A New Black Silk Coat, part 3

Perhaps you wonder if the coat was finished in time? Well, I did wear it for the annual masked ball last Friday. For some reason I thought it was on Saturday, but a friend corrected me earlier this week, for which I am very grateful, otherwise I had been unknowingly sewing away on Friday night. I took the day off and had the coat in wearable state less than two hours before the ball. The rest of my attire consisted of black silk breeches, white waistcoat, stockings, and opera pumps. And the new wig, sprinkled with generous amounts of powder. Ready for 1792!

The ball was well organised as always. The music and the dancing was a treat (longways and quadrilles), and so were all the fabulous costumes (many zone-fronts, anglaises and one or two francaises), the hors d´oeuvres and the desserts.

Photo by Regencygentleman

I wore the coat with matching black silk breeches and a white waistcoat. Here I am, minutes before we parted, so I was pretty tired and the powder was everywhere…

Photo by Regencygentleman

A full view, including my knitted stockings and opera pumps. This ensemble, without the wig, would be appropriate formal attire about 1800-1820.

The assembly room was warm and crowded. This is when we rested our feet while watching a special quadrille being performed:

Me and my friend Camilla. I was melting away, so the moment before I removed my simple white mask. Terrific fan and terrific shot, don´t you think?

Look at this beauty: a wine fountain. Ingenious! I helped myself to one or two glasses while chatting away with friends.

I borrowed this one. Two ladies looking great while I apparently photobombed them. Photo by Magdalena Fick.

We withdrew to the smaller rooms upstairs for tea and coffee, and cakes and sorbets. They were in abundance and they were divine! It was nice to have time for some conversation with old friends and new acquaintances, but as always there were far too many to whom I only had time to say hello and goodbye…

Looks like I was channeling my inner Scarlet Pimpernel here, but I was just going home in the middle of the night. It was freezing.

Photo by Regencygentleman

I came home and had to take a foyer selfie for you, dear readers…

Some notes regarding the coat: I sewed on the standing collar and the self-covered buttons, but had to leave the buttonholes. I also saved the pocket flaps for later. Hopefully no one noticed. I was not willing to compromise with my handsewing only to regret it later. The front edges were prick-stitched, visible here:

One of the cuffs I wrote about in my previous post.

I finished the tails. Some unsightly puckering to the right, but it only shows in photos.

The day after I started on the buttonholes. I was planning to use this silk cord, and cut and pinned them in place, Hmm, I did not like the effect. They are too clumsy. I am afraid I have to sew buttonhole stitches after all… You can see the centre back seam where I quickly overcast the raw edges of the seam allowance.

Conclusion: I am quite happy with the coat, but it needs some finishing touches. Hopefully I get them sorted out before next wearing. In the future I might even consider adding more trim…

Photo by Regencygentleman

Advertisements

Updating my Wardrobe: a New Black Silk Coat, part 2

I thought I’d update you on the status of the coat. I’ve had some work weekends lately but the ambition has been to sew half an hour or so on weekday evenings. (It is sort of difficult so handle black silk at night when ones eyes are tired.)

Fitting the sleeves. The tails are still unfinished. The taffeta looks like stiff paper here…

Over to the button factory. This style of coat needs large, covered buttons, and I decided to make my own from inexpensive wooden craft buttons, 30 mm in diameter. The ones I found come in bags with a dozen, and we already had some spare ones in a glass jar filled with craft supplies, so there are enough. Two at the back, two on each cuff, and between nine and eleven buttons on the front, depending on what looks best. They are all non-functional, so no need for real buttonholes!

This is when I drilled holes in the wooden button for the shank, made from wire:

Making self-covered buttons.

The buttons are then covered in black taffeta:

Next step: covering the wooden buttons with silk.

I found a nice cuff that was in vogue 1785-90, as seen on several coats in V&A:

Coat, striped silk, c. 1785-1790. These buttons are gorgeous, aren´t they? Notice the nice handmade stitches? Victoria and Albert museum, T.92-1962.

Here I pinned a cuff on one sleeve:

The cuff is pinned in place to check the fit.

It can work, I think.

On to the collar and sewing on the buttons. And finishing the tails and the hem. Did I tell you I was planning to wear this coat in less than 24 hours? Fingers crossed…

Updating My Wardrobe: a New Black Silk Coat

Greetings to you all! This blog has been resting since the end of last year. Not because I had to take a break. I simply haven´t had any costume projects to share. True, I have been to one or two events, but nothing new there.

