Fur Friday…a different slant.

Today I decided to look for a Victorian era painting featuring a dog.  And the first one I found that was comment worthy was this one.

The Artist's Wife and His Setter Dog 1884-89 Thomas Eakins

What I liked about the painting was how the dog hangs out around its masters feet.  My dog does that and that is what I like about them…that they are content to just “be” with you.  But, it is a bit hard to focus on the dog (even though it looks like a photograph!)  The painting seems dark and I don’t know if it just needs to be cleaned up or if it is intentional so that you focus on the wife’s gown.  And you do focus on that pretty blue!  I adore the ruffles on the bottom and the lace at the cuff.  The red socks are surprising.  There does not seem to be enough material for bustle or bum pad that you might expect in this time frame.  She also doesn’t seem to be wearing a corset…which makes me think he painted his wife in the Victorian equivalent of her sweat pants.  Despite the parts of the painting I like and the parts that I find interesting, there is the part I find disturbing.  That is, this woman’s eyes.  The dark circles coupled with the droopy posture and the tiny upper body has me thinking this woman is far from healthy.  Her face makes me feel absolutely dreary.  I don’t think I’d be hanging that in my house!

Text messages vs hand written notes.

One of the things I thought I might explore with this blog is the question “would I really prefer to live in Victorian times?”  I think that people tend to romanticize eras that they are attracted too and forget the icky parts.  And every era has them….even ours.  The questions are, did we give up to much of the good things of the Victorian era for the good things we have now or has it been a steady up hill climb?  Or does it all balance out in the end  with each era having just as many good points and bad points as the other eras.  Is it simply a matter of accepting what is and what you are used to?

Today, I want to explore text messages vs hand written notes.  For myself, I hate texting.  It takes me forever to type out what I want to say…it would be faster to just call.   And don’t get me started on T9!  It never picks the word I want!  I find people have spelling worse than mine (and I am dyslexic!) because they don’t write out the full words any more.  I’m horrified when I see a group of people out for coffee together but they aren’t talking to each other…they are texting people who are not there!  I have told my kids that in family gatherings they are not to be texting all the time.  I’ll put up with one or two glances at the phone over several hours but no more than that.  The family has to believe they want to be there!  I can usually tell which teen conducts most of his or her interaction via text messages…they are the ones who are oblivious to things like voice tone, eye contact and facial expression…both in how they send them and how they fail to recognize these cues in others.

But, the upside of texting is I could always keep tabs on my kids.  They’d never answer their phone when I called because they couldn’t bring themselves to talk to their mommy in front of their friends.  But, they would respond to texts because their friends couldn’t hear the response.  Some how I don’t think trying to keep tabs on them with written notes would have been functional.

And yet, the written note has some sweet sentiments.  I used to hide little notes in my kids’ lunches when they were little.  I don’t know if he still has them but I do know one of my boys kept them for some time after the fact.  Some how saving a message doesn’t seem the same when it is a text message.

But, notes could be rude too.  Passing notes in class was fun for the sender and receiver but not so much fun for the teacher trying to teach or for the kids who didn’t get to read the note.

I don’t think there is much difference between texts and notes as far as content.  They both share information, send fond sentiments, ask questions, build people up and tear people down.  They both can be saved for sentiment or for evidence.  I guess they are both require an equal amount of effort to make up (unless you are me and it took you 30 minutes to ask your kid if he’ll be home for supper).  But, don’t hand written notes seem more personal?

In this case it is a tie.  Texting is good because it is a fast way to send a message (if not compose it). But, hand written seems more personal.

The new cabnet cards are here! The new cabnet cards are here!

As the title implies, the cards I bought on eBay have arrived and they have been a real treat looking at!  To add some drama, I will start with my least favorite and move up to my most favorite.

I am assuming this is a mother with her 6 daughters.

This is my least favorite for two reasons.  1) There is no photographers stamp so I don’t know who took the photo, where the photo was taken and when the photographer was in business.  2) The photo is a bit faded.

