Sunday, 18 November 2012

JAA Week 7: The Lace Dilema


I may have said it before but one of the more challenging aspects of this project has been sourcing and acquiring adequate materials. By spending so much money on the fabric I am very conscious that I cannot let any of the other trimmings/materials fall below standard.

The dress has a band of pleated organdie and lace all the way around the hem and detachable(for laundry purposes) frill/lace attachments at the cuffs and collars.
Since the start of the project I have been scouring ebay and local antique shops, including a trip to Sailsbury, for appropriate lace. So far this has not been very successful, partly because the lace at the hem requires a very long intact length of antique lace and partly because I want to try and obtain something that resembles the original as closely as possible.

Today I traveled to Honiton in Devon, to visit an antique textile and costume fair, to see if I could finally settle the dilema of the lace. I'm mindful that with my deadline drawing closer, its time to make a decision so i'm excited to see what I return with.

The Hemline
Lets have a look at some of the picture I took of the original dress when I went back to Berrington in Herefordshire.

 This lace (bobbin lace I believe) is about 1 inch wide. This is going to be difficult to source in an original antique form as the lace follows the pleats, making it, at a rough guess between 6-8 metres long. I have already ordered some *antique* lace from ebay in a long length but when it arrived it was in fact new and also looked more like insertion lace (where the lace is straight at the top and bottom- and what I need is a scallop on one edge to mimic the original). I also looked at the lace I had sourced from uni and used in the petticoat, but this has the same issues.

I did at one desperate point consider making my own lace for the hem of the dress, but when I looked into how bobbin lace is made and searched amazon and ebay for books and equiptment before realising this was a crazy idea, seconded by one of my tutors, to whom I am thankful for, for the occasional tug back down to earth.

So moving on I went to the textile fayre in hope of finding what I needed for the hem. Alas, I did not find my 8 metres, but I did come back with four metres in something I think would work. However, this is a compromise, as it means sewing the lace to the pleats after they are pleated and I think this will effect the finish of this part of the garment as it will restrict the movement of the pleats on the floor.

 The antique laces are the bottom two in the above picture, in the end I chose the bottom antique lace with the scallop.

Collar and Cuffs
 The collar and cuffs require different lace to the hem, but have proved to be just as tricky. Again, lets look at some photos of the original:


The collar and cuffs each have a band of three layers, the first and second have a 1.5 inch very finely pleated silk gauze with one layer edged in a small net/bobbin lace edging, finished with and inch wide point de gauze lace with a flower motif.
* Just on a side note, I have learnt to recognise and name a lot of the different types of laces just by looking at hundreds of examples on ebay in the hope of finding something suitable.
I will look at how I approached the pleated silk gauze in a further post, but the laces I searched for on ebay and in antique shops in Sailsbury and Blanford Forum, but I could not really find what I was looking for.
My break came when I ordered some antique bobbin lace from ebay, along with an original lace and ostrich feather cap from the 1870's. The delicate bobbin lace was deffinitely antique and narrow enough in width to edge the gauze without overpowering the wider lace on the collar/cuffs.
To further cement my opinion on wheter this lace would be appropriate, it almost matched exactly to the original lace cap so really looks spot on for the period.
* As a further aside, I plan to use the lace cap when photoshooting this dress for my portfolio. The colours do not match exactly( infact they would have matched the original dress at Berrington far better) but I know once photographed I can adjust the colours of the cap in photoshop to match my dress, so its winning all round.
However, the final measure of lace was still eluding me, so I was also searching for the right piece when I went to Honiton.
I did find lace on the trip, it's not point du gauze lace but the lady did date it to the 1890's , which is not bad considering. It has the wonderful delicate quality of antique lace and works very well with the narrow bobbin lace and I am confident that it the laces together will bring that special look of an original material that I just would not have achieved If I had gone with a new bought lace.
So altogheter I am happy with the choices I have made, there has been a lot of searching to find the right thing, but I know it has been the right decision and ultimately it will make a big difference to the quality and outcome of my final piece of work. I also took the oppertunity to stock up on some pieces of antique lace for future projects.



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