Saturday, September 15, 2018

Pinstripe robe à l'Anglaise retroussée

This dress is one that I started making back in 2015 but that I didn't finish until Christmas ball in November 2016.  I also wore it to the Christmas ball the following year again, when the first set of these pictures were taken.

Previously I've made patterns in mainly two ways; either drafting my own patterns according to my measurements and trying to get the seam lines right by looking at extant gowns, or by enlarging scale patterns from books, altering them according to my measurements until they fit. I haven't really had as good results with either of these techniques as I'd like to have so it was about time I tried out something else. So I borrowed Creating Historical Clothes: Pattern Cutting from Tudor to Victorian Times from Mia because this book includes step by step instructions for creating patterns for several periods. First you start by taking your own measurements and, comparing them to measurement charts, draft a basic bodice pattern. I chose to turn my basic bodice pattern into a 1770s style bodice from the book, except so that it doesn't extend below the waist (see photo), and used it as a base for the pattern for my first robe en chemiseSince the pattern was made to my measurements, it required very little alterations to make it fit, except that I had to take it in quite considerably in at the back. Later on, I completed the pattern into a 1770s bodice according to the instructions in the book.

Bodice pattern before extending it below waist and alterations.

But I wan't happy with the pattern as it was because I thought it didn't look quite right. (I wish I had took a picture at this point so you could compare it with my final pattern.) However, the pattern reminded me of the 1770-85 gown pattern on page 39 of Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion 1 so I decided to try to alter my pattern to make it correspond with it. To me it seems the pattern in Creating Historical Clothes might be vaguely based on it, too. I won't go into detail describing all of the things I did because a. it's not that interesting and b. I can't actually even remember all of them anymore. But I ended up altering it quite a lot. In the end, I was slightly frustrated because I had spent so much time on the pattern and yet I wasn't completely happy about how the bodice looked. But eventually I thought it made no sense to keep fiddling with the pattern and decided it was good enough.

The bodice after a great deal of adjustments.

I also experimented with a bodice construction method that I hadn't tried earlier (though I wish I had!): "the weird running whip stitch thingy" that is now known as the English stitch, thanks to the ladies of American Duchess. I must say using this technique made matching the stripes easy. Not to mention how neat and tidy it makes the inside of your bodice, too (as can be seen below).

Here's a close-up of the finished seam, before removing the basting stitches:

The finished bodice seen from the outside:

And the inside:

At this point I drafted the pattern for the sleeves with the instructions in Creating Historical Clothes and had some fit issues with them as well. The finished sleeves (after alterations) look alright but I can barely lift my arms in them so I might add a little triangle to the underarm to allow for more mobility.

After that, it was time to decide on the trim. I wanted to trim the gown in some way, even though the most of extant robes à l'Anglaise aren't trimmed at all or only have a little bit of trim. But I didn't want to use the same trim style as the one in Patterns of Fashion, as it's the style that most people use and I thought it would be fun to do something a little different. So I spent some time researching options (which are collected on my Pinterest) but, as you can tell, I ended up using the same old trim style as everybody else, as I concluded that I liked it the best after all. *facepalm*

When it came to the sleeve trim, I really liked the wide trim seen on this beautiful costume from the Duchess. But I wanted to find validation for the trim style in historical sources. Alas, I was in no luck - which honestly didn't surprise me - so I gave up the idea. It's a trim style that appears to have mainly been used on robes à la Polonaise.

As usual, Mia did my hair for the evening and I did hers. We arranged a little public toilette before the event officially begun.

Mia working on my hairdo after I had finished hers.

When it comes to late 1770s, there's no such thing as too much hair decoration, right? ;)

And there's even a short video clip from the ball (unfortunately the quality is bad because this was taken on Mia's phone :/).

I also wore this dress to a small informal ball in January earlier this year and Mia kindly snapped these detail pictures of my gown and hairdo after the ball.

So here's a dirty little secret: I didn't intend to put trim down the center front (it's not something you see on historical examples and it even hides my careful stripe matching) but the hook and eye closure of the bodice stretched the lining a bit so there's a narrow but ugly gap at the front. Hence this was the last time I used hooks and eyes as a closure on my 18th century gowns. While hooks and eyes make a dress easy and quick to put on, I prefer to be able to adjust the bodice with a center front pieces that are lapped and pinned.

