Thursday, 31 December 2009

That Was the Year That Was

Now with pictures!

The first eight month of 2009 was dominated by an extremely stressful and tiring job, and that really struck hard on my creativity. But I did finish 2 things and worked on even more. Here’s my list of what I finished, what’s going on- and what I plan to do next year.

# The largest project was the 1797’s gown. I’m really very pleased with it. The last decade of the 18th century has really grown on me this past year.

# A large 18th century hat. A fun and quick project.

Works in process (that I’ve actually worked on this year
# La Folie. It’s “almost” completed, i.e. I can wear it, but it needs to be spruced up. Like more bells, more decorations in blue, a lined collar and a nifty little cap.

# Two modern wool skirts that just need closure and ne hemmed.

# Gustaf III’s national gown. I’ve done very little- just the petticoat without the decorations…

# The outfit for the 12th Nigh ball. The jacket is done, but I need to hem and pleat the skirt and add decorations and I need to sew the sash and the reticule together.

# The embroidered polonaise. I think I started this project in 2004 and worked on it on and off. Now I’m almost done with the embroideries on the actual gown. The petticoat is sewn together, but not embroidered yet.

# An 1870’s overbust. The mock-up is fitted, but I need to buy a longer busk before I can start on it. I’ve also almost completed a modern underbust in black velvet.

Plans for 2010
I’ve long felt the need to branch out from the 18th century and I hope to do that a bit this year.

Your Wardrobe Unlock’d has by vote decided to focus on the 1876-1882 and 1770-1789. Unfortunately none of the periods *I* wanted, but I’ve decided to try to do something in both competitions. The national gown fits in very neatly in that period and though I doubt I have any chance to win with son many talented people doing the 18th century, I think it would be a nice chance to show something uniquely Swedish. I also desperately need new 18th century underwear, chemise, pocket hoops and stays. The 19th century period chosen is probably the one that interests me the least, but that is probably because I know extremely little about is.

I also want to make a medieval gown (see previous post), but need to decide on what century first. And I would love to do an early 16th century German gown. And I really want to make a Steampunk outfit! And I’ve no doubt that I will come up with other things to do as well…

I don’t do New years resolutions, but I will try to do one thing; Not buy fabric until I really need it. So, no fabric hoarding in 2010. Think I will make it?

Happy New Year, everybody!


(Spacecat Spiff just waking up from a refreshing nap in the box for Christmas stuff)

If you feel the need to be benevolent, let me direct you here:

The company promise to put a light up at a public place in Stockholm and this is the place to vote for one. The park where Kristinehovs malmgård (the 18th century house I’ve talked about) is located is awfully dark, and a lamp would be very welcome. If you click on the button, you will give that particular park a vote.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

A few questions about medieval clothes

The fashion of the Middle Ages have never held more than a general interest for me, but I’ve come to realize that I need a medieval gown. I know a lot of people who are into it and I would like to be able to attend to some parties and events. As I don’t have any particular period I fancy more than others, I’ve no idea what to sew, though. I would like to use a pattern that is period correct, as well as correct fabrics and colours. I’m not much concerned about sewing something fancy or upper class, but I seem to know better sources for inexpensive silk than I do wool.

I hope you won’t mind. I’m not after anyone doing research for me, but the Net is vast and I’m not sure where to start. I would very much appreciate is someone could point me to a good starting point. I can goggle myself, of course, but I don’t know enough about the fashion of the time to be able to say if the hits I get are trustworthy. What I need to find out about is good patterns and proper material. Well, I assume linen for underwear and wool and silk for outer layers, but I’ve no clue about appropriate weights and textures and only hazy knowledge about colours. Any nudges in the right direction will be much appreciated!

I have a more specific question for my Swedish friends. I’ve been given this sewing description of a 12th century gown:

I like the look and will have no trouble following the description, but I would like to know if this really is a 12th century gown or just a sort-of-12th century.

Even if I won’t start a big collection of medieval clothes, I want the ones I have to be correct.

Friday, 25 December 2009

The 1790's velvet jacket is done

I'm quite pleased with it. Unfortunately I couldn't get a good picture, as I was home alone and had to take the pic myself, but I wanted to show you as much as I could along with the fabrics I will use for the petticoat and sash.


