the other victorian projects

I keep coming back to a very small handful I really want to work on, and realised I have a major love for very stark gowns.

I mean Sunburst or not on that skirt that gown would be on my Must Make list anyway.


Virginie Gautreux by JS Sargent and Rose Caron by Toulmouche.

I have actually made part of each, but I really want a nice silk satin for Mme X. I need about 8m and in a nice heavy weight that’s just not really been on the cards. But, sales are sales so fingers crossed one coincides with a bit of luck 🙂

My day ensembles have tended to also be a bit stark like my grey dress and this is in keeping with that with a touch of Worth:

Worth’s Cleopatra yellow wool dress.

I also have to admit the fabric I just cut for my new duvet cover (one of a set of curtains) has such a huge pattern it’s super tempting to make a Worth-a-like based on those oversized patterned velvets. The front is a crinkle silver with chenille waves, but the reverse.. now the reverse looks like black velvet with flat silver waves and that is just too much to resist. Well I hope I can because I *might” just be able to get a frock out of it. But I want a high necked version. That might be a bit much. The curtains had huge eyelets at the top which est into the amount that is free. That said I do have a strip.. but also my new duvet cover is so pretty that it really needs a bit of matchy matchy in terms of pillow covers.

It might be possible for a more 1890 vs 1895 look.

the books arrived

While I was at the library the Ultimaker was also there XD It felt brilliant being able to talk historic costume nerding while also talking about the printer and the software to use it. Just fun 🙂 Also it’s a nice size machine so seeing it in person means potentially being able to plan to get my Maleficent horns printed piece by piece.

Anyway, I know the Opulent era well but it’s still really nice to have the luxury of having it at home. Also this is still a gown that keeps leaping up for attention:

Medium:silk, rhinestones
Credit Line:Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of the estate of Mrs. Arthur F. Schermerhorn, 1957

My scanner has fallen over but The Opulent Era has a strip photo of the beading and it is just clear enough to make out the bead types 🙂 Looks like delica style pearelscent bead which is fabulous! One of the desriptions in the Worth Bio mentions “iridescent” beads which I always take to mean opalescent- rainbow refracted colours very pearlescent but either is of interest to me in terms of materials. I adore AB finish so figuring out an appropriate start date to use it is always of interest.

As a start:

Metallic sparkle and shine has long been a favorite among bead connoisseurs. The bead makers of Gablonz first painted metallic finishes on glass beads, including iridescent coatings. Next, they came up with iridized and electroplated glass beads. Iridized glass was glass sprayed with an almost hair-thin vapor deposit of metal oxides. The craze for iridized glass and beads reached its height during the late 1800s and again in the 1950s and 1960s after the introduction of aurora borealis coating.

Wax Pearl with Essence Coating and Fragile Glass
Photos thanks to Diane Volkmann

Which I had only heard about, so it’s nice to see (click through.) For an example of the description of this kind of fake pearl:

MAN and SHELLS Molluscs in the History
By Riccardo Cattaneo-Vietti, Mauro Doneddu, Egidio

Though I think this has the closest explanation:

Saphiret is type of glass stone with a blue-brown hue used in Victorian jewelry.

This page also distinguishes carnival glass from AB (specially Swarovski method) so I think this one is the lead 🙂


Anyway. My desire for iridescence is generally tempered by being sure it’s slightly out of date for my most loved eras! But

solidot- rbabit hole of reseacrh


So yes, it seems to have become a generic term as the tradmark and patents relating to the invention have expired/dissolved.


So working outward. Turns out a grandchild of the inventor of the specific solidot I think I am thinking of has a copy of his PhD.!

1“Instead, a series of experiments were set up to devise a form of chemical finish which would partially block the interstices of the base cloth without stiffening it, and, at the same time, would reduce the wicking effect of the yarn fibrils, which otherwise removed the water from the resin emulsion preferentially.” (Page 28.) (Back)

3If anyone’s on the edge of their seat wondering what happens in the history of fusible interlinings, or has questions about the difference between producing resin granules by wet methods and by hot compounding methods, or the importance of the Solidot process (Very Important) or the fate of Staflex (A Sad Story), you’ll have to wait until IÌve finished the book. (Back)

(actually yes, thinking about it the fabric I am thinking of has a slightly fishy smell, as do a lot of PVC coatings.)


Method of forming uniform-sized plasticized resin granules and resulting product
US 3067162 A

Anyway. The fabric I am looking for appears to no longer be made. Unless perhaps if I order a 3000yard roll.


