Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Day at Downton Abbey: Tailoring

Face it, despite having our heads turned regularly by glamour and beading and the Dowager's tremendous hats, one of the things you can't miss on Downton is the tailoring.  It might not be as showy as an evening dress, but it's harder to lose the fine details, because tailoring is really all about the shape of a garment.

Today's selection from my seemingly inexhaustible Downton photo file gives the tailored section of the exhibit, featuring Mary's lovely linen suit (with Matthew's cricket outfit in the background), and a selection of hunting tweeds.  I wish they had included Mary's suit, shown in the background photo -- I really loved the jacket -- but Rosalind's suit is quite nice as well.

Lord Grantham's up boots and coat are wonderful, and Matthew's outfit, if you can get past the knee pants, is quite good.  I love the belt, the buttoned pockets and all the other details of the jacket.

Apparently I was enamored with Mary's linen suit, judging by the number of photos, but  you have to admit, the details are beautiful.  Covered buttons, the trim around the wrists and on the collar, the way the princess seams are stitched in the back, the buttons on the skirt back, the hat . . . I'd wear it now, and very happily.

I remembered the hunting scene quite well -- Richard and Mary and Matthew, oh my, and I did have a pretty clear memory of the clothes, but again, it was nice to see them in person and catch all the details and structure that I knew were there but that can't show up on a moving target on a small screen.

And as far as the hunting clothes go, anyone who knows me knows as well that I'm a total sucker for tweed.  So they could have had everyone's costumes there and I would have probably taken multiple pictures of each.

Next up: beads and embroidery and excess.  I promise.

Bonus: men's traveling trunk belonging to
a member of the DuPont family, Downton period

Downton Teaser

Do you remember this dress?  I remember the front, but not the back.

Look at the back.

And at the front.

And at the beading.

Now wipe the drool off your chin.  I'll be back tomorrow with more.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Is it only Tuesday?

So, how's that office job thing working out?  Okay, I guess, when I can keep my eyes open to think about it.

I worked Wednesday through Friday last week, did a load of finish work and prep on Saturday, and then on Sunday I set up in South Philadelphia for the annual Bang! Boom! Craft! event, which is done in conjunction with a vintage car show.

It's a really busy event, and the crowds were fun, positive and in the mood to shop.  Which was good, because setup was at 9:30 a.m., and we shut down close to 5:00 p.m.  Add to that weather in the low 90s and a constant threat of thunderstorms, and I could have been folded up like a dishrag and packed up with my stuffed animals.

This was the event that we got rained out of last year, so when the rain never arrived, we all decided to put up with sweating; it could have been so much worse.

I added a few new bits to the display this time -- the chalkboard in front of the table is so much easier than putting out individual signs, and stickers and tags don't always hold up to repeated handling.

Though there were people who complimented me on the board and then turned around and asked the price of something.  Really.

It was a good day, but Monday . . .  now that was a rough morning.

You know you're getting old when an 8 hour day at the craft show makes you feel like you have a hangover, and you spend the first half of the workday alternately sucking down coffee and trying to not fall asleep in your chair.

A friend said something to me recently that makes me feel better about this job.  "The best thing about temp jobs is that they're temporary."   Yes, they are.  And this too shall pass.

I promise I'll have the last of the Downton posts up by the end of the week.  I can't believe I derailed myself like this.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Overbook Much?

Lily says, "Hello," and "Mummy's not home enough to suit me."  (Lily has
a British accent, at least in my head, if anyone needs to know that).
Don't worry, we will return to Downton Abbey -- I still have to edit the last, most excessive photos.  The evening wear, my dears.  The beads.  The lace.  The colors!

But for now, a small gripe.  Directed mostly at myself.  Those are really the only productive gripes anyway; you can't do anything about anyone else, but if you piss yourself off, there's a chance you can fix it.  Or not, and just slog through the rat's maze you've made.

I started work today on an eight-week temp job.  I thought it was only six weeks, but apparently the person I'm covering for is having a C-section, so she gets an extra two weeks of recovery time.  One co-worker intimated she's having the C-section deliberately to get the extra time, but I can't imagine the time is worth the recovery.  But then again, I've never had kids by either method, so what do I know?

So.  Eight weeks, five days a week.  Indoors, with no sewing machine and far too much climate control.

And my schedule, aside from the office job, looks like this for the end of July and the first two weeks of August:

Sunday, 7/27 - all day craft show in South Philadelphia.

Friday, 8/1 - First Friday, selling on the street.  I took off for this because I'll (hopefully) make more out there than indoors.  Last time, I made money and ended up on TV!

Saturday, 8/2 - informal outdoor craft show at the Rotunda in West Philly, in conjunction with a DIY skillshare event; family event in NJ afterward.

Sunday, 8/3 - first group sewing lesson.

Wednesday, 8/6 - Make Do & Mend class at the Department of Making and Doing, West Philadelphia.

Saturday, 8/9 - neighborhood craft show and/or getting my hair cut.

Sunday, 8/10 - second group sewing lesson.

Tuesday, 8/12 - group embroidery lesson at children's history camp.

Thursday, 8/14 - group embroidery lesson #2.

Saturday, 8/16 - flea market / craft fair in Clark Park, West Philadelphia

Sunday, 8/17 - I'm not getting out of bed unless and until there's a third sewing lesson, which would be scheduled for the afternoon.

Question for anyone who might be listening (since apparently I am not).  WHAT WAS I THINKING??

By the way, if any of that listed insanity intrigues you, the times and locations of all events are under the Calendar of Events tab above.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Day at Downton Abbey - Part 4

And now for some of the memorable bits.

Lady Sybil's harem pants, anyone?  Considering how much fuss was made over this outfit by the character, and the family (and Branson's) reaction, it got remarkably little screen time.  I wonder if this was due to the fact that the vintage portions of the costume were disintegrating as Sybil wore them.

