Saturday, 3 December 2016

30 April 1881 - 'Seasonable Dress and How to Make It' by Dora de Blaquiere

This month, please wear warm underclothes even though the season has turned, the in colours of the season (blues and rich reds), and remember to pepper your furs before putting them away until next winter. 

Spring – with its violent and sudden changes, its storms and sunshine, which alternate so quickly as to render it most difficult to know "what to wear," even in our daily walks – is certainly the most treacherous and dangerous of all the seasons of the year. To young people, full of movement and life, it is especially so, as they more easily get overheated, and are more easily tempted to throw off winter clothing than their elders. A family physician of more than usual common sense, used to say in our hearing, years ago, that "flannel and merino underclothing should be left off on the 30th of June and put on on the 1st of July again," showing that in his experienced mind the wearing of warm underclothing must be the rule, not the exception. And so we advise all our young readers, even in summer, to wear some light-warm woollen material near the skin, and to adopt our old friend's advice about the non-dismissal of it at any time in the year.

We have spoken before now on the importance of an even temperature being preserved all over the body, and the great advantage the new combined underclothing gives in this way especially. All underpetticoats that are heavy and ungored should now be altered our dismissed, and others substituted which are light, warm, and well gored, and possess a deep well-cut yoke. The present excellent fashion of short dresses bids fair to prevail for some time, and there is a simple and very easy method of buttoning on a train below the flounce at the back, by which a morning dress can be turned into an evening dress with no trouble. Both dresses and sleeves, too, are wider, and so there is no need of endeavouring to preserve the ungainly, ugly fashion of extremely "tied back" skirts and skeleton arms.

In the methods of making there is extreme latitude allowed, for every style of bodice is worn – the polonaise, prettily draped, and buttoned or laced either at the back or the front; the cuirass bodice, and the coat bodice, which will be worn much as it was last year, as a sufficient to-of-door covering when the weather is warm enough. They are made in the same way, but the fronts are sometimes made in extremely long points, the back being something like a coat.

The three-figure illustration shows the present way of making girls' simple walking costumes. AT figs.1 and 2, the first wears a dress of serve, trimmed with velveteen, the colour of the serge being a golden brown, called *tete de faisan (pheasant's head), the velveteen being of a darker shade, and the woollen ball-fringe rather lighter, to match the serge. This figure wears a draped polonaise, with a scarf of velveteen below the waist, velveteen cuffs, and collar, and two leaf-shaped pieces of velveteen that fall below the polonaise over the two small flounces of the skirt. The hat is of dark brown felt, with trimmings o plush, and a feather tip of the lighter shade of the dress.

Fig.2 wears a dress of blue vigogne; the underskirt is of silk, or merino, with bands of galloon; the overskirt, which is of vigogne, opens in front, and is draped back on one side; the bodice has a plain long basque, edged with galloon, and buttoned down the front; the hat of blue straw, with a trimming of grey-green leaves to suit the colour of the blue, and a plush lining of grey-green, which shows above the forehead, where the bonnet turns up.

The third figure shows the new method of making the habit bodice this season. The fronts are pointed, the narrow basque being continued above the hips to the back, where it is pointed to match the front.

Fig.4 is a charming girl's dress, which is especially adapted to the altering and remaking of old dresses. The material of the illustrated costume was a basket-woven beige, the bodice and sleeves being trimmed with a plaid material of silk and wool; the "Black Watch" tartan, one of the new fancy French checks, being, any of them, very pretty. This idea may be carried out  for the mending and making up of old black dresses; the figured or checked material will then look best to be of old-gold and black, or red and black. The balayeuse, or kilting, should be either of old gold or red.

The bonnet illustrated at fig.5 is a small fancy straw, lined with a shaded silk, the strings being of the same. The flowers are those of the spring, which are peculiarly suited to the use of young girls – the daisy, the snowdrop, and the violet, to add a little colour to the group.

The new spring colours must not be forgotten. Yellows and browns, both together and alone, seem to be the favourite hues of the day, and a very pleasant mixture they prove. Then comes a lovely blue hue called *saphir, which, with *bleu de ciel and turquoise blue, will be much used all the summer. A beautiful red, called by many names, will be much worn; it resembles a cardinal, but is deeper and richer, and reminds one of the red which in those fierce and warlike days of the Franco-Prussian war the French introduced and named *sang de Prusse, with questionable taste. Then there are greys and drabs, without number, and a beautiful dark hue called *cassis, which is copied from the red currant and bears its French name.

All kinds of straw bonnets are worn, and all descriptions of shapes. Many girls choose the "grannie" bonnet, which was also worn last year, and indeed, Miss Kate Greenaway's pictures have pretty well used us to quaint old-fashioned poke shapes for young girls, and very pretty some of them look. There are plain white straws also, which exactly resemble some worn by our great-great-grandmothers, trimmed with plain blue ribbon which almost makes them into the bonnet of the little charity girls, or the queer shape worn at the Foundling Hospital.

Belts and bags of yellow leather and others of plush have been brought out for the use of young girls, and very useful and pretty they are. The fashion of wearing belts and buckles and gathered bodices is more becoming to young figures than to old ones, and they have one great advantage, they are easily made and fitted at home.

Capes of several shapes are to be worn, the prettiest of the new ones being the "Mother Hubbard, which is exactly like the top of the cloak of that name, cut off where the sleeves are put in, just at the elbow. The gathered top and the bow at the back with the high frill are all very graceful, and this cape, though small, gives much additional warmth in the chilly days of late spring. The cape and pointed hood of the Red River voyager and the Eskimo have also been copied for one o our new spring hoods, and very becoming they are. These little capes are easily made at home, and are much newer than the sleeveless jackets which have been worn so long.

Quantities of silk and thread gloves with many buttons are prepared  for the spring and summer.  For the benefit of those who do not know how to wash them, we will give an excellent way: Place the gloves on the hands and wash the hands with borax water or white Castile soap, as if you were really washing the hands. Rinse in fresh water, and dry as much as possible with a towel, keeping the gloves on until they are about half dry. Then take them off carefully, and fold them up so that they may look as nearly like new gloves as possible. Lay them between two clean towels, and press them under a weight.

And now we must give a few lines to the important subject of taking care of the winter clothes that we are about to lay aside  for the summer months. Furs must be shaken and well beaten with a small rod, so as to get all the dust and dirt out, as well as the eggs of the moth, which may be laid in them already. When this is doe, pepper them well with strong white pepper, and wrap them in linen, putting them away, if possible, in a tin box.

In regard to winter clothing, it is absolutely needful that it should be put away clean, and well brushed and beaten, if it is to be preserved from moths. All the greasy and dirty spots should be taken out, and in folding up the utmost care should be taken. A tablespoonful of spirits of ammonia or of hartshorn added to a teacupful of boiling water, covered up and allowed to cool, is an excellent mixture for taking out grease. Apply with a bit of sponge or flannel before quite cool, rubbing the spot briskly, having first brushed the dust well out of it. Rinse with a little clean water, and rub dry with a piece of the same as the dress, if possible. Dry in the air or in a sunny window. If the grease has not disappeared, go over again in the same manner, being careful to rub the same way as the nap of the materials. This recipe will take out grease, sweet or sticky spots, or anything that has not taken out the colour of the fabric.

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