And it is the regular spacing of the granules that is important. The dots are also quite raised. So fantastic for a heavy satin as you can really melt the dots into the ground and not have it strike through!


It is real!

Cotton woven with PVC dot resin
is what is commonly called Solidot and
is probably one of the oldest interfacings
still used today.

Woo!!! I am very lucky to have just enough for my Sunburst as what I have I cannot find any more. What I have is a very well woven cotton fabric of a complex weave and a very distinct regular series of opaque dots. The closest I can find is in fact labeled as anti-skid fabric. And yeah. Very similar. But it’s annoying it cannot be found any more.

But I can’t very much info about who produced the stuff and why I cannot find any since about 2010.

gathering materials

Well dye remover. I decided rather than trek across Auckland for dye remover I’d just order some. So I did, and ordered a new cutting blade for my cutting machine at the same time because well I’m going to finally just start cutting the darn Elsa sequins! Well huge confetti circles that are 1″ across 🙂 They are translucent so once dye up will be very icy when finished 🙂

The dye remover is for my silk satin and also for something else I have forgotten.. whoops!

But I have also just spent the day detangling my very expensive lace front wig I bought for my Chistine Daae costumes.

It’s a bit frizzy for that now but ideal for doing all kinds of historic hairstyles which is fab. I just need to run a blade over the ends (designed for human hair these thin ends out and as the frizz sticks out is fairly easily cut out 🙂 )

I have read most of the first bio of Worth I got from the library. The library has two last holds for me: the Opulent Era and The House of Worth : portrait of an archive.

That second one I have not read through yet, obviously I know TOE very well 🙂 This is just saving me hunting out a copy for myself as the costume reference shelf is a little out of hand. Okay, no I do want this. I just want to find a very good quality copy!

I have the large scale edition of Costume by KCI and sadly most of the photos I am interested in were not adjusted for the larger format so are a little blurry. Luckily the section on Japanese influenced western costume is all good!


I’m buying the freaking Rocailles. I may as well do this properly if I’m going to the effort of removing all the dye then adding more. And if I have 10m of silk chiffon already decoloured just for the selvages and.. well this is the gown that started the obsession. And yes, the museum catalogue includes “metallic thread” so I was right in assuming the outlines were originally si;ver.


So obviously the owner being rich and in New York had other worth frocks but WHAT THE [email protected]!!!!


I wish it was possible to know if all these gowns were worn my The Mrs Astor, or if they were collected. But I love her taste. I really do. And I am almost up to this section in the Worth biography so I’ll keep reading and see what the book has to say about the New York social scene. Most of the info is fantastic. Not a lot about the day to day proceedings, but a lot of info I assumed but more as well (1200 seamstresses in the 1860s????)

My OMG moment was false though, a picture of the Electric Light (Worth) gown for the Vanderbilt party  came up and I thought how could I possibly have not made the connection. And now it turns out I have lost my book with the very good copy of it.. Anyway. False Excite.

So next step is to see where the book is and possibly rescue it from the pile of books to donate….

And finally.. did I forget or has The Met released a few books as PDFs?

Haute Couture

Right so yes it is pale green not yellow as it appears in the more well known version of the image. Pale blue would make more sense but what the hey. Probably a case of what worked for the client in terms of colour 🙂

instagram update

#sunburst silk before and after RIT color remover. Before was with Dylon Pre-Dye. In each case make sure the powder is powder, don’t accept a pack if it feels solid. This is an oxidative process that also uses water. When a solid rock it literally can’t work.

#sunburst silk before and after RIT color remover. Before was with Dylon Pre-Dye. In each case make sure the powder is powder, don’t accept a pack if it feels solid. This is an oxidative process that also uses water. When a solid rock it literally can’t work.

View in Instagram ⇒

ooooh sunburst beading

So obviously one uses silver lined glass beads and the other uses pearls. Of note, fake pearls. Which is very exciting. Beacuse I have vintage fake glass pearls so I suspect they are made the same way- I think it’s an enamel paint over glass.

Anyway notice the other big thing.

The pearls do not have a shadow line. I was originally working from The Opulent Era which includes a close up of the pink gown that shares photo space with the yellow sunburst. And in that the beads are outlined with fine seed beads. But that is not what is going on!

