It’s Getting to Be Guipure

September 25th, 2011

Guipure Trim

I got stranded somewhere this week for a few hours, and just happened to have my crochet bag with me. So I made better progress than expected on row 5. Now I’m on to row 6 — of 8 — and it’s really starting to look like a cohesive pattern. The last two rows are much less involved too, so it’s fair to say I am nearing the finish line on this latest edging. Of course that means I need to start thinking about the petticoat it will eventually adorn…

Hemming & Hawing

September 23rd, 2011

I’ve just finished hemming a pair of pants for my husband’s new (blond corduroy!) suit. I did it in the nick of time too, so that he can look dashing at our friend’s daughter’s Bat Mitzvah tomorrow morning. As I stitched, I thought about another hem that’s been bothering me. Namely, the incorrect hem I put into my last petticoat, the one to which I attached my first crocheted edging.

Trim Attached

Instead of a wide skirt hem, I did a one inch number, cleverly disguised as the third tuck. Then I whipped on the trim. I had a feeling that this was all wrong while I was doing it, but couldn’t find any actual evidence to support my vague suspicions. And since I had been a little chintzy when cutting my breadths for the petticoat, I was afraid there wouldn’t be sufficient turn-down at the top for balancing and went with the slim hem to be safe.

But earlier this week I found proof that I would have done better to risk a wider hem. More like three or four inches instead of one.



The web site selling both of these petticoats identifies them as late-19th century. But they could easily have been remodeled from earlier petticoats and/or petticoat trim. The first one looks mid-century in construction even, if you ask me. I’m less sure about the second, partly due to its narrow width, and partly for the pin tucks which I’ve never seen on a mid-century petticoat — not that that means anything. Regardless of their vintage, notice how they each have the crochet trim or inserting attached to a nice wide hem. Alas!

I’m far too lazy to make a new petticoat skirt for my finished edging. It will just have to languish in its anachronistic state. As reenactors are fond of saying in defense of their irregular underwear, anyone looking close enough to see the mistakes deserves what they get. But I do intend to do a better job for my current edging. I’m also toying with the idea of attaching it to an embroidered petticoat. Though I’d like to find a precedent for such double decoration first.

Row 5 Begun

September 21st, 2011

My latest petticoat trim continues to progress in an orderly fashion. This one isn’t nearly so quick to work up as the last, and by rights it should be taking even longer — I just realized that the pattern asks for size 16 thread, not size 10 like the first (crochet thread gets thinner as the numbers go higher).

Tonight, while watching reruns of Bonanza on DVD  — come on, who doesn’t love Little Joe? — I finished the last four motifs and started on the first of three or four more rows that will join it all together.

Petticoat Trim

If you will recall, this is the pattern from Peterson’s, 1855, that’s meant to imitate guipure — a type of embroidered thread and cut fabric lace also popular at the time, and somewhat interchangeable with crochet. I’m not sure how I feel about it, after reading the following in Miss Lambert’s 1848 treatise, My Crochet Sampler:

“The following six collars, though simple and unpretending, are in better taste and style than most productions of a similar kind, in crochet: they show themselves to be what they really are — a clever and ingenious method of producing an elegant and useful article of dress, without attempting to imitate, (which indeed would be but waste of time), lace, guipure, or any other manufacture. This description of work, if well executed, may rest on its own merits.”

Of course I plan to make all of the “following six collars” in the very near future. Though I think I will need to order some finer cotton and dig out my REALLY tiny hooks (or tambours as they were properly called in English, before the french term crochet, meaning hook, took over in the 1840s — I’ve also seen them referred to as crochet needles). I’ve been doing a lot of reading about the development of crochet in the first half of the 19th century, including other works by needlework greats Miss Lambert, Cornelia Mee, and Eléonore Riego de la Branchardière, to name a few. I’ve also found at least four new petticoat trims in crochet from the 1840s and 50s, including one worked the short way!

For now, back to my faux guipure.

Another Down

September 7th, 2011

This morning I woke up early and finished whipping the edging onto my new petticoat. It’s now resting, neatly folded, next to my embroidered petticoat. Both are awaiting waistbands, which I can’t attach until I assemble my cage…

Trim Attached

I am resisting the urge to embroider this one. I can’t help seeing where a pair of inserting patterns, between the tucks, would be a lovely addition. But the fabric is so lousy — hardly worth putting more time into it. And, truth be told, embroidery might be overkill with the heavy crochet work.

Now, on to my day!

Tuck In

September 4th, 2011

Today, while digitizing 78 rpm records for the Treasure Ivan Show, I finished hand-sewing the skirt for my latest petticoat. It is now sitting in my overflowing work-basket, neatly folded, awaiting its crocheted trimming. I have only 11 more repeats, then I’ll block the lace and whip it on.


It’s a fairly modest specimen, as petticoats go. A one-inch hem masquerading as a tuck, topped by two more graduated tucks. I considered an embroidered inserting between the tucks, but decided against it. I couldn’t find any precedent from the period to show that petticoats were ever decorated with BOTH crochet and embroidery. In fact, I couldn’t find any 1850s petticoats with crochet edging period. My only guess — since the pattern is most definitely 1850s, and specifically says that it is  for petticoats — is that the majority of lace-trimmed petticoats were cannibalized.

Continuing my train of thought, it’s also interesting to note how quickly this edging has worked up. I started it a few weeks ago, and working sporadically, have nearly finished. Definitely much faster than broderie anglaise. And at least by modern standards, MUCH cheaper in terms of materials as well as effort and skill. Yet another argument for mating it with a fairly simple petticoat. Now the next crocheted edging I’ve got in mind is a different story…

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