Natural Form Teagown

This project was finished about a month ago, but I only just got photos of me in it this week, so waited until now to do a proper post. I started this early in the year and used it as my entry for the Historical Sew Monthly challenge for March: Stashbusting.

My teagown is a combination of this inspiration original piece (It’s dated 1886 but I don’t know by what authority and the overall silhouette looks comparable to Natural Form to me):

Abiti Antichi- Abito da casa 3

Abiti Antichi- Abito da casa 3

Abiti Antichi- Abito da casa 3

Abiti Antichi- Abito da casa 3

Using the Truly Victorian 1882 Teagown pattern TV432 as my base pattern:

1882 Tea gown

And six fabrics in my stash ranging from a few months to over ten years of stashdom.

I put these all together and got this:

IMG_1952c

Hello! Welcome to my teagown!

The main fabric is silk taffeta in a subtle stripe of celadon and a sort of pale gold/olive. The centre front panel comprises silk chiffon ruffles over a silk charmeuse base in closely matching shades of olive green. The collar, cuffs, and lapel thingies are a Chinese silk brocade – so a silk/rayon blend, but close enough says I! The front “ribbons” are made from a piece of cotton/silk satin in an olive green that matched really well with the chiffon and charmeuse. It really felt like these were all meant to go together!

It’s worn over my full set of Natural Form foundation garments, and my pink corset.

The main alteration I made to the TV pattern was the front panel, but was a pretty straightforward process. I simply drew on the front pattern piece (well, my traced off copy of it) where I wanted the front panel, took the centre most dart allowance out of the resulting edges of front panel and new gown front piece and smoothed the curves/edges. If I remember correctly, I even did this before making my first mock-up.

The next major divergence is the back. The line drawings for the pattern show 2 options: a smooth, seamed back or a pleated Watteau back. However, I think a third option, the one I chose in order to copy the original gown, is actually provided on the pattern itself. I haven’t seen any examples around the internet of this option made up, so I don’t know if people just don’t realize it’s there, or that’s what it is, or whether I’m the only one so far who likes it! (if anyone else has run across this please do share, I’d love to see other people’s take on this!)

IMG_1967c

Less major changes I made were to lengthen the sleeves from 3/4 to 7/8 length, and add more fullness to the back pleats and a bit of length to the train. I just drafted the cuffs and lapel pieces.

I flatlined the entire gown with a cotton sheet I got from Value Village. It has a little woven stripe in it that’s very subtle, but which I really like for some reason. I bound all the seam allowance edges with cotton bias binding that was already in my stash – hence why it isn’t all exactly the same, lol.

IMG_1963c

It opens and fastens up one side of the centre front panel from the lower hip to the neck with a combination of snaps and hooks & eyes. I’ve seen similar-ish combinations on extant garments and for some reason prefer sewing snaps to hooks and eyes, so used them wherever I could.

IMG_1960c

The collar fastenings are the fiddliest bit as the lower end of the free section needs to tuck behind the corresponding neck edge of the centre front panel, yet the upper corner of the panel needs to tuck in under the dress front edge where it meets the collar.

IMG_1962c

The gown front edges, hem and sleeve ends are all faced with the silk taffeta. The ruffle under the hem is made from a small piece of pale yellow vintage cotton organdy I found in an antique shop (and had for a few years knowing that eventually the right use for this little piece of special fabric would come along !) edged with some off-white vintage cotton lace.

IMG_1964c

My friend Sarah obliged me by taking photos. The location is the Agnes Etherington Art Centre on Queen’s University campus in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. The art centre is a museum/gallery with a particularly interesting feature – it’s attached to a historic house, Etherington House. It was the lifelong home of the art centre’s namesake, who donated it to the university during the mid-20th century as a place for art instruction to begin at Queen’s. Over time, the art centre grew beyond the house (by a lot!) but remained physically attached. It’s now a sort of informal museum space that’s also used for social functions and events. I was curious about trying it out as a backdrop.

It wasn’t as perfect as I’d hoped, the lighting was difficult, so we had to use the flash (which I hate doing). If I was more on the ball I’d have prepared an idea I’ve had for a while to make a little vellum sort of cover for my flash to (hopefully) diffuse the light. But Sarah was a really good sport and got some nice shots all the same! At some point I’ll try doing photos again – in natural light….maybe in a garden. Surely teagowns were acceptable to wear in one’s own backyard?

