Sunday, 3 November 2013

A Fantastic Bow-Knot of Super-Eminent Dimensions

Contrary to what I wrote 2 posts ago, I am not submitting my green bodice for challenge #22. Once again I have grossly underestimated how long a project takes to finish. I have a terrible sense of time. Thankfully I had another suitable project in my UFO drawer, so I finished it instead.

About 5 months ago I wrote a largely inconclusive cravat research post that included this quote:

"This was in truth a very singular somebody.  He could not have been more than two feet in height; but this altitude, little as it was, would have been sufficient to destroy his equilibrium, and tilt him over the edge of his tiny car, but for the intervention of a circular rim reaching as high as the breast, and rigged on to the cords of the balloon.  The body of the little man was more than proportionally broad, giving to his entire figure a rotundity highly absurd.  His feet, of course, could not be seen at all.  His hands were enormously large.  His hair was gray, and collected into a queue behind.  His nose was prodigiously long, crooked and inflammatory; his eyes full, brilliant, and acute; his chin and cheeks, although wrinkled with age, were broad, puffy, and double; but of ears of any kind or character there was not a semblance to be discovered upon any portion of his head.  This odd little gentleman was dressed in a loose surtout of sky-blue satin, with tight breeches to match, fastened with silver buckles at the knees.  His vest was of some bright yellow material; a white taffety cap was set jauntily on one side of his head; and, to complete his equipment, a blood-red silk handkerchief enveloped his throat, and fell down, in a dainty manner, upon his bosom, in a fantastic bow-knot of super-eminent dimensions."

-From The Unparalleled Adventure Of One Hans Pfaall by Edgar Allan Poe, 1835.

After posting this quote I said that I would make a blood red handkerchief someday. I generally mean what I say (even though my sewing plans are constantly changing and I sometimes don't end up sewing what I say I'm going to sew.), so I started working on it shortly after.
It's a small project, but it still has a lot of visual impact.
Super-eminent dimensions!

Okay, so it's technically not a handkerchief. It's also a few shades too light to be blood red, but at least the dimensions are super-eminent.
I used the same silk as I used for the roses on my silly hat. I cut out a 29 cm x 288 cm piece and took the ends off at an angle. I slanted them towards the same side, so the whole thing is one very long trapezoid.
I think this shape makes it a cravat. The funny thing is, the thing I made earlier and called a cravat turned out to be a handkerchief, because it's a square.
The fabric required some red acid dye to correct it's pinkness.
The pink silk in a pot of red dye and water. Also pictured is a metal spoon for constant stirring.
The red silk in a pot of clear water. It's fantastic how fabric sucks up dye like that.
The dyed piece and the original coloured piece.
The grain ran across the strip of fabric, which made the edges quite difficult to hem. I had to fold them very carefully and pin them at short intervals.
I sewed up the edges with the smallest running stitch I could manage.
Lots and lots of pins.
I hemmed one of the long sides and both slanted ends. The fourth edge is the selvedge so I left it. The asymmetry of this annoys me somewhat, but hemming a 288 cm edge with the grain going the wrong way would be annoying too.
Does it fall down in a dainty manner upon my bosom? I can't tell.
Silly articles of clothing are best worn with dead serious facial expressions.
I look kind of evil in this one.
The Challenge: # 22, Masquerade

Fabric: One 29 x 288 cm piece of fine dupioni like silk.

Pattern: None, see dimensions above.

Year: c. 1835

Notions: Cotton thread

How historically accurate is it? The fiber content is accurate, but not much else is. The weave of the fabric is wrong. The look might be accurate for a satirical drawing, but I doubt anyone would actually wear a cravat this size. It doesn't even match the description that Poe gave. Thankfully, this is the one challenge where historical inaccuracies are okay.

Hours to complete: Unknown

First worn: Today

Total cost: $0

I really like my fantastic bow-knot of super-eminent dimensions. I'm going to keep calling it that because I just love the way Poe describes things. It takes a few tries to tie it in a bow shaped bow-knot, but the crosswise grain that made hemming so tricky makes the bow puff out very nicely.
I'm not sure when I'll wear this. Perhaps on special occasions. This would be an appropriate thing to wear to a Christmas party, wouldn't it? Ugh, I hate to speak of Christmas so soon after Halloween.

Speaking of Halloween(my favorite holiday ever), I wore my late 1780's outfit to school this year. It was lots of fun, even though it was rather uncomfortable. I entered in the schools costume contest and won a prize for "best construction". I got lots of questions about the hat, and two people asked to take my picture while I was waiting for the bus.
There were loads of other great costumes at school that day. I would send a link to some place where you could see them if I could find any such place. That's one of the great things about going to an art college, almost everyone makes an effort to dress up on Halloween.


  1. I read this post on my phone first thing in the morning today (I have this nasty habit of checking my blogfeeds while still lying in bed), and it made me giggle every time I thought about it since! *lol* Your serious face in combination with the fantastic bow-knot of super-eminent dimensions is just hilarious! You nailed it :D
    Greetings from Austria

  2. I agree that it is a very silly bow and will be perfect at Christmas dinner this year. Your aunties and uncles will all be impressed.
    And I agree Maria, Fantastic bow knots of super eminent dimensions need to be worn with a serious expression.