Saturday, August 15, 2009

Irish Artists of the Mid-1800's

The Tennis Party, by Sir John Lavery, 1856-1941

The Croquet Match by Sir John Lavery, 1856-1941


The Sonnet, by William Mulready, 1786-1863

Spring, by Sir John Lavery, 1856-1941

The Pride of Dijon, by William John Hennessy, 1839-1917

Posters of these paintings are available at allposters, online. These Irish paintings are so colorful and interesting. The art of the era reveals something about the women's clothing worn at different occasions, from recreation to relaxation. Nearly all these paintings have outdoor themes, and yet the women's clothing is long and soft looking.
"The Sonnet", above, by William Mulready, captures the pose of a young man, looking over his shoulder to see the reaction of the young lady as she reads what he has written for her.

In "The Pride of Dijon,"it looks as though the man is intensely interested in the opinion of the woman.
In the Victorian era, sports clothing was designed for women to be able to move and yet be modest. In general, people of that time believed in covering themselves so that they would not be offensive to anyone. Summer clothing was actually thinner fabrics, and although the styles had a defined waistline, where the garments were held to the body, many of the skirts and blouses were loose, yet very stylish. Not all of it was the same, either, as you can see by the paintings of the time, which I have posted throughout this series. There was a great deal of variety and freedom of design, at the time. I do not see the modern manufactured designs as "freedom" because they all look the same and are limited to what designs are promoted that year. When you sew, you dont have to be peer dependent anymore. The pretty fabrics bring out what is close to a woman's heart. The beauty of the flowers, sky and sea, on the sentimental little prints of fabrics, say something about how you view life.
Fabric is still as interesting today, if not more so. A trip to the fabric store or quilt store reveals a world of beauty that imitates nature. If you have a budding seamstress in your home, it is worth going to these stores just to browse and get an idea what fabric is available. If you find it too expensive, you can always get a small piece to take home and look at.
I am using up my buttons, and these matched the shape of the little white floral print on this fabric. The neckline is trimmed with white piping, a nice contrast on this fabric. Piping has to be sewn on the seam line before the facing or lining is attached.

This is all cotton, part of the Quilters Showcase collection. I added a piece on the hem and covered the seam with white bias tape.

This is another dress made from the pattern with no zipper. It ties in back, and can be loosened for comfort. The sleeves are puffed, and not easy to iron, so I just leave them looking wrinkled, which ends up looking more gathered. This pattern has two main pieces: front and back, and is very easy. It took only a little white to sew and it is so comfortable.
Copyright, Lydia Sherman. All Rights Reserved.

I wore this dress to a back yard wedding ceremony. The bride made her own cake and supplied a tea menu with cucumber sandwiches, strawberries, and savory foods. The couple kept their wedding simple. We were the only guests.
Coyright, Lydia Sherman. All Rights Reserved.
The stairs in the bride's 1940's house. This dress will eventually be worn as an every day dress. These are short sleeves which I made a little larger at the cuff, for the hot weather. Most sleeves are too tight, and sewing your own clothes gives you the option of making things looser.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

How do you raise a neckline without disturbing the sleeves? I am not good at drawing a new one. Is there any other way?

Anonymous said...

I love how you lead my example!
Christine

Anonymous said...

My favorite of these is "The Sonnet", it is so sweet. Thank you for bringing to my attention these artists.

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

I have posted one of the pink dresses for spring, on the above post, which I wore to a home wedding.

What has become of the other clothes that I showed when I first began this painting-inspired series? The blueberry skirt and blouse is worn during gardening and watering. The pink dress pictured on the swing, with the trim, I cut to short sleeves and used as a summer nightgown. The yellow dress will be cut down the front and worn as a housecoat over a night dress. One of the dresses was cut down and made into a skirt. Another dress that is showing a lot of wear, will be an apron. Another dress will have the sleeves removed and be made into an over dress to wear a blouse with. The reason for doing this, is that most of the structure is sewn already, and it just takes a seam or a hem to change it into something else.

I will be working out a way to show a tutorial and also one that is a bit more advanced.

Anonymous said...

You look absolutely beautiful. The idea of a simple home wedding is wonderful. Couples who use the excuse that they can't afford to get married so live together and even have children, while they're waiting to be able to pay for the expense of a wedding, need to wake up to simplicity.If both parties really wanted to get married, wedding costs would not stop them because there's a type of wedding to suit all budgets.