There are two things about the photo that has me wondering if this was not an example of a hobby photographer.  Perhaps this lady’s husband was an amateur photographer.  That would explain the lack of a photographers stamp and might also explain the round edges of the lens being included in the four corners of the photograph.

What I like about the card is the woman’s dress.  She has a nicely fitted bodice with 3 charming button tabs slanting across the front.  The over skirt appears to be asymmetrical with a swag effect at one hip and a hanging effect at the other hip.  The hanging side seems to have picked up the theme of the tabs on the bodice and there are buttoned tabs running down itself.  I am mentally filing that detail in my head for a future project! I definitely would make this dress!  I also like that you get a peek of the button up shoes (especially of the daughter on the right) and I adore the collar on the daughter on the left!  When you zoom in on the daughter on the left you can see a pattern of stripes that, to me, look like it is part of the weave…like a twill.  I wish I could see more of the dresses of the girls in the back.  I do like the pattern on the dress of the taller girl and the bodice seems to have a gathered front.  There appears to be jewelry on three of the girls in the back row.  Perhaps, they are older daughters and they were given jewelry when they were considered old enough to care for it.

To date the card, I went to some web sites that help with that and they say the scalloped edge of the card started in the 1890s.  And my guess, based on the hair styles and dress styles that this would be early 90s.

1790s. Hard to find a “must have” here….

The 1790’s are moving into the Regency style and I am not a fan, mostly because many of the examples in museums look like white nightgowns.  Over and over, more and more white night gowns!  Blah!

I did find this little number that is loaded with color.  It has the high waist of the Regency style.

1790-99 dress

I grant that the perk to the Regency style is there is plenty of room for a baby bump or serious middle age spread.

You could hide some serious rump in there too. Did they pad back at that date? I don't know enough about that.

This thing is so big and loose looking I got to wonder how much of that was the style and how much of that was patterning for a bigger and/or pregnant woman.

That pleating in the back would move nicely as you walked or danced. Plenty of room for sitting in too.

With that dark coloring, I would guess this is a dinner gown.  The long sleeves has me doubting it would be a ball gown.

If I needed a 1790s dress, I would want something like this because of the incredible color.  That being said, I hope I don’t need one because I really like something more fitted!  I might like this more if there didn’t seem to be padding at the butt level.  If I could find proof that they did not pad the butt or there was a choice between not padding or padding in that time period, I would happily make that dress without the huge rump!

1850s Victoria Day Tea Party Dress Done!

After another productive day. I got the undersleeves…

and the collar done.

I’m a bit aggravated because the collar looks crooked when the ribbon isn’t over top of it.  The only thing I can think of is there is too much over lap in the front bodice closure and that must be because I have picked one size to big for the front pieces.  I have been thinking the closure looks a little off to one side thus making the collar look crooked.  May be my “girls” are not as over sized as I thought! Anyway, it is done!  I will file that information about the bodice for the next dress and consider it “live and learn”.

I promised a faux tutorial on the shawl.  I found a huge piece of fabric at a second-hand store.  It is obviously meant for home decor but I was attracted to the pattern and to the weight of the material.  It looked believable as shawl material.  I have no idea of fiber content.  Being home decor, it would be safe to bet it has synthetic fibers.   (Shhhh, keep my secret!)

The fabric was too long and the edges were cut ragged.  I wanted to have a perfectly straight edge so I pulled threads out where I wanted the cuts to happen.  The space left by the threads provided a perfectly straight line to follow with my scissors.

Can you see the line across the middle?

Then I cut.  Pretty idiot proof.  About 1 1/2 inches in from the cut edge I sewed a line to prevent the fabric from unraveling to far.  And then I commenced unraveling the threads up to the sewing line.

Note the white sewing line and the unraveling.

That’s it.  Ta Da!

There is the fringe along the bottom.

All in all a productive weekend.  I finished the dress a month ahead of time.  This will give me time to practice wearing it.  (ie Getting in and out of car with hoops on!)


