Since ever I have loved handcrafting, especially stitching and knitting. I don´t only like doing it but it helped and helps to produce things I could´t/cannot buy. Since my childhood I wanted to wear “baroque cardigans”, even if I didn´t know what I meant. My father often took me to museums and palaces what made me very early passionate about 18th century art. I remember that I loved the fabric´s patterns and colours of the beautiful dresses the ladies on portraits wore and wanted to have pullovers and cardigans with similar patterns. As there was really not one available in shops I started making myself.
There are numerous blogs and forums on Internet by fanatics all over the world who share the same hobby. It is only astonishing that there are none in Austria and only a few in Germany who are passionate about this eras. In the German speaking world dominates the love for the middle age. But one of my German friends shares the passion for the 18th century and for handcrafting. Astrid Wittki said that even her grandmother and mother were enormously talented, so it is not surprising that she is very gifted too. Astrid´s mother, a classical housewife with three children, was a very creative handcrafter and earned some extra-money selling embroideries. She was fascinated seeing her mother “painting” with thinnest threads on fabric – flowers, blossoms, butterflies – finest handwork she was doing for a boutique.
Astrid adored her mother´s needlework and started early doing the same. She decorated towels and tablecloths in cross stitching technique. When she was 16 years old she visited the Manufacture des Gobelins in Paris where she was fascinated by everything. Hundreds of colours and threads, finest silk, being part of huge tapestries that looked like paintings. She soon started Gobelin-stitching which is, by the way, not the same. Tapestries are woven. – Since the stay in Paris she started studying historic costumes. But it took a while until the first dress was realised. When she met a costume designer her interest grew. She studied books, visited museums and began to sew first historic dresses.
Gobelin-stitched cushion made by me
There is an exhibition at the Münchner Nationalmuseum (last days – last week!) that inspired her to copy-create a robe parée, an 18th century evening gown. This will take some time, she knows, as it combines sewing and stitching, but she hopes to get the robe parée of her dreams. I think it would be very interesting seeing how the project develops. Maybe she will let us know …?
The dress should look like this
To be continued …
Oh Gabriele! It is fascinating … I adore your cushion, everything! The dress is magic. Of course those 18th century belles were irresistible! Please let us follow the dress-in-project …