Thursday, April 14, 2011

Renovating the Wrap Front on My Sheer 1795 Morning Dress, Part 4

We have a bodice. I pinched myself to make sure, and since the pinch pinched, it's real. Here it is, put up sans chemise or stays on the dressform. I am quite happy with the collaresque draping, and feel that it pretty well reflects the reference portrait, a pretty miniature of an unknown woman, dated 1795. for details, see

In a slight variation from the reference dress, I am making a separate kerchief with a frill per this English example in the LACMA collection. It's 75 x 10 inches long; mine will likely be shorter but about the same width.

Here is a view of the back.

I made the back very high on purpose, to help with the columnar effect I wish to achieve. In 1795 those high waists really began to take off in high fashion.

If you look closely, you'll notice that the bodice bottom is fully finished at the edges, by turning each side inwards and combination-stitching them together in a traditional 18th century manner. Many dresses weren't finished at the waistline, but both the linen and the voile tend to fray, and I wanted a strong, neat edge to which to stitch the skirts. I will do that by folding the raw edge of the skirt down, gathering the the fabric, and then topstitching it to the bodice.

In addition, the inner, wrapped front bodice pieces are longer than the front bodice itself. I did this for coverage and strength, wanting the inner panels to help support the dress by taking the stress off the top layer so it can drape nicely and not pull out of shape. Those inner panels will be pinned very tightly and securely to my stays.

Next up, the sleeves. I will be stitching them quite close to the "collar", as in the reference portrait, in an effort to further visually narrow my shoulders.

Now that progress is made, the dress has become fun again, although I must say, I am glad that I only do a few garments annually. They take so much research and time! Being a hobbyist with no formal mantua-making training, what is easy for some only comes with great effort for me.


lahbluebonnet said...

I'm glad to meet another non-trained mantua maker! For my first Regency, for one of those school presentations I had to use a commercial pattern. I have learned a lot in the last few years, but I don't know that I can even do the level that you do. It's looking lovely!

MrsC said...

Oooh it IS looking good!! Very exciting and fascinating to watch this grow.

ZipZip said...

Thanks, you all! I've looked at the dress so much that I can't tell, half the time, *what* I think of it.

Off to watch some boys do their boy thing and to -- perhaps -- toile up some sleeves,


ZipZip said...

Dear Laurie,
I bet you could do what I's pinching and tweaking and looking at books and fashion plates and other vlogs until you get the look you want. For construction itself I rely on Costume Close Up and Costume in Detail the most, because the explain the stitched and which parts can be constructed how.

Very best,

lahbluebonnet said...

I'm starting to form an idea of the pinching and pleating and such from watching these blogs. I use Costume Close Up! Costume in Detail sounds wonder. I have seen it mentioned before and it's on my "to buy" list. I saw a sneak peak of it at amazon and it does look great!

Kleidung um 1800 said...

Dear Natalie,
isn't it gorgeous when you gradually get closer to your goal? I sort of always feel happy about and tired of the dress at the same time, but it's really rewarding when you can try the finished garment for the first time.
The idea of the frilly kerchief is interesting as I was already wondering how the frill was attached to that draped collar - so it's not part of the collar, it's a fichu!

Again - even if I sound like an old record - I'm so looking forward to your result.


P.S. Blueberry Muffin is the cutest shop assistance ever!

ZipZip said...

Dear Laurie,

I too learn all kinds of things from blogs and from sharing comments, perhaps as much as from books. The Nancy Bradfield Costume in Detail book is a real treasure. While there aren't full patterns in there, once you have working patterns for most of the *types* of garments, you can use Bradfield as an aid to creating your own designs, and she is especially useful for construction details, like when to use lapped seams, etc. etc.

Sabine, actually I believe the original garment had the frilled portion attached, as is shown in so many fashion plate descriptions. Given how frills were usually attached to caps, to kerchiefs, and to hems, I am pretty sure that the frill would have been rolled and gathered with whip stitches, then whipped to the edge of the collar, perhaps like the half robe in Nancy Bradfield that has a triple row of them. In other cases, the descriptions accompanying fashion plates say that the handkerchief (that's what they usually call it, at least in gallery of Fashion) is and added item. I chose the latter route so I'd have more dress options.

I love my little shop assistant, even when she attempts to lay down on the clothes and I have to shoosh her off. Cats and fabric go together. Does your kitty assist you?

Very best to you both,