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Regency patterns (long)

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  • Gary Stephens
    Dear Scott, et al, ... This is quite true. However, after having studied a few paintings and other artists renderings, particularly in a fabulous copy of a
    Message 1 of 5 , Jul 19, 1999
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      Dear Scott, et al,

      >My wife Nancy already figured that out about the La Mode Bagatelle and is
      >trying to obtain or make a period correct corset/stays pattern. Apparently
      >the dress just wont look right without the correct undergarments.

      This is quite true. However, after having studied a few paintings
      and other artists' renderings, particularly in a fabulous copy of a book in
      Richard Feltoe's possession, I cannot help but wonder about the corset of
      the period and its alleged ubiquitousness.

      Now, bear with me here before you tune out. In some renderings one
      might be able to glean from the posture of the ladies they are indeed
      corseted. This particular style of corset is very long, over the hip in
      fact, almost to the top of the thigh. Such would render any sitting
      position quite erect and rigid, as I have witnessed up front and in person
      with one very slender young woman who had gone to the trouble to make
      herself a truly accurate Regency wardrobe.

      However, in other artists' renderings one observes a very elegant
      and sinuous slouch. Having worn 1700s stays, which are nowhere near as
      long, I can attest to the fact it would likely be difficult in the extreme
      to affect such langorous posture in the Regency style of corset.

      Equally, one wonders about the line of the bust when wearing these
      garments. In some cases it would appear from the paintings the bust was
      quite molded and prominent. To create this would be difficult with a
      corset, as one obtains a slender, tubular shape with the corset of the
      period. If a lady's breasts were unbound, agreed there would be a certain,
      shall we say, jersey bounce, but the 'line' would be true to some
      renderings.

      One needs ask: was this artist license? Or was this a (horrors!)
      fashionably uncorseted woman?

      Now, before everyone starts pooh-poohing such a thing, one needs
      recall those oh-la-la French courtiers who were known to wet the white
      muslin of their chemises and then slip into their semi-transparent white
      silk gowns and arrive at court in an 1800s version of the wet t-shirt
      contest. It was apparently quite the rage and quite the, uh, sight. It
      fascinates and boggles the mind.

      Then one must be careful of the totally blinkered archeological
      viewpoint (apologies to any out there) which subscribes to the view if
      there are no examples, it wasn't used/done/blah, blah, blah. Such was the
      case for a friend of mine who had been hired to set up the historical
      interpretation program at L'anse aux Meadows: there was no physical
      evidence the Norse ate fish while on the maritime coast. There was evidence
      they ate mutton.

      Now, anyone who thinks this through realizes fish bones don't last
      particularly well in a harsh and exposed climate. Sheep bones would, being
      larger and more durable. And consider the Norse were a maritime people.
      Would they bring only sheep with them in that crowded Knarr from Greenland?
      They likely also brought salt cod, and salt cod bones tend to be rather
      mushy, like tinned salmon bones, once the cod is reconstituted. Chew 'em
      all up. What evidence remains?

      So, we are left with a bit of a conundrum. Did the Norse eat fish
      at L'anse aux Meadows or did they not?

      Did the ladies of the Regency period were corsets or not?

      We don't know the answer to either - not definitively.

      Equally, one must be careful of launching off into totally
      speculative territory. Here there be dragons.

      >Please post an address/phone for Mantu Maker.

      The Mantua Maker, Deb Salisbury, 13470 Mule Canyon Road, Grass
      Valley, CA 95945.

      You can also obtain Mantua Maker patterns from Forever Timeless.

      >Janet Arnold does indeed have a few (3) regency patterns in her book
      >PATTERNS OF FASHION 1 on pages 46 & 48 which are documented from Salisbury
      >Museum and The Victoria and Albert Museum.

      Gosh! I didn't realize this! Many thanks.

      Where did I put that Books on Cloth catalogue? ...

      >Just to add a little to this. Be sure to look in the Nancy Bradfield book
      >COSTUME IN DETAIL also.

      Nor did I know about this! Where did that credit card go? ...

      >Do you think our mothers would be proud of us? Just sittin around our
      >computers discussing ladies clothing. Go figure.

