1775 maja, 1778-9ish riding habit, 18th century, projects

Maja Bodice Progress (bind bind bind, spangle spangle spangle)

The Maja project is trucking along!  I spangled seams!  I sewed the neckline and CF edge!  And then I bound the bottom of the CF and the whooooole bottom edge… which, phew, was a lot of binding!  I did the 18th-c.-preserve-fabric thing and cut all the binding strips on the straight, which was fine as I just mitered the corners… except for a bit too much fraying.  Uck!  This was one of the longer bindings I’ve ever done, as there are 5 million tabs.  I realized that my jacket turnback facing didn’t QUITE go down long enough — not sure what I was thinking!  So I need to piece in a little 1-2″ square.  Whatever, random!

I’ve now patterned the sleeves, cut them out, marked them, and am busy spangle-ing away.  Mela said something really helpful about my recent riding habit project — she thought that the weird bust wrinkle was caused by the sleeve pattern.  Well, I think she’s right!  I had a weird angle going on on the sleeve cap in front, without really enough fabric in there.  So I fixed the pattern for this project (oh, right, point is I started w/ my riding habit jacket sleeve pattern) and at some point I’ll make new sleeves for the habit, which hopefully will fix the problem!

Again, I’m glad I scanned that high res version of the Maja painting, because it made me realize that there is not ONE but TWO rows of spangles on each sleeve seam.  And it helped me figure out that they’re not mirrored, but more interlocking if that makes sense.  The spangles on the cuff were weird, and I had to redraw the line about 50 times.

Two things I’ve been wondering about:

First, there’s a little, almost heart-shaped, black line on the sleeve above the toggles/buttons.  It doesn’t make sense in terms of the spangle pattern — why would there be a little blip of spangles there?  So I was wondering if maybe the toggles/buttons are functional — I doubt the sleeve would OPEN there, but maybe the toggles/buttons are used to tighten the sleeve at the cuff, and so that black squiggle is a small wrinkle?

Second, I read in one of my sources (gotta go back and refind the citation) that the sleeves on Maja costumes were generally tied on.  I thought that was weird for 18th c., but whatever, it’s a weird style!  Well, I was remembering what an 18th c. costume expert was telling me about another costume expert who uses art historical methods exclusively, and how she therefore sometimes gets things “wrong” in terms of what is seen on extant garments.  And I started to wonder if maybe the thing I read about the tied-on sleeves was actually someone misinterpreting the pleated/ruched ribbon seen on the armhole and sleeve cap of most Maja/similar styled costumes?  Because in the painting, there’s no space between the armhole and the sleeve cap, the way there would be if it were tied on, nor can I see any ties except some loose ribbon at the end of the trim.  And, all the paintings I’ve seen generally have one of two armhole/sleeve cap trims, shown below on some extant Spanish garments, and these don’t appear to be tied on either.

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  • Reply Alyxx July 1, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    Hmmm, it’s so hard to tell, but based on the other sleeve, I’d guess that those ARE functional toggles and that is where the sleeve opens to get your hand through. Based on 1) the other sleeve not showing a clean way for the cuff and spangling to break at the seam, and 2) that little black blip looks like spangle design. I don’t see another wrinkle in the portrait pained with a black line like that. It looks to me like another little wave motif but distorted by a wrinkle. Did I mention that this is the coolest outfit ever?

  • Reply hallie July 4, 2011 at 4:35 am

    Kendra.. Of course taking a guess from artwork is really guessing, but I think the buttonholes/toggles are functional on the sleeves and that little decoration above the cuff treatment might be a way to re-enforce where the sleeve was cut to accommodate the insertion of the cuff and the stress of the toggles?

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