The yellow sunburst apparently has a silver cord laid down and the silver lined beads sewn around that. You can see the couched threads once you look for them but especially on the cloud circle to the inside of the furthermost star. Also metal would explain how the cord stays so crisp as opposed to a silk over cotton core. Compare how firm they appear compared to the known beads and thread. The gown has a lot of shattering of the silk but how soon did the silver corrode? Was it a factor calculated into the making? Or did the gown get stored in a way that wasn’t completely optimised?

So I suspect the same rational I used to decide the pearls were the better option for me played a part in the original. I think the beads alone were not going to give enough definition so the couched silver does that.

I however love the effect of the the corroded metal! I love how it outlines in such a sharp graphic line. So I am really really torn as to just how “accurate” I want to go. I should only couch cord iff I use rocailles but it should also be silver. Also the rocailles are one size while the pearls graduate… will going for a single sized pearl and dark silver cord work? As somthing that could have been done?

But the same can be said of the sequins. I will likely use modern non tarnishing sequins so will that affect how this changes over time?


And now I am remembering why I stalled the last time! My historic gear is rarely a copy. I much prefer to do as was done which is to take a fashion plate or photo of a celebrity and say “I like this, but do this” as is how the pink version came about anyway! But I love so much about the yellow (with hints of pink and green and bright yellow).

Sunburst graphic overhaul

I have decided that I know how to make line art in photoshop so let’s just do this 🙂

I had basically traced all the photos of the skirts in my books here and then traced over that while adjusting for curve. Let’s just say onion sheet is the best stuff ever 🙂

I just scanned that, and scaled to full size and have so far created paths for all elements except the hem and the curves inside the clouds.

I started with the easy-peasy straight rays of light, this is just using the pen tool on the tips and ends of each ray.

For the wavy rays I wanted to have a more regular and controlled shape so I created one ray in paths.

I started by adding anchor points regularly, shifting them to gently widen and length each curve.

Once I was happy, I stroked the path. My experience with Elsa has suggested the ideal cutting/stitching line is to use the brush on 3pxls

This was then copied and pasted as multiple layers and each one rotated and placed in position. I also erased overlapping lines.


The straight rays were merged and the wavy rays were merged to another layer.

So then I started to add the clouds. Each circle was created by using the circle line tool, stroked and copied to different layers and for each layer they were free transformed to shape. And the overlapping sections were also erased.

So now I need to create a star and cloud to repeat for the hem and also add curves to each cloud.

Once finish it will probably be flipped and printed then temporarily basted to the back and machine stitched as I had planned before.

beaded tablier the hunt and the context



Contemporary style:

Harper’s Bazar Ball Toilette, (2.11.1882, cover). Magnolia satin with rosy hints. Tablier is embroidered in silks and beads, terminated at the food by two pleatings of the satin. )

I did find a few more examples of a the tablier style covered in beads. But I need to explain what a tablier is.

It means apron. But it is important to understand what an apron in fashion in the natural form and sencond bustle era looked like. It was plain and pulled back. So it’s basically a plain skirt front as opposed to one covered in drapery or rushing etc.

Wedding dress Place of origin: Paris (made) Date: 19/02/1880 (worn) Artist/Maker: Worth, Charles Frederick, Materials and Techniques: Silk satin, lace and net, lined with silk, imitation of pearls embroidery, velvet Museum number: T.62 to B-1976
5: Wedding dress Date:1881 Culture:American Medium:silk, pearl Credit Line:Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art,Accession Number:2009.300.3847a, b
Wedding Dress c. 1882 – England Material Ivory silk brocade of gold thread with floral pattern; trimmed with silk tulle, Brussels lace, beads, and imitation pearls; 240cm-length train with fifteen tiered flounce. Inventory Number(s) AC2203 79-9-8AB















6:Dress About 1885, 19th century Gift of Miss Estelle Holland M20296.1-2 © McCord Museum Keywords: Dress (85)
2: Medium: Green/brown changéant silk velvet, lace, beads, rhinestones, and gold metallic cord Date: 1889-1890 Country: France  Object Number: P91.55.6
Evening dress Date:1888–89 Culture:American Medium:silk Accession Number:C.I.47.65.1a, b















A garment found several years ago on ebay.
Another earlier ebay find










There was some exploration of asymmetry of these overlayers of beaded silk especially when on a delicate fabric.