      Well, as a mom myself, I think it's marvelous you fellows are doing
      so. How very envigorating this has been. :-)

      Lorina

      --------------------------------------
      Five Rivers Chapmanry ~ purveyors of quality hand-crafted cooperage,
      period furniture & fine hand-sewn garments ~ e-mail: lgsteph@... ~
      website: http://www.historicmerchants.com/fiverivers
    • Scott & Nancy McDonald
      Lorina, As too the universality of the corset in the Regency period- At least from what I have been reading... It is my understanding that while some French
      Message 2 of 5 , Jul 19, 1999
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        Lorina,

        As too the universality of the corset in the Regency period- At least from
        what I have been reading... It is my understanding that while some French
        ladies in the early Regency did the no corset see thru thing, this
        practice did not translate to more modest English fashions. They refered to
        corsets as stays and there are several examples from the period in museums.
        Many of these examples are for thin women, and you can bet if the thin gals
        were wearing one the big ones were also.

        Jean Hunnisett author of "Period Costume for Stage and Screen" has one
        such corset (dated 1805-10) in her collection and describes it (and has a
        pattern for it) on pages 43-46. Huninisett says "At the end of the 18th
        century young women no doubt gladly abandoned their stays, while older or
        larger women still felt the need to go on wearing a support of some kind.
        The first years of the 19th century were a period of transition as far as
        the corset was concerned, and 18th century pattern shapes can still be
        recognised in the early 19th century pattern peices. The side front shaping
        had been taken away, and the front panel was slashed and gussets inserted.
        At first these were straight sided. Later, they curved, allowing the
        breasts to move forward into a more natural shape, rather than being
        suppressed and pushed up. The busk down the front seperated the breasts -
        the effect that was required can be seen in contemporary fashion plates."

        Willett Cunnington in his book "English Womens Clothing in the Nineteenth
        Century" says "It is a common error to suppose that stays were not worn
        during the first half of this epoch: perhaps arising from the assumption
        that French fashions of the Consulate period were identical with the
        English. It is possible that some English women did not wear any, but that
        the 'fashionables' did is clearly indicated. (the stayless years were
        probably limited to those immediately preceeding 1800) There are numerous
        advertisments of corset makers in contemporary papers, as well as frequent
        references to their use (and abuse)."

        To say, based on your observations of period portraits, that corsets were
        not worn, especially in light of the fact that numerous examples exist in
        museums and private collections is a little too speculative for me to buy
        into.

        Scott


        Scott McDonald
        Member/ 93rd Sutherland Highland Regiment of Foot L.H.U.
        http://members.aol.com/ninety3rd
        <mailto: raintree@...>
      • Gary Stephens
        Hi, Scott, et al, Thank you kindly for all the information you took the trouble to post. I perhaps have been a bit remiss and reticent in expanding upon my own
        Message 3 of 5 , Jul 21, 1999
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          Hi, Scott, et al,

          Thank you kindly for all the information you took the trouble to
          post. I perhaps have been a bit remiss and reticent in expanding upon my
          own knowledge of the history of the corset - from Italian Renaissance to
          late Victorian, and that gawd-awful brassiere thingie after the fact. :-)

          >Many of these examples are for thin women, and you can bet if the thin gals
          >were wearing one the big ones were also.

          As a large woman myself, I can certainly attest to the desire to be
          'bound' - all double-entendre aside.

          I was just playing devil's advocate for a bit, offering grist, and
          thought. There are many truths upon which we've relied which have later
          been found to be incorrect. Like the medievals using heavy spices to cover
          the taste of tainted meat. Balderdash. Sometimes it's good to understand
          there are no ultimates.

          Equally, as Betsy quite astutely pointed out, there are many extant
          examples of garments for the well-to-do. There are few for the lower
          classes. Part of this is because, to my knowledge, the practice of
          'handing-down' garments as an act of piety or charity was practiced as
          widely and commonly during the 18th and 19th centuries as it was in the
          eras previouly. Hence garments were worn by several owners till the
          garments wore out. Nothing wasted.

          >At first these were straight sided. Later, they curved, allowing the
          >breasts to move forward into a more natural shape, rather than being
          >suppressed and pushed up. The busk down the front seperated the breasts -
          >the effect that was required can be seen in contemporary fashion plates."