I also most definitely need a better wig. Someone help! I’m terrible at hair!

IMG_1938c

IMG_1931c

IMG_1924c

IMG_1923c

IMG_1912c

IMG_1913c

IMG_1911c

IMG_1908c

Fancy joining me for a cuppa?

IMG_1903c

Mood lighting fun.

IMG_1901c

IMG_1895c

IMG_1892c

IMG_1947c

IMG_1944c

I don’t know if this will help anyone out, but here’s what the back pleats look like from the inside:

IMG_1965c

IMG_1942c

IMG_1957c

Thank you for visiting, now it’s time for me to change into something I can actually wear in public. Ta!

Overall I’m extremely pleased with how this turned out, and I love wearing it! I have identified just a few things I may or may not address at some point. When I made the mock-up I was being good and running fairly regularly. That had dropped off some by the time of the photos, so it’s just a little too snug through the middle and that’s why it doesn’t lie smoothly down the upper back. I think I should let it out a tad (probably at the side seams where the marks won’t show much). I also got the length of the bodice lapels wrong, they should extend to nearly meet the top edge of the skirt lapels (skirt lapels, is that even a thing?). I misread the inspiration images and thought there was a gap between them, but now see I was wrong. I think it would help with the overall look of the proportions to make new ones that are as long as they should be – I’m naturally very short-waisted, I don’t need that emphasized. I have more of that fabric left, so that’s not a problem and it wouldn’t be horrendously complicated to do, but I’ll probably need some space and time to feel like putting in the effort. Lastly, I think my organdy hem ruffle sticks out too much so I’ll eventually either shorten it or move it up inside the dress.

But I’m still pleased as punch with it and am now determined to host my own Victorian tea so I have an excuse to put this to its proper use! Who wants to join me?

31 thoughts on “Natural Form Teagown

  1. Gorgeous gown, and as usual, immaculate workmanship! I too live in the Kingston area, and have been to the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. Wonderful backdrop for your gown🙂

    Like

    • Thank you! The reason for no hat is this is an at-home style. A woman would not have worn this dress in public, but at home for entertaining friends. It was meant to convey a casual aesthetic, even if that’s totally lost on us today, lol.
      Here’s an illustration of a woman in a teagown from 1883:

      Like

  2. I might have an option for the gap: make a 3/4 belt of the brocade. It would save redoing the existing trim, there’s enough room at the back so pleat tops aren’t compromised and maybe even peak the top line of the belt at the center back. Ripping a couple of seams for a few inches each seems a lot easier. And it’s a droolingly beautiful piece of work!!! I’m still learning some of the basics for historical sewing and have leagues to go before my work can compare to your excellent craftsmanship!! Kudos!

    Like

    • That’s a very interesting idea! I do like the clean look of the back with just the seams and the pleats. But when I decide to address this issue I’ll play around with your suggestion before I go straight ahead and make new lapels. Thank you!

      Like

    • Thank you very much! I think it may be bringing out more of the red tones in my skin than I’d like, but that may just be from the flash (I hope, lol). It’s great with red hair, though!

      Like

  3. I recently started following your blog and I think you replied to one of my comments on the Dreamstress’ blog about my MA thesis on L.M. Montgomery. Funny coincidence: I’ll be heading out to Kingston this fall to attend Queen’s for my PhD.🙂 Feel free to check out my blog at http://mala-14.livejournal.com

    Your tea gown is SO gorgeous! The lines and colours are wonderful! Especially with the red hair. Also, all those chiffon ruffles are mind-boggling! The hemming must have been quite the enterprise.

    Like

    • Ha! What a coincidence – and small world! I hope you’ll enjoy Queen’s and Kingston. Both have been very good to me the last several years. Funnily, I’ll be leaving just before you arrive as my husband and I are moving to the US for a few years at the end of July.

      Thank you for kind comments on my teagown – but I cheated on the chiffon ruffles. They’re not hemmed, the chiffon was so fine and thin (makes me think of gossamer) that I doubled it up – the bottom edges are on a fold – no hemming required!

      Like

  4. Pingback: Regency Shako | The Modern Mantua-Maker

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s