Wednesday, October 31, 2012

18th Century Gown

Working from the undergarments up, the Julia dress was finally finished! My first 18th century English Robe. I was happy with how everything turned out -- this has definitely been the most challenging project I've had so far! There were lots of things to learn along the way and I know where I would change things next time. As per usual there are always choices to be made and pros and cons for all these choices. It all depends on what you want, your experience, and trial and error.

I chose to put my opening in the front of the bodice. On the plus side, this is more period. It let the back of the garment be completely smooth and free of interruption. At first we thought that the fichu would be covering a lot of the reality, it ended up covering more of the back than the front...but so it goes! On the negative, there was slight gaping in the front -- all of the tension of the bodice was pulling at the hooks in the center front. For a front closure like this, with all the pressure of a tight fitting bodice, I should have constructed it with an under-closure -- something that held all the tension -- so that the outer layer could lie smoothly over it with no tension. It could also have used a stronger flat lining fabric and possibly some more boning, sort of stomacher-like. All this is of course hard to tell from the get-go, especially for a beginner like me...Would the corset be enough to stabilize everything or does it need more? Different body shapes effect this differently as well...but for a first attempt, I think it was pretty good! :) And like I said, I definitely learned a ton!

I cut the skirt in gores which gave it incredible fullness.  At this time skirts were pretty much rectangular in shape, giving a different look than what I achieved. Theatrically however, the skirt was full and had incredible presence. However, it did not have quite the correct shape for the period. Doing the pleating with the gores was also challenging. Again, it all depends on what the garment needs to do, what the designer wants, what it needs to look like on many factors!

So, to the actual construction. The bodice is flat-lined to cotton backed satin and boned at the seams, center back, and center front. It is piped along the neckline and waistline and along the center back seams. The seams are finished with lace. The actual garment fabric is a green and red silk dupioni -- it looked fabulous under the stage lights! The sleeves are flat-lined with cotton batiste. The skirt is flatlined with silk organza to give is a bit more structure. The over-skirt and underskirt are on the same waistband (which is covered) and open in the back. The hem is serged and cross stitched up.