Name: Wedding Dress Date: 1887 Place: United States Medium: silk, beads, faux pearls
Classification: Women’s Ceremonial Dress Department: Fashion Arts and Textiles  No: 1971.320
Maria Feodorovna (1847-1928), Princess, Tsaritsa, Glucksberg family, Romanov family
Maria Feodorovna (1847-1928), Princess, Tsaritsa, Glucksberg family, Romanov family














I adore these oversized pearls on thin silver beaded loops. Some of the other gowns how tassels and loops made from matching pearl beads (see garment immediately to right), but this is quite a statement.


And then we come to the two Sunburst gowns. Worth regularly repeated his designs, with some adjustments based on the new client.

Evening Dress© The Kyoto Costume Institute Evening Dress c. 1894 Designer Charles-Frederick Worth  Material Ivory silk satin two-piece dress; gigot sleeves; pale pink silk chiffon decoration at neck and bodice; skirt with sunbeam and cloud asymmetry pattern of pale pink silk tulle insertion and bead embroidery. Inventory Number(s) AC4799 84-9-2AB
Ball gown Design House:House of Worth (French, 1858–1956) Designer:Charles Frederick Worth Date:ca. 1887 Medium:silk, glass, metallic thread  Accession Number:49.3.28a, b


















This just happens to be a very obvious copy due to the single large stylised motif across the entire skirt. These just stand out a mile away!  These do also make use of cut work and so perhaps represent an early start to the later gown with heavy use of cutwork. They certainly show more in character and line to the vertical plant motifs than the layers of net and beads.

And that seems to have lead to experimentation with full skirt length motifs.

Ball gown Design House:House of Worth Designer:Jean-Philippe Worth (French, 1856–1926) Date:1900 Medium:silk, rhinestones Credit Line:Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Accession Number:2009.300.1250a, b
Harper;s Bazar, 1894. (3.17.94, cover) Coiffure from Lentheric of Paris. Pale sky blue satin bordered in black fur. Beaded irises cover the side front seams.

















(BTW that shape of the wheat sheaf gown is well represented in other garments Worth created especially in velvet or fabric a la disposition.)

And what can we say about this gown that has not already bean said:

THE ‘LILY’ EVENING GOWN, WORTH WORN BY COMTESSE GREFFULHE Worth Gift of the Duc de Gramont Circa 1896 Black silk velvet, white silk satin (for the partially modern collar), white satin appliqués embroidered with metal cannetilles and gold sequins. GAL1978.20.1


Still no luck tracking down the book so I went looking on  Worldcat

So this allowed me to look for a book published between 1970 and 1996 (the year I know I saw it) that is about wedding dresses and probably by a museum. I though Museum of London based on the format I had in my head but well:

Wedding dress : 1740-1970
Author: Madeleine Ginsburg; Victoria and Albert Museum.
Publisher: London : H.M.S.O., 1981.
Edition/Format: Print book : National government publication : English

This sounds like the puppy!!!. And it is still available at the library I know it was from. And I recall the production I was in that caused the book to be at a rehersal:

Trial By Jury! Yes, a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta about a bride and with all her bridesmaids in tow! I then requested a whole lot of other useful book s 🙂


sunburst, I have to!

In tidying all my beads I found my pearls again. All the pearls. The Metropolitan Sunburst gown uses faceted beads so would have glittered like a glittery thing. But I am short shighted, that effect would get very lost on me, especially while working so the more solid effect of the pearls of the Kyoto version is very tempting. It may also be down to the darkening of the lined beads (not sure what metal, but given they look nearly black.. tin? Silver?)

I’m not sure if the instagram importer will work so here is a quick grab from facebook 🙂

In this photo, clockwise from top:

~super delicate cotton tulle. It wobbles so I think it may actually be rayon. It’s still a very gold colour. So to the RIT color remover

~silk faced satin (a purchase from Cynthia Settje waaaay back in 2006! So it’s kind of perfect 🙂 ) Already knocked back to gold from green, it should soften further (6 skirt panels cut and interfaced, colour removed with pre-Dye by Dylon)

~hand drawn beading pattern (pinned to the face of my front skirt panel.) This may get swapped for a scan of my scale drawing which is more accurate 🙂

~glass pearls! You have no idea how expensive glass beads have been for the decade around my start date! These were a lucky dollar store find! (24 hanks)

~silk habotai- intensely yellow- to the RIT!

~silk chiffon- looks quite lovely, much more institutional mint in reality! To the RIT!


Not shown are my sequins and lined seed beads.

I may have enough sateen to line the bodice, but there may be a little Worth construction hunting before I commit!