Thursday, August 16, 2012

Intro and a peach saque dress

All right, so I’m starting my very first dress diary/blog. So bear with me! I should probably introduce myself – I am a 45 year old librarian with an interest in just about every aspect of body adornment. I do henna and face and body painting in addition to making jewelry, clothing and costumes.

This dress diary is going to focus on my creation of an early-to-mid 1770s robe a la française (or sack-back gown or saque). I’ve never made anything from this century before, so I’m starting completely from scratch and immersing myself in every book and blog that I can find.

Why am I doing this, you might ask? I’ll be attending Costume-Con in Denver next year (2013) and I want to enter the historical masquerade competition. I’ve only entered one competition before at the novice level. Since I won my category, I have to compete at the journeyman level this time. Steppin’ up the pressure now! The convention is in May, so that means I have about 9 months to get ready. Since I’m going to *try* to sew everything by hand, it may be a tight fit. (Note the emphasis on TRY.) :)

My inspiration is this lovely 1775 number from the Museum of Arts and Crafts in Hamburg:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a very similar one also:

And here’s my fabric:

I bought 15 yards of this fabulous silk taffeta because I was paranoid about not having enough fabric. It started out as 10, then I decided on 12 and finally ended up with 15. Can you tell that I tend to go a little overboard? I purchased it from a great seller on ebay who spent a lot of time answering my sometimes frantic questions by email. I had to make sure that the stripes ran length-wise especially. And holy cow were they fast! I paid for it on Monday and had the fabric in my hot little hands on Thursday. Silks4less is the seller’s ebay name if you’re interested.

From what I can tell, stripes were gaining in popularity during this era. They were made in many colors (although pastels seemed especially numerous), both simple and with floral accent designs. Here’s a jacket from the Los Angeles County Museum that features very similar fabric to mine, just with smaller white stripes:

Next – Planning the pattern.

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