As always I feel slightly embarassed over my breasts. I read so many snarky comments over costumes where the breasts are overflowing, but most of my breasts are inside my stays- I can't stuff more of them down there. Well, this jacket will be worn with a neckerchief, which will help somewhat.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Gratuitous kitty-post

I itch to sew, but haven’t had any time to do it lately. Well, I sew, but in such small bursts that I have nothing to show. The ribbon embroideries on my reticule are done and I’m sewing on the spangles. I’m about to start cutting out the petticoat for the 12th night ball. I also have a modern underbust corset half-done and two wool skirts.
So instead, here is Spacecat Spiff for your enjoyment.

He and Page, who escaped the camera, managed to kill this evil cardboard box in the course of an evening. It’s very dead now.


“Well, what did you expect when you put a basket on my favourite sleeping spot?”

“And I’m very, very sleepy.”

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Food and burlesque clubs

I’m lazy; so here is the post I had imagined I would post last Sunday. Oh well. I had a very nice last Saturday, beginning the evening with eating Christmas food at Kristinehovs malmgård. And not any Christmas food, but an 18th century one. I think you will agree that that it looks very nice. Those pictures are from the day after when Gustafs Skål had their own little party, but I went with my family and didn’t dress up in 18th century clothes. I was still wearing a corset though, so before the dessert I had to sneak into the toilet and unlace me a little bit…

When we had eaten ourselves almost comatose my family departed home and we continues to Hootchy Kootchy Club, which is a burlesque club. I’ve wanted to go there for ages, but have had little difficulties finding the time. I’ve heard that it’s good, but I had no idea what to expect. I enjoyed myself immensely though. It was a very nice atmosphere and people really dressed up, ranging from vintage to burlesque. Evidently there is also a theme to every occasion and this time it was the Adams family, so there was a lot of Morticia’s and Gomez’ around. There were also a small group of young men in very ordinary clothes and a rather dazed look that was overheard to say out aloud in the men’s room; “What kind of place is this?”, so they probably got there by mistake.

There was a show, which was mostly good. There was a stripper who is a little person, Selena Luna, also a very pregnant woman in very little clothes and two great singers. I must say that they all looked great and proved, if that really needs to be proved, that female beauty is so much more than what media tries to make us believe. There was also some numbers that was more ludicrous than anything else, too, though. If you don’t mind nudity, then there are some nice photos here.

And now I’m sure that you are all dying to know what I wore to this occasion. I think I can safely say that I was one of the more understated ladies there. Unfortunately I didn’t get around having any pictures taken until we got home, and then only with a cell phone, so the quality isn’t the best.


I’ve had the dress for ages, but it’s been a bit too tight. I was very pleased to discover that it’s almost a little loose now. I didn’t need to wear a corset underneath, but it do gives you a nicer shape. Besides, I like wearing corsets, albeit the next time I’m NOT going to stuff myself with Christmas food first. I had managed some very nice finger waves, but the damp weather and the late hour make them a little indistinct on the picture. To this I wore these shoes:

I wanted to make a little fascinator and almost got it done. However, the veil gave me trouble and I felt that I wanted to dress up at leisure rather than to sew myself into frenzy. I’m pretty pleased with it, though and I’m sure I will have an opportunity to wear it at a later occasion.

The base is a piece of felt carpet that works very well to make hat outs- I’ve made several. I padded it a little and covered with some stretch velvet. The decorations are all form my grandmother’s hat decoration stash. Spangles, a piece of fancy cord, the feather and the veil. The veil has some unsightly holes in it, which is why it gave me trouble, as I want to drape it nicely, but I’m sure I will get it right eventually. Instead I wore a spray of silver flowers with white stones in, so I think my hair was nicely decorated anyway.

And as I said, I had a great time and I look forward to go again!

Monday, 30 November 2009

A serious case of want

I love stockings and have more than I need- I have a drawer full of stockings that’s still in their packages. But today I found Tattoo Socks and I’m completely sold. Don’t need, but definitely want!

By no means my favourites…



Tuesday, 24 November 2009

A proper sewing update

A while ago posted a picture and I fell in love. My waning inspiration got a kick-start after watching this:


I find both outfits very pretty, but it’s the one with a pink bodice and blue grey petticoat that made my heart flutter. My first impulse was to buy new fabric for the whole outfit, but then I managed to be wise and dive into my stash instead. And lo and behold, there were 2 metres of blue velvet that I’ve been hoarding since 1990.

As the hem of the bodice, or jacket, isn’t visible- nor is the front, I decided to make it a little jacket with a short basque at the back. I went to Janet Arnold for inspiration and the Regency riding habit there. The painting is dated to 1796, so I’m making it with the bodice as long as my 1797’s gown.

