Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Our snow is gone, and hark this! What a beautiful Autumn has befallen us. The days seem to pass so quickly to me, hardly any time for dreams, but I must make time~ for who else shall? Dollys have been very very lively, and all excited....why is it that there is such a feeling of merriment when the crisp breezy air comes? Tascha has finished her repose here at the Inn for now, and has gone away back home, we all miss her Dearly. Emma dressed to say her goodbyes, and while she was waiting for me to say my own fare-thee-wells to Tascha, here she had gathered Grete in her arms and was softy, gently swaying back and forth, muttering little girl's secrets that a goode dollye would never, ever tell............

Emma is wearing a beautiful late 1830's dress of super thin tissue silk in a multi color blue stripe. The height of the huge full gigot sleeves was 1835-6, after this, they began to deflate, in the form of the fullness being tamed down in the form of pleats~ 1837 the pleats at the top of the arm, and gradually made their way down, 1838 sleeves banded down to the elbow, until just an awkward poof remained at the fore-arm, and by 1839-40, sleeves were tight as a second skin with the armscye seam waaaaay up under the armpit, usually making for a horizontal stress fold as seen in pictures of the era~ anyways, looking at unaltered sleeves are a good way of dating. This dress has matching lined pelerine as well.

Silhouette wise, the 1830s are my favorite era, just imagine a whole schoolroom full of sweet little cherubs...and some not so sweet I'm sure, bobbing about and playing in dresses such as this, but in a more washable cotton vis silk.

This dress was in my mind when I designed Tascha's dress, but since Tascha is older, and not a child, I gave her a wider and fuller pleated band on the front of her gown, more grown up. Here you can see the pleating on the sleeves to hold the fullness in, and the superb use of the stripe to lend effect of movement Doesn't Emma look like she could have walked into a store, and picked out a new dollye to take home? She is holding a c1820 patchwork reticule in silks, and wearing a period net cap

I could see a smile stretch on Tascha's face, a feeling of being one and whole again. At one time, a little girl beheld her for the first time, just like this

I hand stitched her dress(Tascha) from mid 19th c very thin calico. I did NOT wash it, as the age marks do nothing but add character and realism~ she loves her new dress. The arm, shoulder and side seams are piped, as well as the front plastron that holds the pleats down.

There are 2 piped bands round each sleeve, and I faced about the bottom 5" of her skirting with heavy polished cotton, as it just didn't hang right without the added weight. She wears her new dress over polished cotton petticoat, corset, chemise and pantaloon, all hand stitched from antique fabrics.

I will be posting her dressing into her corset in the next few days. Dollys like this were used for play, but also to teach the little ones proper dress, and what work was required in getting in and out of everything. Imagine if all they had to do was learn how to tie their shoes....instead of lace up a corset for their sister!
Dancing and Dreaming with dollye...........how I would love to spend all of my days

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Huh????? SNOW in the SUMMER?????

Yup! Today is the very first day of Autumn, which means our snow we got yesterday, was in the summer!!! We have never had snow this early for the past 10 years of living here in Colorado. It was WET, and HEAVY~ and look at the poor hummingbirds!

These are youngsters~ see how short their beaks are? They were huddling up under the porch to stay away from the huge silver dollar fluffly flakes that were falling~ we got a few inches, and trees were snapping all around....including a large branch off one of our cottonwoods right on my suburban :( we have snow forecase for every day this week....I certianly hope this is not our winter starting allready, as we will have cut out my most favorite time of the year~ what will I do without my Autumn????

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Many Faces of Hook & Eye Fasteners

At the kind request from the Izannah Walker Doll group to post on the differences of these early fasteners, I have taken a few snaps of some early hook & eye fasteners on different gowns here at the Museum. I am by no means an expert, but I think I will be able to help you all descirn the different between an early, and modern type of hook & eye closings.

I know metal hooks have been used for closing clothing since the 1300s....used with crochet loops instead of hard wire ones....but I dont start to see them commonly used as fasteners until the late 1820s. The picture above and below, is a c1835 girls dress, for a petit 7 or 8 yr old. Early hooks & eyes were made of copper, then most commonly brass until the 1850s....twards the 1860s I have seen blue'd steel, blackened steel in the 1870s and to the 1890s, brass again as well as the black, which were advertised to be rustproof. Early examples do not rust at all, but they do tarnish~ the brass ones turn green and can discolor the fabric around them, so it is always advisable to lay a buffered acid free tissue between the hook/eyes and the dress fabric when storing.