          The busk has in fact been in use since the Renaissance, not always
          with the intent of separating the breasts; sometimes it was simply to
          create a smooth, even line in the front. How a woman's breasts were placed
          has been at the whim of fashion for centuries. During the High Medieval
          era, it is my observation the breasts were in fact pushed down and toward
          the armpits, to create a smooth, gentle curve. During the Renaissance, the
          breasts moved from the armpit towards the front, but were smooshed (that's
          a technical term) so the nipples were downward, still creating a smooth
          front, but with a little more decolete. Toward the end of the Renaissance
          it was a French affectaction to allow a little of the aureola to show. And
          to say the common folk didn't affect this is, perhaps, not quite accurate,
          as one must remember about those castoffs. There was a market for used
          stays and corsets.

          Later, during the Restoration, breasts began to rise and mounds
          began to appear, although not as greatly as Hollywood would have us
          believe. Afterall, people were still attempting to find a way to buy their
          way into heaven, and immodesty was not one of those ways.

          French & Indian War time period finds the stays and the breasts
          held therein somewhat higher at the bustline than during the Restoration,
          although when one reads about corset-maker's guidelines of having the top
          of the stays 'two fingernail crescents above the nipple', well, one wonders
          exactly just how large is two fingernail crescents.

          Anyway, I have pontificated enough. Apologies. What my point was
          now I haven't a clue. Blame it on lack of sleep and creeping senility.

          >To say, based on your observations of period portraits, that corsets were
          >not worn, especially in light of the fact that numerous examples exist in
          >museums and private collections is a little too speculative for me to buy
          >into.

          Well, I'm glad to hear that, Scott, because I didn't say corsets
          were not worn. I was simply speculating, sparked by drawings. :-)
          Speculation, yes. But that doesn't mean cast in stone. I won't for a moment
          advocate women re-enactors throw aside their stays. Not for one moment. In
          fact, I'd love to start a campaign to burn all those bodices I see thrown
          over chemises (Please! No offense meant to anyone at all. It would simply
          mortify me if I thought I had caused offense!) and lace those ladies in.
          But that would be a little over the top and completely against my nature.
          I'll just continue to wear my stays and hope others will realize it's okay
          to make and wear stays as well.

          Oh, but just to add a bit of bedevilment in the spirit of good
          nature and interest in things historical: did you know the famed Elizabeth
          Simcoe, starched and staid lady that she was, cast aside her stays, her
          under petticoats and her lady's slippers when she lived on Queenston
          Heights? She was known to go about simply in her over petticoat or gown,
          with mocassins on her feet, doing her best interpretation of the brazen
          woman. Such a fascinating character!

          with much cheer
          Lorina

          --------------------------------------
          Five Rivers Chapmanry ~ purveyors of quality hand-crafted cooperage,
          period furniture & fine hand-sewn garments ~ e-mail: lgsteph@... ~
          website: http://www.historicmerchants.com/fiverivers
        • Scott & Nancy McDonald
          Hey Lorina, Thanks for the corset lesson, your post made me blush a little, but it s very interesting nonetheless. Now, what are your thoughts on the Wonder
          Message 4 of 5 , Jul 21, 1999
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            Hey Lorina,
            Thanks for the corset lesson, your post made me blush a little, but it's
            very interesting nonetheless. Now, what are your thoughts on the Wonder
            Bra? :) just kidding!!

            Cheers-
            Scott




            Scott & Nancy McDonald
            Raintree Inn Bed & Breakfast
            In historic New Harmony on the Wabash, Indiana
            <http://www.raintree-inn.com>
            <mailto: raintree@...>
          • John Sek
            Hello all, I received an interesting request for help today which I hope someone from both sides of the border may have some words for. Many soldiers signed
            Message 5 of 5 , Aug 2, 1999
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              Hello all,

              I received an interesting request for help today which I hope someone
              from both sides of the border may have some words for. Many soldiers
              signed up with the promise of receiving a land grant after the war,
              but this leaves some interesting options. Aa soldier is killed on his
              first day of duty. Would his wife, heirs receive his land grant, or
              because he didn't finish the entire term of his enlistment, do they
              get nothing?



              > I was wondering if you might know when the first War of 1812 Pension Law was
              > passed that qualified Widows for a pension for their deceased husband's
              > service in the War of 1812. I am researching a War of 1812 Veteran that died
              > in service and wondered if his wife would have received any kind of pension.

              I'll pass on whatever anyone can contribute.

              Regards,

              John Sek


              *********************************************************************

              The Siege of Fort Erie - War of 1812 http://www.iaw.com/~jsek
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