Author Archives: m d b

The 1660 schnittbuch at last!

I regularly do narrow and broad searches for tailor manuals I know exist as they have been written about, but finally, FINALLY, I found an open access copy of “Das Schnittbuch aus Bregenz” By Ingeborg Petrascheck-Heim!

The link takes you directly to the first page of the article, but I’ve been putting these into a timeline of links with little previews than can be seen here:

Interestingly like a lot of these 17th/early 18thC books there are some really old cuts included.

This includes bodice cutting that looks like a tube. We are familiar with this through the Schuster book which is also a later copy of an earlier work, Petraschek-Heim refers to this in “Die Meisterstückbüeher des Schneiderhandwerks in Innsbruck.”. These also appear in Koehler’s History of Costume.

I like to be able to link to the manuscripts themselves as well as the articles written about them but it’s not always easy. So I need to check all the links of the timeline as there have been a few changes to open access in different European countries so some links may be broken or need updating.

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distraction tidying is paying off

Stress has resulted in simply not making any project except research. And that has a very long, long, lead in to any reasonable results. But that process is also helping me to explain why we need a broad as well as narrow approach to pattern making and construction. In part because tailor guild books include patterns from past centuries, this is very obvious in Anduxar but I had in part ignored some patterns with a later date and am now broadening my focus in archives to the 18thC to look for guild documents. It’s a bit exhausting but my search for information on the distinction between a mantua and tailor made robes has lead to this same information.

My own pattern book now needs to be more like a journal in which the author collects patterns from across Europe. All of my pieces work together like extant manuals, and are easily matched to extant garments and the Spanish manuals. I need to properly read all the work by Katherine Barich and Marion McNealy on the measurements as the diagrams of the Austrian books as the books really rely more on the text than diagrams which seem to be more short form reminders of basic shapes than even the Spanish.

And then there is the huge numbers of central European tailor books. They are very cool. The extant items fold very easily into them.

Some books and items were last recorded in the 19thC and so I’m deeply grateful for all the archives and historical societies for their efforts in digitising and sharing so very much.

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Rock the Frock is coming back

With my much better filing system I’m able to dip into different eras and genres to share Frocks I am inspired by. I’m not going to lie it was extremely difficult and with my pain/fatigue levels I essentially have a small window to Do/Write/Make within is which I also have to plan day to day.

So today I have gone through some of the 19thC folders as I really want to be able to swap through those different styles.

But it is fatigue time so I need to take a bit of a time out with some heat on my back.

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finally a thesis name

It’s taken much longer than I wanted, the entire year, to get my way through my digital archives to sort information by obvious subject matter. And I got myself lost in them. I got lost in them by looking for more information at the same time.

I also started to feel lost because there is just so much and I started to use tidying as a kind of distraction and so recently I’ve started to use puzzle books to distract instead. It’s helped a lot.

But finally, finally, I have the frame to fit all of that into a single thesis.

But really I needed that time for connections to be made, then tested, and if the connection remained it stuck, if not I left it in the background to find a better connection.

It hasn’t helped that I’ve done all of this from my PC.

My memory is written in 4 dimensions. I know the time of day and orientation to the sun. So to try and remember everything in my folders when I’m in the same spot day after day means I have forgotten a few things, and so the repetition of going through folders for side projects has helped.

So now it’s a matter of just writing and then taking a break because it’s pretty darn exciting.

It also means I’m back to working on some jewellery work.

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research the messy edition

I’ve managed to work my way through 48 garments or ensembles of extant gowns, robes, and bodices from 1515-1639, with about 50 more, and then so many hats. (There are a good 50 more suits, then there are the pearlwork textiles.) It’s taken months to sort my digital archives, and these are all intended to be webbed in a similar way to my North Rhine images, and the tailoring manuals so that eventually I can create some way to look up a tailor’s manual to find the closest matching extant garments and compare to images. I can do this as static pages, but I’m hoping to get a good search function. It really is more suited to a PC but I’ve now reached more than half of my site visitors using mobile devices. There is a lot of work that goes into making a site respond, and I recently had to fix some css that was broken by an update.

It’s very useful though.

There is a lot in there that reveal the very specific regional variation in cut that then allowed for variation within a region based on fabric and decorative choices.

All the extant garments are going to wind up in my own pattern book, so they will be adjusted to fit my system and I am working on the text to explain how different tailors manuals and garments show different ways to resize, and it’s a lot easier to do than explain. But I think it would help as the more ways you can use scale diagrams the better.

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small steps

I have been working on some small repair projects, because my confidence has eroded a lot since my fibro Dx. Actually even before because obviously pain and fatigue interfered with how much I could do. I’m down to barely being able to put together a blog post, thus my long patches of silence.

So far I’ve put Sooty back together (still actually sooty but clean and filling replaced.) Put the card holders back into our phone covers- soft vinyl and fabric glue, I really needed to have used some easy peel masking tape.

