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1760s Brunswick, 18th century, projects, workshops

Brunswick workshop report

Last weekend I attended the 18th century Brunswick workshop organized by Burnley & Trowbridge, taught by Janea Whitacre, mantua maker extraordinaire from Colonial Williamsburg.

And it was FABULOUS!

Janea is hugely knowledgeable about 18th century gownmaking, and getting a chance to work with such a master was wonderful.  I’ve taken another workshop from her — the sacque workshop, where I made my first (the peach francaise).  It was fun to revisit this style in a new variation, and to be able to confirm and update my often self-taught knowledge about 18th century gownmaking.  Plus, she’s just really nice, and lets you ask her 10,000 questions!

Angela & Jim (owners of B&T) were there too, and they were super helpful and nice, bringing a bunch of their wares and allowing us to shop periodically throughout the weekend.  I’m really happy with them, as they have amazing customer service — I bought a pair of shoes from them that were too small, so I sent them back and they had the next size up made for me.  Well, those didn’t fit either, so Angela traced my foot at the workshop and they’re going to try for a third time to fit me!  If that’s not customer service, I don’t know what is.  (Let’s not even go INTO how helpful she was when I was buying fabric for my stays).

We had lots of options on styling the jacket — high or low neck, long or short waistcoat skirtings, depending on the era and style you liked.  I went for 1760s, with a high neck and long waistcoat skirts.

I worked with Cynthia on our jackets, so all credit for the fabulous drape goes to her.  We both had some fitting crises, esp. on Cynthia’s gown, as we hadn’t realized we needed to drape on the bias so her waistcoat front went wonky.  Luckily, I found a solution — we let the fabric go where it wanted to go, and pieced in a bit of the lining.

It was tons of fun to hang out with lots of friends and sew for 3 days, plus there is something magical about handsewing.  You have lots of time to chat in a way you don’t when the machines are out, plus it makes me waaay less stressed about getting things done on time (because it’s just not going to happen!).

So here’s where I’m at so far — everything is basted, and I’ve been working on doing the real sewing over the past few nights.  I need to hem the center back a few inches up (hello, I have hips of doom!), and I’m trying to figure out a trimming pattern that will be different from everyone else’s.  And, of course, make a hood, lower sleeves, and a petticoat!  I plan to do self-trim from the caramel taffeta, and then cream bows at the neck and elbows.

The best part is I was worried this would be a little bit of a frumpy style, but I’m really liking where it’s going.

(Oh and yes, we sewed in tiaras, because that’s how we roll…)

Costume College, events, workshops

Costume College Plans!

This is going to be an interesting year for me, because I am not teaching at Costume College!  Not because I don’t love CoCo, or love teaching, but because I need a break.  I’ve been teaching there for a number of years, and while I started with one class per year, I went off the deep end and have been teaching generally about three classes for the past few years.  Not only is it a huge amount of work to prep a class, but then if it’s a demo or hands on you have to source and haul all the materials.  But what’s hardest is when you teach multiple classes, they invariably conflict with any class you want to take!  So while I really enjoy teaching, and will I’m sure return to it next year (maybe at a lower roar), this year my schedule is wide open and I actually have a shot at taking a few classes that I’m excited about!  This will be very novel.  I also plan to sleep in and generally be more relaxed.  (I was starting to think I’d take fewer costumes this year, too, just to be more relaxed, but then I started counting the Friday night 18th c. ice cream social, the gala, the Sunday tea…).

So, I’m putting in for the following limited classes:  Janea Whitacre’s fly fringe class (will have to skip the tea if I get in — but DUDE, how cool would it be to learn how to make 18th c. fly fringe???), Mela Hoyt-Heydon’s hat class (not terribly thrilled about early Victorian, but I would like to learn the techniques of wire framed hats to repurpose for other eras, and Mela is an immensely talented and experienced costumer), and Lisa Vandenberghe’s silk ribbon embroidery (she’s studied as Lesage in Paris!  And the pieces she’s made are really gorgeous).

Who knows which classes I’ll get into — if I get into the fly fringe and/or the hat class, I’ll be really happy.