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

Although this couple was not poor, they could not afford the extravagance of a wedding. They had to have a ceremony that fit their current way of living, which was frugal. In order to have a house and pay their bills, they were not buying anything. The bride had two kinds of shoes: her work boots for outdoors, and her slippers for indoors. Since she did not want to wear either one of them in her wedding, the bride was barefoot. Out on the grass, with her long dress, which she made from simple materials, you could not see her feet anyway.

Anonymous said...

It's ridiculous to spend many thousands on a wedding. The couple could use the money for other things, and simple weddings can be beautiful.

Anonymous said...

The dress is lovely. My favorite color is pink. You rarely see it on girls older than 5 or 6 in our culture anymore. Black has become de riguer not only for women and teens but for little girls as well. It's awful!

As I've said before and as other's have said as well....you are an inspiration to me.

I've been frustrated with regard to clothing, ie., 'dresses and skirts' due to a problem finding proper under garments and shoes. Dealing with cold weather, hot weather etc.

But I am going to keep trying! Thank you again.

Anonymous said...

Your comments section is just as interesting to read as your posts are, Lady Lydia. I loved reading about your friends' wedding.

I find it strange that the sleeves on many patterns are so tight at the biceps area. I tried, unsuccessfully, to enlarge them on a dress I made recently and ended up inserting sleeves from another pattern. I have read about this issue on several sewing blogs.

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

In my next post I will try to write about the kind of clothing that American women really need in their active lives as home makers. The sleeve issue really is botherson. The designers make the sleeves for very thin, model-like arms, but American women at home are hard workers. They lift babies, bring in produce from the garden, make beds, carry groceries in and out of the car, lift books and move furniture, and do a lot of other hard work. I think maybe their upper arms are a bit bigger than the patterns predict, because they are working these arms a lot , especially at home. I do not have huge arms, but I find that the cuffs and hems on short sleeves are too tight. There is a way to cut a sleeve bigger, and it was posted at www.thepleasanttimes.blogspot.com with photographs, somewhere on that site. You cut the sleeve pattern down the middle and separate it and then lay it on the fabric, with extra fabric in the middle of the two pattern pieces.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your wonderful examples of feminine dress. My 18 year old son recently asked me (after another woman at church "butched" her hair and started wearing pants to service), "Why do older women try so hard to look like men?" I had no answer for him, I just assured him I would not be one of them (good Lord willing!).

I chose to switch from wearing black because my husband hates dark colors, especially on women. I find lighter colors actually help lighten my mood.

Anonymous said...

I agree with lighter colors lightening one's mood and I think that goes for the interior of our homes as well. I have learned that the colors of my bedding definitely have an effect on me. When it is light and pretty I feel much better than when it is dark and heavy which kinda makes me feel that way, too, especially in the winter.

Anonymous said...

I think that that sort of wedding would be one that I would love. I would probably invite a few more people, but that is the sort of wedding that I would want. To many people spend thousands of dollars on a one time event just to be in debt for many years or even to split over the stress of paying it off. The more simple life is the easy it is to be happy. The people who have all the riches in life typically less happy than those who have the more simple things in life. Those who lead a simple life more frequently look to God for thier joy and strength. Which I think is something we all could do more and benifit from.

By the way I love your dress. It is beautiful!

Anonymous said...

I married my husband twice in simple ceremonies. The first was a civil ceremony, the second, a decade later in a Catholic Church. Both were small, simple ceremonies. It was great that you took the time to dress so well for a simple wedding. I am sure it meant the world to the bride you dressed up for to have her only guest dressed so prettily. That is such a sign of encouragement to the couple, in my opinion.

For my Catholic ceremony, I was dismayed when some of the guests showed up dressed rather shabbily, as though my "small" wedding was not worth dressing up for. The church was very ornate, as the guests knew it would be. I was dressed up, as was my husband. I so would have appreciated it if the guests had taken the time to dress nicely for us.

I have been wearing dresses more and more. They give me a feeling of dignity no other garment can. I find that if you look hard, you can get some in stores. For example, I found a lovely one at Peebles for just $20 on sale! Peebles and JcPenney seem to have the most dresses. Lands End has some cute, long knit dresses for girls they can play in. I am still sewing, but it does pay to take the time to look in stores while building a dress wardrobe. You have to look hard, though, to find anything that is not geometric printed, immodest and /or made of a sticky synthetic.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE your dresses...they are just lovely, and I adore the fabrics!!

Anonymous said...

