, 2012
By Twistie

Once upon a time, a fascinator was a hooded scarf, not unlike this knitted opera hood:

(Via World Turn’d Upside Down)

Now they look more like this:

(Via MHL)

Don’t ask me when the definition changed, because I honestly don’t know.

Still, as much as the word ‘fascinator’ still immediately raises the image of a practical head covering for me, I really love some of the things being done  with the more modern version.

So imagine my delight when I wandered over to Criminal Crafts the other day (pairing two of my all time favorite subjects: crime and craft) and found an article about crime-related (and some not-so-crime-related) fascinators.

You couldn’t pay me to sit down and read the 50 Shades of Grey books… but I would absolutely rock this intense fascinator any day of the week.

Have I ever mentioned I look absolutely sparkly in grey?

Check out the fun!

Stay With Me

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012
By Twistie

If you are at all interested in historical costuming, then you know the right shape of corset makes the difference between the correct line and… well, all those costumes that just aren’t ever going to look quite right.

Unfortunately, modern shaping garments just won’t give you the look you need, whether it’s renaissance or roaring twenties. Antique corsets – even if I could in good conscience promote the wearing of actual historical clothing – are often fragile, and not fitted to a more modern body. Custom corsets can cost a packet and may or may not offer  you precisely what you need.

But what if you could make your own?

Ah, but now you can! In fact, I can show you where to go to learn how to draft your own pattern for a corset.

Your Wardrobe Unlock’d offers up a freebie set of instructions for drafting your own pattern for your own set of 1870’s stays… and from there you can simply adjust the proportions for a corset from virtually any era. The instructions can be downloaded in pdf format in either a color coded version or in printer-friendly black and white.

Even if you don’t want to make your own corset, I highly recommend a wander through the site. Even if the closest you’ve come to making an historic costume is to drool over an evening gown on Downton Abbey, you’ll find something of interest here. Alas! many of the best bits are only available to those who subscribe, but there are a lot of pretty pictures you can see before you need to pay. And as I said, the corset drafting instructions are free as the proverbial bird.

Bygone Beauty Today

Friday, June 10th, 2011
By Twistie

This collar, cuff, and chemisette set dates from 1895, but you can make it according to the original instructions today.

In fact, if you want to create an historically accurate outfit from corset to cloak, bonnet to boots, then you should head over to Ageless Patterns right now.

After decades of professional costume work, the creator of Ageless Patterns found herself frustrated with the lack of historical patterns to work from, particularly for men, and began collecting all she could. Now she reproduces the patterns on an engineering copier for accuracy, adds a seam allowance, but otherwise leaves the original as it is, instructions and all.

That means these are not for beginners, but if you have some experience you can figure out the arcane language and sometimes less than explicit directions.

Whether you’re looking for a camp dress for Civil War re-enactment, an Edwardian wedding gown, a fabulous frivolous hat, or a corset only your significant other will see just for fun, this is a great place to go. You can even find patterns for purses, pillows, slippers, and trims.

Heck, if you’ve ever dreamed of crocheting up a pair of underdrawers for a little boy, Ageless Patterns has you covered there, too!

Ageless Patterns also carries several other select lines of historical/ethnic patterns, including: Past Patterns, Folkwear, Patterns of History, Decades of Style, and Buckaroo Bobbins.

So if you have an historical costume in mind, whether for a woman, man, boy, or girl… or even a doll, Ageless Patterns is a great place to start – and quite possibly end – your search.

Pretty in Paper

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011
By Twistie

The painting in the picture above is by Van Dyck. The costumes in the foreground are by Isabelle de Borchgrave. She has done a meticulous recreation of the outfits in the painting… and she’s done them out of paper.

de Borchgrave is a painter by training, but her passion is for textiles. Working with a group of talented costume historians and fashion designers, she has made a line of paper costumes based on famous paintings and designer masterpieces ranging from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries. And if you have the good fortune to be in the San Francisco area, you can go see them at the Palace of the Legion of Honor in her show Pulp Fashion.

Tickets are $15.00 for adults, $12.00 for seniors (65+), $11.00 for youths 6 – 17 and college students with ID, and free for kids under 6.

But hurry! The show will be over on June 5!

Getting Ready for Renaissance Faire

Thursday, February 24th, 2011
By Twistie

I have a great fondness for Renaissance Faire. For one thing, it’s where I met Mr. Twistie. It’s where I first discovered the Reduced Shakespeare Company (one of the founders of which was someone I knew but was not in close contact with) when their act consisted of their two-man Romeo and Juliet.  It’s a place to dress up and  do some play acting. I even spent a summer demonstrating bobbin lace for the masses at a Renaissance Faire. Good times, good times.

I’ve been to a lot of Renaissance Faires over the years, but there’s one thing that I’ve found consistently to be true: it’s a lot more fun if you go in period garb. People assume you’re a part of the show, and the odd vendor has been known to give me a worker’s discount without asking if I’d earned it. Mind you, when asked I always told the truth… but if they just assumed, well, I usually didn’t bother to disabuse them. After all, I didn’t want them to have to rework their calculations.


If you decide to go in garb, there’s no point in doing it halfway or just plain all wrong (like the gentleman who used to show up every year dressed as Abraham Lincoln, for reasons passing understanding). That means you’ll need to do some research.

Darlings, have I got a source of sources for you! Hie thee hence to The Costumer’s Manifesto and check out their page of Renaissance resources. Here you’ll find articles about various styles and forms of clothing worn in the sixteenth century, dye recipes, blackwork embroidery patterns, sources of patterns and of finished garb. You can even find links to period recipes, in case you want to make sure your party dines in accurate Elizabethan style.

Remember, if you’re going to make a new costume for Faire, chances are you’ll need to start soon! Good garb takes time.

Disclaimer: Manolo the Shoeblogger is not Manolo Blahnik
Copyright © 2004-2009; Manolo the Shoeblogger, All Rights Reserved

  • Recent Comments:

  • Subscribe!



    Manolo the Shoeblogger

    Quirks of Art - Scrapbook & Rubber Stamping Supplies


  • Archives:

  • August 2013
  • December 2012
  • November 2012
  • October 2012
  • September 2012
  • August 2012
  • July 2012
  • June 2012
  • May 2012
  • April 2012
  • March 2012
  • February 2012
  • January 2012
  • December 2011
  • November 2011
  • October 2011
  • September 2011
  • July 2011
  • June 2011
  • May 2011
  • April 2011
  • March 2011
  • February 2011
  • January 2011
  • December 2010
  • November 2010
  • October 2010