Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Kid Stays In The Picture

           It would have been much easier to buy a pair of stays.

Perhaps even cheaper if they weren’t historically accurate?
But nooooo. I had to be a perfectionist. Do it myself. Customize the pattern, travel hundreds of miles to take lessons from pros, mess up / rip up / sew the same piece twice. Only to be overwhelmed, hide my sewing kit behind the TV and try to forget it was there.
But like the Tell-Tale Heart, you can’t ignore it. Finish them… FINISH THEM….

Anyone else ever feel this way?
Finally this Christmas I forced myself to make good by signing up for an 18th century gown course this February. No stays = big problem. I got my fiancé to fish out my sewing supplies from exile, sat down, and sewed. I immediately remembered why I had stopped in the first place- binding the stays with soft kit leather was HARD. I went through an irreplaceable amount of 1940’s English Clinton Deluxe needles. The calluses built up on my hands, the wax for my thread began to crumble. And then came the tabs. Oh God… All the Youtube videos and tutorials in the world weren’t enough to breeze through it.
But I did it! And it feels amazing!

Short answer: if you don’t care use a sewing machine. It’s 2018 and very few people will be rustling under your garments for HA stays.
Long answer: ultimately it mattered to ME. I would know my stays were bought, not HA and it would make me feel like a poser. I want to commit to my kit, to hand sew, to being able one day to hold my own with costumers I admire and respect. Am I American Duchess? Before The Automobile?
But am I just one teeny tiny step closer then if I’d said f^*k it and had someone else make them?

Enough about me, here’s the pictures of the process:
Where it all began- I cannot say enough good things about Burnley and Trowbridge. Seriously-
give them all your money now.

And HERE is where I stopped for about a year.
Behold the incredible disappearing straps! In the end the fit was better without them.

I swear this was aligned before I lined them.

The lack of chemise and loose form is because I had to tie myself in. 

But ultimately look how badass I am!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Bergère Hats Are Back!

         If I could, I would wear 18th century garb everyday. But as a working woman in the year 2017 I feed this urge by incorporating small bits of Georgian glam into my look. Huge hair with a pouf just so? Historically accurate beauty products? Georgian jewelry?  Check, check, check. So imagine my surprise when I opened the latest Vogue and discovered that bergère hats are back!

         Quick crash course: A bergère hat (Wikipedia tells me this is French for shepherdess) is a flat-brimmed straw hat with a shallow crown. Often trimmed with ribbon or flowers it sits just so on the head, often at a jaunty angle.
The Swing
It can be seen in countless 18th century paintings, most famously The Swing by Fragonard. Other than looking cute as heck it also helped keep the sun off women seeking creamy pale skin.
         The majesty of a well done bergère isn’t lost on many a historical costumer. One need look no further than Demonde Couture’s Kendra or the spectacular Lauren THE American Duchess. Nor has the bergère been ignored by Hollywood- Milena Canonero famously reused one from the 1975 film Barry Lyndon for Sofia Coppola’s 2006 gem Marie Antoinette.
Yaaaas Queen!
       It was 18th century It Girls who set the trends then, so unsurprisingly when Kendall Jenner rocked a bergère in Cannes Vogue noticed. I hadn’t even seen the pictures from The Met Gala where Viceland host Hailey Gates ignored the “look” of the night and turned it up to 11! I’m not really sure who the designer Jacquemus is. A quick Google search reveals a broken website- but if he’s the next big thing and he’s promoting 18th century glam, then who am I to judge?
          Want a bergère of your very own? You can find one at Burnley & Trowbridge or a Fashionable Frolick

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Film Review: Sofia Coppola's "The Beguiled"

Hi Everyone! “Why”, you may be asking yourself “is All American Antoinette writing a blog entry after 6 months of absence? And also, why is it about costumes from the Victorian period / American Civil war?”

No good answer about the blog- I mean if someone isn’t paying you and other stuff comes up then a blog is just a blog. But I’m sorry if that helps?
As for the time shift- I feel like this is a place where all historical costuming is welcome (even if I tend to prefer other time periods). Plus, Sofia Coppola is one of the main reasons I fell in love with HA costuming. From “The Virgin Suicides” 1970’s dreamy maxi dresses to the 2006 over the top Rococo fantasy that is “Marie Antoinette”. How could I resist her latest historical romp “The Beguiled”?

