Thursday, 26 March 2015

Corset try-on, and TV show musings

Half-done the flossing (well, maybe more like 2/3...woops. Meant to do a fitting before this). Before I finish flossing and binding it and go past the point of no return, I wanted to do a quick try-on to make sure that everything was as it should be.

It fits great, and so far it's very comfortable! There's about a 4" lacing gap in back, which is fine - it's the end of the day, and I can usually lace down about 1" further if I do it in the morning, and lacing gaps tend to shrink as a corset gets broken in. So as long as I remember to put it on periodically and mold the fibers by wearing it for an hour or two, it will fit better and better.

My main concern was that the only available busk was about 1" longer than I'd have strictly preferred, and I was worried that it would be uncomfortable to sit. But all is good!

You'll have to excuse the awful selfies; there was no one else home to take photos. =P Thank goodness for split busks! I had to put in two laces to get it wide enough to do myself, though. >.>

I forgot to measure the waist when it was on, so the final reduction measurement will have to wait. Probably around 3-4" on the outside.

Anyways, more flossing tomorrow and then binding, and it's done!

Also, in tv show news: watching the first episode of Turn: Washington's Spies on Netflix and so far it's so-so. Couple of weird costumey things, as always - although fairly good, considering some of what's out there - but it's just not holding my interest. The new Poldarck is great, though! Aidan Turner *swoon* Ahem. But yeah, watch that. Although what was with Demelza's sack-thing for the first two episodes? Even the poorest folk would not be wearing a sack-shirt and a sack-skirt, especially once she's a maid. And then suddenly she gets stays out of nowhere. Which is good, but...weird. Oh well.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

The Lowlands of Holland: A new recording of an 18th century song

Alongside being a costumer, I am a singer. And my favourite thing, of course, is period music. =) Folk songs, especially. I particularly like the pithy political ones (Cam Ye O'er Frae France is my all-time favourite at the moment) and laments about drowned lovers, press-gangs, ghost ships, faeries, and all things sad and creepy. The Lowlands of Holland, known originally as "The Sorrowfull Lover's Regrate" or "The Maid's Lament for Her Lost Love," combines a bit of the political with a lot of the sad lament, and appeals to my Dutch heritage, so I was eager to find the original lyrics and record it.

You can find this and other songs on my bandcamp page, which I try to update whenever I have time to record things. I have no accompaniment or fancy recording equipment here in Halifax so this one's just a capella and untweaked, but hopefully people will enjoy it. I'm going to embed the song here so that you can listen as you read more about the song, if you so wish. It's quite long. It's worth listening to the end (or jumping to the end...), though, as it ends quite amusingly with a heartfelt prayer followed by the charmingly blunt "...I have no more to say."

For quite a while I've been looking around for an original publication of the lyrics to The Lowlands of Holland. In this particular pamphlet, from 1776, the song was titled "The Sorrowfull Lover's Regrate, or The Low-lands of Holland," and it can be found in the Edinburgh library. My university, thankfully, gives me access to their 18th century collections online, and I was able to get a facsimile of the original page.

(Let me know if you want a higher-res version)
Alas, the 1760 garland version referenced by early 20th century collectors is still nowhere to be found online, and of course earlier oral traditions, perhaps dating to the Anglo-Dutch Naval Wars of the 1670s (hinted at in alternative verses describing Holland as cold and full of money - European Holland - instead of warm and full of sugar cane - Surinam, Brazil, or some other part of New Holland), are now thoroughly lost.

Many versions hint more strongly at the presence of a press-gang to force the young husband off to sea, and place the events more firmly within the context of a war. Yet this late-18th century version still provides a window into the lot of seafarers and their families, as well as British views of Holland's New-World territories as merely an extension of itself. The strong connection drawn here between Holland and its colonial territories (to the point where only the presence of sugar cane tells the listener that 'the Lowlands of Holland' are not Holland itself) is particularly interesting in light of the fact that Britain was, at that moment, losing a large chunk of its own territory in North America, and could no longer draw that strong connection between itself and the arms of its own empire. Yet the verses concerning Holland's strength on the sea and its expansive ambitions also illustrates strongly that Britain was much more concerned with the encroachments of other empires in Jamaica and the Caribbean than it was with the departing Americans.

Hope you enjoyed it! My bandcamp page has a few other recordings on it (some medieval music, and one of my own compositions), and I'll be adding more to it as I find time to record things. I'll try to post here when I do.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Corset progress and some natural dyeing

Well, I'm about 3 weeks late on HSF February: Blue, but I'm still plugging away. Here's what the corset looks like now (although I've actually finished removing all that white basting since taking the photo).

This is the first photo I've managed to take which is actually true to the fabric colour; all the others have turned out either way too navy or way too purple. It matches my inspiration corset very well. I'm hoping to finish the boning channels tonight, set grommets in tomorrow, and then do the bindings and the flossing later this week. That might be a bit of a pipe dream, though. We'll see how it goes.

In other news, dye class has finally turned its attention to natural dyes, and I've managed to wrangle an 18th century-colour-recreation element into the fairly strict parameters of the final project. In the mean time I've been sneaking little bundles of merino embroidery/lace-weight yarn into each of the class sample dye baths, to build up my library of natural-dyed embroidery flosses.

Clockwise from top left: onion skins, tea bags (very high concentration), cutch, lac, quebracho, orange marigold flowers.
I'm now collecting images on pinterest of embroidered petticoats, quilted petticoats, jumps, and aprons. I think I'm going to dye some combination of silk yardage and flosses in order to make a couple of petticoat projects. The only problem is that all the silk petticoats are embroidered in silk floss (of course), and only linen petticoats seem to get wool crewelwork - and this seem to be with fairly chunky yarns. My merino floss is a very thin, light 2-ply, with a fair bit of sheen, and actually resembles my spun silk yarn more than the wool embroidery flosses I'm seeing. I may end up dyeing both the merino and the spun silk (filament silk is better, but I can't afford it), and making several petticoats. So far, the plan is:

- Weld over-dyed with indigo for some emerald green silk yardage, to be used for a quilted petticoat based the one in Dalhousie's collection (which is currently my blog background image)
- Unknown dyestuffs for some "London Red" silk yardage, to be used as ribbons/puffs on caps, bonnets, and sundry accessories
- A selection of period colours in both wool and silk flosses, in order to embroider a petticoat/several petticoats/jumps/an apron/whatever I end up with enough floss of the correct fiber type to make.

Anyways, things to think about. If anyone has two cents to add about 18th century embroidery in wool or silk, natural dyestuffs, fun things to embroider (things which will be seen, preferably - I'm not embroidering pockets and under-petticoats until the outer stuff is entirely encrusted in polychrome wonder), or other embroidery/dyeing-related advice, I welcome your input!