**Warning: Long and image-heavy post ahead**
A new fashion exhibition has just opened up at the Daughters of the American Revolution museum here in DC, ‘An Agreeable Tyrant’: Fashion After the Revolution. It explores Americans’ various relationships with prevailing fashions during the early Federalist period of 1780s to 1820s. Over the past year I’d been assisting the curator, Alden O’Brien, with the exhibition. First, with some late-stage planning and design, then with drafting scaled down patterns of several of the garments going on display, a little bit of photography, and finally mounting the garments on their mannequins including making adjustments to the mannequins themselves and also making some of the underpinnings needed to properly display the garments. Most of this was on a volunteer basis but I also wrote one of the essays for the catalogue (on fashion and thrift) and that was on a professional level. It was very exciting for me because its the first time I get to see my name in print this way!
FYI: The exhibition runs until April 29, 2017 and the catalogue is available to purchase online here – and they do ship internationally.
A couple of weeks ago I started a new, large-ish historical project: a c. 1780 ‘Italian’ style gown with matching petticoat although. This is very like a robe a l’Anglaise except that it has a completely separately cut bodice and skirt – so no ‘en fourreau.’
The reason for doing one of these now is another Gadsby’s Ball on November 12 that’s 1780s-themed. Hooray for not being Regency! As much as I love it, I’m getting Regency-d out. Most of the balls around here have been for that period over the past year and I recently finished a c.1800 ensemble I still need to post about, so I’m very ready to do something different. I’m pretty excited since I’ve never done 1780s before! Bring on the pouf!
Anyway, my fabric for this is an iridescent rust silk shantung – a very smooth one. I bought it from Fabricmart during one of their silk sales wherein it was described as silk taffeta and looked very smooth in the photos. When it arrived I discovered it was actually shantung – a very smooth one, but nonetheless not taffeta. This had happened once before with a silk purchase from them so I sent them an email to let them know there was an issue. I didn’t ask to return the fabric because it’s gorgeous all the same but wanted them to know it made me wary of ordering from them in future. They sent a kind reply saying they’d gone back and amended all the relevant listings on their site and sent me a $10 gift certificate by way of apology.
So, that’s a long-winded explanation for why I decided to just go ahead and use shantung for this instead of actual taffeta.
It’s pretty scrummy, shantung-ness notwithstanding.
For this ensemble I’m doing a bit of a Janet Arnold mash-up. Essentially, I’ve combined 3 of her late 18th century patterns:
The main one is this 1775-85 gown in the Snowshill collection (now at Berrington Hall). I’ve done research there, pity this one wasn’t on my radar at the time to check out in-person.
Last weekend I hosted my first party at our lovely, historical row house here on Capitol Hill. The idea was for it to be like a mini little version of the Costume College Gala to give local people an opportunity to dress up in periods they may not usually get to (if they were so inclined) and for me to be able to make some new friends and continue getting to know others. As such, it wasn’t period specific, people were encourage to wear whatever took their fancy/don’t get to wear often/made them feel fabulous!
So I thought I’d share some of the photos taken since everyone looked so fabulous!
In keeping with the date of the house (1908) I had been on the lookout for some time for classic-looking champagne coupes and finally got a set of 12 (from I’ve already forgotten where) a month or so ago. I really wanted them in time for this party!
This is a second dress inspired by this vintage early 60s (?) one with the button tab shoulders:
When I finished this dress back in early summer it was actually a UFO from the end of summer last year and who doesn’t love getting a UFO off their hands?
This is the pattern I used for the bodice, only I made it sleeveless and brought the neckline in a bit as I didn’t want it quite so wide. For the skirt I just cut 2 selvedge to selvedge panels and pleated it up into the waist.
While the border print dress of my last post may actually be the most beautiful dress I made this summer I do believe this one is the most fun, because:
This is probably my favourite of all the dresses I made this summer, I just love how it turned out.
This was the happy result of a vintage dress inspiration and the right fabric coming along at the right time.
Here is the original dress that happened along my Pinterest feed and set the ball rolling:
About 2-3 years ago, as part of the ongoing effort to adult-ize our furniture situation we got a pair of inexpensive Tullsta armchairs from IKEA during a sale: