Victorian Parasol Restoration: The Finishing

Project 10, part 3 – Silk and Scallops (Part 1, part 2 here)

Tell me this isn’t the best color!! 😀

Welcome back to the Victorian Parasol restoration project! This week I got the images edited from the second day of the restoration class I took through Black Orchid Atelier, and just re-living the experience was such a thrill. Day 2 was all about the fashion fabric, and I had chosen a phenomenal amethyst silk taffeta from Renaissance Fabrics. Most parasols from Bonnie’s era (1870s) were covered in silk, and the tight weave of silk taffeta makes it a perfect choice for this endeavor.

There are a TON of options for trimming a parasol, but I decided to go for simple scallops to match the original canopy that came on Bonnie. Scalloped scallops – aka, scallops cut with scalloping or pinking shears – were a major fashion trend in the Victorian Era, and they look a little more interesting than a simple rolled hem. I also learned how to do pleated or ruched ruffles, silk fringe, and a full lining…so I guess I’ll have to restore another parasol at some point! 😀

I’m seriously proud of how I managed to match up the seams to keep the scallop going nearly perfectly. ❤

Keeping it reasonably simple worked for me on this project, since I really wanted to finish by the end of the class, and also wanted the simplicity of this cute little parasol to speak for itself. There were other little things like the prevents, baffles, and notch covers to craft as well, so it’s not like sewing less trim was going to mean I didn’t have anything to do!

Center – baffle & under-baffle. The purple on the left is the prevent (pre-vohnt) – it protects the canopy from the joint on the rib there.

Sunday’s class was quieter – we all mostly knew what to do at this point, so we were just chilling in our assorted sewing rooms across the country drinking tea (in my case) and stitching away on our fabric.

A canopy without its parasol always looks so deflated!

In case you’re curious, rather than sewing into a circle to start, the wedges were sewn to each other in pairs, then the pairs into pairs (giving me two sections of four), and then finally those two halves were sewn together. There’s a hole at the top for the finial of the parasol to fit through, and I had to leave a bit larger of an opening since I had a slightly wider ferrule to fit the fabric around.

At this point I ran into a bit of a problem. Against Maegen’s recommendation, I used an entirely different fabric for my mockup from my final canopy. Her suggestion was to use dupioni silk as the mockup fabric for people utilizing silk taffeta as their fashion fabric. My fashion fabric was already $35/yard though, and I didn’t want to buy more silk for the mockup…so I used cotton muslin. Aaaaaaaaaaand…promptly discovered why that was a bad idea. Cotton stretches, but grain-cut silk taffeta most certainly does not. So my parasol would no longer open fully when I pinned on my canopy.

Pictured: pins, regret.

Then I had a thought – instead of securing the ribs 1/2″ from the edge of my canopy, what if I gave them more room by securing them 1/8″ from the edge? It would leave more fabric at the top, but I could fix that in post-production easily. So I re-pinned the canopy to check, and…success! The top was indeed a little saggy, but everything worked great otherwise.

My lighting was a disaster during this portion, sorry for the blown-out whites. My husband has promised to teach me some techniques using a flash soon!

Let’s be clear – I absolutely could have gone back to the drawing board, re-drafted my pattern, and sewn a new canopy. I had plenty of silk taffeta, and the skills to adjust the pattern. I went with this adjustment for two reasons – the first being that I really did want to just finish my parasol. The second is that I’ve seen enough antique garments and accessories to know that this wonky “eh, I’ll just live with it” mentality is absolutely period-accurate. I’m not the only one who’s ever needed to finish a project within a time frame, and I certainly won’t be the last! 😀

So I cinched up the excess fabric at the top, stitched it tight, and then did the absolutely most Victorian thing possible to cover up the mess: tied a bow on it.

I’m the sort of person who has lavender silk ribbon just chilling and ready for this sort of emergency! 😀

Is there still a little bit of rumpled fabric at the top? Sure. Am I incredibly happy with how Bonnie turned out? 100%. I literally could not be more delighted. I now have a brilliant purple parasol that will look divine with any number of historical and modern outfits, and a charming piece of history has been given a new lease on life. I use parasols constantly so she’ll absolutely be getting use in the years to come, and I’m very excited to try out my new skills again on another antique frame! And maybe sew a purple silk taffeta dress (or at least accessories) to match… 😀 So join me in the final installment for the full reveal and photoshoot with Bonnie, including a perfectly coordinated purple haori and some stylish wool hakama that just arrived from Japan! ❤

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