Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on May 5, 2013
A few weeks ago I shared some initial pictures of the Edwardian gowns I viewed at the Daughters of the American Revolution Museum, so now here’s Part 2 of the gorgeous dresses from their “New Woman” exhibit! This “New Woman Exhibit” focuses on the fashions from the 1890s through the early 19-teens, and portrays how changing society and activities affected the clothing which women wore for both day and evening wear throughout this time in history. This exhibit was exceptionally curated, and I am so thankful that the musem allowed photographs to be taken. (Please note that there are pictures here taken from two separate cameras, so the lighting and coloring may look slightly different from each other. Also, for obvious reasons, the museum asked that no flash be used in pictures.)
The Green Silk Evening Gown
This dress has so much character to it! Originally an 1890s evening gown, the museum explains that this dress would have been “remodeled” in the early 1900s to fit the styles of the time. Between the rich cotton lace and embroidered brocade at the neckline and skirt, this is an absolutely elegant ensemble! Circa 1900
The Pink Ruffled Day Dress
This is my idea of the perfect Edwardian tea gown! Trimmed with yards of tiny ruffles at the skirt hem and featuring the signature “pouter pigeon” silhouette at the bodice, this dress calls to mind an afternoon picnic or tea party that you would see in Anne of Avonlea. The collar and cuffs were made from pink velvet, which is a really lovely addition to the cotton voile! Circa 1900.
Beaded Waist Evening Gown
I was amazed at the tiny rows of beading embroidered onto the bodice waist! This lovely cream silk chiffon gown is lined with silk satin and has amazing cutout details in the skirt that allows the underskirt color to come through. There are lovely lace motifs on the gown and intricate beading at the neckline. Made by Doucet, a renowned Paris couturier. Circa 1900-1905
The Blue Silk and Netting Dress
This stunning cornflower blue silk dress features a square neckline which is filled in with netting lace. The assymetrical details show a definite departure from the more centered and predictable trimming patterns I’ve seen on many dresses from a decade earlier. Notice the curled blue cording which is hand-stitched over the upper bodice, waistband, and skirt. Circa 1910
A Whitework and Insertion Lace “Washdress”
The Edwardian women sure had a different way of looking at laundry! When their gowns changed from the stiff silk bustle gowns of the 1880s to these soft, white gowns with rows of tucks and lace insertion, they were elated that at last they had clothing which could be put in the wash! However, these garments were so incredibly delicate that in comparison with our modern clothing they would be considered “hand wash delicate cycle, do not bleach, lay flat to dry”.
Whatever the case, this “washdress” is absolutely stunning with rows of diagonal pintucks and yards of French valencienne insertion laces. The collar in particular is so breathtaking – rows and rows of dainty lace are joined together and somehow have remained in perfect condition for the last one hundred years. Circa 1909
The 1890s Graduation & Wedding Dress
The DAR Museum’s label of this dress reads, “White, long associated with youth and innocence, and with rites of passage like baptism and marriage, became standard for girls’ graduations from grade schools, high schools, and eventually colleges. This dress was worn by Eva Brawley Dickson in 1894 for her graduation from coeducational Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania. Later that year she wore it as a wedding dress.” Somehow I imagined that most wedding dresses from that decade would have been dripping with lace, but this dress has an elegant simplicity all its own. Circa 1894
An 1890s Style Turtleneck
Oh my! This dark red turtleneck with the fitted bodice and leg-o-mutton sleeves was just amazing to view in person! It makes our modern day turtleneck sweaters look downright dumpy in comparison. I realize, of course, that this sort of sweater would no longer be considered practical for cold weather attire (how much tissue paper would it take to stuff those sleeves?) ,but nevertheless it’s a very beautiful example of the femininity and care that went into even practical garments such as this one. This reminds me very strongly of a gorgeous cream rib-knit sweater in the Metropolitan Museum’s collection which you can see here.
I do wish that every single costume enthusiast had the opportunity to see this marvelous exhibit at the DAR Museum and study the garments up close! But since that may not be possible, I think the rest of us can content ourselves with popping Anne of Green Gables into the DVD player and taking in a refreshing whiff of lacy frilliness from one hundred years ago.
