Sunday 19 August 2012

Inspiration post for a 1630's gown

The need for some 17th century clothes is starting to get a bit pressing and though I probably won’t have time to start any bigger projects until October, (The whole house is getting the plumbing updated and as we will be without water and bathroom during that time, we will soon have to live in the summerhouse until it’s finished.) I still wanted to put some of my thoughts and the images I have collected together for an inspiration post.

One of the bodices featured in Seventeenth-century Women’s Dress Patterns is this bodice at Victoria and Albert.

It’s dated to 1630-39 and V&A has this to say about it:

In the 1630s, women’s fashions featured high waistlines and short full sleeves set deep into the back of the bodice. This bodice demonstrates that slashing, popular in the 16th century, continued well into the 17th century. The satin has been deliberately cut in regularly placed wavy lines. Although only the bodice of this outfit now survives, it would have been worn with a petticoat and the ensemble completed with stomacher, lace ruff and cuffs.

Apart from being pretty, I also find it interesting construction-wise as it has a lining reinforced with two kinds of buckram as well as whale bones and may have been worn without stays, as the lining is so supportive. Presumably the missing stomacher was boned as well, which makes that interpretation possible. I would like to test that theory, though I’m well aware that a lady with ample assets as myself may find the support lacking in a way a more slender lady would not. But, if that is the case, then it wouldn’t be too difficult to wear it with additional stays, though probably rather hot.

As I probably never will be able to just cope an existing garment, I have no plans to do so now. I want to copy the lining as closely to the original as I can, and follow the pattern, but though I probably will retain the pinking, I will not slash my bodice. I also plan to make it in a nice dark purple taffeta that have been saying 17th century to me for a couple of years now.

The picture this post started with, “The Earl and Countess of Bedford” by Anthony Van Dyck, is the illustration to the bodice in Seventeenth-century Women’s Dress Patterns and it do seem to be very like it, apart from the slashing. It’s worn very simple with no collar and cuff, just the chemise visible, but with pearls used to close the bodice over the stomacher. However, this painting, also by Van Dyck and dated 1633-35 (probably showing us Anne Sophia Countess of Carnarvon) depicts a similar bodice, though worn without a stomacher, or perhaps a white one, though I have rarely seen stomacher with a different colour than the gown, where the lacing is done by a pink ribbon and the pearls just draped over it. It is also worn with a white bows decorating the waistline, a simple collar and layered cuffs, providing us with a variation in how to wear this type of bodice. Another difference is that the bodice seem to stop at the waist, though it is a bit hard to see. I think it’s possible that it does extend further, like the V&A bodice, but that the skirt is simply worn over the bodice instead of the other way around.

Click for a high res picture

An unknown noblewoman around 1630 wears a very similar bodice, but with pretty silver embroideries and silver lacing. She also wears a lacecollar and cuff.

Another version worn by Anne Cecil, Countess of Stamford Her bodice has no visible lacing, perhaps it is pinned if not the belt is the only mean of holding it together. The stomacher has the typical look of the time, rather narrow so that it is a clear space between it and the bodice. And yet another look on collar and cuffs.

Diana, Countess of Elgin painted in 1638 by Cornelius Johnson wear a similar bodice, but here there are no gores, leaving slits instead. This version pops up rather more often than the one with gores. Here the bodice is closed with a red ribbon, echoing the colour of the flower at he bosom.

So without deviating too much from history, it seems that I can do some changes on the design, if I want to. And though it will be perfectly wearable to wear with just the chemise, I have the option on adding cuffs and collar for variation.

Though the waist is located higher during the 1630’s than in the 18th century I will use my usual standard bodice pattern when drafting the pattern for this bodice. It has the right proportions for me, so with that as base and with the help of the diagrams, I ought to be able to get a pattern that fits my body. I also need to locate buckram, preferably of two different weights. Linen canvas for the lining I already have in abundance, but the plastic whalebone in my stash is more narrow than the ones used in the bodice. Either I will have to locate wider ones, or make do with the narrower ones. I also need to make myself a proper bumroll to give the skirt some girth.

Step one, in other words; Make a pattern!


Anonymous said...

I was given the same book last christmas and have also been yearning to make c17th costume again(oddly enough I also had a bit of taffeta in my stash that seemed likely). last time I made anything this period was in my teens.

even then I had a large bust, and can assure you that a dress like the one you had in mind can be fully supportive, and comfy, without stays.

my trouble is I want to find a way to use some silk braid on my bodice, as I want to make myself some of the c17th stuff I made for Jenny for the current run at the globe, but I can't quite decide what to do with it. I really should just mail her and ask if I can put some on a girls dress, but I've been shy of bothering her in the middle of a big job.

Isis said...

And now the next book is due soon- I can't wait!

I never done anything 17th century before, apart from a shift, so I feel quite itchy to start. :)

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