But today I will work on my sewing machine as there is an issue with the upper tension being way to strong. I need it at 1-3. So I need the repair manual for it. I think I have one already. It has grease rather than oil so I’m a bit nervous about cleaning too much, but there will be some vacuuming going on.

Going very slow and carefully. This involves taking the top of the arm off to then use a narrow Phillips to very carefully adjust two parts of the tension at once. I think it’s the spring that needs changing. It’s quite soft. Probably original to the 1980s. Photo is actually of a toy sewing machine. I actually had one, so it was exciting to find one online. It works btw. It need big batteries so if I get my confidence back up I might be able to work on the wiring to match a modern battery type?

I wish this was a service manual, but I’ve got it all cleaned. Slightly concerned there might be a screw loose in there, but tension is back to stabile on 4. I really need to take the plate off that sits over the dials as well. But for now it’s lint free, upper tension dial resettled. So yes. A break is needed.

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another shift in focus

I’ve been having difficulty with my pattern book mainly because I want it to be both a manuscript and a useable work to work from. But Gosh. Have a look at this.

Institution: Hessisches Landesarchiv – Staatsarchiv Marburg
Typ Kolorierte Zeichnung
Thema Mode
Zeit 1566
Material/Technik Papier
Sprache deutsch
Identifikator HStAM Best. 3 II Nr. 55

In Stuttgart it was desired that the bridesmaids, who were to be provided in equal numbers by both courts, should be dressed in the same way. Therefore, in November 1565, the bridegroom was sent two sheets of paper on which the front and back views of the two dresses made of black velvet and golden-brown shimmering taffeta desired for the maids were drawn in great detail. Fabric samples and sewing instructions were also given.

Oh now much would I love to find the instructions! But I have come to a dead end searching.

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mantua musings

Of course my “simple” mantua project would turn into something bigger. My focus ever since I fell in love with costume has been on pattern. How simple changes in seams produce extremely different styles.

So when I find garments called “mantua” that look like they are straight from a couple of tailor’s manuals? I get a bit suspicious that maybe the term is being over used.

“Ropa de chambra” have the stitched down pleats, the firmly pleated sleeves, and fairly equal distribution of fabric from front to back. This fits in really neatly with the timeline of manuals I’ve shared:

So I’m tracking down any and every example of the unequal wedge shape extension to only the front panels. There are a number of them. And to help with this I’m also looking at later mantua where the train is even more deviated from traditional tailoring before and after. I still very much need to fill in a few gaps when it comes to legal matters about the production of garments.

While doing this, I’m also looking for stays that will do what I need. My “lovely long lungs” (my radiologist’s words) come with a lovely long ribcage that will distort all stays into the same hourglass shape no matter what. I cannot get my ribs to taper. I learned how to breathe for classical singing and never stopped. It’s how I breathe at all times. Think about how you are supposed to stand with your knees slightly bent so you don’t hyper extend them.

Anyway. The stays I need have some panels that have boning on a diagonal, and there is always a little wedge or curve through the waistline in side-side back panels. And that has given me a bit of confidence in what I have made so far. Those little gaps allow the fabric to ease a little.

My Effigy stays work so well with the boning in parallel with the grain. I’m much more nervous about panels that have bones that end at the waist. Again, with an hourglass shaped torso this means those bones will dig in. But the diagonal lines complicate that a bit more. Potentially with very narrow boning I can use neighbouring channels to prevent that.

So now I’m sorting all my late 17th-1800s extant garments and manuals to look for when the shift from vertical to diagonal channels really got underway. It was fairly early. But I also got distracted by the 1660s shape and how the curved seams were used to help bend the body. It’s very cool, but I need to use some firm cardboard to illustrate it.

So we go from vertical channels in simple panels, to vertical channels but using curved seams to bend the body, to diagonal panels of boning to push the body forward. And I need to find more examples between the latter two.

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all over the place but still somewhat focused

After a pretty amazing day of collecting information on extant garments and manuals I’m sorting out my timeline of both. It’s a little tricky as many books fit into multiple categories that I’m really thinking about using the Dewey decimal system. Just to save character limits in file names.

I’m sort of doing that by separating out artforms and eras.

Self care sometimes means tidying and reorganising.

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For obvious reasons I’m finding it very hard to concentrate on anything and the pressure of unfinished projects has woken me up a few times this week so I have redirected my focus and I’m really excited about adding to collective knowledge.

My pattern book is heavily dependent on multiple factors. The first is to piece together information from tailors manuals. The second is to add into that extant garments. The third is to match each of these to art by region and date to find the direction of influences. And the fourth is to test my theories for places were there is no physical record.

I’ve just found a great source, but I think I want to subscribe to a publisher to be able to translate parts. And they also publish a few other articles I really want access to so I need to create a list and that means working through my bookmarks etc.

But it’s been very useful.

I have some of my extrapolated work supported, so that’s pretty fantastic.

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