This costume was far more impressive to me (again) in person, because I could get so close to the embroidered bodice that I practically left nose prints on it.  I do wish they'd included the headpiece she wore with it, but I guess because the mannequins didn't have heads, they didn't bother.

Another notable gown -- Lady Mary's engagement dress.

Which wasn't really all that notable.  The exhibit card said that the dress was deliberately plain, so as not to detract from the drama of the scene, but really, what would have detracted from Mary and Matthew finally getting their act together?

The color was perfect of course -- Mary looks like she's made out of ivory, and she's so slender that anything looks good -- but beyond that, we were fairly unimpressed.  I didn't like the ruffles on the skirt, and that only every other ruffle had beading.  The small bit of beading at the neck also looked more significant on camera.  And really, what's the gather-y thing around the middle?  Good thing she inherited Scarlett O'Hara's 18-inch waist.

I guess that's why they're the professionals, though.  Because I really can't remember much about the dress in the scene, other than the color, and how good she looked, and the snow falling.

Oh, the snow.  Behind the Mary-and-Matthew tableau, they have the engagement scene on a video loop, with the music playing and snowflakes projected onto the walls.  It's a nice touch.

And then there's Edith.  Not a lot of  her earlier clothes made it into the exhibit, and most of her interesting 20s clothes are probably in England, since they're filming.  But they had her wedding gown.
The wedding gown.  The beading on that made my eyes water.

We all remember Mary coming down the stairs at Downton, and Lord Grantham and Carson bursting their buttons with pride, but that dress looked good because Mary was wearing it; I don't think it was all that special otherwise.  Edith's dress is an amazing piece of clothing.

The green backdrop didn't do the satin here any favors; it really caught the color in the photos.  It's probably most accurately depicted in the train photograph above, which also shows the delicious beading to advantage.

In true 20s fashion, the dress doesn't look that spectacular on the mannequin, but remember how it looked on Edith?  Satin like that needs a body in it to really work.

The beading on the gown was just amazing, and there was so much of it.  The cluster of flowers on the hip, the leaves on the shoulder, the beautiful work on the back -- I don't even remember seeing the back of the gown on TV -- and the train.  Bow down to that train, because it is worthy.

Believe it or not, I still have more photos.  I haven't gotten to some of Cora's clothes, or any of Martha's, and can we talk about Downton and leave out the Dowager Countess in all her Edwardian splendor?

Let me know if you're sick of it yet; otherwise, more soon.

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Day at Downton Abbey - Part 3

Today we're venturing below stairs to the servants' hall.  The costumes here aren't as elaborate, which is good because I have very little time tonight to write about them.

There are, as with the other costumes, things you don't notice as they flash by on screen -- what a nice print they used for the house maids' day dresses, the fact that Daisy's droopy little apron has a print on it, that O'Brien's outfit has such elaborate trims, and that Mrs. Hughes is actually quite a sharp dresser.

And then, of course, there's Mrs. Patmore.

Mrs. Hughes - I love the subtle plaid in her skirt, the trim on
the skirt panels and at the neckline.  (And the replica of the bells from
the servants' hall)

Maids' uniform - day.  Printed cotton dress with a relatively
plain white apron - this one has two lines of insertion on the front.

Maids - evening or party uniform.  Black dress with
white apron.  Lace on the aprons (each one pictured is
different) and lace at the collar.

Our girl Daisy, queen among kitchen maids.  A plain dress, but
with contrast collar and cuffs, and a light print apron with
tiny, sad pockets.

Mrs. Patmore -the dress is very plain, just a line of white at
the collar.  I like the gathers at the shoulder seam to
accommodate Mrs. P's rather substantial bust.  And I don't think
she'd object to the kitchen they gave her, either.

Miss O'Brien.  How we don't miss her.  I overexposed this
one just slightly so that you could see the difference in
color between the fabrics, and also the tiny ruffles along the
edge.  Who knew Miss O'Brien had interesting clothes?

A Day at Downton Abbey - Part 2

Lady Mary's mourning dress
The exhibit card said it was called The Mauve Decade because shades of lavender and mauve were so popular.  These shades were also used for partial mourning, and in a post-war era, I'm sure there was still a lot of that going on.

These two dresses were worn by Mary and Cora at Sybbie's christening, when they were obviously in mourning for Sybil.

I didn't find these two all that exciting at first, but when you look at the details, they get a lot more interesting.

As with a lot of these costumes, they look far better on a real body than on a mannequin.  I remember liking Mary's dress a lot on her, but at first this lavender dress here didn't do a lot.  I liked the detail at the neckline, and then I looked at the repeat of it on the sleeve bands and the motif at the hem, and I liked it more.

Lady Cora's mourning dress a/k/a
the world's most glamorous robe
Then I noticed that the gray color of the sash is repeated in tiny bands of gray around the sleeve hems and around the neck, and at the tiny button placket at the back neck (though the covered buttons are lavender to match the dress).

And of course, the hats.  Do we even need to talk about the hats?

I didn't think so.

Cora's dress was plain, with a lovely brocade jacket that swept the floor.  The draped collar was in a perfectly matched satin, but what intrigued me on closer inspection was that the floral motif on the jacket's cuffs had been lightly quilted.  These are the kind of touches that get totally lost on TV, but that I love knowing are there.

Back details for both
Also, the fullness at the back of the jacket is gathered into buttons, which narrows the silhouette and really saves it from looking like Cora wandered out of the house in her robe, albeit a really nice robe.

Next up, a visit to the servants' hall.  Don't worry, there are things to see there as well.

Like I said, the HATS!!!

Detail, Lady Mary's neckline

Quilted cuff on Cora's jacket