Speaking of the eyes.... both hammered and not hammered are common, and not really a good way to tell the date of a garment(assuming they are original to it) This is the most common shape however, and if you see some weird fancy scrolling or hookey-do to the eye, then it is probably a later 19th early 20thc piece.

These brass hooks are original to this mid 1830 silk girls dress. The hook part itself can be found to be hammered nearly flat on the very edge (these are NOT)....those tend to be found more twards the 1860s and later.

Looking down, if you enlarge the picture, you will be able to notice the main difference between early hooks, and modern ones. What do you think it is???

On this 1840 dress, you can see plainly that the hook is made from a single piece of wire

This picture shows a brass fastening set c1890. Note the triangular shape of the eyes, and the 'hookey-do's' I mentioned earlier~ this wide area was supposed to give you more area to stitch onto the fabric, spreading out the constant tension, so the fabric would not rip out as easily.

Looking across, you can see that no longer is the back of the hook FLAT, but it has grown a bump. This bump was supposed to help keep the hook from popping loose. I have seen dresses that close with the hook & eye alternating, which really makes for a tight closure

This picture shows, tho a little blurry, the different between an early and modern one~ the hook on the left is modern, the black one on the right, c1860(see how it is hammered flat on the edge?) If you look in the center of the modern hook on the left, you will see and added wire there, making the count 3, instead of 2....

That 3rd wire, (the modern ones are still just made from a single wire, they are just wrapped differently) is what makes the 'safety catch' on the back of the hook. Some of them have such a high bump, that they really are quite difficult to get unhooked, and when hooked into the eye, or loop, make a little 'snap' noise. You can see the early hook has an entirely FLAT back.
Most early childrens clothing, up to the 1870s, anyways, use buttons and button holes for fastening. If they have hooks at all, they are relegated to the cuff closing on long sleeves, and nearly always close into a crochet loop, not a metal one.
I hope this answers some of your questions about early hooks & eyes~ please dont hesistate to ask me any questions~ cause most likely, someone elce has that same question!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Coming to TDIPT & EW Mercantile on 14 September 2009.....

Boy do I have a whopper of an update for you this month! There is sure to be something for everyone! I will have....fourteen.....YES! 14 new dollys to offer! Included therein are the last of my Halloweenies for this year, I wont be making any more punkins or witchy-poos!

I will also have some really stunning primitive Queen Annes for you to consider, as well as an absolutely darling Grodnertal doll. Think squinty. yes. Think Primitive olde antique worn out clothes....yes. 18th century silver lace and antique gems...yes!!!!
Of coarse there will be Dead creatures of the night and coffins and witchys and you cannot have those, without a proper undertaker.....I hope you will drop by and meet Mr. Levritt Pitford, Esq. He is a charming olde fellow!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

The many names of Chine' silk..........

Many of you will recognize or associate a different name to the above 18th silk~ some may call it a chine', warp print, cloud or ikat .....and all would be correct.

In this method of weaving, the threads~ warp, weft, or both, are dyed BEFORE weaving, resulting in a design with soft blurred edges. In the 18th century, they were commonly referred to as 'clouds'. A 1749 Boston paper advertised " Fine cotton and Worsted clouded Wasitcoats" for sale.

This unique design concept was developed in 1740, as was called "chine' a' la branche" . By resist dying the warp threads only, delicate shaded floral motifs were achieved. Some even called them ghost designs
One can imagine the forethought and complex design process that went into weaving these beautiful fabrics. Sometimes the threads were dyed several times to achieve the desired design~ each time a resist paste or wax was used to cover the part of the thread that was not to be dyed. If you click on and enlarge this picture, you can see the background fabric is a single solid color. These are the weft threads, or while weaving, the threads contained in the shuttle that was passed thru the vertical threads on the loom(warp).

Being that the threads were dyed before weaving, the pattern is nearly identical on both the front and back of the cloth. This silk dates from the 1780s, and is strikingly similar to color and pattern of a chine' woven by J&& Jourdain in 1784.

This is an earlier chine' silk with much bolder pattern. These goods were used both for clothing and furnishings.

The term 'Ikat' is Turkish, and actually means 'cloud'. You can still today purchase beautiful hand woven cotton, wool & silk Ikats from Turkey. I can imagine weaving them would become addictive, as you never really know what the fabric will look like until it comes off the loom. This effect is also widely copied in printed textiles, where the design is printed on one side of the fabric only, after it has already been woven. These are easily sleuthed out by simply flipping the fabric over and checking for the design on the reverse.