Hello, I’m Sandra Maxwell, and I will be contributing to Heather’s blog on a regular basis. As the title implies, I will be sharing “this and that” on sewing, history, helpful insights and whatever may seem relevant at the time. I have been an historic re-enactor nearly 40 years in several time periods, so I have much to share whether you are a beginner or a veteran. I hope you will find it helpful as well as entertaining.
July, 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the War to End all Wars. Most Americans don’t know much about World War One. We were only there for a short time at the end. But this war was the beginning and the cause of all the wars after it. World War I officially ended the way wars had been fought for centuries. It’s called the first ‘modern’ war. It saw the end of most of the European monarchies. It changed the known world forever.
Walt Disney drove ambulances, poet Joyce Kilmer was killed, JRR Tolkien suffered in the English trenches and Adolf Hitler began to nurture his hatred in the German trenches.
My WWI impression is a Doughnut Dolly. The Salvation Army joined many other services bringing some comfort to the boys at the front. I choose the Salvation Army because it was the only service allowed near the frontlines. The Salvation Army Dollies or Lassies made pies and coffee in the beginning, but when supplies ran low and with little hope of getting more, decided they had enough to make doughnuts (in a crueler style). When a soldier asked if they could make them more convenient to carry, the doughnut with a hole was born. Soldiers wrote home about this wonderful treat and they became popular in America. You can go to the Salvation Army website and download the original recipe, http://salvationarmynorth.org/about-us/history/original-salvation-army-donut-recipe-video/
That’s me and our famous doughnuts. The helmet is antique, so are our gas masks. Even the doughnut cutter on the table is antique. To make holes in the doughnuts, they fashioned these cutters from tin cans.
There are three of us. We wear the typical smock worn by many ladies of the time who found themselves working instead of staying home.
Doughnut Dollies were issued helmets and gas masks by the unit assigned to protect them. They were shelled, shot at and bugged out, often suffering as much as the men, but through thick and thin, they made sure a doughnut, a cup of coffee, and some comfort were there for the soldiers. They helped so many endure the horrors of some of the most inhumane conditions soldiers have ever had to suffer.
Typical day wear of 1915. The blouse is vintage but the skirt was made by this lovely lady.
My greatest delight is seeing the face of a war veteran as he enters our WWI display area. They nod at the various soldiers and their displays and ask about the weapons, but when they see The Salvation Army Doughnut Dollies, their faces light up. They hurry over and suddenly we become the ‘real deal’ to them. They treat us as though we are actually part of the Salvation Army. We have been told some of the most heart-warming/rending stories of how the Salvation Army changed their lives. Sometimes there are tears in their eyes. They thank us for being there and we thank them for their service. It’s why I remain an historic re-enactor.
Doing my job, feeding doughboys their doughnuts
Until next time…
Truy Victorian has just released a new Edwardian skirt pattern, the 1906 Ten Gore Princess Skirt - TVE23. With a raised waistline, our skirt fits smooth through the hips and hangs in a graceful flare to the hem. The top has a raised point in the center back, and tapers lower to the center front. It has the smooth fitted back closed with hooks and eyes, known as the "habit" back. The hem line is round at floor length. This skirt is perfectly suited to dresses of 1906 -1908, with it's wide hemline. Pair it with a blouse, and perhaps a long jacket or a copped Eton jacket.
And here is a little back ground on the Empire skirts of the Edwardian Era:
Skirt shapes of the Edwardian era change quite rapidly, with almost every year seeing something new. 1901 starts out the era with the Trumpet Skirt; a shaped skirt that is fitting over the hips and thighs, then flares out below the knee for a wide hem. Very quickly, the slim skirts begin to get fuller at the hem, with the addition of vertical pleats and tucks around the skirt, though the skirt remains lean and controlled through the thigh. By 1904, the skirts are getting wider though the knees and thighs as well.
