Thursday, September 17, 2015

Georgiana's Habits

The Brentford Race
There are tons of mostly satirical and often scandalous political cartoons of the Duchess of Devonshire in 1784.  She defied convention and canvassed tirelessly for Charles James Fox during the Westminster election of that year and garnered a lot of negative attention as a result.  Many of the cartoons are purposely unflattering, playing up masculine elements in her looks and dress, because it was considered unlady-like for Georgiana to be canvassing for Fox in this way.  Some even show her with a 5 o'clock shadow!

But I thought these cartoons might be a great source for what she might have actually worn in the way of riding habits.  So I went through a bunch of online image archives and culled the ones depicting her in a riding habit (or at least a jacket) and made close ups of them.  I've linked sources to the titles of the cartoons below each image.  While they ARE political cartoons and we don't know that she actually wore any of these outfits, we DO know she wore both buff and blue and riding habits often enough that they were often mentioned in the press.

It's interesting to see that when she's depicted wearing a riding habit they seem to fall into two distinct styles.  Ones which are overtly military and slightly old fashioned looking like the one of the right or these below:



The force of friendship

The state of scrutiny's end

The rival canvassers
The Fox and Geese Triumphant

Her grace carrying a plumper for Charley
Sexual innuendo as well as the commonly expressed accusation that she exchanged kisses for votes

And habits that to my eye look a bit more fashionable and true to 1780s styles like these:

Vox Populi, vox dei
Georgiana's "shield of virtue" is protecting Fox

Fatal Ambition or Reynard at his wit's end (Georgiana is the middle lady)

The Departure - Harriet, Georgiana's sister who often canvassed with her, Charles Fox and Georgiana 

The Two Patriotic Duchess's on their Canvass - Harriet left and Georgiana right
Another accusation that Georgiana and Harriet exchanged votes for kisses
Fox and Burke as Hudibras and Ralpho
A certain duchess kissing old swelter in the grease the butcher for his vote
"Old-Swelter-in-the-Grease" !!
The Duchesses Purchasing a Brush - Harriet and Georgiana
Probably a riff on the quote that "Her Grace sometimes rides about in a black riding habit,
which is very convenient in case she should enter into a contract with a chimney sweeper." 

But you'll notice they all have one thing in common - the hat!  When wearing a habit she is always depicted wearing a large hat with feathers, and often fox tails and a cockade or ribbon favor which says "Fox."

I'll do another post sometime soon on the other fashions Georgiana wears in the political cartoons.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Button, button


Unflattering political cartoon of Georgiana - 1784
After getting all those bits of trimming together for the Fox habit hat yesterday I decided to start on the cockade.  In most of the political cartoons of Georgiana during the 1784 Westminster election you can see a big cockade with "FOX" emblazoned in the center.  Very similar to what they did in the movie which you can see in the photo above.

So I cut out a small piece of the silk/wool blend fabric I'm going to use for the habit vest to use for the center button of the cockade.  I found a font I thought looked nice then used a light box to trace FOX on the fabric (in a fabric marker same color as my embroidery thread). Then I just embroidered over that.

Years ago when a seamstress had been going out of business I'd bought a bunch of really huge covered button forms from her (amongst other myriad notions) so I used one of these to create the button.

Now all I need to do is make the loops to go around the button to finish the cockade.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Fluff, Sweat, and Tears

Since I'm nearly done with the riding habit shirt I thought I'd work a bit on the hat for my Georgiana Fox riding habit. 

I ordered this navy rabbit fur felt capeline for my Fox hat.  It's super cool, really furry and different from regular felt. Here is the fur felt next to a modern felt hat.  You can also see what the hat looks like untrimmed.
 


 And again only close up:
 

I don't really have the right hat block to shape it, but I don't really think that matters - it's so covered with foxtails and feathers you can't really see the crown of the hat and I wired the brim so it can be shaped by bending the wire. I don't have any navy feathers in the stash but I have black and white and those seemed like the most common colors anyway so I set about curling (which created a lot of fluff) and layering them to get the right plush look.  I totally was a lazy bum and just hot glued them together, which led to the tears part.  I can't seem to use a glue gun without burning the crap out of my fingers!  (And the sweat was because it's still a sauna here in SoCAL despite getting some much needed rain.) I also used the glue gun to "make" foxtails.  I had an old fox fur collar that was falling apart that I cannibalized for the fur.  I just rolled the fur strips in on themselves then hot glued them to make tails.  I think they turned out pretty well!



I  ordered narrow silk ribbon to cover the millinery wire on the brim edge and I have some lovely wide navy ribbon from Bulldog and Baum to go round the crown.  And so after I make the FOX cockade,  I can put the whole thing together!