My boyfriend and I were able to make it to a preview screening, which was exciting enough- until I realized there were costumes from the film in the theatre! My first assumption was these would be from costume master Milena Canonero. I couldn’t stop shrieking. Took me a hot minute to realize Stacey Battat was the costume designer. But after pouring over the costumes I was pleasantly surprised to see many historically accurate elements: buttons instead of zippers, hand finish on the collars, and no back lacing (thank God). Battat was trying to go for clothing “that was old flowy and mossy with an airiness to the clothes”.

Back to my earlier admission that I’m not a fan of Civil War outfits. The necklines, sleeves, and silhouettes just don’t seem flattering no matter who’s wearing it. But I still appreciate and understand what goes into making a HA 1863 dress.
So did Battat’s vision work? 
Well for most modern audiences Yes. But for those of us who twitch when presented with woman from 1863 with their hair down, or bite our tongue when a corset is probably more 1904 than 1863, or almost throw popcorn at the screen when there is not a chemise to be seen (and sooooo many pantaloons)- it’s a bit heart breaking. Honestly most of the costumes were beautiful and spot on except for (spoiler alert) Kirsten Dunst wearing a dress that looked like something out of a Macy’s prom catalog. But enough gabbing- here are some pictures of the dresses:

Is the collar correct? Not sure...

Look at those hand rolled hems and tiny stitching! Plus Buttons!
Those sleeves and that lovely fabric!

Kirsten rocking that baby blue
Right Side
Left side- not sure about that lace or the waistband detail?
Forgiving the theatre for not putting proper undergarments on a mannequin 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Making A Shift

If you’ve found All American Antoinette there is a great chance you know what a shift (or chemise) is. But just in case, it’s a long shirt worn as the innermost layer of clothing, the style of which changed very little from the 16th till early 20th century.  
My chemise was my first try at making a garment, let alone HA and completely hand stitched. And while I love it… I can’t say it’s perfect. For starters it came from Simplicity sewing pattern 3635.
Go ahead and snicker... I'll wait
Nope, never drafted a pattern in my life so this was where I began. The final shift is a marriage based on A and C
… and maybe just a bit from Marie Antoinette (2006)
…which I justified because it’s 100% hand sewn, made with historically correct fabric and notions, and also it’s under all my clothes to be seen by no one. That and I’m short, so very short. So short, that when I cut the fabric for the side panels, the shift became less structured and seemed to swallow me.
Living in a tiny apartment my kitchen table serves as my sewing room

This is how you're supposed to do it right? Right?

Moments away from discovering what a sleevil is...

It takes a village to sew a seam
 Ultimately my pattern came out like this:
Please ignore the stays- that's a story for another time
Just in case you’re a purest who can’t be bothered altering patterns without historical precedent, (or using ::gasp:: Simplicity) there are countless blog posts that tell you how to construct a shift (great examples can be found here and here ).
What was your experience like with your first shift? Did you hand sew, buy, use machine? Tell us in the comments below!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Exhibition Review: “An Agreeable Tyrant”: Fashion after the Revolution

         For their latest exhibition Dar wanted to “consider how Americans fashioned a new identity through costume” after the revolution. Clothing from 1780-1825 was displayed in various rooms throughout the museum.
My first disappointment was the difficulty determining where in the museum the clothes were displayed. One main hall would have been easier than the many dead ends (and private offices?) I stumbled into. My second let down was the pittance of earlier clothing. It’s partially my fault- I heard “revolution” and assumed I’d be seeing clothing from the late 18th century, not mainly the early 1800s.
Regardless- let’s take a look at the clothing shall we?
These were all the 18th century gowns I could find

Reader correction! This fichu is noBurnley & Trowbridge but rather an original mull muslin embroidered shawl used as a kerchief

My two favorite dresses from the era- also those jewels are Dames A La Mode

            My Washington DC trip did have some lovely surprises. Who knew the Air and Space museum featured stomacher jewelry depicting the early days of balloon travel? 
And the National Gallery of Art had some paintings of both Madame du Barry and Madame de Pompadour!
Madame 'One thing about girls from the gutter- they know their diamonds' du Barry

Madame de Pompadour- love the hair

Do you know of 18th century treasures in the D.C. museums? Comment below!