Wednesday, 27 July 2016

30 October 1880 - 'Seasonable Clothing and How to Make It'

It is a matter of no little comfort to all of us this season that the changeable laws which govern dress are so lenient as to permit an unlimited diversity in style and shape, and also in material, as many as four different stuffs being used in the same dress. The most popular colour is brown, which lends itself happily to all kinds of economical contrivances, and is, besides, a delightful colour, in its capacity for being enlivened by brighter hues, as well as by cream-colour, and brownish yellows. It is also a little gayer than black, although quite as serviceable, and equally neat and pretty.

Dresses are made with polonaises, quite as much as with jacket-bodices or basques. The new polonaises are long, and fasten either behind or in front; there is usually a gathering, about a quarter of a yard in length, immediately in front, which draws up the front of the polonaise into graceful folds, and the opening is finished by a looped bow with many ends. There are frequently gatherings at the middle of the waist behind and in front, extending down for some distance on the skirt; but unless the material be soft ad limp, it is never used for gathering, as thick material would never fold into the extremely close gathers now in vogue.

The coat bodice is similar to that which has been worn all the summer, which was illustrated in September at page 617, Vol.I, with a cutaway front. In our illustrations of this month (fig.1) the newest shape is given which has a double breasted front, and is more of a winter costume than the other.

In the picture at fig.2, an indoor costume is shown which is one of the novelties of the season.

And now I have described the prettiest style of dress  for the autumn and winter, we will have a little practical chat concerning our own wardrobes. It is more than probable that we have, some of us, a black cashmere, silk, or velveteen half worn-out, and not good enough for our winter dress; we should be so thankful if we could see in it the foundations of our new costume, but we do not quite know how to set about it.

If we like to take advantage of the fancy of the day, we may fearlessly mix them together, when, however bad, we shall be sure to have a presentable dress out of all three. With the present trimmed skirts such as figs.1 and 2, the foundations may be of any other material, - such as a stout alpaca - as they do not show when trimmed, and it makes a great saving in a dress; or any old skirt which is good, and not too limp, may be utilised for the purpose.

Velveteen is immensely popular this winter; the new makes are so vastly superior to the old, that they are hardly distinguishable from real velvet. A very pretty costume could be made of seal, brown velveteen, and light brownish yellow Indian cashmere, or vigogne, of the shade known as tete de faisan, which is very like the colour called cuir some years ago. The velveteen skirt would have a silk or alpaca foundation, and two kilted flounces, each about a quarter of a yard in depth. The upper dress may be of the vigogne, or cashmere, or else of estamene, or diagonal serge, and may be either a polonaise or else a jacket bodice in which case the upper skirt must be put on the top of the flounces as a trimming. A princesse dress, made short, of grenat velveteen, would also be a pretty winter dress. It might have a pinafore polonaise of some light material for wear in the evening, which would make it additionally useful. The cream-coloured, figured, Madras muslin - for instance, is very cheap, and being wide, a pinafore could be made at very little cost. If this dress be intended for a best costume, it might be well to go to the expense of procuring a little plush  for the trimming; but in using it, it should always be borne in mind that it wears badly.

In cutting out velveteen at home, it is needful to remember that there is a right and a wrong way of the material, and all the parts must be cut the same way. You must also take the fact into consideration that velveteen, if good, is always worth redipping, and that if there be too little of the good portion of a dress to make up again, it is still worth re-dying; as the well-preserved parts may be utilised with new material. I consider velveteen is entitled to a very high rank amongst the economical materials, and from its cheapness and good appearance should find a place in the wardrobe of all young people. Another nice textile is "vigogne," which is rather more expensive, but it is worth all it costs. It is very soft, and delightful to the touch, and the best material for trimming it is satin; and I know I need not press the advantages of the linen-backed satins on my readers; I must only caution them not to purchase any cheap ones, as they do not answer this purpose. To give from 3s to 4s a yard will ensure an excellent wearing quality. They are quite invaluable for doing-up old dresses, and they can be purchased in nearly every hue of the rainbow, and even the cheaper kinds, when cleverly used, look as good as satin at night.

Serge dresses are now trimmed with narrow braids; for blue serge, both black and gold braids are used, the rows being placed close together, to the number of four or five. Satin stitch embroidery with gold-coloured silk is a novelty on some of the new serge dresses, and also Roman striped scarves used as bordering bands and kiltings. Woollen plaid handkerchief dresses have succeeded the linen and cotton ones of the summer, the handkerchiefs being sold separately, in any number desired. They are of every colour, in fancy plaids, not Scotch tartans, and they are used to make whole dresses or only as trimmings. There are also numbers of fancy plaids of quiet colours, which would be very useful in re-making last winter's linsey, serge, or tweed dresses, and would make them look new and pretty again, used as scarf tunics, kiltings, gathered plastrons on the bodices, or puffs on the sleeves.

I think that I have quite exhausted the subject of dresses and dress materials, and may now proceed to mantles and jackets. The former are exceedingly large, and of the dolman shape, some with and others without sleeves, the most expensive ones being lined with plush and coloured satin, and even with velvet.

The well-known tight jackets of last season are worn this year again; the lining of the hoods is of some quiet plaid silk, the small "toque hat" being made to match of the same material. Those amongst my readers who have last year's mantles and jackets, therefore, may take heart over them, as they will be quite in the prevailing fashion this year. With regard to new ones, the newly introduced "sealskin cloth" appears to be a valuable material, moderate in price, and, so far as I can judge, everlasting in wear. I should not advise, however, that anyone should attempt to make them at home, as it is extremely difficult to make the seams join well, even professional hands finding a difficulty in making them as invisible as they should be.

The coachman's capes in fur will be worn again this year, but a more favourite method of wearing furs will be a wide-standing collar, or a large round collar attached to the mantle itself. The large fur-lined cashmere round cloaks will also be used this year, as they seem to be found too useful to relinquish, and for wearing in the winter evenings they are certainly a delightful protection from the cold.

The bonnets are very small, and the hats are very large indeed. There will be no difficulty in making our own bonnets at home,  for the shapes are all to be found in straw, and of nearly every colour. The only trimming in many cases consists of a very large long bow of silk, plush, satin, or black velvet, at the top of the bonnet, no cap or flowers inside, and no other trimming besides the strings, which are generally of the same material as the bow. An example of one of these small bonnets made of black straw, with a violet velvet bow, Parma violet wreath, and silk strings, is given at fig.3.

Stockings are still worn of a plain colour to match the dress, or else black, which is as fashionable and as serviceable as ever for morning and evening wear. Gloves are also worn to match the dress in colour; and as the generality of sleeves are short, the gloves with four buttons are the most generally adopted. Black lace scarves, wound round and round the neck, are used instead of collars, and black lace frills instead of white,  for the wrists of dresses. All these are most economical styles, and are invaluable to girls having but small allowances.

The last three illustrations are intended to help the industrious worker at home.

Fig.4 shows an easy method of trimming with two materials, which will be found available for doing-up old dresses. 

Fig.5 represents another bonnet, which will not be found difficult to copy.  

Fig.6 suggests a method of making-up an evening fichu on a wide ribbon, with lace and a suitable bouquet. 

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