Berlin Work Doll Slippers

 

 

 

French fashion Doll wardrobes contain many beautifully made hats, bonnets, dresses, outerwear and shoes. Among the shoes was more than likely one pair of Berlin wool work slippers. You might be asking yourself “What is berlin wool work?”, I have an answer for you from Mr. Wikipedia( he is so smart except when he is not). Berlin wool work is explained as follows:

Berlin wool work is a style of embroidery similar to today’s needlepoint. It was typically executed with wool yarn on canvas.[1] It is usually worked in a single stitch, such as cross stitch or tent stitch although Beeton’s book of Needlework (1870) describes 15 different stitches for use in Berlin work. It was traditionally stitched in many colors and hues, producing intricate three-dimensional looks by careful shading. The design of such embroidery was made possible by the great progresses made in dyeing in the 1830s, especially by the discovery of aniline dyes which produced bright colors.

This kind of work created very durable and long-lived pieces of embroidery that could be used as furniture covers, cushions, bags, or even on clothing.”

You can find many different patterns for Berlin work in the fashion magazines of the 19th century. I have seen bags (of all sorts), suspenders, chair covers, foot stool covers and slippers. Slippers and bags are my favorite type of berlin wool work! Now if you want a basis of comparison with another needle art, Berlin wool work is similar to needlepoint. Now take a lesson from me and don’t ask your local needlework store for Berlin Wool work supplies. They will look at you funny; like you have three heads. Just ask for Needlepoint supplies.

The next few images are From the period of 1859-1865. These are a few of the variety of slipper patterns that were published. They put out some crazy patterns and some simple ones are well.

My personal favorite out of those is the green with a white bow. Simple yet elegant. Obviously you can see how gaudy these designs could get.

These next few images are going to be of original DOLL sized Berlin wool work slippers.

This next pair is a professionally put together pair of slippers. You can see the attention to detail in the piping around the sole and how perfectly the sole is attached to the slipper upper.

While searching out examples to show you I found this latter pair of Berlin work slippers. These were made around 1890 probably for a Bebe style doll. Look at the floral detail on the toes!

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I wish they put something in the photo for scale because they look like full size slippers! I assure you they are not.

Stay tuned for my next post on reproducing these tiny treasures!

Reproducing an 1860’s Skating Ensemble

The day before Christmas in 2016 I started a project that I thought would be done in a week. Boy was I wrong! This outfit was done as of Christmas day 2017 minus the matching fur muff.

Since Lydia Ann has pretty much everything I own plus way more; its hard to decide what else to make her. I struggle with adding pieces to her wardrobe I would never wear like fancy sheer garments and what I consider superfluous outwear. I know there are so many variations on outwear but if I personally don’t wear it; I never dress Lydia Ann in it. That’s how I roll. So back to my awful decision making process.

For Christmas 2016 I basically just finished her matching ball gown to my star silk. I was disappointed in myself but for some reason I didn’t have time to make more? I’m really not sure what my excuse was. So the day before Christmas 2016, I started her skating ensemble and like a delusional person thought I could complete it in a week. Yeah right.

Long story short, it took an entire year of working on and off, sourcing supplies and procrastinating. So first I will show you the original ensemble and then my copy.

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Here is the link to the MET’s collection listing.  The original is made out of silk and fur. I am not sure of what the batting is made from, its either cotton or wool. My money is on wool as this outfit is supposed to keep you warm.

For my copy I used a burgundy silk taffeta quilted with cotton batting to keep the bulk at a minimum. I searched out a few white/off white vintage fur collars to use as trim. I had to find a short hair pelt so the scale would look right. On some projects I don’t worry so much about scale but since I was putting so much effort into this I wanted to go the extra mile. Sourcing the fur took me the longest actually; a half year to be exact. The quilting of all the pieces was done long before that. I didn’t copy the hat from the museum though. I looked through fashion magazines at the time and found images of a toque style hat in velvet with trim. I like the look of the matching hat since this is a very high fashion look. I have not had a chance to finish the matching muff , that is the last piece of this outfit to finish. Sadly since its now warming up I wont be able to do a snow photo shoot with the matching muff until next winter. But that’s fine.

So I guess everyone is ready to see the finished product? I hope so or I’m not really  sure what you are doing reading this post.

 

 

Now that this ensemble is pretty much done; I’m at a loss as to what big project to do next for Lydia Ann.  If you have any ideas, comment and let me know! I can use all the help I can get some days!

