Friday, June 7, 2013

Early costumes: Floral robe à l'Anglaise, 2009

Because there's nothing new to post about, it's time for a post about an old dress. I actually tried to make a half-polonaise but it failed miserably. The visual effect on the front side made my bust look as small as the waist so that my upper body looked like a straight tube. Or even worse, so that the waist actually looked bigger than my bust. I'm not even going to share any photos of it with you because it's so horrible. Not to mention all the wrinkles.

My aim was to wear the demi-polonaise at a ball last April but as you can imagine, I didn't even finish the whole thing. After the lost case, I had only a couple of days to pull something together for the event. So I had a chance to finish an old dress that had been a work in progress for some time. It's a floral robe à l'Anglaise retroussée that I originally sewed back in 2009, being also the second dress that I ever made. It was also the first dress that I wore with stays underneath. Long story short, after a few years it no longer fit so it had to be taken apart and the fit had to be altered. The design remains basically the same as in the beginning but it's made with much more care than back then.

To be honest, I have a sort of love-hate relationship with this dress. I got the printed cotton fabric as a gift from a dear friend and I've always loved the floral pattern of it. The combination of gold and blue (accompanied with red and white) has to be my favorite combination of colors ever. But. There's always a but. So there's a tiny voice in my head that tells me blue fabric with gold printed floral pattern isn't an historically appropriate choice anyway. It's actually a modern Christmas season fabric.

If I remember correctly, the original pattern is based on a pattern in the book Period Costume for Stage and Screen by Jean Hunnisett. As many of you can tell, the trimming style is based on a polonaise dress c. 1770-85 from Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion 1.

Because of having worn this dress to events before, I let the hem fall down instead of pulling the skirt up.

The pose in the photo below is awkward but this is the only photo of the back of the dress worn like this.

In the following photos I'm wearing a quick and simple mob cap that I made for 1780's costumes. It's my back-up plan in case of bad hair days. :)

And this is how the dress looks from the back with the skirt pulled up with two strings.

A few photos of the construction... I started by fitting the bodice lining by taking it in both at the sides and in the back.

 Then the en fourreau back was attached to the lining.

After a few failed attempts to repleat the en fourreau pleats of the back I simply took the dress in at the back as seen in the photo below.

Next, the front panels and the shoulder straps were added. Bones were put into channels at centre front in order to keep the front straight.

By this point I got very lazy and didn't take any photos of the remaining parts of the construction. As usual, I'm going to be honest and admit I cheated at several points. Similarly to my purple robe à la Polonaise, the lace ruffles at the ends of the sleeves aren't separate and the lace along the neckline is stitched to the bodice and not to the shift. This dress was a practice project for fun rather than a very serious project anyway. 

Also, I'd like to thank Chelsea, Kendra, Kirstine and Katie Jacobs for nominating me with the very inspiring blogger and one lovely blog awards. I'd love to pass them on but it's so hard to keep up with who has already received the awards and who hasn't so I'm afraid I'm going to pass this time.