However, I have felt the need to add something formal to my wardrobe, as well as something versatile, since there are a lot of these Gustavian (late 18th century) events around here. So I have decided to make myself a new coat. I have hoarded some black silk taffeta for a while now, not quite knowing what to do with it. But now I am about to turn it into a 1780´s-1790´s frock coat. It will make a nice ensemble with the black silk breeches and one of my formal waistcoats. It can be accessorised with or without a wig depending on what decade I chose to represent. It could even be appropriate for 18oo-ish.

As usual I try to do my research before cutting anything. Black garments were perhaps not all that common with the upper set but more so among the affluent middle classes. I am going for something formal but not too extravagant; I will not travel to Versailles nor the court of S:t James anytime soon.

Whenever possible, I try to consult the following sources: portrait paintings, fashion plates and extant garments.

Here´s a wonderful, well known David-painting from the Met:

Jacques-Louis David: Portrait of Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier and his wife, 1788. Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Monsieur Lavoisier was a prominent chemist and wealthy administrator in pre-revolutionary France. He was not an aristocrat but nevertheless lost his head, at age 50, in 1794 during the terror. In this portrait none of that had happened. He is wearing a black suit, buckled shoes, white frills and a powdered wig, sitting at his desk surrounded by carefully arranged Important Instruments and his lovely wife Marie-Anne. I like Lavoisier´s understated elegance.

Then there are quantities of fashion plates online. I cannot remember where I found this, but it is a fashionable French gent modelling 1781 fashions. He is fancier than Lavoisier, with an embroidered waistcoat, he is apparently a member of the Aristocracy since he is nonchalantely carrying a rapier. Anyway, I like the black silk coat-and-breeches-ensemble. He is also wearing a terrific wig.

Fashion plate, French, 1781

This coat is in the Skokloster Castle collections. It was worn by Count Brahe somewhere around 1800. (It is impossible to be more precise, unfortunately.) It is in perfect condition. It could have been made today, but then anything ordered by Count Brahe was always top quality. Of course it is a fancy amber silk with white silk piping, but the narrow silhouette is similar to the coats above, and I can study important details such as buttons, collar and pocket flaps.

Photo by Regencygentleman

Silk coat, 1790-1810. Skokloster Castle, Sweden.

Photo by Regencygentleman

Silk coat, 1790-1810. Skokloster Castle, Sweden. Note the impeccable buttonholes and the gathered sleeve heads.

Here is my black silk taffeta, and a glimpse of the brown linen that will give the coat some body.

Work is pretty straightforward, I just use my old toile from the blue tailcoat as pattern.

Cutting the pieces: the back and one sleeve.

I always prefer hand sewing, but I admit the machine came out for some quick interfacing, A strip of canvas is sewn to the linen lining. Normally I would do pad stiches here, but these seams will only show if you look very closely on the inside of the coat.

 

I basted the taffeta to the linen, treating them like one piece when assembling the coat. Here the centre back seam is ready to be stitched.

Et voila! The centre back seam is done.

A closeup of the back seam. After opening and pressing the seam allowance, I added a strengthening prick stitch on both sides.

Shoulders and side seams are done. Closing the lining.

Like so. Next I need to work on the tails.

This is how far I got before going out of town for the week..

Oh, about one month ago I went to a costume ball in the Royal Armoury, and then I began styling a cheap wig I found…

Photo by Regencygentleman.

Photo by Regencygentleman

Masked ball à la Romaine

Come March and 225 years since the fatal shot in Ballo in Maschera, the masked ball where king Gustaf III was assassinated by plotting aristocrats. To commemorate this event a masked ball set in 1792 is organized in March every year. Despite the grim reason the ball is fun so I really wanted to attend, regardless of heavy workload and fatigue.

With all my sewing going on I really did not need to start a new project and thought I´d reuse something old. But lo and behold, I struck gold at work! Up in the palace attic, stowed away in a dust covered cardboard box, was not only one but half a dozen sapphire blue and gold tunics! They are 1990s replicas of a theatre costume from 1672 that is in our collection. (Link to the database here.)

Half a dozen tunics!

After some quick research I devised a plan. Fancy dress “à la Romaine”, to dress as a Roman god or emperor, was popular during the Renaissance and Baroque, among court dancers and other performers but among monarchs in particular. This I could do without too much effort.

A well known example: Louis XIV as the Sun King. Château de Versailles.