May you all have a wonderful week, and happy sewing!
Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on April 20, 2013
~What I Wore to the White House~
As soon as I learned I was traveling to Washington, D.C., my thoughts instantly turned to what I would wear! And since I love to reproduce costumes when I’m visiting historic landmarks, I definitely knew I just had to recreate a First Lady’s dress for the occasion! The first criteria for this project was, “What is a famous dress that people will instantly recognize as a First Lady’s outfit?” Secondly, I asked myself, “How in the world will I fit a First Lady’s dress in my suitcase?” Thankfully there was an easy answer to both these questions!
The most famous First Lady’s dress ever worn was Jacqueline Kennedy’s pink Chanel/Chez Ninon suit which is now stored in a vault in the National Archives. While she wore this dress for numerous occasions during her husband’s administration, it is best remembered for the fateful day in Dallas when his presidency came to an unexpected end.
This suit is so famous, in fact, that it has an entire Wikipedia page devoted entirely to its history! There’s also an excellent website (www.pinkpillbox.com) which contains fascinating information about the details of this outfit. I do wish this costume was associated with a happier event, but I hope you’ll understand that I am sewing this as a tribute to First Lady’s history in general, and not as a remembrance of a president’s funeral.
A Surprise Visit to the White House
I’ll talk all about the dress in a minute, but first I wanted to mention how I was able to have the pictures taken on the South Lawn of the White House! Immediately upon planning our trip, I had applied with our Congressman to take a tour of the White House and get all the necessary preparations done for the visit (background checks, etc.). We were all squared away to go when, (just a few weeks before our trip), all White House tours were canceled! Oh, I was so utterly disappointed! After all, I’ve been to Washington, D.C. something like twenty times, but never once in all my years have I been able to actually go inside this historic building. Each time I’d been in D.C. I’d peered through the iron gates and dreamed of going inside, but never once set foot in America’s most famous house.
Here’s the gorgeous South Portico of the White House.
Instead, I had to content myself with studying every White House DVD and book I could get my hands on – by the time I was in high school I had the entire White House layout memorized and could tell you which presidential paintings hung in which reception rooms. I knew that the Red Room was Nancy Reagan’s favorite location to entertain guests, while Dolly Madison had been partial to the Blue Room – except that back then it was actually a yellow room! So as you can imagine, I was positively heartbroken when I found out that America could no longer “afford” to let its citizens inside this home! Nevertheless, I continued to sew my Jacqueline Kennedy suit in hopes that I could at least have it photographed at the Capitol building while in D.C.
While in the Denver airport on our first layover, I just happened to check my emails and saw the most unexpected message! It was from our Congressman’s office and read, “Hey Katrina, I know it may not be what you’re looking for, but I can offer you tickets to Spring Garden Event this weekend. The White House Gardens and Grounds will be open Saturday, April 13th and Sunday, April 14th during which time guests will have the opportunity to view firsthand the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, the Rose Garden, and the South Lawn of the White House. Additionally, the First Lady’s Kitchen Garden and Apiary will be accessible to guests. I know it’s short notice, but our office will be distributing tickets tomorrow in our suite if you’re interested. Let me know! ~Paul“
Here I am in the aptly named Jacqueline Kennedy garden at the White House.
Oh, great was the rejoicing in the Denver airport! If I couldn’t get in the White House, at least I could get on the grounds! And by golly, I was going to look like a First Lady on this tour!
Here was Jackie in the original suit.
The Pattern ~ Advance 2858 Pattern Review
This design is straightforward enough, but since the lapels of the 1960s were different than women’s suits of today I absolutely could not find a replica pattern that is currently in print. I finally found a vintage 1960s suit pattern on www.etsy.com that had just what I was looking for – double-breasted jacket, boxy cut, three-quarter length sleeves, and a fitted, knee-length skirt. This particular pattern I used is Advance 2858, and I’m quite pleased with how it turned out. I will say that the jacket has a lot more room than the pattern illustration showed (and consequently more than Jackie’s suit, too). The skirt, as well, looked much slimmer and more tapered on the pattern cover, but of course pattern drawings are just the artist’s rendition of a design and don’t necessarily reflect the real fit.