I’m making it in blue velvet and to continuing being thrifty; the lining is made of some leftover cotton. I’m currently sewing the lining to the jacket, but this is what it looked like- and what the jacket will look like as well, only in velvet.

I’ve been much undecided on how to do the closure. The lining will be laced and for now I will simply overlap the velvet and pin close. I think I want to button it, but I haven’t found any buttons I like yet.

I actually have blue grey taffeta in my stash, only a little bit darker than on the painting, so I will use that for the petticoat. And I’ve bought a bit rose-coloured taffeta for the sash, that is two-toned with green. I would very much want a pair of long gloves, but I will have to hope for Santa for those.

To my surprise I got quite a lot of velvet left after cutting the jacket, so I decided to make a reticule out of it. After some browsing I came across this little beauty:

It’s dated to 1790-1810 and measure approximately 19X25 centimetres, so it was easy to make a pattern for it. I wanted to try out ribbon embroidery and felt that this would be a very doable project. Here is a verybad pictures of my progress:

There will be a bigger rose in the middle and borders of silver spangles.

I’ve also been working on more mundane wool skirts, but they’re on hold. Not only because Spiff is on top of them…

“You weren’t planning of using this fabric, were you?”

Friday, 20 November 2009

A little meme

I AM sewing, but not prepared to show off, right now. So, instead:

• Leave me a comment saying "Analyze That"
• I'll respond by asking you five questions so I can satisfy my curiosity
• Update your journal with the answers to the questions
• Include this explanation in the post and offer to ask other people questions

These are the questions I got from spike

1. I know you're a cat person, but if you had to have a dog, what breed would you have?
I’m actually more 50/50. I’m a cat person by necessity- a dog wouldn’t fit into my life. But I grew up with dogs. So I would like to have a boxer, as we had one when I was wee.

2. If you could live in any century, which one would it be and why?
I wouldn’t really want to live in any other century- I think about medical care and baths and feel very strongly that I wouldn’t want to go without. But I would choose the 16th century, as I find that a very interesting time.

3. Pick a TV show to live inside of for all eternity, what is it and who do you play?
I wouldn’t mind being Willow in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. 

4. Iced Coffee or hot coffee?
Hot. Unless it is a very warm day.

5. Professionally, if talent or brains did not matter, what would be your dream job?
Designing costumes, movies or theatre.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Playing with my hair

I’ve been feeling rather mopy recently, partly due to it being November. And I’m having my usual reaction to “ought to”, which is “don’t want to”. Ought to here, is sewing on the national gown so it will be ready to the 12th nigh party. So I think I’m going to scrap that idea. I do not want to sew like mad in December. But I still want to have a new gown. I have an idea here, but I think I will keep quiet about it for now.

So I’m sewing on a some woollen skirts for the winter and a modern underbust corset instead, while I mope and think. And I’ve been playing with the book I mentioned recently.


I put up my hair in wet pincurls that I slept on and after cobing it out I pinned it in and up, and the nape of my neck. It gave a reather good impression of short hair, especially as my hair reach halfway fdwn my back. However, in my eyes it looked more Twenties rather than the Thirties updo that the book described.




It would have looked neater if I had used pomade and hairspray- this is the result of plain water, but I still liked it.

Friday, 30 October 2009

My son, the zombie

My son decided to go as a zombie at an early Halloween-party today. For some od reason he is stubborn, knows exactly what he wants and can verbalize it too. Can’t imagine whom he got that from… So even if I was, graciously, allowed to do the make-up, it was after his strict directives. White, green and blood. And if anyone wonders, he became a zombie after a bicycle accident. Or so I was told, anyway. He did became a rather adorable zombie, though:




Thursday, 29 October 2009


I feel silly, but changing to wintertime has seriously jet-lagged me. I don’t have energy for anything, at the moment. It feels like I haven’t sewn anything either, but that isn’t exactly correct. I’m in the process of hemming the brown-red wool skirt and I’ve cut out a green wool skirt too, that’s going to have four pleats. And I’m stitching away on the embroidered polonaise. It just feels like everything goes so slowly!

I bought a book: Vintage Hairstyling. I love it. Very instructive- now I need an opportunity to actually do one. Well, time rather, but I do feel a need to dress up and does something fun. As it is now is, I have nothing fun planned until the 12th Night Ball, and that’s not until next year!