A random 18th century doll post!

Sometimes as hard as you try to put together a highly organized post; it wont happen. I had another post written and thought that was going to be a good one to publish. I wrote it and it was hard work to connect all my ideas. So it is going to stay in my drafts folder a while longer.

Sometimes you just need eye candy to ogle and not do serious research. So today I decided to visit The MET museums online collection. I typed “doll” into the search bar and away I went! My plan was simple, scroll until I saw something I fell in love with, then run with it. So you may be asking now, what caught my attention?

18th Century dolls!!!

I have always been in love with type of doll. My favorite set is at the V & A museum in England. The set is of a couple named Lord and Lady Clapham! They are both dressed in the best fashion from the early 18th century including wigs. They are fabulous and one day I hope to have a set of reproductions.clapham1

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Look at the atttude in the first image! They know they are a fabuous couple!

When I did my wild card search on The MET’s website, I didn’t find many actual dolls more clothes showed up. That is ok though! What I found is still fun to look at and drool over. So lets begin:

The first item that caught my eye was a painting called “Child holding a doll” from 1780. You can see exactly what shape frame it was due to the main part of the painting being faded. A little girl holds her doll in her lap. You can get a good look at the doll’s wig and dress.

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The next piece is an engraving from 1742. It is called “The charming doll”.This is of a child looking at a well dressed doll just standing next to her on what appears to be a street. The child has this sour puss look on its face too. Maybe the child is upset that the doll is dressed better than her? I just dont think she finds the doll charming at all……

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The next few items are antique doll clothing in their collection.

This charming and well-tailored gentleman’s coat is embroidered in the same style a full-sized gentleman would have made. This is dated to 1740-1760. I belive the sleeves are a giveaway for dating this piece.

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These gentlemens breech look to be made out of a scrap of silk with a larger pattern in it. I can just imagine the full size garment that this fabric could have made up during this time. Beautiful!

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The final garment is a ladies silk jacket. I wish we could have seen the petticoat that went with this originally. I bet it was a fun set. I love the main fabric with the floral pattern. One thing I have noticed in 18th century dolls clothing is most times they did not bother to match scale.

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The final item I want to spotlight is an actual doll! She is small and in a nice display box but a doll none the less! She is dated to 1748 and is displayed in a hand painted box. The hand painting reminds me what you see in wallpaper designs of the time. If you look close enough, you will see she has a little teeny tiny pocket watch hanging from her waist! Though I am not sure why exactly she is in a box, it has probably helped keep her in pristine shape for all these years.

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Inauguration Ball Fashion Circa 1861 & 1865

At Inaugural Balls one things does not change, fashion is the highlight of the evening. There will always be a buzz around the newly sworn in President but fashion is one of the things that people remember from that evening for years to come. In this post we will explore the fashion from Abraham Lincolns two Inaugural balls in 1861 and 1865.

Lets start with 1861:

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This images shows a great overall view of the ballroom that night as well as a closeup shot of Mary Todd Lincoln. One accessory she carried through both balls was the flower coronet. While I was not able to find an image of her gown, you can be sure that she was dressed at the height of Washington City fashion!

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Popular publication’s such as “Frank Leslie’s Illustrated newspaper” reported on what various prominent ladies wore. This ball was and still is the highlight of the Washington City social season.

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This brooch was worn by Elisabeth Harvey Stevens to the ball.

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The ballgown bodice and skirt of this ensemble was worn to the ball by Caroline Bolles Cleveland. Imagine what a splash the wearer made in this sunshine yellow silk!

1865 Inaugural Ball:

1865This is one of the invites to the ball. If one of these made its way to you, you knew you were somebody important in Washington society.

1865gownHere is what Mary Todd Lincoln wore to this ball. This gown is now in the Smithsonian. The jewelry she wears was purchased for her in 1862 by her husband from Tiffany and Co.

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This set also included a matching brooch and earrings that are not pictured.

This next and final gown was worn by the  wife of Sec. of the Interior. The first image is of the day bodice with skirt and the second image is the of the ball gown bodice itself.

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The years have not been kind to the ballgown bodice bu the day bodice and skirt still retain that fabulous bright blue and complimenting yellow.

Even though not every piece of fashion was saved from these two balls, you can see how this event was the highlight of the season every 4 years.

I hope you enjoyed this look back and will stay tuned for future posts! Thank you!