c.1780 Italian Gown – In Action – literally!

Now I can finally show you the whole look of my new 1780s ensemble all put together!

(In case you’re just tuning in and/or would like to revisit the construction posts I wrote about this here are links to the bodice, petticoat, and skirt + finishing)

(and I will still be doing a post about the sleeve cuffs, some of the underpinnings, and the wig, which I will link to here when it’s done and up)

Taylor (aka Dames a la Mode) graciously volunteered to do a photoshoot for me last Friday. The location is St James church + yard just up 8th street from my house here on Capitol Hill that’s done in an atmospheric faux-gothic-Jacobean mash-up style. I kinda love it!

And now on to the show!

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Italian Gown – The Gown Skirt & Putting it All Together!

A quick re-cap of the original dress/pattern in Patterns of Fashion and how I modified it:

the original dress has a box-pleated skirt but I wanted the tight, narrow knife pleats so common for this period.

(Also, here are links to my posts on making the bodice and petticoat)

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So I used the skirt pattern from another dress in Patterns of Fashion as a rough guide.

Although I still did things a little differently from either. I cut my skirt as two full-width panels of my fabric with a little bit of a train at the back but completely straight along the top. Instead of cutting the waist edge with a curve I just sewed it with one – you’ll see what I mean in a moment.

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c. 1780 Italian Gown – The Petticoat

The style of the petticoat is based off the original one that goes with my primary dress inspiration/pattern in Patterns of Fashion:

p59 JA 40. Petticoat - 4.5 widths. Flat pleated towards sides. Top edge bound linen tape, ties both sides. Deep self flounce all round hem:  petti-pattern

Although to make it I simply cut 2 panels of my fabric, with the back slightly longer than the front to help accommodate the false rump that’s going under there. I also pleated mine differently from the original since it appears to have been done according to an older style where the pleats all face towards the side/pocket openings – another clue that the ensemble *may* have been an earlier one altered in the late 1770s/early 1780s. During the later period petticoat pleats tend to all face towards the centre back similarly to dress skirts, although the pleats themselves tend to be larger than on dress skirts.

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Red + Aqua Spring/Autumn Dress

This dress post is even more belated than the summer ones from this year as I made it back in the spring. However, since I’ve also been wearing it over fall I thought I could get away with still posting about it.

It’s actually one of my overall favourite dresses right now because it’s both so pretty and super comfortable!

It’s made of lovely soft, swishy rayon challis in an aqua/pink/red print, with solid red rayon for the accenting bands.

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c.1780 Italian Gown – Intro

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.

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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.

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UFO Fall Coat, Vogue 8307

Hot on the heels of finishing my UFO fall dress from last year the other week I finished a UFO fall coat, also from last year.  I had hopes to finish it to take with me to the UK for last Fall/Winter, but it didn’t happen.  A winter coat happened instead, which was probably for the best.

I used Vogue 8307:

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UFO Dress from last Fall: McCalls 6433

I started this dress a little over a year ago, but didn’t manage to finish it before I considered fall over.  As much as I love wearing fall colours, it somehow doesn’t feel right to me to do so once December arrives.  It may seem silly in a time when most traditional sartorial rules have been thrown out the window, but I also follow the ‘no white after labour day rule’.  So, I left off this dress and focused on more wintry sewing.  Going through my UFOs a couple of months ago I found this and decided it should be finished.

Here is McCalls 6433

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Thanksgiving Dress, McCall’s 6473

I will take almost any flimsy excuse to make myself a new, pretty (silk) dress.  Most recently, Thanksgiving did the trick.  I also decided I wanted to try out a vintage pattern in my stash that’s had me intrigued for some time: MacCalls 6473 from 1962.

McCalls 6473

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Autumn Apron, 50s Style

I’ve been meaning to make myself an apron for some time now, but dresses and other clothes always seemed more fun important.  Two years ago my husband and I hosted my family for Christmas dinner for the first time and spent my day in the kitchen in a silk dress with no apron.  I did the cooking and even made an apple pie from scratch and inexplicably, miraculously didn’t get anything on the dress.  I’m still completely baffled by how I managed it.  This year we hosted them for Thanksgiving.  I was determined to make a silk ‘Thanksgiving’ dress (which will likely be the subject of my next post) but there was no way I was going to push my luck a second time!  Thus, an apron became the next important thing to sew!  I have a few vintage apron patterns and decided on Simplicity 4213:

Simplicity 4213a

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HSF Challenge #20: Outerwear, 1880s Dolman Part Deux

Hopefully I can get the rest of what I have to say and show about my new Dolman into this second post (it would seem a bit silly to have 3 posts just about a seemingly simple-ish cape/jacket thing).  It’s probably going to be just a bit long and image-heavy, though.  If you’re just joining me now, this project is for Challenge #20 of the Historical Sew Fortnightly, which is Outerwear.  You can check out Part One of my Dolman adventure here

I’ll start this post off with the required specs for the HSF Challenge:

  • Challenge: #20 – Outerwear
  • Year: 1888
  • Pattern: Ageless Patterns #1271 1888 Plush Wrap
  • Fabric: Cotton Velvet/Velveteen, Silk Charmeuse, woven interfacing
  • Notions: 7 buttons (plus one extra), upholstery braid approx. 7m, bead fringe trim approx. 7m, velvet ribbon approx. 3.5m
  • Historical Accuracy: Ummm……..let’s say 75% – ish?  I used a pattern lifted directly from an original (or supposed to be), a combination of machine & hand sewing, fairly period appropriate or at least plausible fabrics.  However, the trimming isn’t quite right and the fabrics aren’t likely 100% right.
  • Hours to complete: lots over the course of 2 weeks
  • Total cost: I’m going to guess approx. $100 overall, over the course of some years.  The velvet has been in the stash several years, the silk only a few months, the trim was bought for the project.
  • First worn: last weekend – keep reading or scrolling down to see!

So, where did I leave off…..oh yeah, the sleeve construction.  I decided probably the easiest way to explain how the sleeves get sewn into the body of the Dolman is to draw a little diagram.  This is an outline tracing of the pattern image, the dotted lines in black and red are my additions.  The dotted black line is the Dolman armhole (probably pretty obvious) and the red dotted line represents how the sleeve is attached to the body of the Dolman.  The space towards the back of the armhole is intentionally not dotted red because the sleeve is not sewn all the way around the armhole.  I hope this makes sense, along with a couple of photos towards the bottom of this post.  If it seems like I’m over-explaining this, it’s really just because of how long it took me to realize how this works, lol.

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