Speaking of hair, I think I have to accept that my hair won’t grow any longer than BSL. Cutting off 2 centimetres leaves me with the same length I had after cutting it two centimetres off in June. *pouts*

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Corset mock-up

I got into a bit of a slump after the lecture. Even positive energy can be draining, but I've been sewing a little. I've long wanted to make an overbust corset, but so far I haven't pulled it off. I bought a pattern, which I should have known was a bad idea. One of the reasons I learned pattern construction was because commercial patterns always have to be altered. So even the largest size was too small for my chest, but too big every else. But I've lacked good instructions on how to draw up a pattern for an overbust, even if I had some ideas, so I just let it float around in the back of my brain. In September I started to subscribe to Your Wardrobe Unlock'd and tried their instructions on how to draw up an 1870's corset. And this is what I have managed, so far.

Of course, the most important thing before even starting a project, is to have a cat lay on it. Here Spiff eagerly helps me to try out the paper. He also helped with important tasks like chewing on the measure tape, chase the eraser and bat at my pencil. In other words, I couldn't have done it without him.

I found it very easy to draw up the pattern, but then I know pattern construction- I guess it's harder if you don't. It's really not as hard as it first seems. If you take it slowly and just concentrate on the step at hand, then it's not so difficult.

So, here's my mock-up. It's just in one layer, the fabric is a piece of upholstery velvet that was laying around. The boning channels are made out of the seam allowances, with two extra channels in blue gross-grain ribbon at the front.

The pic is a bit angled, but I think you can see that the corset isn't straight. I don't know why, so perhaps you have an idea? My body is rather symmetrical, so I don't think that's the problem. My thought is that I somehow screwed up the pattern pieces when I cut it. Other ideas?

Problems that I can see, but know how to fix are that I need extra boning channels in the back. Also, I need spiral bones at the side-seams. I have that at home, but I need to cut it, and I didn't want to for the mock-up, as I was unsure if I wanted this length. So now it's just plastic boning, which doesn't work. I also need a longer busk and two extra boning channels at the sides of the busk. The cups are a little too low-cut, just to my nipples, but that's easy to correct as well.

I'm surprised, and pleased, on how well it fits! My breast don't flow over, even if it's cut low. (I've tried it without a top too, but that wasn't decent enough to show.) It was a but difficult to lace myself in, so the bottom is much looser than the top. That is why the side-seam looks tilted.

However, I felt that I could easily have laced the corset tight without discomfort, and I'm fairly certain that when laced in evenly, that tilt will be no more. I got down 10 centimetres around the waist- I wonder how much that will be when I'm properly laced.

Next step is to sew a proper, but not fancy, corset. I want to be sure I have a working garment before embellishing it. I've done that before, making a pair of stays by hand and then finding that the pretty thing didn't fit me at all! Also, Your Wardrobe Unlock'd's sister site, Foundations Revealed has a free tutorial on how to adapt old corset patterns to your own measurement. Very exiting!

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

It's fun to be a lemming

And it's fun to do costume memmes too.

1. What was your first costume?
My first was when I did the costumes for the play The Marriage of Figaro. I was 20 and had a lot of ideas, a clear view of what I wanted, very small sewing skills and absolutely none when it came to pattern cutting. Add a budget that wasn’t even small, it was diminutive, sp there was no money or skills to make proper 18th century underpinnings. Still, I felt that I managed an 18th century air and it was lots of fun.
Yes, it’s me in the front looking so grim.


First costume I made just for me was an 18th century blue jacket and petticoat in linen/cotton with pink details in 2001. It was a lot of fun as I used one of the jackets in Janet Arnold- in fact the very same pattern I had used for the play I just mentioned. So it was fun to make it with stays and hoops and see how it was supposed to turn out.

2. Did someone get you into costuming? Or on your own?
All on my own. As a child I always loved the clothes in costume movies and longed to have such clothes myself..

3. What is your favorite costume?
My red pet-en-l’air. I always feel very pretty when I wear it.

4. Which is your least favorite costume?
The horror of a polonaise I did when I was dead broke. The cut was good, but all the dead dino… I just wore it once and over my very first pair of stays that fitted me horribly.

5. At conventions, do people compliment you on your costumes?
I never been to a convention, but I do get compliments at events..

6. How many have you done?
Just for myself, not that many, as I sew rather slowly. But ten completed outfits. And six pair of stays…

7. What are the top 6 on your list of "Want to Costume!"
In no particular order; finish my embroidered polonaise. A 1870-ish steampunk outfit. An early 16th century German gown. A 1660’s gown. A 1910 evening gown. An 1860’s day dress.

