Not being idle, honest! Progress Report....

Lest you accuse me of indolence or slothfulness, Dear Reader, let me assure you I have been busy, even if I haven't posted a lot in this strangely modern journal-thing recently. I've even managed to get some Christmas decorations up in the Studio.

I've a number of irons in the fire, as usual. Mainly at the moment, I am trying to prepare costume pieces, 18th century of course! I have a lecture in January to the Northern Society of Costume and Textiles: on Jan 16th, at the Friends Meeting House in York, in fact. I'm giving the morning lecture at their next meeting, about the Captain Cook Waistcoat Project. I promised I would take along my costume stuff as well as the Cook Waistcoat itself, so I am getting things organised. I have three outfits now, a shot taffeta gown for 'dressy', my Indian cotton print gown, and a short gown and quilted petticoat. So two of these on manikins, and the other on me! I'm not sure which one I'm going to wear as yet: haven't made up my mind.

The main problem I have is that though I have three outfits, I don't have three sets of underthings or accessories! So I am madly stitching on a number of items: another set of stays, a stomacher, and some more Whitework pieces (or at least a new neckerchief). I don't know how much I will get finished: it depends a lot on Christmas/New Year, and how much I can get done in the meantime.

I have some hope of the stomacher, which is a flower-garden design, based loosely on some 18th century silk designs from a book I bought at the V&A (Clare Browne, Silk Designs of the Eighteenth Century) plus some ideas from designs featured in St-Aubin (Charles Germain de St-Aubin, The Art of Embroidery, published in 1770). It's coming on fairly well - there's a picture attached. It's stitched on ivory silk satin, with Silk Mill silk thread (as usual!), and is partly tamboured and mostly stitched. It has some silver metallic thread as well. Some of the silk thread is a single strand, and some is split into half-strands. It should make a good match with the taffeta gown and petticoat, which I managed to finish last summer in time for an event at the Captain Cook Museum.

The neckerchief has been on the go for a while, because Dresden-work is a rather slow process. I'm well past the halfway point now, so it might get done in time, but it's been 130 hours so far! I do love Dresden work, I must admit: it's wonderfully fine work, but mainly counted thread, believe it or not! I stitch it on Cotton Voile, which is the nearest I can get to what the Georgians called muslin. The thread I use for the infills is lace-making cotton thread, which comes very fine and tightly twisted. The cotton voile is about 70-80 threads to the inch, and the fine thread I use for infills is about the same thickness as the threads of the weave! The rest is stitched mainly with a single strand of Anchor stranded cotton.

Somewhere along the way I also have to pad out two manikins to something resembling my size, so I can display the outfits - whichever two I decide NOT to wear. I did manage to get two plus-size manikins, which makes things a bit easier, although they are the strangest version of a size 16 I've ever seen.

I hope to post some pictures of the display when I get it to York, so watch this space, Dear Reader! Then I have to finish the map sampler, and think about a design for the Cook Museum exhibition based on the Lady's Magazine 1796 designs - see my previous post on Dec 11th. No rest for the wicked, they say.... But I will happily admit I am HAVING FUN! A lot of fun, be it said.........

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