When I first started this blog, I was an unemployed costumer attempting to create period gowns and costumes with very limited means. Although now employed, I still try to be as thrifty as possible. I am still "The Broke Costumer"!

In addition to posts about the outfits I make on a budget, this blog includes short research articles on fashion, history, accessories, styles, or whatever interests me at the moment.

I hope you enjoy my journey into the land of inexpensive costuming and short articles.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Holiday Party Dress

Its the holiday season again.  This year flew by so fast!  I didn't get as much sewing done as I would like, but hope that next year this will change.  However, I always try and make a new outfit for the holidays.  This year, I tried something new.  I have never made a ballgown top before, as I can't wear off the shoulder bodices, or low backs, due to my curvature.  Truly Victorian patterns has an 1880s bodice that is cut  higher on the shoulder.  All I did was raise the back neckline to fill it in and round it off, and it worked out great. 

This is TV 460, 1885 Curiass Bodice pattern.  The fabric I used was a lovely red and gold poly brocade, with a snowflake pattern.  My friend Kristen F. bought approximately 14 yards of it, and sold me half of it.  I can't wait to see what she does with her half! I lined it in plain red cotton, and used clear snowflake-like buttons with gold centers.  I purchased gold trim with little sequins, and sewed in around the bottom of the bodice, and the sleeve cuffs.  I put a tiny sheer gathered trim around the neckline.  

The neckline was square cut, so to soften it, I draped red chiffon across the front, which was attached by bows on the shoulders.  For the dinner, I pinned a cream colored poinsettia to the front, and twined woodland winter berries and ice crystals in my hair.  The bodice is a bit wrinkled in this photo as I had been sitting for awhile.

Next, I used a pattern I have been wanting to try for a few years.  Truly Victorian  361- 1880s Butterfly Detachable Train.  Lots of poof, and easy to make.  As you can see from the drawing, the train is attached to a band which is to be hooked onto the back waistband of your skirt.  Then the pleated center is brought up and hooked underneath the bottom edge of the bodice.  I did make one modification.  After the train was completed and fully lined - it was heavy!  So instead of hooking it to the back of the skirt waist band, I made a full waist band, which was hidden under the bodice.

When you make the butterfly loops on the back you are gathering pleats on top of each other in the center section.  See directions here. Then you sew them together in the middle.  

Below left, the center is hanging freely.  Below right, the center is pulled up creating the butterfly wings.  The center will be hooked underneath the back edge of the bodice.                        

The skirt was made from Truly Victorian pattern 261- 1885 Four Gore Skirt.  I found a gold and cream poly brocade that matched perfectly - for $1.99 a yard!  The whole skirt cost approximately $6. I am still going to put a pretty gold trim around the bottom, but haven't found what I want yet.

Left-Before I made the waistband for the train.  I have a bustle cage under the back to help support the weight.  Skirt just has a pinned hem at this point.

Below are some photos from the party.  A couple look like the skirt is white, but the closest color is the cream and gold one in the left photo, on the dress form.


At this angle, my butt looks huge!

$6.25    Skirt 3 1/4 yards   
$20.00  Train and Bodice 7 yards  
$11.00  Train Lining 4 3/4 yards
$2.00    Buttons
$4.25   Trim
Red chiffon in stash
Bodice lining in stash

TOTAL   $43.50

Trudy F.  took a beautiful shot of the back of the Butterfly, so you can see it all poofed out! This was taken at the Riverside Dickens Fest in February 2017.


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Fortuny Gowns - Delphos and Peplos

 Mariano Fortuny was a Spanish fashion designer and came from a family full of artists. He painted, designed textiles, and created women's clothing among other artist pursuits. However, he is most notable for inventing the Delphos gown, a dress that broke with the fashionable silhouette of the period. Fortuny created his signature Delphos gown in 1907, repeating the design with minor changes until his death in 1949. The Peplos version features a tunic attached at the neckline, falling in points to the hip, giving the appearance of a two-piece garment.

