Monday, February 24, 2014

Sewing Project: an Embroidered Bustle Pad

   For one of my planned Lolita dresses I'll most likely need a bustle pad, so I found a tutorial on Youtube by the lovely Traybuff and tried my hand at it.

    What should have been a pretty quick and straightforward craft turned into a matter of 8 days, when I decided to embellish it with wheat embroidery and lace insertion.

   The embroidery pattern from La Belle Assemblée, 1815:

   My first ever attempt at circular lace insertion. Or any lace insertion, for that matter:-) Kind of feels like magic to make, even though I have not quite figured out yet how to force the lace to lie down perfectly smoothly.

   I didn't mark the edge of the smaller circle and as a result it is uneven, ah well. We learn from our mistakes.

   I had no wadding at hand, so I stuffed it with white old rags - they serve well, but I wonder if wadding would have produced a smoother result?

   But overall, I'm quite happy with it:-)))

Fabric and notions used:
A piece of old cotton sheeting
A vintage ribbon (I think it is a silk taffetta, but I'm not sure)
A vintage French insertion lace

It is entirely handsewn.

Project start date: 27. 10. 2013
Project end date: 4. 11. 2013

Friday, February 21, 2014

The ill/disabled Lolita: A guide to surviving Lolita withdrawal syndrome during illness

   Once upon a time, there was a discussion on the egl about wearing Lolita when you are sickly or/and disabled. I've lost the bookmark to that discussion since, but it got me thinking. How to salvage the feeling of beauty, elegance or cuteness, when your nose is running, eyes watering and your organs seem to be bent on murdering you?
   As any sickly Lolita knows, it's not an easy task, at all. During infirmity, comfort and practicality of stuff we put on or use are usually prioritized; much as a girl could want to, spending feverish days on sickbed in a 400 USD (or even 50 USD or 40 USD, depending on where you shop) dress is simply not good for either the girl or the dress. But, certain things can be done that can uplift your spirits and make you feel like a Lolita, despite you haven't left your bed for weeks or months.
   If you have got any tips on your own, please feel free to leave a comment - I will add them, with a credit to you.

1. Sew or buy a nice set of pyjamas, or a pretty nightgown - flannel one for example is great for the cold winter weather in the Northern Hemisphere, as it's warm, sturdy and the potential ruffles and pintucks on it would not only brighten your day and night, but would also withstand even rather violent bouts of sickness.A cute dressing gown is also a great idea!

2. Wear a headbow, cute barette clips, or stick a rose pin onto your nightgown when the worst stage is over; if you get cold feet, it's easy to find cheap and cute socks with frills, strawberries or butterflies (I've got quite a number of them to cheer me up). As Zipzip suggested, pearl necklaces are great to enliven a dull sick-wear too!

3. Get some flowers to put near your bed, if you can. Potted ones are the best in my experience, since they last the longest - a hyacinth bought not-yet-bloooming is an especial pleasure. It gives out a lovely scent and watching it slowly open its blooms day by day, when you need a bit of tranquility and hope that you, too, one day will bloom into health again, is rather... soothing and cathartic. Especially if you are ill through winter - a flower is a promise of spring, and spring is a promise of new strength.

4. Cutefy your medication holders and the cups from which you drink your herbal teas. Because the plain old medication bottles and plates can be rather depressing after a time, getting a nice little pillbox with a cute picture on it might add a splash of colour and style to eating your daily share of pills. I've got three so far:

5. If you use crutches, you can turn them into candy canes with coloured tapes, or deco them with a band of rhinestones and cold porcelain roses or plastic hearts - anything is possible! Let your imagination go wild!

6. Watch cute movies - Disney, Studio Ghibli movies, anime, anything sweet, nice and well-ending to keep your spirits high; Deka Wanko or Spirited Away anyone?

7. Cute bedding might make it better too:

   To every ill person out here, Lolita or not:

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

On Victorian Make-up

   I remember once watching some make-up expert claim women in Victorian times didn't use make-up at all in Victorian England, basing this claim on - if memory serves well - the fact that no make-up from this period survived. Somehow this kept bothering me, since I've previously come by an article showing as a supporting evidence an excerpt from a book by Louisa May Alcott, the author of Little Women, where make-up practices of some girls were revealed:

"Half the girls do it, either paint or powder, darken their lashes with burnt hair- pins, and take cologne on lumps of sugar or belladona to make their eyes bright."

                                                                                            (An Old-Fashioned Girl, L.M. Alcott, 1869)

   So I went digging through several Victorian women's magazines and watching BBC's Victorian Farm Episode 3, et voilà, look at what I found:

Bow Bells, 1866.

Godey's Lady's Book, August 1864

   So far, so good. The red lip salve functions like a sort of red lip gloss, according to Ruth Goodman; the recipe for the powder itself states it is for the purpose of concealing pimples. But it was the following article which made my beginner researcher's heart flutter:

   PAINTED FACES, transcribed from the April 1876's issue of Frank Leslie's Lady's Magazine:

   We hear a great deal now-a-days about "painted faces."
   When our good people of the church speak of the wicked actors and actresses who tread the boards of our theatres, they remark upon their painted faces, just as though there were no painted faces sitting Sabbath after Sabbath in their holy congregation.
   Now; for the life of us, we cannot see why there should be so much fuss made about painting, since everybody, almost, is guilty of it in some way or shape, and everybody else knows it.
   We have the pleasure of enjoying a large circle of acquaintances, and, to speak within bounds, nine-tenths of them either paint, powder, dye their hair or whiskers, or "touch up" their eyebrows, and we have no doubt but that the other tenth indulge in the same thing, only in not quite so evident a manner.
   Do not understand us as advocating the practice. We have nothing to say about that at present. We only deal with the fact as it exists. Everybody knows that nearly all our fashionable women, and a large number of our fashionable men, use cosmetics daily, and why they should indulge in so many scornful flings  at "painted faces " beats us.
   Now, is it any more reprehensible for an actress, whose good looks is her fortune, to resort to "Magical Balm," and  "Pearly White," and "Roseate Bloom" than it is for her aristocratic sister to use "just a little magnesia to take away the moisture and disagreeableness of heat and perspiration "?      
   The fact is, nearly everybody paints, and they are foolish enough to imagine that nobody suspects it, when, to the most casual observer, it is us evident as it would be if the placard were placed over their foreheads that we put upon our freshly-renovated houses and fences, to warn the passer-by to keep off—"Paint."
   They may not be outspoken about it, even when questioned—they will lift their hands in holy horror if you intimate such a thing; they will keep their rouge and powder under lock and key, and will go out to purchase it after dark, and in clever disguise, but that does not alter the fact.   Men everywhere sneer at painted faces as if they were the exception, and not the rule, and entirely forgetful that their own cheeks, and probably their noses, are rouged with brandy, which, by-the-way, is the very worst kind of paint in use.
   Ministers may declaim against paint from the pulpit; doctors may point out death in the balm bottle; reformers may inveigh against it; we of the scribbling fraternity may take up our pens to impale it, but men and women always have dyed and painted, and they always will.

   Still, there is much to explore yet. Onto the research, I will keep you updated if I find anything!

   What's brewing: I've got an article about Polish castle Książ in the making, plus two photoreports from Adršpach-Teplice Rocks stone town and from Turnov Museum, as well as a bustle pad walkthrough and several project dumps; I'm researching 1876's petticoats. For now I'd like to wish...


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