Saturday, October 31, 2009

Dressing for the Home

from Country Living Magazine

From Country French Magazine

From Country French Magazine

Susan Rios has a new painting on ebay. You can view Susan Rios art at the following places: , ,and

There is a November home tour here
It is always a joy to see lovely pictures like this.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

19th Century Clothing From Paintings and Photography

Miss Elspeth Mallock
by Edward Arthur Walton, Scotland

Two Girls at the Frame
by Alexander Max Koester, Germany(1864-1932)

The Pitcher Girl
by Victor Thirion , France (1832-1878)

Portrait of a Young Woman
Carl Timolean Von Neff, Estonia (1805-1877)

by Charles Edward Boutibonne
France (1816-1897)

In the Garden
by Frederick Fursman
United States, 1874-1943

I have been absorbed  in the study of textiles and  clothing in the 19th century, and also  enjoying the book, "Calico Chronicles: Texas Women and Their Clothing," which is available in various online bookstores.  I only wish it had been in color.  However,  a friend told me about a magazine article she had read, which told about  late 19th century color photography called "autochrome," which was made with potato starch to produce color.  It was discovered and developed by the French, and  was used before color photography as we now know it.   In many ways, I think it looks better,  and the people in the pictures more life-like. 

Window Ledge Portrate (autochrome photograph)
by Marice Rampert 1907

 I have been looking at the autochromes from the online public libraries, and would like to include them here.As I  looked through these photographs, I was happy to see that they were not at all inconsistent with the artists of the time, which I have been showing regularly on this blog.

Alpine Group (autochrome photograph)
by Maurice Rampet (1866-1941)

Among the Irises (autochrome Photograph) 1924

Woman Reading in a Garden (autochrome color photograph from the early 1900's)

The above photo is very similar to paintings that I have shown here before.  The one of the woman in the peasant blouse has very detailed painted lace. All of the dresses you see worn in the paintings and the photographs, can be sewn today, using current patterns. Just find a peasant blouse and a long skirt pattern and a vest.  Some of the other photos and paintings can be immitated with what is called the "Garden Party Dress."  Patterns for Garden Party dresses can be found at Jennie Chancey's pattern site and Costume sections of your pattern books at fabric stores, which I will post later.

Autochrome Photograph, early 19th century. Notice the pretty striped fabric and the lace collar and and cuffs . This appears to be a hand made matching mother and daughter (or sister) outfit.  The autochrome has a very life-like appearance. Learn more about autochromes here

There is a way of looking at paintings and photography that helps you understand more about it. You can ask the following questions about them:

Where is the lightest part of the painting?
Where is the light coming from?
Is the painting portraying something warm and sunny, or cold and foggy?
What other colors do you see?
What are the people in the painting doing?
Name some other things you see in the room of the painting.
Point to other things in the painting that show how the people lived or what their activities were.
What is in the background of the painting?
Tell something about the hairstyles of the women in the paintings, as well as the clothing styles.
What do you think the focus or subject of the painting is?
Tell something about the fabrics you see on clothing or draperies.
What do you think the artist was trying to show?
Is there a mood in the painting, of happiness or contentment, excitment or adventure?

Part of the fun of viewing these paintings is the opportunity to pose them yourself, using similar props and scenes and clothing, and take photographs.
This is especially enjoyable with scenery or still life and with children.
Both the paintings and the photographs show that women and girls dressed femininely, and without wearing men's clothing, were quite active and engaged in hard work.

Speaking of potatoes, I have been busy getting mine out of the ground, washed, and stored.
There are several colors of potatoe: purple, red, gold and white. My favorite for flavor are the gold or yellow potatoes. They look yellow when cooked, as though they have butter in them, and have a lot more flavor than the other kinds. These are red potatoes.  Potato growing is about the dirtiest work in the world, but at least my boots match my dress ;-)

These are some colors around here that are easily imitated in fabrics.  I am sewing an autumn dress the color of the dark red leaves here.  A burgundy colored dress, with a light green shawl is bright spot on autumn days when the light is dimmer, and it is also a pretty color on houses.