One of the Swedish monarchs: An allusion of a triumphant Charles XI on horse back, painting by J K Ehrenstrahl, 1674. Skokloster Castle.

I now had the tunic. (They were all in – how can I put it- well-worn state. I think i managed to choose the one that was in the best condition.) I used my regular shirt, golden stockings, and opera pumps. White mask and powdered wig from last year and to finish it off I glue-gunned a coronet from metallic paper to support my ostrich feathers. Ét voilá!

The tunic was somewhat soiled but careful ironing did the trick.

A cloak, secured to the shoulders with two brooches, added some drama and it very conveniently hid the safety pins that were necessary to achieve a decent fit. The piece of matching fabric (Acetate? Silk taffeta?) draped well. I found it in a bag filled with odd scraps of fabric.

My opera pumps were temporarily upgraded with a large bow and some trim in metallic paper topped with a glass bead.

The ball was magnificent! The white mask and large ostrich feathers is me trying to see my feet… Photo credit Fernando Orellana.

My 1790s wig from last year and a contraption I made from metallic paper and glass beads, to accommodate my ostrich feathers. (If you, dear readers, say I remind you of a roaring twenties flapper – minus earrings and eyelashes, I will be most seriously displeased. I assure you, this was regarded as super manly.)

There was some operatic entertainment between dances. Here is the dance programme:

Doing my best eighteenth century Roman god (Apollo? Zephyr?) impression.

Later we moved upstairs to enjoy decadently delicious refreshments. Photo credit Fernando Ortellana.

Yours truly was starving by now. Photo credit Fernando Ortellana.

These dames could be Marie Antoinette´s ladies-in-waiting while at Le Petit Trianon.

My Regency chums Ylva and Jacob.

Would you believe it: to my surprise I was awarded a prize for one of the best costumes! It was a jar of locally produced honey. Tasty indeed!

 

 

Equestrian Excercises or just Horsing around…

Dogs may be man´s best friend, but only two or three generations ago another four-legged friend was absolutely essential on so many levels: the horse. Different breeds of horses were everywhere, not only in the country, but in the city as well. Horsepower was needed for transporting people and goods, in farming, the army, the industry, and so on.

Photo by Maria del Carmen

“Good morning my dear Lady X!”

Society expected gentlemen to be good horsemen. (And – to a certain degree – ladies too, for that matter.) One was practically brought up in the saddle. By 1800 people enjoyed watching races, were involved in the prestigeous Jockey Club, and of course the fox hunt. Riding in the city was a fashionable pastime, as a way to see and to be seen. I admit the subject is not my forte, so please read more about horses and riding during the Regency here and here. (I have never given it a thought before, but have now realised that you find many, well, half dressed ladies and gentlemen when googling “regency riding”…)

Daniel_Gardner_Sir_William

The Heathcote Hunting Group, painted in 1790 by Daniel Gardner (1750-1805). It shows the Rev. William Heathcote (1772–1802), on horseback (son of the 3rd Baronet) with company.


darcy-bingley

Mr Darcy and Mr Bingley. (Pride and Prejudice 2005)

Now, with all this in mind, I accepted an invitation some time ago to join a photo session out in the country – with a very nice horse named Diva. I packed my Regency attire and joined my friend and fellow-model Helena, dressed for genteel riding mid 18th century style in black and red silk. We met up at the stables outside the city with Maria, our photographer, and her friend Caroline, owner of Diva. Maria also brought an additional 1750s-ish men´s outfit for me to wear, but it was made for a gent of a somewhat sturdier build, so those photos did not make it to this blog…

Following photos courtesy of Maria del Carmen.

12197293_10153618225117488_1781287770_o

Photo by Maria del Carmen

Photo by Maria del Carmen

Amiring the estate. Yours truly was practically brought up in the saddle. Not. Please overlook any historical inacurracies regarding the horse tack.


Photo by Maria del Carmen

This could be the cover of a cheesy (but classy!) romantic novel…


Fooling around with a crow. I started the session wearing a rather loose-fitting 1750´s outfit.

It was an interesting experience to mount a horse dressed in full Regency attire. However comfortable they are the clothes restrict one´s movements. It is practically  impossibe to sit like haysack in them. It was also fun to observe the group of horses in the adjoining paddock. They followed every step we took and listened to our attacks of giggles, in full astonishment. Apparently we were an unsusual sight!

I had a wonderful day with Helena, Maria, Caroline, and Diva.