1906 brings an innovation to the skirts by raising the skirt above the waistline in a style known as the Princess or Corsage. The addition of multiple gores to the skirt (9, 11, 15, and even 24 gore skirts) allows the top of the skirt to fit closely to the body like a corselet. Tall belts achieve the same accentuation of a slim waist with a full hip and bust.
At right - 1908
1907 sees the skirts getting fuller over the hip, and often gathers are added at the waistline. The waist front "dip" becomes raised up also, so that the dip is now at the natural waistline, and the back is raised above the natural waist in the Empire Corsage style. To structurally support this new waistline, the lining of the skirt becomes detatched as a corselet, independent of the skirt. The outer skirt attaches near the top of the hidden corselet, and fabric "belt" is sewn over the top of the skirt attachement. The skirt is then allowed to hang with ease over the waist and hips, obscuring the natural waistline.
Below - 1909
By 1909, the slim waist and hip return, with ever slimmer skirts in general. The hidden corselet becomes taller and the skirts less fitted to the natural waistline. The desired effect is to create a higher-than-natural waistline, with a long smooth hip line, a trend that continues into the next decade.
Truly Victorian has just released it's newest pattern; an overskirt to go with the new Imperial Skirt and Bustle. The 1887 Cascade Overskirt - TV367
This overskirt is drafted based on an actual garment as seen in the October 26, 1887 edition of La Mode Illustre. The front apron is a long swag, pulled up high onto the hips in large pleats that fan beautifully. A slit in the center front hem forms 2 points. The back is in two pieces, and falls in graceful cascades down the center back forming two points. The cascade is achieved through creative pleating, highlighted by 2 burnous pleats. The closure is in the center back. The apron is cut on the cross grain.
This overskirt is ideal for lengthwise stripes, which would then go across on the front, and downward in the back. Any light to medium weight fabric will be suitable, however.
For more information on Burnous pleats, we have a blog post all about them.
And of course, you can find this pattern at our shopping pages.
I have been busy creating new patterns for the late 1880's, and the one thing that stands out as unique about this time period is the Burnous Pleat. Just about every skirt from 1887 - 1888 has some kind of drape created by this form of pleat. Something else I found out, is that no one seemed to know how to spell the word "burnous". I even found it spelled two different ways in the same sentence. So if you see Bournous, Bournouse, Burnous, Burnouse, or Burnoose, it all means the same thing. And yes, I seem to spell it all different ways as well, in my various instruction sheets.
So what exactly is a Burnous pleat? Well, it is one of those simple things that is very hard to describe, because we don't use this type of pleat in modern sewing. Nor really do you see it in any other time period. So the concept is foreign, and almost unimaginable, until you see it.
The technical description: A large fold of fabric, like a very wide pleat, where the top edge is unsupported and is left to hang down in a loop.
Sounds simple, right? And actually, it sounds like it would look sloppy and weird. But the reality is they can do so many things, and usually look fantastic. A burnous pleat is a great way to reduce bulk at the waist by taking away fabric from the waistband, and it can also get you around corners of a square of fabric. And the more I study 1888, the more ways I find to incorporate the pleat.
Lets start simple, with this example on the right. This is the back panel of an overskirt from 1879, and is the earliest version of a burnous pleat that I have seen. (I used this same idea for the back of my Hermione Overskirt - TV326. Though in my version, I used the Burnous pleat to double as the placket opening.) In this pic, the burnous pleat is in the center, with the middle of the top edge hanging down the middle of the skirt, and the bunching at the bow is made by the fabric sagging down from the top. If you look carefully at how the back is attached to the waistband, you can also see a regular pleat at each side as well.
This is what your fabric looks like before it is pleated. (I have left out the extra regular pleat)
And this is what it looks like after the pleat is put in. Pretty ingenious, right? I just love this!
And this is just the beginning. Want to make a court train out of velvet, but there is no way you can put 90" ov velvet into 6" of waistband? Use two burnous pleats. not only do you take away at least half of the bulk, it adds in pretty cascades. Just like in our new TV263 - 1887 Imperial Skirt pattern. Or even three, as shown in this 1888 skirt from The Delineator.