Wednesday, 13 January 2010

The makings of a 1790's outfit


Most in this entry have been posted before, I just wanted an entry with the project from start to finish. What inspired me and how I went through it. I attended an 18th century 12th Night ball last week and hadn't really planned to make new clothes. I don't like working against a deadline and I had something to wear anyway. Then I saw a painting from 1796 posted atlamodeillustree and I fell hard and completely.


I actually liked both outfits, but it was the one in pink and blue that caught my eye. I don't know why, really, because it's a fairly simple outfit. And not that easy to make out either. Is it a small jacket she's wearing and how is it closed?Of course, it also gave me freedom to make an interpretation. After looking at jackets and pierrots from the 1790's, they all seemed to have a short peplum in the back, even if they stopped at the waist, or just above. I decided to make my jacket like that, even if no peplum shows and she's wearing a sash on the painting. It will make the jacket more versatile for me, tucking it inside (were it helps to give the skirt oomph) and with the sash, or with the peplum showing.

I also needed to think about fabric choice. The petticoat was easy, I had plenty of silk taffeta in my stash in a colour very close to the painting. However, this being in the months before Christmas and with all other purchases I didn't want to buy more material than I had to. So I dug around in my stash a little more and found a nice blue velvet that had been lying around for 20 years. Definitely time to put it to a good use. All in all I only did very few purchases for the whole thing and the biggest of those was half a metre of silk taffeta for the sash.

The petticoat was very easy. About 50 centimetres of the back was cartridgepleated down to 5 centimetres. The front was left unpleased and the remaining fabric just pleated into one centimetre wide pleats. It also has a short train. I didn't really used a pattern, but looked at other patterns for 1790's petticoats and used them as guidelines for the pleats the the length of the train. What I didn't do was the pleated trim, due to time constraint, but I have plenty of fabric left, so I'll trim it later.

The sash was very easy as well. I wanted it pink and found a very nice two-toned taffeta I liked. It photographs a bit more yellow that it appears for the eye. On the portrait the sash seem to have a little peak in the back, which worried me a little, as I felt that the peak would easily fold down. So I decided to put a bone to support it and that seem to work very well. I also wanted the sash to end with a fringe. I just made a row of backstitches at the point were I wanted the fringe to start and then simply removed the bright pink threads in the silk, leaving only the yellow ones.

The biggest challenge was the jacket. What pattern to use? I draft my patterns myself rather than enlarging, but I use existing patterns as guide for proportions and seam placements. I have an 1780's pierrot and first I thought I could use that pattern.

But I'm not altogether pleased with the fit, the neckline is too wide in the front and I felt that the peplum was too wide and too long. However, the bodice on the 1797's gown I made earlier in the Autumn, fits perfectly.

The back, of course, has no peplum, so back to the books I went and I found what I wanted in Janet Arnold, in the riding habit dated 1795-1805. I also felt a bit unsure on how to do the front of the jacket. After having done two bodices with drawstring front, I didn't want to do that again. Besides, I don't think velvet lends itself to that type anyway. While I was thinking on front closure I made up the lining. Following through with finds in my stash, the lining is made by very un-18th century printed cotton, interlined with a heavier cotton and with two plastic whalebones in the front. I decided to lace the lining shut, and for the time being pin the front closed.
In time I want to have a buttonclosure, but I haven't found the buttons yet. After making all the decisions, the assembling of the jacket went quickly and easily. I was quite amazed.

So easy in fact, that I had time to make a reticule. Digging around the net I found this one, dated to the late 18th century.

The measurements was kindly provided, so it was an easy task to make a patterns. I've recently learned ribbon embroidered and have looked around for a small project to try it out. So I designed a border I felt I could handle, rosebuds on stems and a bigger rose. I did have to buy some pink and green silk ribbons for that, but not much, as it was such a small project. As I had plenty of velvet left, I decided to make the reticule out of it and line it with the pink silk I used for the sash. I had no trouble at all with the embroideries, but then I decided that I wanted to border it with silver spangles. I have never used spangles before... Practice makes perfect, I guess, and so my spangles are not perfect... And, rather to my surprise, assembling the reticule was the most troublesome part of the whole outfit! For some reason the velvet, who had behaved so nicely when I made the jacket, decided to fray like madly. Then I put in the lining wrong. Twice! And I did the same stupid mistake both times. When it was finally in, I realised that that I had sewn shut the openings for the ribbon channel by mistake. I grumbled a bit over that, but luckily it's also period to sew little rings around the opening to make a closure, so I went with that. I didn't have any ribbons with the right colour, but I had plenty of silk cord. I crocheted it to make it thicker, which I'm fairly certain is not period at all, but was a quick solution. The original had tassels and I have made three tassels that match the fringe of the sash, but I plain forgot to sew them on...

All in all, I'm very pleased with my outfit. There are details that needs to be fixed, but I like the overall impression. I wore it over a cotton petticoat and a small bustlepad and, of course, stays. My stays are earlier than the 1790's, but as I'm very highwaisted I don't really feel the need for a special pair of stays that would just be marginally shorter than the one I have. I would have loved to have a pair of gloves too, and I think I need a long pair anyway, so that is definitely on my list now.

I had a great time at the ball, more pictures can be seen here.

Sources of inspiration
Tidens Toj
Janet Arnold Patterns of Fashion>
Britta Hammar & Pernilla Rasmussen Kvinnligt mode under två sekel

1 ½ metres of blue velvet, single width+the same amount for the lining
2 ½ metres of blue silk taffeta, double width
½ metre pink silk taffeta
Silk ribbons
Silver spangles
A few plastic whale bones
A few silver metal rings and some silk cord

I used my sewing machine for all long assembling seams, but all details, including putting in the sleeves, were made by hand.


Madame Berg said...

What a nice summary of the whole project! I love how you pay attention to all those little things, like the back of the sash (which I probably would have pretended not to have noticed P). And that you share the whole thought process and construction. That's inspiration in a can for one self!

Isis said...

Thank you, Madame Berg. I ought to be better doing it like this, because that's good for me. Like when I want to do something similar and have no idea how much fabric to buy, despite having done it already!

The Dreamstress said...

Great to see it all in one post!

Isis said...

I like it too, Dreanstress. I think I shall change how I post stuff and do "theme-posts" when I'm done, instead of many small as I work along.

MetalMarianne said...

I can only dream of becoming as good as you for sewing... great work you did this time, the outfit is gorgeous!

Isis said...

Thanks MetalMarianne. But I'm sure you could!

Kronmakaren said...

kul att se ditt projekt, så läckert med 1700-talet, kläderna och de fina miljöerna. Är du möjligen med i Gustafs skål? Kika in på min blog för kungligt som grannlåt, jag har resignat de kungliga diademen från fransk empir.

Isis said...

Tack så mycket! Ja jag är med i Gustafs Skål. Du med?

Det ska jag absolut göra!

Anonymous said...

That is beautiful! I love how you interpreted the painting.

Isis said...

Nuranar: Thank you so much!

Atlanta said...

That blue velvet jacket is so cute! I just love the peplum - andI simply adore the grey-blue taffeta of the skirt - one of my favorite colors!

Isis said...

Atlanta: Thank you! It's one of my favourite colours too!

The Dreamstress said...

Squee! I'm glad to see you entered the Festival!

I only just noticed, but the women in that painting have weird squashed little rat faces - good thing their clothes are so pretty!

You look much better all round!

Isis said...

Me too! It's such a neat idea! I'm sure you will win, Dreamstress! :)

Yeah, tehy aren't very pretty, even if their clothes are! Thank you!

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