Photo by Regencygentleman

Quel horreur. In the afternoon my breeches looked like this. But I prefer a ripped seam rather than torn fabric. It is so much easier to mend…

Audience While the Wig is Being Powdered…

An Audience While the Wig is Being Powdered. 1799. Gouache, painted by Pehr Nordquist (1771-1805). Nationalmuseum, Sweden. (Inv n:0 NMB 1408)

This wonderful little painting is tucked away somewhere in the Swedish National museum. It is a small gouache, painted in 1799. A gentleman, (penniless aristocrat?), deshabillé in robe and slippers, is receiving visitors while having his elegant wig powdered. It is not a social call. The stern looking visitors are creditors. They have delivered bills. Who on earth let them in?! The gentleman is most likely taken by surprise but appears to be calm, almost nonchalant – with those red slippers and all – and in control of the situation. We can´t know for sure, but let us hope they managed to avoid an embarrassing outcome…

The manservant (holding a comb between his teeth) is more fashion-forward, compared to his master. He has stuck a comb in his fashionably coiffed curls, and curling tongs in the pocket on his practical tailcoat. As a personal touch he has chosen to match his otherwise grey outfit and top boots with clear blue stockings.

The bedchamber (rented rooms above an inn?) looks very spartan, but there is a elegant card table holding a teacup, candlestick, and nick nacks. Behind it a glimpse of the bed in the Gustavian style with a sheer canopy in blue.

The powder must have been everywhere. It is understandable that those who could afford it installed a powder room while others had to make do on a landing in the stairway. And I need not point out that this is before vacuum cleaners. By 1799 wigs were definitely going out of fashion. Only gentlemen of the old school (and where it was part of ones profession such as the clergy, medicine, and the law) would hang on to them into the first decades of the new century.

pudring-av-peruk

A charicature, ca 1770-1790, where the gentleman and his valet actually transferred on to the landing.

On a side note, there was another, more skilled, Swedish genre-painter also named Pehr, Pehr Hilleström. His paintings give us a unique glimpse of domestic life among the urban middling classes around 1800. I think that is another blog post, but here is one painting, to give you an idea:

Hillestrom_Per_I-ZZZ-Mothers_Advice

A Mother´s Advice. Pehr Hilleström, ca 1800. The State Hermitage Museum. Notice how the daughter is wearing a fashionably high waisted gown while the mother – although we can´t see for sure – is dressed in more conservative dark silks.

A point of interest: to me it looks like gentlemen in formal dress, as depicted in fashion plates 1800-1810-ish, still used powder on their curls. Or what do you think?

1810 v3 Ackermann's Fashion Plate 26 - Gentleman Full Dress

imageimage

Spring Assembly and Gentlemen´s hair

Spring came late to my corner of the world. Now all trees are in full bloom, of course, and Nature is at its best, but only one month ago it was rainy and miserable. So much better then that I was able to attend not only one but two merry dance events! In March The Regency group met up for some informal dancing and eating. It was our usual go-to place, the Tyresö castle.  And as always I failed to take any pictures of us dancing since I was so busy doing just that. The music came from a playlist, and as you can see we did not bother to move about the furniture too much. It was nice to meet some new fellows there!

Photo by Regencygentleman

Getting ready in the ballroom.

Photo by Regencygentleman

What dances next? You have to admit this looks like one of those period water colour sketches.

Photo by Regencygentleman

Just to show that I was there. Still in my 1790´s phase.

image

And what it could look like in a French fashion plate, c 1790. More of the big “Hedgehog” style, but you see the shape with big curls on both sides, set quite low, completely covering the ears. Actually my wig looks nothing like this…

image

Perhaps like this? Although very “natural”. Friedrich Schiller by Ludovike Simanoiz, 1790´s.

image

Or this? A (unfinished) portrait of King Gustav III of Sweden, by Lorens Pasch the younger, Late 1780`s?

Photo by Regencygentleman

Not a great photo at all, but this is us having brunch in the restaurant. We also managed to occupy and re-arrange several tables.

There was another event in May, this time with music performed by this wonderful ensemble I wrote about after the ball last summer. This was in town, at the Kristinehof manor. Costume-wise there were many fine outfits ranging from 1750´s-1810´s.