8. What female costume do you want to do most?
One of above, but which one depends on my mood.

9. What male?
An 18th century waistcoat with ribbon embroidery.

10. What do you prefer to do, make or buy your costumes?

11. Your most memorable experience? What makes it so memorable?
When Gustafs Skål had their tenth anniversary we had a party at <the Echo temple at Haga. Late at night a friend and I was sitting under an old oak inside it, looking it. People were dancing inside, and the temple was lit by torched. It was a truly magical moment, looking in. A moment of time-travel.

12. Your dream costume?
Too many to count!

13. Is there a pattern in your costuming? If so, what?
I like to wear costumes that could have been worn in Sweden at the time. Luckily for me there are books with patterns taken from extant garments in Sweden. And that is why I want to make a German 16th century gown and not an Italian, as Germany was the big cultural influence in Sweden at the time.

14. Your most recent costume?
My white 1797’s gown.

15. What do you prefer? Cosplaying in a group or on your own?
I don’t really get what cosplay is, actually. But I prefer wear my costumes in a group of likeminded.

Thursday, 15 October 2009


Foundations Revealed is up and running. I predict that I will want to sew a LOT of corsets now…

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

White skin and powdered hair

The 18th century society of Gustafs Skål holds a weekend of lectures on the 18th century every year. They cover fashion, dance, architecture, food and music, and also beauty. It was my pleasure to talk about beauty and this post is the part of the lecture that was about the make-up. If you prefer, there is a version in Swedish here.

Beauty ideals

Whatever epoch in time we belong to, we want to be beautiful. The ideals vary, but no matter what they look like, that is what we want to look like. In the 18th century it was beautiful to have pale skin to show that you could afford not to work in the sun. Rosy-red cheeks was a sign of health, and the, preferable, bud-like mouth was to be red as well. As a contrast to all the white and red, a black, well-placed beautymark did the trick. The eyes weren’t painted, but the eyebrows should be dark. The skin was to be shiny- like porcelain, but not the hair. Powder made it suitably dull to contrast beautifully to the face.
Photobucket Photobucket

It is pictures we have to turn to, if we want to see how people looked back then, but to use paintings as proof can be a bit risky. The freedom of the artist (or the demands of the customer) may transform and beautify. Like this portrait by Roslin of Queen Lovisa Ulrika. A contemporary description of her says that her skin was very wrinkled and destroyed, but even if the portrait shows an elderly woman, her skin doesn’t look that bad.

Still, the paintings mirror the taste and ideals, so of course some conclusions can be drawn from them. An example is that the really pale faces, seems to belong more to the early 18th century and to the most formal occasions. Rouge, on the other hand, seems to be used even when the skin tone is more natural than white.
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It is two different artists that portray the very pretty Charlotta Fredrika Sparre in the middle of the 18th century, but it is still interesting to see one person in two very different faces. She is wearing masquerade costume on both portraits, but as a vestal her face is unpainted, apart from the rouge and her hair has its natural colour. As La Folie her face is pale and her hair powdered.
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A few words on my choice of products

Many of the ingredients at the time were poisonous and therefore I haven’t used them. How period it may be with white and red from lead, tin and cinnabar, they are bad for you and I haven’t used them. Titanium oxide and zinc oxide are white pigments that came during the 19th century and work in the same way as white from lead and tin and can used as substitutes. I probably don’t need to say this, but I do anyway; Never use poisonous products on your skin!

Another ingredient that often turns up is spermaceti, a waxy substance that comes from the Sperm Whale.. It is not poisonous and perhaps you can get it today, if you are prepared to pay for it. I haven’t checked that out as I don’t find it very ethical. Jojoba oil works very similar and I have used that instead.

The make-up

My beautiful models, Caroline and Abigail, in their natural state.

And after.

As I mentioned before, pale skin was the thing to have and it was supposed to be shiny too. A beautiful skin is often described as varnished, or glazed. Even without white make-up a shiny surfaced could be created with a lotion that contained nacre. Or use “An Admirable Varnish For the Skin”, a mixture of egg white, juice of lemon and some rosewater. Works very well, at least until the egg white is dry and starts to peel off… Rouge could be found in a number of red shades and could be placed all over the cheek, much in the same manner a blush spreads. Or it could be a smaller field on the middle of the cheek, or on the cheek bone.
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Caroline's make-up is rather heavy, the white pigment is Titan Oxide. I bought the pigment as a powder, so to make it stick I needed something for it to stick to. There are a number of recipes for pomades and I chose to make one that contained almond oil, bees wax, jojoba oil and a little rose water. It became a very thick cream and after spreading it on Caroline's face I dipped a sponge in the pigment and worked it in. It was a bit tricky to make it cover evenly and the end result became rather sticky. As this was just a test make-up, I just painted Caroline's face, had it been for a ball I would have painted all visible skin.