Butterfly-ladybug fabric from

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mood Dressing

Basket of Cherries
by Robert Spears Dunning (1829-1905)

In the Orchard
by Walter Boodle  (1859-1914)

Cherry Fabric
(You can click on for a larger view if you go here

Mood dressing is something women have done for years. It is a way of selecting a dress that would make you feel your brightest and your best. Having something beautiful to wear that matches the day or the season or the events in your life, can give you a new attitude and a burst of energy.

Cherry Earrings
by Frederick Morgan 1856-1927

(this is the painter that enlisted the help of fellow-artist Arthur John Elsley to paint the animals in his scenes.)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Texas Women and Their Fashions: 1830-1910

Reading (1865)
by Jerry Barret

The Sewing Class
by Carl Frederick Aagaar1835-1895

Calico Chronicle: Texas Women and Their Fashions,  by Betty J. Mills, is a wonderful history book about the clothing of the Texas homesteading women. Calico was a fine cloth, made from cotton in  Texas. Isolated from most of the world and the fashion designers of the time,  these women made beautiful fashions from their own cloth made in Texas.  People who visited Texas in that era, expected to find women dressed in humble, poor looking clothing, and were impressed to see how elegantly dressed they were, using this colorful cloth.

Those who have read this book have said that it makes you want to sew, and that it inspired them to do more with what they had. 

This calico is called "lily pond."  This is a newer print, but many calicos are reproductions of the prints used by Texas woman in the 1800's. Calico was a common dress fabric. Women used their scraps to make quilts. When their dresses began to wear out, they would alter them by replacing cuffs and collars and piecing various areas. Later, used clothing was used to make rugs and things for the home.

Bathing fashions of the 1800's
 (from Karen's Whimsey Victorian Graphics)

Friday, October 09, 2009

Once A Year Planning

Sitting In the Garden,
by Susan Rios

Susan Rios would like to expand her mailing list informing people of her painting events. To receive her newsletters, sign up here.

Picking Daisies, by H. Seeger (German, 1857-1945)

Before I complete this part of the sewing series, I want to show some planning techniques for selecting clothing, even if you buy ready-made. You might sketch a garment or include the picture of the pattern you are going to use, on your scrapbook planning page.  I have attached snips of fabrics and made notes about what the dress might be suitable for (travel, homemaking, church, etc).

click on for details

Take some time once a year to make a planning page like this(the spring is an ideal time to begin), and  use a dark pencil or pen and your crayons, to illustrate your planning page. I have a deluxe box of crayons containing just about every color that you can get in crayons, and use them a lot.

You can also make a scrapbook page with a collection of clothes from catalogs and magazines, to give you ideas for sewing or selecting to wear. I hope you do not have a problem printing it out.

A collection of clippings for ideas in design and color.

On the planning sheet there is a clip of yellow and sage fabric similar to the dress and shawl worn by Molly on the way to her father's wedding. She also wore it while staying with the Miss Brownings. If you want to get a look at how calicos and cotton prints are used in every day dressing, look through Wives and Daughters films and notice Molly's clothing.  There is a good screenshot of the bodice of this yellow dress with the shawl  here

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Fabrics From Nature

Basque Gipsy Girl with Tambourine

(18 in x 24 in)

(Giclee Print Bouguereau, William Adolphe )

can be seen here:

Part of our "Painting Inspired Sewing Series"

This is a print of the Victorian Crazy Quilt, made into a skirt several years ago. "The Gypsy" clothing is somewhat similar to the colors in this fabric, as well as many beautiful floral paintings like the one above.  The blue blouse on the right matched the blue background.  The fabric store sold bolts in every single one of the fabrics represented in this print.

This is an example of how to piece your material if you come up short and do not want to go back to the store. You cannot tell in this picture, that the skirt has been pieced. The top of the skirt underneath the waistband has been pieced together, using scraps of fabric, to match the print exactly. With some small prints, you do not have to be precise if you piece it, as it will not show. However, with a larger print, you simply find a scrap that matches the piece you need to add something to, and sew it, right sides facing.