Photo by Regencygentleman

Instructions. Some of the new dances were rather difficult! The menuett is perhaps not my cup of tea…

And back to some more wig-talk:

Photo by Regencygentleman aka Mr Tigercrona

Slightly out of focus and cropped head, but I wore the new waistcoat. And restyled the wig. It was falling down last time and needed to be repinned. I ended up with more 1770-1780 in style. Will go back to the later style, but it was fun to try. Notice the chinoiserie/rococo style wallpaper in this lovely chamber?

image

A similar hairstyle can be seen in this portrait. I realise now that my wig lacks the relative lightness. It looks too heavy and should be brushed back more. The Earl of Suffolk, painting by Joshua Reynolds, 1770´s.

image

Here a tidier, powdered version, more conical in shape. Count Andrey Kyrillovich Razumovsky. Painting by Alexander Roslin, 1776.

Oh, well. Wigs are very practical and fun (don´t you think?), but next event I go to will be in my own hair. Back to 1800-something. Another post? I end this one with the period correct dance programme from the May assembly.

image

1795…

So, yesterday I attended the aforementioned event. Sadly, poor Mrs E. was indisposed, so I had only myself to escort. My attire was basically the same as last time, I wanted however to change or add something. I have posted one of my favourite portraits so many times now, but here it is again: Monsieur Pierre Seriziat by David, 1795. Since the event was an afternoon assembly, not a formal ball, it was not necessary to wear full dress. As Mr. S. below. But what else does he wear? Something quite significant: A wig! The transition years between the revolution and the Empire (or, if you prefer, the Georgian era and the Regency) still saw use of the powdered wig. (And it continued well into the first decade of the 1800´s with conservative and/or older gents.) There are many closeups in this post so bare with me.

1795

1795

As it happens I already had an acceptable a wig. It is an oldie from years back when I improved an ugly cheap-o wig (to use in a museum where I worked at that time). It is dark brown with highlights in it, powdered. The portrait shows a more frizzy wig, mine is not. The powder covers the shine, and that is a big improvement on synthetic hair. The side curls are large and positioned quite low, one on each side, continuing around the back, suitable for the 1790´s. The (talcum-) powder does not show well in the photos, but I admit I could have added more had we had any. Some of the curls only needed repinning, and it was set to go.

Photo by Regencygentleman aka Mr Tigercrona

The wig…

Photo by Regencygentleman aka Mr Tigercrona

… topped off with the new hat (still not improved).

Read more about hats here.

Photo by Regencygentleman aka Mr Tigercrona

1790´s style: Large curls (“boucle en rouleau”) and a cascade of locks at the back tied with black ribbon.

Photo by Regencygentleman aka Mr Tigercrona

The wig is an oldie that I styled many years ago. It has come to use now and then, and recently I remembered it and thought why not?

Right, enough posing in front of the camera. Time to go.

Right, enough posing in front of the camera. Time to go.

It was only a short ride by metro to the venue – the restored Kristinehof manor – and once there I met up with many friends and made new acquaintances. As soon as everybody was ready the music started to play. The musicians (and organizers of the event) were Wilhelm Dahllöf on cembalo; Nina Grigorjeva, bassoon; Thomas Schützer, transverse flute, and Ulrika Westerberg, violin. A treat to dance to live music!

Photo by Regencygentleman

Instructions for “Retour de Spa”. Our dance intructor was Ivar Asplund.

Photo by Regencygentleman

There were many beautiful 1780´s costumes in silks and printed cottons. The 1790´s uniform is from the Svea Livgarde or La Garde du Roi.

Photo by Regencygentleman

One of the ladies in a lovely gown, here in front of the Gustavian tiled stove.

Photo by Regencygentleman aka Mr Tigercrona

Dance programme

We all had a wonderful time as the afternoon light outside the windows faded. There is a good chance that March will bring more dancing. I certainly wouldn´t mind!

I feel I failed to ask everybody for permission to publish photos. If you happen to find yourself here and wish not to, please let me know.

New project!

Spring is here and we have set a date for a Regency picnic. I can´t go in full dress, so I need to create something appropriate for this and upcoming outings. First, inspiration for this project.

French gentleman 1795

French gentleman 1795, by J L David.

This gentleman´s outfit is in the sporty Style Anglais and can be regarded as the prototype for the Regency gentleman. We have all seen this before:  dark tailcoat, high collared waistcoat, yellow breeches, top hat and riding boots. He is still wearing a wig (or his own hair coiffed and powdered?) but it was going out of fashion these years. This transitional style is particularily interesting.

Can I do it? Well I´m ready to try. Stay tuned for more details in the next post!