FYI: As of February 12, 2011, we will no longer be posting directly to this blog for the Historic Costume Preservation Workshop (HCPW). Since the bulk of this specific project is over, from now on we will post on the general blog for the Vassar College Costume Collection (VCCC) at http://pages.vassar.edu/vccc

There are still some HCPW posts yet to come, to share some final details, but we’ll post them in both places.

As a result, we are moving the RSS feedburner feed for the HCPW blog to now point to the VCCC blog.

If you have already subscribed to posts about the HCPW, you shouldn’t have to do anything – you should continue to receive posts from us over at the “new” VCCC blog.

Be looking for some posts about our latest project with the VCCC in the next day or two! If you are subscribed and you don’t get the new posts, please let me know so I can fix it.

costumeshop <at> vassar <dot> edu

Hello, HCPW blog followers!

I want to apologize to our subscribers for a couple of items that got posted to the blog accidentally. I was able to quickly delete them from the blog itself, but they still got sent out to those of you who subscribe by email. Please excuse those mis-posts. But, the good news is that that mistake is prompting me to write! Another post will follow in just a minute . . .

Here’s another candidate for stabilization:
From 1992.007

Some notes about it:

blue and white striped fine silk; blue silk; natural polished cotton; natural square weave linen; plastic button; beige synthetic hem tape; beige synthetic bias tape.

silhouette: bustle

A. bodice: princess seamed, striped silk; knife-pleated blue silk CB panel, fishtailing at hem, split at one side, may have been attached originally; long sleeves, blue silk knife-pleated ruffle (R sleeve only); piping at mandarin collar in blue silk; knife-pleated blue silk CF panel, 12 buttons; piping all along hem

B. skirt: floor length, two-layered skirt; top layer has seven vertical blue silk appliques over striped silk extending waist to ruffle of overskirt; blue silk knife-pleated ruffle at hem of overskirt; underskirt has ruching; waistband of striped silk, button at CB, likely an addition; cartridge pleats in linen lining at waist in back; bottom foot lined in cotton

Condition issues: Shattering. Missing a cuff and some buttons. Staining. Discoloration.

Here’s a slideshow with some more images of this object:

As promised, here’s the first post of a series to share some of the objects that are candidates for our 5-day intensive stabilization workshop with Colleen Callahan, coming up in April.

From 1984.001

Here are some notes about this object:

This ivory silk taffeta bustle dress, trimmed with lace and satin ribbon, was worn by Sallie Tucker Blake at Vassar’s commencement exercises of 1879.

Bustled Bodice of ivory satin; fitted; with 3/4 length sleeves; lace ruffle trim at collar and down CF and cuffs;

Skirt of ivory satin; panel of lace at front, fullness at back to accommodate bustle; attached bustle drape of satin and lace buttons over CB; slight trim

Cape of ivory satin; fringe trim along CF opening edges, hemline, and edge of collar; back panels cut on the bias, diagonal striped pattern picked out

Small round buttons covered with off white crocheted trim
Straight seams machine sewn, all else = hand sewn
Thin pads of cotton batting at front edge of armscye,
Patches of jersey with pinched edges under arms
Approx. 6” wide stiff muslin (?) inside hem
Separate underskirt of dark tan polished cotton and overskirt of satin
Long hanging wide satin ribbon trim on skirt back to right of bustle (hanging almost to hem)
Silk twill tape to finish edges of inside seams

Condition issues: stain on front bodice; lace ripping on skirt, tears at center back near waist over bustle

Scroll down to see a slideshow of images of this object.

Should we stabilize this garment and exhibit it? Please leave a comment and weigh in!

Last Friday was the first meeting of all the participants of the Historic Costume Preservation Workshop (HCPW) at Vassar. It was a wonderful opportunity for all of us to meet each other . . . and to jump right in! First I gave a brief introduction to the project, and some principles of handling the objects. Then I gave a brief tour of the space, for those who are new to it.

objects from the Vassar College Costume Collection

Then everyone broke into groups to examine and discuss some objects from the collection. The group assigned to discuss the 1830’s-1860’s had a teal ruffled crinoline dress as their focus point. The 1870’s-1900’s group examined a brown bustle ensemble. There was also a 1910’s-1930’s group, looking at a 1910’s gown, and a 1940’s-1970’s group, who examined two women’s suits and a cocktail dress. Each group was given a short packet of reading about their assigned period, and a stack of books and image folders to flip through for visual references for the period in question.

Since many of the participants are coming to this project with no background in costume history, some felt challenged to adequately describe what they were seeing without the right vocabulary or technical knowledge to back it up. For example, some tried to determine the fiber or weave of the fabric or use patternmaking terms to describe the cut of a sleeve. I encouraged them that we would address those issues over the course of the semester, but that this exercise was about observation, and that they should stick to what they could observe with their senses, rather than any previous technical knowledge. Rather than deciding if a fabric is silk, they were prompted to describe its qualities: soft or stiff? opaque or transparent?

Already the group is paying great attention to detail, and asking the right kinds of questions about the objects – questions we hope to answer over the course of the project, even if we couldn’t do so on the spot yesterday.

Once they had closely examined their object, each group moved into their reference materials (reading and images) to discuss common features of the period in question and how their object fit into the styles of the times. At this point they were about fifteen minutes into the activity. I went around and assigned each person in each group a specific focus: either silhouette, fabrics, trims and notions, or technique.

After another fifteen minutes, everyone re-grouped into these feature groups. The technique group was stationed at the teal crinoline dress, and the person who had already worked with that dress presented it to the rest of her group, discussing aspects of technique. The other groups were similarly stationed with other objects. After five minutes, each group rotated to a new object. That way everyone was able to see every object, and to get a sense of the features of each period.

As we begin our survey of the collection this week, they’ll be regrouped again for their lab groups, so that each group will have an “expert” from each of the four time periods, and each person is also an “expert” in a particular physical feature of costume history. Over the course of the semester, we’ll all be adding to our expertise, by learning from the professional consultants who are coming in to teach us, from appropriate reference materials, and most importantly, from the objects themselves.

Welcome to our blog for the Historic Costume Preservation Workshop at Vassar College. We welcome your comments!

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