My Thoughts on 1960s Fashion
I should say that I generally dislike everything about the 1960s just as much as I adore the styles of the 1950s! After all, why in the world should you make a jacket ten inches bigger than your waist measurement when a fitted jacket would look much more becoming? I think it is quite sad that the 1960s styles tended towards unfeminine, almost harsh cuts of dresses and suits when the hourglassy “New Look” from a decade before made women look soooo much prettier! However, I do understand that Jackie Kennedy was either pregnant or post-partum for a large portion of her time in the White House, so it would have been much easier to conceal the “expectant mother” look in a more non-descript sort of jacket.
The entrance to the South Portico of the White House.
Jackie’s Pillbox Hats
What she lacked in ruffles and frills, she made up for in fabulous pillbox hats! Oh, but her hats were gorgeous! No one knows what happened to the particular pink hat she was wearing on that fateful day in Dallas, but we do have some excellent photos of it. I whipped this hat out at 4:00 am the same morning that I flew out of town, so I had to just go with my first draft of the pattern! I ran out of navy trim to wrap around the top of the hat, but I think it still has that definitive “Jackie” look to it!
The Fabric & Materials
Jacqueline Kennedy’s original suit was made of a pink wool boucle. First Lady Jackie described this shade of pink as “raspberry”. Honestly, it has been hard for me to determine exactly what shade the dress would have been in real life, because various pictures of this outfit can look fuschia pink, baby pink, or almost coral pink depending on the lighting and setting the photos were taken in. When it came to finding the fabric, I had a remarkably challenging time! I looked online and in a local fabric store for literally months, but I never did find something which seemed the exact same color of pink. In the end, I had to settle for something which was fairly close but not exact. I was able to find nearly exact replicas of the buttons, though! They are gold in the center with a narrow rim of navy blue along the outside.
The only downside of the White House Spring Garden tour was that somewhere along the way people started asking to get their pictures taken with me. Of course I was very polite about it and posed for lots of photos with a variety of tourists, but it was kind of strange to be in pictures with people you’d never met before! One of the White House park rangers asked to take my picture, and a number of people thought I was a hostess on hand to greet the guests. On my way out of the White House and through D.C. one woman came dashing out of her vehicle saying, “I know who you are! You’re Jackie! I need to get my picture with you!” Needless to say, I promptly changed back into a “normal” dress back at my hotel!
But I was, I’ll admit, very excited when people instantly recognized the outfit and hairdo. As soon as I was going through security to enter the White House premises, one of the guards said, “You’re Jackie, right?” For months I’d had no worries about the outcome of the dress, but the real victory of the day was pulling off a Jacqueline Kennedy hairstyle. It was well worth getting several inches cut off and using half the hairspray in Washington, D.C.! My hair still smelled like mousse for a few days afterwards, but I will always have fond memories of that “Jackie” hairdo and the remarkable time at the White House.
The famous West Wing of the White House!
I would like to end this post with a tribute to the brave men who have fought for our country over the years. Since I have relatives in the military myself, it means so much more when I see the Iwo Jima memorial and the Arlington Cemetery. To all the men who have served America and fought to defend our freedoms, I would like to give the greatest thanks! May we live lives worthy of the sacrifices they’ve made.
God bless America!
I hope you all enjoy the pictures, and I will be sharing some more photos of the Edwardian gowns and First Ladies’ dresses I studied in D.C. soon!
Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on April 13, 2013
The “New Woman” Exhibit at the Daughters of the American Revolution Museum, Washington, D.C.
This weekend I have been spending the most wonderful time in my old stomping grounds of Washington, D.C.! I love the history and famous landmarks here, but my favorite element of this city is the wide array of costumes on display! In this blog post I will attempt to show the best of around three hundred photographs taken in the Daughters of the American Revolution Museum during their new exhibit, “The New Woman”. I just about squealed when I entered this expansive exhibit! There was so much exquisite femininity in the fashions of the early 1900s, and I know you will love these dresses as much as I do! (Please note that the museum does not allow flash photography to be used, so the photos were taken under somewhat low lighting I also used two different cameras to take these pictures, so the colors may vary slightly depending on which camera was used for a particular shot.)