I’ve been busy!

I had a highly productive sewing day today.  First, I decided to add more to my bonnet.  It seemed a bit plain and I wanted it to be more tied in to the dress itself.  I tried the roses I mentioned in yesterday’s post but I was going to need to make millions of them to get the bang I wanted.  I will have to keep that idea in mind for another project.  I decided to do this instead…

I used some of the left over brown from the lower tier of the skirt and covered the brim.

Then I decided my sleeves needed more trim so I added that.

Again, this ties in the lower tier of the skirt. The tie needs a pin of some sort.

Then I made a shawl that I may or may not need this Victoria Day.

I liked this fabric (even if it is meant for household decorations) because it has the lattice pattern like the beige material and a floral swirl like the dark material of the lower tier.

Tomorrow I share how I made the shawl…ooooh a faux tutorial!

Feather and faux fur Friday

Before I begin my usual Friday installment I must share my good news!  The “currently in storage” Canadian Costume Museum is bringing out a few of its dresses for a weekend in May.  This weekend is called Open Doors and it is a day that historic buildings open their doors to the public.  The CCM is currently packed up in a vault in a historic building that is frequently rented out for weddings.  In honor of that fact, CCM is showcasing wedding gowns through the decades and I have been asked if I’d do the Victorian dresses!  Mercy!  I will be there unless I am in an Emergency ward bleeding out of a major artery!  I hope they aren’t expecting me to get those dress on the mannequins in a timely fashion ’cause you’s knows I’ll be ogling every flipping seam on those things!  And if they let me take photographs (flashless of course) and if they let me post them here, I will be SHARING!

Now, on to my less exciting usual material.  I have a man-made lake across from my house and I love it in the spring/summer/fall.  We have Canadian Geese, Mallards, Gulls and occasionally Pelicans that hang out there.

While Ginger and I were out for our walk we saw geese.

She is only ignoring them because she knows she can't catch them.

Close up of geese.

Ahhh so majestic! That is why they are called CANADIAN geese 🙂

A mass of mallards….

But what is this?  Faux fur?

Now that is ugly!

There is an apartment block next to the lake and apparently they don’t like the geese over these so they have these ugly brutes all over their lawn!


Many of the museums we have here have looms and samples of weaving.  I have been mildly interested in trying that some day…it’s on my bucket list.  Weaving would be a skill that would have been used in Victorian times by the working class.  I have done a quick internet search and can’t find proof that upper classed ladies did such work and classed it as an artistic endeavor suitable for a lady (like needle point).   My impression, after that short search, is that it is factory work for working girls.  My interest in weaving doesn’t match my interest in being a RICH Victorian lady, alas.  But, I still want to try it.  There is a local group call the Manitoba Weavers and Fibre Artists that is offering a weaving class this month.  I’ve asked about space availability.  I’m secretly hoping it is full because apparently, this is now a rich ladies craft.  The cost is a bit prohibitive to me at this stage in my life.  I’d have to save for a bit or splurge a bit if I want to take this class!

Warm fuzzys and feathers.

I’m feeling happy today!  First is I have a good joke on me in my head.  I showed my sister-in-law my bonnet.

And she laughed!

She laughed when she saw it because she thought of this….

Prissy...the widow hen from Foghorn Leghorn cartoons.

Now, since I once dressed as a chicken for work I am having trouble not imagining the bonnet on this….

I'm the chicken on the left.

It makes me laugh thinking of wearing that beak with that bonnet.  May be I will pack it in my reticule for my photo shoot in May….

The other thing that made me happy is an up date to an earlier post.  I posted this cabinet card in March.

Nice couple.

The card came with the couple’s name and with a google search I found the couple and I posted a comment on a geneology site asking if they were part of the family and offered to return them to family.  That just seems right to me.  Well, today a cousin of theirs contacted me and left a way for me to get in contact with them.  Nice!  I hope to get the mailing address soon and return these two to family.  It is a happy place for me today!