"His wife, Henrietta, was an experienced dressmaker who helped to construct many of his designs. They lived in a palazzo in Venice. Fortuny drew from styles of the past for his fashion design as well, inspired by the light, airy clothing of Greek women that clung to the body and accentuated the natural curves and shape of a woman’s body.  Fortuny rebelled against the style lines that were popular during his time period and created the Delphos gown, a shift dress made of finely pleated silk weighed down by glass beads that held its shape and flowed on the body. He also manufactured his own dyes and pigments for his fabrics using ancient methods. With these dyes he began printing on velvets and silks and dyed them using a press that he invented with wooden blocks that he engraved the pattern onto. His dresses are seen as fine works of art today and many survive, still pleated, in museums and many people’s personal collections."  wikipedia

"This lightweight gown is based on the pleated linen chitons worn by Greek maidens 2500 years ago and seen today on Delphic Greek sculpture. The Fortuny Delphos and Peplos gowns have preserved the poetry of line of the Greek robe. During the Classical period (5th-4th centuries B.C.E.), Athenian women often wore the Peplos in public as a body length garment.

Fortuny used a thin silk satin more finely pleated than anything ever seen in costume. The resulting garment is incredibly soft and liquid, molding to the curves of the body. The richly modulated color of original antique Fortuny gowns, achieved by a series of dye baths, has a mysterious, enchanting depth that cannot be found in modern textiles." 
 Link to full article and more photos here

"It's still partially a mystery how Fortuny achieved these famed pleats — they were gathered by hand and went through a heat-setting process. The secret method involved laying wet silk on porcelain tubes that were heated. Many designers have tried to recreate his pleats, but Fortuny's remain one of a kind. The gown was stored twisted in balls to preserve the pleats, but when the pleats began to wear out the dress could be sent back to Fortuny for repleating.  The Delphos gown was considered anti-fashion when it came out in 1907, but gained popularity throughout the next 30 years. It helped usher in the fashion for soft and draped shapes, tunics, and, most importantly, the rejection of the corset. As women's dress became more liberated and daring, the Delphos gown transitioned from an at-home dress to an evening gown in the 1920s and 1930s."   Source 

Worn uncorseted, and echoing the lines of the ancient chiton, Fortuny’s gowns had a forward-thinking, body-freeing simplicity. But the craft processes used to create them – pleating, cutting, cording, weighting with tiny glass beads – were of course incredibly elaborate.    Lillian Gish in Delphos below.

Right, Mrs. Selma Schubart, by Alfred Stieglitz, 1907. Metropolitan Museum of Art


Above left, Fortuny dress (Delohos, 1907) and cape (Cnosos, 1906) exhibited at the Museo del Traje in 2010 as part of a Fortuny exhibition.   Amigos del Museo del Traje

His style was distinctly classic, a robe which slipped over the head and tied simply with a cord at the waist.  He first showed his work in Venice around 1907, and later in Paris.   His technique never changed.  Fortuny also printed fabrics and stenciled velvet (about right) for his fashions as well as for use in interior design.  His dresses were considered status symbols during the 1920s and 1930s and remain rare, expensive and collectible items today.

Below left, the Delphos gown was inspired by a famous ancient Greek sculpture called Charioteer of Delphi, from the sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi c. 470 B.C. Cast bronze.  Archaeological Museum, Delphi.   Below right, a James Abbe Photo of Natacha Rambova in a Fortuny Delphos.

 Three adopted daughters of dancer Isadora Duncan in Fortuny Delphos gowns; L to R: Lisa, Anna, & Margot, circa 1920s.               

On the right is a lovely Delphos gown from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Please see this link to read all about this piece, and about Fortuny, who left only one document related to the development of his jewel-toned gowns—a patent for heated ceramic rollers through which the silk was passed to set the pleats.

Below are two Peplos gowns (with tunics)  from the Met Museum.

Msfabulous.com had this wonderful photo from a Fortuny exhibit in 2012 at Queen Sofia Spanish Institute in New York. 

On these gowns were beautiful, gold stenciled belts.
In Conclusion:
Liveauctioneers.com had this gorgeous green Delphos for sale in 2011.  Their description reads:  FORTUNY DELPHOS GOWN and BELT with ORIGINAL BOX, c. 1920. Sleeveless spruce silk having fixed gently scooped neckline, white and amber Murano glass beads on silk cord decorating the armholes and side seams, gold stenciled silk belt with bow over hook & eye closures, selvedge stamped "Fabrique en Italie . Fortuny Depose". L-58, Belt-30. Drum shaped box with Fortuny Madison Avenue shop label and original card with care instructions.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

1960s Paper Dresses

 During a Pinterest surfing session, I came across this interesting, colorful ad from Hallmark. A PAPER dress?