The “New Woman” exhibit is an elegant display of several dozen drop-dead gorgeous gowns in impeccably pristine condition! Mainly portraying the 1890s-1910s, these breathtaking works of art rival even the world-renowned costumes displayed in the Victoria & Albert Museum, or the Fashion Museum in Bath, England.
The 1888 Silk Evening Gown
This first gown is an 1888 evening gown made from peach silk brocade and Brussels lace. It features a lovely train in back and a crystal brooch on the drape front overskirt. The bodice is brilliantly fitted and looks so lovely with the high collar in back and numerous buttons down the basque front.
The silk brocade is almost reminiscent of fall leaves, and I think the color combination is so very rich and warm. I love the tassel trim on the gown front, too!
The Pink & Cream Lacy “Avonlea” Style Gown
This next gown is one of my absolute favorites ever! It is a frothy creation of pink silk batiste, lace ruffles, taffeta underneath and embroidery. This dreamy dress is very similar to the gown Diana Barry wore in Anne of Avonlea, and which I recreated here. The DAR Museum dates this piece somewhere between 1904 and 1906.
Look at those gorgeous ruffles of cotton lace!! The tab trim on the sleeves is amazing, and the details are impeccable! What phenomenal amounts of lace and hand embroidery. How I wish the town was full of ladies walking around in dresses like these! Can you imagine what a prettier place the world would have been in the Edwardian era?
The pleats are stitched down on the skirt front. At the bottom of the dress the whole skirt ends in several layers of wide tucks. This is a “Martha Pullen” sort of gown all the way!
The 1896 Day Dress
Here’s a lovely late-Victorian day dress made from a charming cotton print that reminds me very much of a “Laura Ashley” design. The striking purple silk twill makes a lovely contrast for the more subdued cotton fabric, and it would be a wonderful dress to wear in colder weather – that is, if you have a 24.5″ waist!
Below is the DAR Musuem’s description of this dress. I’m so glad that the museum curator does such a fabulous job! (Alden O’Brien, the curator, just wrote a book about the New Woman exhibit which I picked up while at the museum. I highly recommend it! It’s for sale on their website here.)
A Black and White Edwardian Afternoon Dress
If a woman was to wear a tuxedo, this is what it should look like!
This lovely black and white afternoon dress, (dated 1907-1911), is a classy combination of black silk twill and white hand-made lace. The bodice front/yoke inset is overlaid with netting that is pin-tucked horizontally, while the bodice front and back and trimmed with simple black buttons. Overall, this ensemble reminds me very strongly of some outfits which actress Jane Wyman wore in the Edwardian movie Pollyanna.
The Shirred Silk Tulle Gown
Believe it or not, the DAR Museum claims that this would have been an afternoon dress! Can you imagine? Nowadays we don’t even use materials this delicate even for most wedding gowns.
Silk tulle, after all, is one of the most fragile fabrics I’ve ever handled. It retails at around $140.00 per yard for the heirloom quality stuff (at 36″ wide), and snags and shreds like nothing else I’ve ever seen. So to stand in front of this gown and see the silk tulle in near-mint condition was astonishing for me. I realize that it’s only the bodice overlay and delicate sleeves that are made of this almost gossamer material, but it’s still nothing short of remarkable that this piece is in museum-quality condition.
The shirred and tucked bodice is so adorable, but the printed silk skirt is just gorgeous, as well! I love the scalloped overskirt that trimmed with black silk organza ruffles. Could anything possibly get prettier?
Well, it’s well after midnight here so I ought to turn in for the evening, but I promise to post pictures of dresses at least this gorgeous next time! I’ll definitely add a “Part 2″ to this article soon, but next up is what I wore at the White House… I’ll try not to spoil the surprise, but it was a costume experience unlike anything I’ve ever had.
I’ll be posting again soon, and you won’t want to miss it!
Have a wonderful day,