Friday, 6 January 2017

21 May 1881 - 'Seasonable Dress, and How to Make It'

Welcome back! 

The prevailing tendency of the summer materials is towards extreme softness and lack of "dress." Everything hangs in graceful folds, and more drapery is used than has been seen for some time past. Gathers, or as they are now called, "reevings," form the most popular way of making up all the thin materials, such as nun's cloth, grenadine, zephyrs, or ginghams, as they were once called. The little girl's dress in our monthly illustration shows the newest and prettiest way of making in this manner. It is gathered at the neck, waist, and sleeves, and the style is as suitable to sixteen and eighteen summers as to six. The "zephyr cloth," or old-fashioned gingham, is, as it always was, a delightfully pretty and becoming dress for all ages, and from its excellent washing and wearing qualities is extremely economical, and it costs from 1s 2d to 1s 4d per yard. It is made in pink, blue, and a soft grey. The favourite trimming for it now is one of the Nottingham or "Calais" laces, which are coarse in texture, but very strong, and wear well even for children, while they are moderate in price, and do not add to the trouble of washing.

The numbers of non-washing materials prove how useful they were found to be last year, and though the patterns are improved, the way of making up a figured sateen or print, with a plain petticoat and trimmings, is unchanged, the ground of the former being generally chosen as the colour  for the latter. This style is a great help to those who have old summer dresses to alter and enlarge to suit growing girls, because if the old dress be figured, a plain sateen, gingham, or cotton can usually be found  to go with it. A small bodice can be enlarged by putting in a gathered front and back, and a circular collar-like piece can also be added at the neck to increase the length. A puffing at the shoulder and elbow will give length to the sleeve, and the skirt may be lengthened by means of a kilted flounce at the edge. A little consideration and cleverness are needed to make these changes, but I hope that the readers of THE GIRL'S OWN PAPER have improved so much in the art of dressmaking during this last year that they will be able to accomplish any alterations required. Of the excellence of their needlework there can be no doubt, as it is sufficiently proved by the work sent in to the "plain needlework competition."

Dresses ornamented with crewel embroidery are as much used as ever, although the manner of its application has slightly changed. The embroider is applied to a pointed plastron down the front of the bodice, or to a circular yoke at the neck, into which the top of the bodice is gathered. An embroidered band is also used, and similar bands on the sleeves, with narrow puffs in the centre of every second band.

The long "Newmarket coat," as it is called, shown upon the second figure, supplies the most stylish shape for ulsters of light summer cloth, and also for those useful dust cloaks which are made either of thin tweed, pongee, or tussore silk, or alpaca of quiet colours. For travelling their use is nearly imperative, as they protect the dress from being utterly ruined by the dust and blacks of the railway and steamer; while for those who walk much, or have to make shopping expeditions at home, they are equally useful. The turndown hat that is worn by this figure shows a quiet ladylike shape for morning wear.

The third figure wears a handkerchief dress of summer alpaca, or a thin woollen nun's cloth. The method of making is clearly shown. As these handkerchiefs can be purchased separately at so much a piece in all good drapers' shops, they form an economical means of doing up old dresses, for which the style of the illustration might be adopted as a guide. The handkerchiefs require no trimming, and are simply hemmed round, either by machine or hand.

The fourth figure shows the present style of the jersey, which continues to be worn by young girls, but not by married nor older women. This jersey is of dark blue merino, very thin in texture, the overskirt being a plain shawl-shaped scarf, tied at the side; the under skirt is of plaid. The material is a very light tweed, the colours dark blue, green and threads of yellow and red. The plaids used are of the most quiet and modest description, and they are in keeping with the present quiet taste in colour. This figure wears a "Mother Hubbard," or more properly a "Grannie" bonnet. These will be made to match the summer dresses, and are gathered, or drawn in deep puffs in front, the crown being high and loose. The last new shape of this kind is called "Under the Window," and is copied from one of the bonnets in Kate Greenaway's book.

The summer costume worn by the young lady gardening may be made of sateen, cotton, batiste, or pique, and is trimmed round with Swiss embroidery. It is made with a full bodice and waistband. The skirt is decorated with two kilted flounces. A small coarse straw hat is worn with it, trimmed with India muslin and Valenciennes lace. Capes, resembling the top of the "Mother Hubbard cloak," are made for all washing dresses. The stockings and gloves are of plain colours, and will probably be worn to match the costume by those who can afford them. Dark blue stockings with coloured clocks are excellent for summer use, and if carefully washed in tepid, or even cold water, they do not lose their colour, but they must be wrung out till perfectly dry to avoid a "streaky" appearance, and look better if rinsed in salt and water.

Oxford shoes are worn, as usual, this summer, and are the most economical foot-gear for those who are obliged likewise to think of their pence. Care should always be taken to avoid extremely pointed toes, as no style could be more unbecoming, or injurious to the foot. The shoes should be selected of a long and rather narrow shape, instead of being very short and broad. Greater comfort will ensue if this rule be followed.

Galatea stripes have returned to fashion, the material being rather thinner than it was formerly. Plain blue is used  for the petticoats and trimmings; and the "sailor costume," a kind of loose blouse, is the favourite way of making. Very large round collars of lace or Swiss embroidery are much worn by all young people. Some very recent novelties are made of a plaid gingham, the edges being trimmed with Swiss embroidery – these would certainly keep the longest.

The most sensible, as well as the prettiest garments for every day out-of-door use for girls of all ages are the long, closely-fitting jackets made of black, grey, navy or drab stockingette cloth.

They are untrimmed save  for the buttons, and the neat rows of machine-stitching around them, and have collars at the necks. No hoods appear to be worn with them, and their whole appearance is most becoming and simple. Parasols and sunshades are made to match the cotton and sateen dresses, in pretty pompadour and Japanesque patterns, but those of our readers who must think of economy should select a parasol with a black ground, and any colour about it must accord with the principal dresses they are in the habit of wearing.

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