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. 

26 comments:

  1. You look wonderful! I love your gown, hair. plumes... all! :)

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  2. The gown is lovely and versatile too! To make one gown look equally wonderful in a ball room and while prancing in a summery meadow is quite an accomplishment :)

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    1. Thank you! It was actually terribly hot when we took the outdoor photos. And it was also too bright to take photos so most of them weren't so successful. But I'm glad there were a few that I could use here so it wasn't a complete waste of time and effort. :)

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  3. This is perfect and stunning!

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  4. Gorgeous dress!!You are so talented to produce such beautiful work.:))

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  5. I don't see how anyone could find fault with this dress, it is adorable, and your accessories are all perfect with it!

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    1. Thank you! Maybe I'm just too judgmental about my own work so I only see all the faults. ;)

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  6. Sembra che un ritratto di una donna abbia preso vita! Sei Splendida!

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  7. You look beautiful! What a great job you did! LOVE your hair. Did you use those mesh rats?
    Mary
    http://anhistoricallady.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you! :) Oh no, it's all my hair with a lot of tease.

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  8. I love the color and the gold, though it isn't perhaps perfectly historically accurate. It's stunning on you and your updated construction bits have created a well fitting garment. Yay!

    Best,
    Quinn

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    1. Thank you so much! :) The fabric bothers me a bit... but I hope my ignorance can be excused because I was a beginner in 2009. :)

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  9. Lovely!! I adore that rich blue on you.
    XOXo

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  10. Hi.
    It's so beautiful !
    The dress is wonderful and I wonder if you can give any suggestions how to do the cap ?? I want do do one for my dress :)

    Anci

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    1. Hi! Thank you! :) The cap is very simple and really easy to make. It's just four pieces: A really long strip of 5 cm wide ruffle is gathered and sewn into the 2,5 cm wide band (that goes around the head). A slightly oval piece of fabric is cut for the center and it is then gathered and sewn into the other edge of the head band. The whole thing is finished by hiding the seam allowances on the inside by lining the head band with a similar piece.

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  11. Theres a silk dress on this page, http://www.costumemuseumcanada.com/public/artifacts.html# , that is blue silk with silver decorations

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    1. Thanks for the link - I don't remember seeing that dress ever before! :)

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  12. Hi! Just rediscovered your blog, and I'm amazed at your costumes! They're so well fitted (and you're so lucky to find all of these superb fabrics). I just wondered, do you stich everything by hand or are they machine sewed?
    Thank you so much!

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    1. Thank you so much! :) I stitch both by machine and by hand, actually - only the seams that won't be seen will be done by machine and everything else by hand.

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