This is a closer view of the seam where the skirt was pieced.  This skirt had two main pieces and was very easy to make.  After adding pieces to lengthen your fabric, lay the pattern on top and cut as you would a whole piece of fabric.  Some of the previous dresses I showed on this blog, were pieced on sleeves and hem areas when I wanted them longer, but you cannot tell it is there.

You can buy the matching fabrics and make a variety of dresses and little jackets or skirts and blouses that all co-ordinate. All cotton, this fabric is a joy to sew, because it is soft and the colors are so sweet and so reminiscent of the beauty of nature all around... this profusion of color growing here, with the aqua sky in the background.

The fashion show has been moved ahead a few more months, but I will try to include photos of the garments then. Inbetween time, I will show some children's clothing.  Someone asked me to do a sewing tutorial. That is being thought out also, as well as some pictures for the blog of how to sew a hair scrunchy or hair bow with a clip.

Even if women do not sew, there is a lot to be learned by looking around you and feeling the mood of the season or the time of day and choosing clothing that looks like nature or the beautiful things around us: a pretty house, a lovely object, or even a teacup, can be an idea for choosing clothing or sewing.

For an example of what I mean by getting ideas from beauty all around you, this Royal Albert tea set, called "Blossom Time"....

...looks like this fabric from It is called Allover Floral by Leslie Beck for Springs Creative Products.
The "Corelle"(Corningwear)  brand of glass, unbreakable dishes, has this pattern, called "Meadow", which also matches this fabric print, perfectly.

The dish set has been on sale for $19.00 for a set of four dinner plates, for dessert plates, four bowls and four large cups.

If you use your 40 percent coupon at Joanns, you can get an expensive fabric like this for three to four dollars a yard. I bought a fourth of a yard of it just to use as a napkin for that tea cup.  So look around and see what you have in your home, or look outside at the sky and see the trees in bloom, and you will have a lot of ideas about finding clothes.

Here is another delightful piece from, which I have also seen in the store (and touched ;-)  It is thicker than the previous piece, but it looks like a flowering tree in the spring, or a meadow that has just come alive with the color of wildflowers.

Psalm 90:17 And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.

Monday, October 05, 2009

The Fruit of the Land

Baskets of Stawberries and Raspberries
by Eloise Harriet Stannard (1829-1915) from

Basket of Fruit,
by Elois Harriot Stannard (1829-1915)
(more paintings by this artist are available at Lovely Whatevers)

Today's supply of grapes, plums, and pears, ready to be made into juices, purees, and sauces.

A Summer Beauty
by Emile Vernon  (1872-1919)

This dress could be easily immitated by using a Hawaiian pattern (see link in Hawaiian Dress post on this series) and pale peach or palest pink cotton fabric. The background scenery is so nostalgic of soft summer days spent innocently admiring the beauty of the earth.

Autumn dress made of cotton quilters fabric, which is soft and non-iron.  When the weather gets hot again, I will shorten the sleeves. I can add a deep burgundy edging on the neckline and the sleeves. These photographs are not very clear, and the dress looks much nicer "in real life."

A close up view of the print: dark roses on light pink background.

When choosing trims and scarves, I look closely at the colors within the print. This scarf matches the deeper burgundy-red color within the small roses. To make a matching scarf, just buy a fourth to a half yard of fleece. If you want a "wrap", buy a whole yard. 

One half yard of fleece only costs about $2.22 and does not have to be hemmed or trimmed. It can be wrapped seveeral different ways.

a half a yard of 50 inch fleece makes a quick shawl, with no sewing.  To make a really adequate wrap, I like to use 3 yard lengths, when it is affordable.

This ready-made dress can be ordered from an online catalog called "Seventh Avenue."  It has all those beautiful colors of the season.

Here is another example of matching the fleece, which can be woolen or acrylic, to the print. This is a higher quality cotton aqua-dot combination, for winter.  The hostess that invited me to have a fashion show of modest, colorful clothes, has decorated her home in these colors, so I thought I would wear a suit or dress with the brown wrap, to compliment her and her home, if I had time to make it.