18th century, workshops

Brunswick Workshop Opening – SF Bay Area

West Coast costumers take note — a spot has opened up in Burnley & Trowbridge’s Brunswick workshop, May 28-30 in Vallejo.  I’m going to be taking this workshop, and I highly recommend that anyone interested in 18th costume grab this spot!  It will be taught by Janea Whitacre, who is Milliner and Mantua-Maker at Colonial Williamsburg.  She taught the sacque draping workshop that I took a few years back, and I was incredibly impressed by how much detailed knowledge she has about 18th century dressmaking.  Even if you’re not thrilled with the Brunswick style itself, this is an amazing opportunity to learn 18th century dressmaking techniques, which could be applied to any number of garments.

18th century, research, workshops

18th Century Brunswicks and Jesuits

As previously mentioned, I’ll be taking the Burnley & Trowbridge brunswick workshop in May.  Of course, I had to immediately scour my sources to find information about this garment, which until about 2 days ago was a relative mystery to me!

Aileen Ribeiro, in Dress in Eighteenth-Century Europe, writes that a brunswick or “German Habit” was, “A long-sleeved version of the sack, usually three-quarter-length and with a high neck and a buttoned, unstiffened bodice…. widely worn in Germany in the middle of the century” (146).  Colonial Williamsburg’s glossary of colonial lady’s clothing says a brunswick is, “A three-quarter length jacket worn with a petticoat, the Brunswick was an informal gown or a traveling gown. It had a high neck, unstiffened bodice that buttoned, long sleeves, and frequently had a sack back (loose pleats) and a hood”; while a jesuit is, “Similar to the Brunswick, but the skirt of the gown was full length.”

The style appears to have been most popular in the 1760s. They were cut like a sacque gown, with the full box pleats in back.  The full length sleeves were made by connecting the usual elbow-length sleeves (complete with sleeve ruffles) to a separate lower sleeve.  According to posts on the 18cwoman list, this was because they were made by mantua makers, who did not use the technique of a shaped long sleeve (used by tailor’s on men’s garments); the separate lower sleeve allowed the sleeve to fit the elbow. Ribeiro writes that while early sleeves had a break at the elbow with a ruffle, by the end of the 1760s that was replaced with a small ruched cuff (although it is unclear whether she means that the elbow ruffle was replaced, or whether that was dropped and the ruffle is now at the cuff) (146). According to the information provided to those of us taking the workshop, brunswicks were not worn over any skirt supports (ie side hoops or bumrolls), although I have found one image (below) of what is probably a jesuit worn over side hoops.  It appears that most are high necked, although at least one of the confirmed brunswick images (Sophia Pelham) has a lower neckline; there are other possible brunswicks/jesuits with low necklines as well below.

Barbara Johnson’s Album includes two relevant fashion plates, one of each style. The brunswick has military-esque folded back revers with buttons.  The jesuit is very similar, except for a longer length overskirt.  Both have the usual petticoat ruffle and loopy-patterned ruches that you’d expect to see on a 1760s sack, as well as straight ruches along the overskirt openings.  There is one swatch for a brunswick:  “a Manchester Brunswick twelve yards” from 1772; the fabric is a small blue and white check, which reminds me of a modern gingham.

Here is a gallery of images of probable brunswicks or jesuits. Most of the fabrics appear to be silk taffeta or satin, although there is one cotton print.

18th century, books, underpinnings, workshops

New Book & Workshops

(Credit to Katherine/Koshka-the-Cat, who heard it from Sewaddicted on LJ) The V&A is coming out with a new book in their “Fashion in Detail” series — this one is focusing on underwear:  Underwear: Fashion in Detail!  According to the book description, it will include examples from the 16th century to the present.  This is SUPER exciting, as the previous books (Historical Fashion in Detail, and Nineteenth-Century Fashion in Detail) are amazing resources for seeing really close up details on fabrics, stitches, embroidery, trims, and more.  They’re porn!  It won’t be released until Oct. 1, 2010, but it gives us something to live for.

If you’d like to support this site AND buy it from Amazon, you can click on the link below and then add it to your wishlist and/or preorder it.

Also, Burnley & Trowbridge (the fabulous VA store that caters to 18th century costumers) is offering two workshops in Northern California!  One will be on quarterback gowns (robes a l’anglaise), the other on the Brunswick.  Both will be taught by Janea Whitacre, the mantua-maker from Colonial Williamsburg; I took her saque workshop and it was amazing how much she knew and how much I learned.  I’ve signed up for the Brunswick workshop — sadly (okay, not TOO sadly) I’ll be in England for the first weekend!