January 21, 2010

Making a 1920’s turban from the book “Manuel de Modes Sunlight”

Filed under: Brimmed turban Sunlight,Millinery projects — Cristina de Prada @ 10:23 pm

I recently bought on Ebay the wonderful book “Manuel de Modes Sunlight”. It’ was published by Sunlight (the soap brand) , and it contains individually bound chapters and a hard cover held together by a ribbon. I suspect that coupons came with the soap allowing interested ladies to put the book together.

I was not really sure what I was buying, but the auction images showed illustrations of hats, so I went for it. When I received it I was delighted because it turned out to be 80% about millinery and it’s packed with wonderful illustrations and instructions. What is funny is that it was advertised as being from the 40’s, when it’s so clearly from the 20’s… I guess some people are “period blind”. I find it very interesting that the author puts a lot on emphasis on technique, pointing out that fashions come and go and what is fashionable today might be completely out of fashion tomorrow.

On the first chapter there is a very simple project, a brimmed turban, intended to compensate the reader for enduring the hardships of the preceding pages (mostly a description of millinery stitches). The turban, according to its description, can be used as a driving cap, sports hat and rain hat, and can be worn by women of all ages, depending on the fabric and colours chosen.

This is a small format book, and has no full size patterns. In this case one is supposed to make the pattern oneself by following the detailed instructions (click on any of the images to see the scanned instructions -in french- and pictures of the process). I made the pattern almost to the letter, only adding a little curve to the inside of the brim so that it wouldn’t sit so close to the face. The author herself (I’m thinking it’s a woman, but who knows!) tells us that the brim could be made narrower, and I think it would look better narrower, and the version on the illustrations is indeed much narrower than the one from the pattern proposed.

For this project I have upcycled (a term I learnt from Jane) a viscose velvet jacket I was not using anymore. The velvet is quite thick and heavy (although it drapes nicely), and I suspect that with a lighter, stiffer fabric  the turban would look fluffier and better. To make things worse, at the time of cutting the fabric I realized I was a little short, so I have an extra seam at the back where I’ve had to add a little strip to get the right size. The ends are supposed to have a big tassel, but I didn’t get to that, although I believe it look  decadent and beautiful with them.

The author of the book recommends the following fabrics (I write the names of the fabrics in French as they are written on the book, because I don’t know most of these fabrics): “Crêpe de Chine” flexible and yet solid would be perfect, on an elegant note we can also make it in “soie paillette”, “charmeuse” or “pongée”. It would also look pretty in (…) “crêpe suisse”, “crêpe coton” or in “duvetine légère”. I believe the first four terms are silks of some kind, still available (except for the soie paillette, which I believe is silk with sparkly bits), and also the crêpe suisse seems to be unavailable these days by that name.

If you decide to give it a try, will you let me know and send me a picture?

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