I like to make my sleeves in my winter and fall clothes 3/4 sleeves. I like the warmth of a sleeve but need it to be out of my way for dish washing, gardening and such. If the sleeve is long I have to keep puching it up and it gets dirty. I too find the sleeves too tight. I use a vest like garmet over my blouse to keep chills out. It is basically a blouse without sleeves but with details so it does not look manish. I live in a warm area but we keep the house unheated during most of the winter. It gets quite chilly and I am constantly going outside then in again. I am really rethinking what I buy and make now looking it over for fit and any pretty details etc. Your many beautiful posts through the years on womanly clothing has really influenced me more and more. Yours was the first writing on the net where I felt at home. Like so many I never had any "at home" friends either. I am still at home but my children are grown. In these writings I felt a kinship with other woman who had the same beliefs as I do. I have never regreted being home but missed the friendship of women. I have been a homemaker for many a year but there are always things to learn. Thankyou Lady Lydia for taking the extra time to also comment to the comments we make on this page. Your comments have been such an extra help. Your writing is such a ministry to us. Jody

Anonymous said...

Having been a church musician for many, many years, I can testify that wasting money on a big blowout wedding is absolutely foolish - the main reason being that when that kind of stress is brought down on everyone, the wedding becomes an ordeal, and everyone is so frantic and panicked that they don't remember much of anything about it! I have seen scores of brides throwing hissy fits on their wedding day about ribbons that don't match the flowers or heel height on one of their bridesmaids, when the truth is that none of the guests even know about or even notice such details. What a wonderful wedding day - the bride was so angry and hysterical because the bridesmaids' fingernail polish didn't match their earrings!

I've seen brides under so much pressure trying to put together a huge bash of a wedding that they end up fainting or being sick at the altar. I've seen complete emotional meltdowns where they start crying and can't stop. Worst of all, since so much money is being spent on a one day event, they feel under pressure to have a good time, but can't, because after all, you can't force yourself to have a good time when you're in a dither over the fact that the ice sculpture is melting too fast!

Keeping it simple is the best plan for weddings, and leaves the newlyweds with money to get started on the important thing, which is spending the rest of their lives together. Many couple who go the extravagant wedding route end up feeling very let down afterward, once all the special preparations and celebrations are over. Married life should NOT be an anti-climax to a big fluffy wedding - the wedding is only the beginning of married life.

Candy-Faith said...

You look so pretty! In pink especially. I have to catch up on blogs as I havent been on the computer much since we moved in..
Just had to stop by now since I had a few minutes.
candy

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

Candy,

to protect your blog, it is probably a good idea to post anonymously here. I used the length of old cotton ruffled eyelet lace you sent me, on the white dress. Not all whites are the same, but this matched perfectly. When the dress shows signs of wear, I might dye it another color.

Anonymous said...

I noticed, too, the look on the face of the man in the Pride of Dijon. He really does seem engrossed in whatever his companion is saying. He has a look of respect on his face, as though he's weighing the content of her words.

The simple, home wedding you attended sounds charming. I have a feeling that there will be more of this type in the not-so-distant future. I'm convinced that ratcheting down will become more fashionable again. I would love to have my daughters' weddings here at our home someday.

Thanks for a fine post!

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

She also picked flowers from a garden, for her bouquet and it turned out very pretty, tied with a wired ribbon.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lydia,

I have tried unsuccessfully to post a comment on your blog.
Anyway I wanted to share that I really love the artwork you have been showing and your dress projects are so inspiring (feminine, creative, bright and cheerful) that I have decided to make some new Fall/Winter clothes.
This week I purchased some suedeclothe for a few skirts.
I was wondering if you were planning to show any Fall/Winter clothes or sewing projects on your blog?
Also what are your favorite fabrics and patterns for Fall/Winter clothes and why?
Personally I love wool and suedeclothe made into jumpers and skirts as I can mix and match tops and sweaters to go with them and they afford me the extra room underneath to wear layers and long underwear that insulates from the cold. I like flannel petticoats and some flannel skirts that look like wool also. Warm soft and durable.

I also wanted to share about our grown children's weddings. They were both outdoor home weddings and receptions held in our home frontyard. They decided to invite as many family as lived nearby, friends and neighbors. They both decided to supply some of the food, beverage (non-alcoholic ciders), a wedding cake and asked the guests to bring potluck dishes. Not more then 40 guests.
The wedding of our son was informal and used a garden arch decorated with wedding tulle and real flowers from a grocery store, cake purchased from bakery at same store and brides dress was a simple white summer dress that she had and a short homemade veil that I made.