Despite of the difficulties I had making this dress, I do like the gown anyhow. :)

Links related to this project: 

Has anyone of you tried to draft a pattern with the instructions in Creating Historical Clothes? I'd love to hear your thoughts about it if you have! Personally, I'm not going to use it again (unless someone can point out a good pattern from it). Mia has also tried to make a pair of stays with this book and didn't have good results either. In conclusion: If you're thinking about buying this book, I wouldn't recommend getting it. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Regency essentials: A little white dress - part II

Alright, here comes the second part of the post about my little white regency dress, with pictures of it being worn. The following few photos were taken after returning from an event so please excuse my poor curls that have loosened in damp weather. We quickly pinned them up because they were way too long for the correct look (although my hair was too long to create proper regency side curls anyhow). 

Noora kindly let me borrow her long-sleeved chemisette and bonnet for our event so I could complete my day look. Doesn't that bonnet just look great!

In these photos you can see that the sleeves aren't as puffy as they ought to be. I didn't add a lining to the sleeves because I wanted them to be sheer but without any support the fabric was too thin to hold up the shape of the sleeves properly. 

I loved this silly look! I know it isn't a flattering look to modern eyes but I don't care! ;)

And here you can see my underwear that I was wearing under the dress. I made a shift with short sleeves, short stays with a front closure and added more tucks to my already existing petticoat. The front lacing of the stays is very practical for getting dressed on your own, however, it doesn't create the correct separation effect that a proper busk would. 

Even though I haven't personally worn this dress again, it luckily hasn't lingered in my closet completely unused! Mia borrowed it for the Jane Austen ball at Skokloster Castle in Sweden last year. She looked absolutely lovely in it! And isn't her pineapple reticule just adorable!

It was fun to see someone else wearing my dress. 

The dress fit surprisingly well for Mia. It was maybe just a tad short, even if regency ball gowns could actually be quite short.

Mia wore a chemise (dated 1820-1840) that I made from the Regency Women's Dress book (see pages 12-13) and gave to her. The pattern was unaltered so it's a direct copy from the book. 

The chemise worked really well under this gown as it supported the puffy sleeves quite well, so the sleeves actually looked nicer this time!

In case you're interested in reading about the construction of this gown, check out my previous blog pos about it.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Photos from L'Amusette's spring ball at Haihara Manor, 2017.

This time I'm here to share some pictures from a ball more than a year ago. (Better late than never, right?) I've already posted about this event once before - it's an annual masquerade ball hosted by the dance group L'Amusette every spring in Haihara Manor in Tampere, Finland. I've been lucky enough to be able to go every year since they started organizing it since 2013 and it's always the highlight of the spring. :) As usual, I was way too busy enjoying the event to take of pictures during the official program but I did take some outfit photos of my friends and they turned out nicely so I'm excited to share them with you. At the end of this post you can also see a couple of photos (by Markku Arvonen) of the actual program.

Mia (@ohgloomysunday) had made a new gown and a utterly fabulous cap which I adore! The first photo is also possibly my all time favorite photo I've captured of her.

Noora totally rocked the 1790s look - she always looks like a vision in her empire dresses and like she has just stepped out of one of the period fashion plates! You can see more pictures of her outfit on her blog.

At this ball we had the pleasure of meeting Anna-Mari (aka @mollamaricreations) for the first time in real life. She has since become a regular member of our 18th century sewing gang in Finland. She such a talented crafts person and an inspiration! ;)

Since she doesn't have her own costume blog, I must share with you several pictures of her outfit. I just can't believe this was her first 18th century gown! Well, technically it was the second but I'm not counting the one she had made years before joining the world of historical costuming.

By the way, she based her gown on the robe à l'Anglaise pattern (diagram XXII) in The Cut of Women's Clothes. It's the same pattern I scaled up for my brown Indienne print gown - it was so much fun to see another version of it come to life!

Mia also made a chemise dress for her little niece. These photos of them turned out so adorable I couldn't pick just one to share!

These pictures remind me of those tender late 18th century mother and child portraits by George Romney and others (you can see more of them on my Pinterest board). I love that even Mia's gown matches with the gown the lady is wearing in the first one!

I wore my robe en chemise which I have already shown you here.  The spring ball always has a different theme and this time it was French revolution - hence the revolutionary accessories in my and other's outfits.

Photo by Markku Arvonen.

This year we also met the lovely twin sisters Essi and Emilia (@loveofcostumes) who attended the ball for the first time.

Photo by Markku Arvonen.

At one point of the event we were horrified to witness the poor King and Queen of France loosing their heads in the (miniature) guillotine.

Photo by Markku Arvonen.

Afterwards the death of the King and Queen was reflected in the color of the food at dinner.

Photo by Markku Arvonen.

Johanna brought her jewelry shop to the event as she often does.

To read another description of this event and see some great detail pictures, go check out Rhia the Evil Dressmaker's blog post.