In the 18th century you didn't use different products for lips and cheeks and on Caroline I used red pomade on both. The red in it comes from alkanet root. To colour her eyebrows I used burnt clove. It gives a rather good colour, but unfortunately I had got pomade on the eyebrows and they got a bit too grey. To finish the make-up off, I put on two beauty marks. These were cut out from black paper, but I've used black taffeta before. If you use fabric, then it's good to prepare it so it doesn't unravel. A thin layer of glue work very well.

I used the same technique on Abigail, but different products. Instead of Titan Oxide I used talcum powder and you can see that it gives a very different result. Her skin got a little paler and it didn’t get as shiny either. Zinc Oxide is supposed to cover better, though not as well as Titan Oxide, and I would really like to test that too, one day.

Abigail’s cheeks and mouth is painted with liquid rouge. The red colour here is from red sandalwood and Brazil wood that has been soaked in brandy. I promise that you can tell when you sniff the bottle! This colour is much more yellow in its tone that the rouge with alkanet root it’s a bit tricky to apply as its liquid,. I found it easier to work with if I just took a little at the time. Then it’s also easier to build up to the strength of colour you want, if you just let it dry between applications.

It’s clear when you try these pigments out that they behave very differently. The ladies, and gentlemen, of the time did have a choice on how pale they wanted to be. Perhaps it’s not so wrong to assume that really white and poisonous make-up was saved for the really grand occasions. People didn’t die of lead poison in droves, after all and all the case I have read about has been about ladies who was known to be very heavily made-up at all times.

Powdered hair

Most people know that they powdered their hair white in the 18th century, but that wasn’t the only colour that was used, though it was the most common. Hair that has been powdered white doesn’t get white, it gets grey, more or less dark depending on your natural hair colour. Even if you could colour you hair black, or bleach it with lye, these methods were hard to control and the results unpredictable. To powder the hair was an easy way to change the colour. There were black powder as well as brown, grey and blond and if you were dating, there were also blue, pink and lavender. To get the powder to stick to the hair, the coiffure needed to be prepared with pomade, which could have been made from animal fat. As I used myself as guinea pig for the hair powdering and I really didn’t want to have animal fat in my hair, I used a modern substitute in the form of hair wax. I, or rather Caroline, used a big powder brush to apply the powder. We did it outside and I was wrapped in a sheet to protect face and clothes. Getting powder in your nose and throat is not funny!

This is how it looked after a go with the white powder. I find that the big brush method works fairly well, but I was a bit short of time and applied the wax unevenly- you can clearly see where it has stuck best. My hair is dark brown and it got rather grey. We used talcum powder, but starch, flour and ground up plaster of Paris was also used.

I have always wanted to try out coloured powder and decided that this would be a good occasion to try blue. The best would probably be to buy coloured pigment as a powder and mix with the white one, my guess is that that is what they did in the 18th century- as an example there is a recipe for blond powder where yellow ochre is recommended. But what I did was to but a crayon of dry pastels and pulverized it. A word of caution, though. Coloured pigment is even nastier to get in your lungs than plain powder.

My hair got beautifully blue! And the blue stuck to my scalp very well, it took me three washed to get rid of it all. If you powder your hair you have to take into account that it do disappear gradually as the day go by. But take it as a comfort that this is very period- it happened back then too.

A few words finishing words

Though I’ve held this lecture a number of times, I still learn more and each time I have new information. My lecture is very much a work in progress and I appreciate comments and questions. What I’ve said here is what I found to be true from the sources I’ve had and I’m always on the lookout for more information.

A big thank you to my models and to Madame Berg, who provided some pictures.!


La Couturière Parisienne have a section on 18th century beauty I found the recipe for the face pomade here, as well as modern substitutes for white pigment and that they don’t all behave the same.

Ageless Artifice A company that makes beauty products after historical recipes. They have a limited assortment at the moment, but plan to enlarge it. I bought the liquid rouge and the red pomade from them, and I’m very satisfied with their service, products and prices.

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab A perfume company that makes a few perfumes after historical recipes. They make two 18th century perfumes, Marie for the ladies and Vicomte de Valmont for the gentleman.

The Toilets of Flora A complete beauty book from 1779, online, with everything you need to be the perfect beauty, rococo-style.
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