Friday, May 27, 2011

W.I.P.: 1950's inspired graduation dress

Some months ago one of my friends asked me to make a graduation dress for her and currently I'm working on it. Right from the beginning we knew it would be either 1920's or 1950's inspired but we decided on 1950's because we thought the shape of the 1950's would look better on her body. As always, I had been researching a lot on the net and immediately I realized she would probably love one of the dresses on Kyoto Costume Institute's Digital archive.

We've already bought the fabrics and I've drafted the pattern, fitted the mock-up to her and cut the pieces out. At the moment I'm sewing the dress together. In the picture on the right you can see some examples of the materials I'm using. She wants to use the dress for less formal occasions and we decided it would be a good idea to wear it as summer dress. So instead of sewing all the poofy tulle into the dress as planned at first, I'm going to
make a separate petticoat.

And here's a quick sketch of the design. The skirt isn't going to be as full as the one in the original Kyoto dress.

Some changes may be possible, as usual... For example, we're considering adding some narrow lace to the hem. But now I've got to head back to work!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What is she wearing? Underwear?! (Part 2)

Soo, here's the part two with pictures of the dresses I was talking about in the last post...

The Chemise dress seems to be quite often the first dress of a reenactress and I’m not an exeption, even though I didn’t make it for myself. Some four years ago it was good to start with something simple, quick and easy to make. Chemise dress is also a very alternable and fits well to several people, which makes the dress really useful.  I’m too ashamed to show you the first result because I hadn’t been sewing for a long time when I managed to pull my first Chemise dress together. However, it’s still in use - after I’ve alterned the dress at least two-three times. Last time was about a week ago when the dirty hem wouldn’t wash well anymore so I cut it off and added some ruffles to it to make it look a little more fancier for a ball.

Here’s the latest version of the first Chemise dress that I made:

I also sewed a new Chemise dress for another friend of mine:


Thanks for both ladies for allowing me to post up the photos! 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What is she wearing? Underwear?! (Part 1)

A short while ago I was working on two Chemise dresses so here's a little post on the type of the dress. I'll post up some pictures of my creations in the part two as soon as I can.

I’ve managed to find only one existing example of a Chemise dress on Manchester Art Gallery website, read about it here.

Here some examples of Chemise dresses worn for paintings:

Self portrait with Wife (1791) by Jens Juel
Henriette Begouen (1790) by Alexander Roslin
Madame du Barry (1781) by Louise-Élisabeth Vigée Lebrun
A painting of two women by Pehr Hilleström
Comtesse de Provence (1782) by Louise-Élisabeth Vigée Lebrun
Danish Princess Louise Augusta (1790s) by Jens Juel
Madame de Moreton (1782) by Louise-Élisabeth Vigée Lebrun
Louise Augusta (1780) by Jens Juel
 Duchesse Polignac (1782) by Louise-Élisabeth Vigée Lebrun
The Duchesse de Polignac (1783) by Louise-Élisabeth Vigée Lebrun
Lady Elizabeth Foster (1785) by Angelica Kauffmann
Portrait of a Lady with a Book (1785)by Antoine Vestier
Lady Lemon (1788) by George Romney

And some fashion plates of Chemise dresses:

Chemise dress in 1787

Promenade dress with a green underskirt 1780
Chemise dress 1789
An English Morning dress 1788
French revoulutionary fashion plate: January 1792

The word Chemise refers to underwear because the shift was called chemise in french. The dress is also often called Chemise à la Reine (”in the style of the Queen”) which refers to Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France. She was wearing a plain muslin Chemise dress for a painting in 1783.

A portrait of Marie Antoinette (1783) by Louise-Élisabeth Vigée Lebrun
Here's a fashion plate of Chemise dress to be worn in Petit Trianon: