Sunday, October 13, 2013

Lizette, the vintage French mannequin

Let me introduce you to my darling Lizette, the newest addition to the House of StitchityBits. She is a vintage French mannequin (apparently), or that is what the seller told me. I'm happy to go with that. Hey, she even came with free pins stuck into her neck.

She is going to help me with future Regency gown-making efforts, but rather than leave her naked just now, I thought I would drape her with my beautiful antique Honiton Tape Lace Collar, thereby showing both to good advantage.

Honiton lace making has a long history, originating in the East Devon district in England during the 17th century. The majority of this style of lace was produced by hand in the town of Honiton, and it was highly sought after by the titled and wealthy. It was even worn by Queen Victoria. You can read more about Honiton lace on A Textile Lovers Diary or on The Textile Blog.

Mr P procured this piece for me some years ago from Bernadette Thomas of Needlewitch, and it forms a treasured part of my *small* antique sewing and textile collection.

But back to my mannequin. Having checked out her fittings and fixtures, I would think she is post-1950s. The three-pronged metal stand is somewhat pedestrian, and the metal cap atop the neck makes her more industrial than her wooden-peg top counterparts. There are a few minor stains around one side of the chest and shoulder region, but other than that she is in quite good condition. I will have to pad out her out a bit here and there to bring her up to my dress size, but her main purpose will be to make it easier to drape and pin the sheer muslins, organzas and lace trims used in reproduction costuming.

Here, Lizette wears the Regency petticoat with boned bodice, one of the garments included in the La Mode Bagatelle pattern range. It is a simple lawn under-dress, devoid of any embellishment. But the gowns that go over the top can be anything from sheer muslin for day wear, through to extravagant silk and lace for evening or ball gowns. I have been adding some Regency gown inspiration on Pinterest lately (and some garments for the gentlemen also), and I now have a head literally swarming with grand designs:

"Oh! my dear," continued Mrs. Bennet, "I am quite delighted with him. He is so excessively handsome! and his sisters are charming women. I never in my life saw any thing more elegant than their dresses. I dare say the lace upon Mrs. Hurst's gown——". [Pride and Prejudice: A novel in three volumes., Austen, Jane. Published by T. Egerton, London, 1813.]

I seriously wish that I didn't have to sleep, such is the width and depth and breadth of all that I want to create. Lace, or no lace!

Which I have started collecting ...

... in anticipation of stitching gowns, and petticoats ...

and trimming bonnets ...

with feathers ...
and brightly coloured things.

I never did grow out of dressing-up and playing with dolls. :)

I believe that Lizette has taken on a persona of her own. When she arrived in the back of the car, I flung open the door and ran out to hug her. It was love at first sight. She has taken up residence in the spare room for now, and I occasionally peek in at the door to relive the feeling of delight.

Bienvenue sur votre nouveau Lizette maison.

x  x  x 


  1. She is delightful. And I shall be watching with great interest to see each costume she models :)

    1. Mmm, I think so too :)
      Costuming has been put on hold though, with a week of bush fire emergency here in the mountains all productivity has ceased. Starting to settle back into routine now, and thankful to have been spared the worst of it. xxx


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