Thursday, February 3, 2011

Starting on the Smocked Hanger Cover

Last weekend we drove into Los Angeles, which gave me a few hours in the car, so I thought I would be clever and take along my Smocked Hanger Cover project.

First of all, you may notice that I withdrew several of the pleating threads on the top and bottom of the piece. This is because I didn't read the directions very well and pleated the whole width of the fabric by mistake. Since this is silk, I'm now left with pleat creases and holes in the fabric that are the dickens to get out. You can see at the top that I only have the first two rows and about 2/3 of the third row completed. With over three hours in the car I should have had a lot more done, don't you think? It's been my experience that I find my mistakes on the second row of smocking, since then it is easier to count and see how the pattern goes with the first row. And boy did I find them. I must have unpicked parts of that first row five times. Moral of the story: smock the first row at home, concentrating hard on getting it right. The little straight part in the middle is the buttonhole for the hanger.

The good news is that with some careful spritzing and steaming, the pleats are coming out and the holes are closing up. After ironing I can barely see the holes, and that's with using my very strong reading glasses. With the bare eye, and especially under some clothes (it is a hanger, after all), they won't be visible at all. 

The reason we went to LA was to see the exhibit Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail, 1700-1915, now showing in the Resnick Pavilion of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) through March 27. This exhibit was a fascinating collection of European clothes, with an especially good selection of men's clothes, showing how suits evolved from the 18th to the early 20th centuries.  Take a look at the goldwork on these two items!

This is a mantle from Paris, ca. 1891, of wool plain weave and silk velvet with silk and metallic-thread embroidery, glass beads, and ostrich-feather trim.  One thing that really struck both of us, not evident here, was how small the people were. We are all much bigger (and heavier).

Here is a man's suit from France, ca. 1760, The coat and waistcoat are of wool plain weave, full finish, with sequins and metallic-thread embroidery; the breeches are of wool plain weave, full finish, with silk and metallic-thread passementerie. I'm copying the descriptions right from the web site, that's why they sound a bit stilted.  It's amazing that this suit survived the French Revolution. Most of them had the gold stripped away and melted down.

This exhibit was so well curated and interesting that even my husband liked it. There are almost two months to go on this exhibit so if you are in the LA area do try to make it!


  1. Hi, Cynthia!

    Lucky duck! I bought the book of the exhibit - it's fantastic! I'm planning on reviewing it next week. It's just great - and some of the close up photos of the needlework are just incredible! I would LOVE to see the exhibit in person!!!! But the book is a reasonable substitute for those of us who can't get there!


  2. What a wonderful exhibition to visit. We went to the Couture exibition last year that featured clothing and gowns from last century. Very beautiful and my hubby enjoyed it too. Seeing dresses worn by such famous women from the 1900's onwards were amazing.

  3. Thanks for sharing this. I'd never get to see this if it weren't for your post. I've been reading a lot of 1300-1800 history so seeing these garments fascinates me. Keep us posted on what you see!


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