The wedding of our daughter was also informal and used a garden arch with a gate attached and decorated with silk flowers from a craft store.
They were both beautiful weddings and receptions, that cost very little and we made home movie and took photos of both to remember them by. With the money they saved from their weddings, both children were able to purchase property and a home not long after. The kids remember their weddings as stress free and happy occasions.

Thank you for sharing your sewing projects, the artwork and the low cost weddings with us. You are a blessing and have inspired many of us.

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

I plan to show another spring dress and some aprons, first, and then another summer dress, as we have had a heat wave here. The autumn will be late, but I find just as much of a thrill getting fabrics for that season. i do not deviate much from my palette except that I use brighter accents such as red piping or bright aprons. I have seen your Victorian garments that you sewed and I wish that I could show them here. They are wonderful!!

Anonymous said...

I just got married last week, and we had a simple, low-cost wedding--even though there were about 100 people there. It was in our church hall (no cost to us) with simple white sheers and borrowed twinkle lights for decoration. My sister and I made the bridesmaids' dresses (the fabric was a gift from a friend); and I made the flower girl's dress, a vest and bowtie for the ring bearer, a vest for the groom, and my dress (which was made from fabric given to me years ago). My mom crocheted Irish lace appliques that I sewed on the dress. We carried candles instead of flowers. The groom's father "catered" it as a gift to us (he loves to cook) and made a beautiful buffet for the reception. Neither of us wanted a cake, and we just had orange juice punch, water, and coffee (morning wedding) for drinks. A photographer friend did our photos as her gift to us, as well as giving us a framed collage of some bridal portraits. (She had so much fun working with us that she kept thanking me for letting her do the pictures!) I did not obsess about details: I told the girls to just wear whatever black shoes they wanted with their long navy dresses and to do their hair however they wanted. I wore $20 white sandals that I embellished with crochet. We got ties for the men, who just wore black suits. They did not all match, but they all had colors to go with the overall scheme (navy to go with the bridesmaids' dresses and a lighter grayish blue to go with the groom's vest and my dress--yes, I wore blue instead of white). Everyone said that it was a beautiful wedding, and someone told my father-in-law that it was one of the most elegant weddings they had ever attended. (Simple, elegant, and enjoyable were my guidelines in planning.) We all had a good time, and I would not change at all how we did it.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the great artwork and sewing projects, they are inspiring and uplifting.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for all the great artwork and sewing projects. They are helpful and inspiring.

Anonymous said...

I haven't really made any clothes for myself since I was a teenager, but your recent sewing series is really inspiring me.

Thank you for taking the time to share with us.

Can you please share some ideas for those of us who are older ladies, but who have grown our hair long? I just turned 53, and my hair is a little past my shoulders right now. This is the longest it's been in ages, and my husband really likes it.

The problem is, I'm no longer very imaginative with my hair, the way I was when I was much younger. I don't know what looks good any more, so usually end up just sticking it in a ponytail. (For church, I curl it with the curling iron and clip it back, but my hair is fine, so the curl drops out quickly.)

Also, is there a point where we should stop coloring our hair and just go gray?

Anonymous said...

To the lady who is growing out her hair,BRAVO!! I am 51 and started growing out my hair 7 years ago , at the time it was only chin length. It is now to the top of my thighs. I also have fine hair and do not color it. There are some gray hairs. Updo's are very good as they give your face a natural lift. Low buns or twists, get some long bobby pins from the dollar store. or braid your hair and wrap it into a bun. Take the time to learn some things with looking into 2 mirrors so you can see the back as you work. You are to be congratulated for going against the norm remember your hair is your glory ! My husband loves mine too!

Anonymous said...

Hi Lydia,

I ran across this article about one man's take on women's clothing in church and thought it relevant to the discussion on your blog:

http://townhall.com/columnists/MikeAdams/2009/08/26/sundays_breast

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

Thanks for the link to townhall. This was such a good article, and I will put it on the side bar or in side another post. It is everything that we all have been saying about the arrogant display of flesh in church, of all places. The devil has spread the belief that it does not matter how you dress or what is showing, because it is only a conversion of the soul that makes you a follow of the Lord. THis is nothing more than the ancient religions that taught that the flesh could cause no sin, only the mind.

Josette said...

you have inspired me. I just made two little dresses for my little girl. I still need to learn to make sleeves. For now, I just use her onesies for underneath. I think sometimes you just have to go for it!

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