Monday, July 28, 2008

Victorian Knitted Lace, Revisited

I mentioned in an earlier post that I'd been browsing through Google Books and Project Gutenberg looking for early lace and embroidery texts. Of course, when I went to look for the chemise border I had in mind, I had trouble finding it again. I think I was looking through The Young Ladies' Journal, Complete Guide to the Work-table (1885).

In the knitting section, there was a chemise edging set, that I think I skipped over the first time:

I may give the edging a try. Or perhaps just the cuffs to start with; I can probably manage to finish a set of cuffs. I think what I was looking at before, however, were these petticoat borders (the rightmost is actually just a swatch):
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Looking at the images again, what I actually want however, is a series of different edging patterns. Probably three layers, sort of like this:
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I'm thinking a lacy stitch pattern, followed by a row of motifs, and then the wave pattern (the rightmost swatch of the previous set). I'm a lot more comfortable making things up in crochet than in knitting, but I think that I can probably manage something like this. I also have this desire to make a full knitted lacy skirt, and overlay it on some plain fabric (like black lace over a purple underskirt), and perhaps this idea could be the edging for that.

I'm still trying to figure out basic things like what size thread and needles to use for something like this. And where to find the appropriate thread (and needles). I'm guessing a size 0 or smaller needle (heh, let's see if I have the patience for that), but I'm not sure of the thread. I have a preference for cotton (static and I don't get along), but the lace knitting threads seem to come in wool and silk, and in that case I'd lean toward silk. Wool cobweb lace looks amazing, though, and if its an overlay anyway the itch factor won't be a problem.

Looking at that book also creates a desire to try making netting; some of the fancy netting. So far, I have no idea what to make out of it, or what to use it for, but I'm sure I'll think of something just so I can give it a try.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Steampunk triceratops

While browsing one of the LiveJournal steampunk communities a while back. Actually, a long while back. I came across a post by Suzanne showing a drawing she'd made of a steampunk triceratops. That drawing is what caused me to spend more time looking into steampunk fashion. Although I fairly quickly came to realize that I'm more interested in the elegant formal wear side, while most of the genre seems to fall toward explorers, engineers, and mad scientists, some of the fashions are still interesting. I plan to post, eventually, about steampunk, but for now I wanted to share the awesome triceratops.

One of the items I liked in the drawing was the scalloped gaiters. I'm not a fan of the gaiter portion, but I liked the scallops going up the sides. So I went looking for pictures of Victorian shoes, and came across The Bata Shoe Museum and All About Shoes.

Two boots: an English button boot (with the scallops) from 1885-1892, and a French boot by Melies from 1880-1885. While I'm a fan of the scallops, I love the embroidery detail on the second pair of shoes. The best part about the 'All About Shoes' site is that you can zoom in on a high resolution photo and really see the detail. Also, conveniently enough, Your Wardrobe Unlocked has a shoe recovering masterclass. So maybe there's some chance that I can make myself a pair of embroidered scalloped boots.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Inspiration Scrapbooks

Outi Pyy of Outsapop Trashion posted about her inspiration scrapbooks. Occasionally I make an attempt to gather inspiring images, and then the project gets pushed to the side in favor of other and newer ideas. While I draw designs in a notebook (and it took a while before I stopped drawing on random scrap pieces of paper), my recent image collection method has been to save images and webpages to my computer's hard drive. That approach results in poor browsing and a complete lack of organization (other than to dump all dress photos into the dress folder), although it does help minimize the physical stuff I collect. I have dreams of getting a tablet laptop, and moving all my designs to digital format, and for the inspiration part, annotating directly on images (say circling the portions I found interesting). I haven't managed to justify the cost yet, however.

What really caught my eye with Outi's scrapbooks, is this page, with all the lace work. I'm still on a lace craze. The two pieces that really caught my eye were the doily dress on the left by Gautier and the coat at the bottom center by Balenciaga. What makes her pages stand out is how she organizes pages (and notebooks) thematically. This blog is in someways my equivalent, but definitely less organized, and I like the thematic collage idea. In any case, she's inspired me, and I think I'll give the themed scrapbook idea a try. Sometime in the near future. Perhaps I'll start with a jacket embellishment theme.

Monday, July 14, 2008


Mary Corbet, of Needle 'n Thread, had a post recently about Alison Cole and her goldwork embroidery. Alison sells goldwork kits, among other supplies and kits, and I though the design on this evening bag was amazing (on this page of the kits). She also has a beginner's, give-it-a-try, kit Rosebud (it's at the bottom of the page). Unfortunately she's in Australia. I'm still tempted, because I can't seem to find any small kits in the U.S. for a reasonable price.

In the process of searching for a more local place to buy from, I found Berlin Embroidery (which is Canadian). They had some lovely whitework kits (they're at the bottom). I'm thinking this whitework magnolia design would be gorgeous as a pocket on a blouse, or perhaps over the collar bone on a chemise.

I seem to keep adding projects to my list of things to try...

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Victorian Knitted Lace

I happened to be in a Barnes and Noble over the weekend, and I checked out the sewing/knitting/etc. section. I don't always bother browsing this section, because in the past I have rarely liked the knitting and crochet books I've seen. I also don't really have the dedication needed for large projects, and I'm still in the midst of one largish knitting project (a sweater) and one largish crochet project (a vest or table center piece, I haven't decided).

While browsing through the books, I found a couple books that I almost got. They had items that I would conceivably wear, and more than one in each book, but I didn't really like them as is. Since I'd probably end up changing them anyway, I didn't see the point in purchasing the books. So, I decided to look for a book, for either knitting or crochet, that covers edgings, insertions, and motifs. Or a book with lacy pattern stitches. I found one book of stitches and motifs, kind of, but in boring stitches, and I wanted something more lacy.

So I opened a knitting book that mentioned Victorian lace in the title. I almost got it. I may still get it. The book was entirely shawls and wraps and a couple fichus, but the lacy stitching was amazing. I don't see stitching like that in any of the modern books. My best guess for the actual title of the book is Victorian Lace Today, when I did an Amazon search for 'victorian lace knitting'.

Of course while browsing Amazon I had to check out all the related books. I came across 'Knitting Lingerie Style' by Joan McGowan-Michael, and this was one of the alternate images. It looks like the top in an earlier post I made, without buttons down the front. So, now I'm tempted to get the book.

So, somehow in the course of all this, I decided to look up knitted lace in Project Gutenberg and Google Book Search, because it still offends me to pay $20-$30 for a book that I'll only use part of (if I use it at all). One of those had a book, or books, from the mid 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century, and in one of the books was a knitted chemise. While I don't have the patience to knit a full chemise, I'm pretty sure I can mange a wide lacy edging to go on the bottom. So I've decided that's going to be my next knitting project (I've still got a sleeve and a half to finish on the current project).