Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Threaded Bliss

Lavender Linen English Gown
with Matching Petticoat,

Lavendar linen gown, 1775-1780
Colonial Williamsburg, July 2011.

The Pattern: Draped by me, with the exception (as I'm sure you've come to expect by now!) of the sleeves, which I took (with slight alterations to fit this new bodice) from the DAR gown, whose sleeves were originally patterned from the gown on page 36 of Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion 1.

Construction Details: Because this gown is the same style as the DAR gown, the construction process was identical, so please see that earlier post if you want specifics on how it was made.  To avoid repeating too much information, I'll just offer a brief overview of the process here, along with some pictures.

The back "en fourreau" pleats, which extend from the back
shoulders all the way down the full length of the gown's skirts. 
The lapped seams on the bodice and shoulder straps can also be seen.

After draping the lining over Ashley's stays, the back en fourreau pleats are formed and stitched to the back lining.  The draped front bodice lining pieces are used to cut out the front pieces in the lavender linen.  These front pieces are then lapped over the back panel and stitched down, and their corresponding lining pieces folded under and stitched to the lining to conceal the raw edges inside. 

The interior of the gown's bodice.  The top of the skirts remain uncut
and are simply folded and left to hang free inside. This helps pad out the skirts
and makes later alterations easier.

Detail of the gown's interior, showing the unfinished armscye.  This is
consistent with extant examples, which rarely wasted time, energy, or materials
on areas of a garment that would not be seen.

After finishing the outer edges of the bodice and neckline, the sleeves are fitted while on Ashley and the shoulder straps stitched down.  Finally, the skirts are pleated and secured to the bottom of the bodice.

The back right side of the gown.  The center back "en fourreau" pleating is on the left.

The Fabric: A pale lavender 100% linen twill, one of those rare but exciting Denver Fabrics sale finds.  The linen is a lovely mid-weight that drapes beautifully in the skirts.  The bodice and sleeves are lined in a light-weight cream linen.

Finishing the Look: The front of the gown pins closed with straight pins.  Ashley wears this gown over a linen shift with tight, elbow-length sleeves, fully-boned stays, a linen underpetticoat, and a matching pale lavender linen petticoat.  A white linen neckerchief fills in the low neckline, and a cotton lawn cap covers her head.  She also wears a new straw hat beribboned with lavender satin that I bought years ago and have been hoarding until I found the perfect use for it.  The decoration is simple big poofs with a double bow at one side, copied from the print below (though the exact same trim is seen on numerous images dating between 1770 and 1785).

"Rural Life," 1782: the inspiration for Ashley's lavender hat. 
Because of the number of images which feature this exact same trim
design, it seems to have been quite a popular and fashionable one!
Image linked from the Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University.

Lavendar linen gown, 1775-1780
A view of the side of the hat with the double bow.
Colonial Williamsburg, July 2011.

An 18th Century Seamstress
Another view of the hat, this time from the top,
showing the big poofs that surround the crown.
Under the Redcoat, Colonial Williamsburg, June 2011.

As always, I ran out of room to post all of the pictures, so if you'd like to see additional views and detail shots, check out this project's flickr set!


Anonymous said...

Your lavendar dress is beautiful. I also love your hat. Period 18th and 19th century Millinery is a passion on mine along with the fashions.
Really nice photo's of you sitting in the circle. I can't remember where in CW that is located.

Lauren R said...


Cassidy said...

I love a simple but well-made dress! Great color, too.

lahbluebonnet said...

I think I was there when Ashley was stitching that checked fabric! This scene seems so familiar to me! Or am I imagining things?
Wonderful mantua making!

Rebecca said...

Awww, thank you, ladies! :-)

Rebecca - The circle-in-the-wall is in the gardens of the Governor's Palace. It's one of our favorite picture-taking places!

Laurie - No, you're not imagining things! That last picture was during our lunch in your favorite shady spot on the first day of UTR!

lahbluebonnet said...

Oh that picture of lunch brings back memories!
When we were taking pictures at that little window, I kept wondering how in the world Ashley got up there! I chickened out because I could just see myself, in my stays and gown, toppling over to the other side and crashing below! I'm quite impressed with Ashley's balancing skills in stays and gown...but then I only have one balance nerve which does hinder things a bit!

Isis said...

Beautiful work!

Weaveron Textile said...

Awesome gown design....