The copy reads:  “Surprise!  A new paper dress with a party to match!  The invitation matches the party centerpiece. The centerpiece matches the plates, cups and napkins. The table settings match the snack bowls.  The snack bowls match the gift wrap on the party gift. The gift wrap matches the bridge tallies, table covers and matchbooks. And the whole flower fantasy matches your swinging new party dress."

I had to look into this!

These dresses were a simple, knee length shift, (which could be cut shorter as desired) constructed from non-woven cellulose tissue reinforced with rayon or nylon. The "paper" dress usually featured bold printed designs and was meant to be thrown out after a few wearings.             
My guess is they were probably similar to dryer sheets or dried out makeup remover cloths.  I have read them as being compared to dry Handi-Wipes.
Scott Paper Company created these dresses in 1966 when it introduced two new paper dresses as premiums to promote its new line of "Color Explosion" paper products. The company printed its two dresses with gift wrap designs — one a black and white pop art pattern and the other an orange-red, yellow, and black paisley print.   Right are the Paper Caper dresses.

"Scott's dresses, sold as "Paper Caper" products, were not purely paper, but an "un-paper" that the Scott company called Dura Weve. This consisted of 93 percent paper-napkin stock reinforced with rayon webbing, a combination that made the material more durable than standard paper and gave it a more fabric-like drape. The dresses came in the two prints, four sizes, but only one style — an A-line shift cut from two pieces with no sleeves and a patch pocket on the hip. Customers who purchased the dresses paid $1.25 and received coupons for Scott's toilet paper, paper towels, and napkins." Source  Scott did not produce the dresses for long, but other companies stepped up.  A quick look on google search came up with some of these companies, which used the dresses for advertising.

Yellow Pages.   Fill out the coupon and send in $1.00.
Johnston’s Pies.  Only $1.25!
Break hair products.   Send in a box top and $1.00  and get a groovy dress!
Campbells Soup Dress.  Send in 2 soup labels and $1.00 Candy bars.   Send in a candy wrapper and $1.25 for a Baby Ruth or Butterfinger dress

Within a year of Scott's promotion, paper fashions were on sale in major department stores. Some, such as Abraham & Strauss and I. Magnin, created entire paper clothing boutiques. At the height of the craze, Mars Hosiery of Asheville, N.C., was reportedly manufacturing 100,000 dresses a week.     link

By 1967, Mars Manufacturing Company of Asheville was the nation's leading producer of paper dresses, selling 80,000 to 100,000 a week. From its basic A-line shift, the company expanded its line to include bell-bottom jump suits, evening gowns, aprons, men's vests, children's dresses and even bathing suits.  

Some of my favorites are portrait dresses.  These include musicians such as the Beatles and Bob Dylan.
Politicians like Bobby Kennedy, Humphrey, McCarthy, Rockefeller, Reagan, and Nixon were also printed on dresses during election time. 

FIDM of course has a great article on paper dresses.  Read here    This photo is from the FIDM site.  An advertisement for Poster dresses, the latest in London wear.

 TWA debuted paper stewardess serving dresses in 1968 to reflect the regional cuisine that was being served onboard. The four styles included “British wench,” “French cocktail,” “Roman toga,” and “Manhattan penthouse pajamas.” These dresses were made of a fabric-like paper that’s a little tougher than the paper you write on. “They were disposable so the flight attendants would only wear them once or twice.”   source

LOVE this one on the left.

Right is Actress/Model Jane Asher, Paul McCartney's former fiance, in her paper dress.

 Well known fashion designers also jumped on paper couture.

Right, Wastebasket dress by Massimo Vignelli (1968)

Left, Paper dress by Sylvia Ayton and Zandra Rhodes (1966)

 Right, Oleg Cassini for Baby Magic lotion.  A maternity dress, and party-after-the-baby dress.  These were pricey.  $4.50 each!  

Following are some photos of how they were packaged.

 By 1969 paper dresses had lost their appeal. Wearers found they could be ill-fitting and uncomfortable, the printed surfaces could rub off, and there were concerns about flammability and excessive post-consumer waste. Plus, they had simply lost their cutting-edge appeal due to overexposure.   Form fitting, body conscience fashions were on the rise, and the paper dress faded away.