Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Snow White 1780

In October it was time for my biggest 18th century event ever. A ball held at a private mansion in the south of Sweden. It was a masquerade and the theme was fairytale. Since I still consider myself a beginner when it comes to 18th century costuming I realized that I wouldn't be able to make the most accurate or the most stunning costume, but I could make one with a lot of humor. I decided to dress up as a Disney princess, but as if she had lived in the 1780's. My choice fell on Snow White, since her colour scheme and style is easily recognizable.

The basic idea was simple:
Dark blue bodice with puffy sleeves lined with red, a red cape and white stand up collar
Yellow skirt

My first thought was to do a short blue jacket and plain skirt, but when I imagined it I realised that the puffy sleeves would look too unproportional to that. Adding a flounce to the skirt might help, but I haven’t seen any flounced skirts to that kind of jacket. It could work with a jacket with a short skirt or tails, but I don’t have a pattern for that, and I don’t trust myself when it comes to draping totally new patterns. Then I found this extant gown from the Metropolitan Museum.

It’s still a robe anglaise, so I could use the same pattern I used for my spring gowns, but the skirt of the robe is put so far back that it wouldn't overwhelm the yellow skirt. So when I had decided what style I going to use I had a plan of attack.

Then came the fabric decisions. I can only rely on websites to find suitable fabrics, but that means taking risks when it comes to the actual colour and feel of the fabric. The big decision was if I should use silk or not. Silk is expensive, but the feeling is just so much better than everything else. In my heart I had probably decided that I wanted to make a silk dress, but it took some time to be able justify the extra cost. For the petticoat I’m using a gold/yellow brushed cotton though. Also making a cotton petticoat means that I can use it for some more every day attire in the future. Still since it’s brushed it’s a bit shiny, and heavier than just a normal cotton.

Petticoat breakdown
Materials used: 4 yards of 110 cm wide brushed cotton. I made a mistake and didn’t notice that the webshop took orders in yards and not in meters so I thought I had bought 4 meters. The difference isn’t that big, but since I used absolutely all of the fabric, wit 4 meters I could have gotten a deeper flounce rather than just a small ruffle as a trim. I also used a couple of meters of cotton ribbon for the waistband. It’s white, but it won’t be visible and I rather use white but sturdy cotton than the yellow but slinky satin ribbon that I had.

Historical accuracy: I sewed the side seams and the waist band on the machine but hemmed the petticoat and the ruffle by hand. The ruffle is also attached by hand. I’ve only used pure cotton, no polyester or other synthetic materials
The Robe
 I got to borrow my sister’s dressform, so that I could get started. I really need to buy a dressform for myself, it’s been so much easier to be able to try and pin stuff togeter before cutting and sewing.

I used the RH822 again and started with cutting out the lining out of cotton canvas. As you can see it was too big and the neckline was really high. I took out most of the width in the side seams and then I simply cut the neckline wider. To be honest I cut it a bit too wide, but it works, I just have to fiddle a bit to make sure that the upper binding or the straps of the stays don't show through.

This is the bodice, just before finishing the neckline and the bottom. The outer fabric is a navy silk taffeta. It's closed with hook and eye tape, sure that's not the most historically accurate but it works really well. You can also se how far back the skirt of the robe is set. From the front you will see the petticoat and the bodice, but not much of the skirt of the robe.

Read more in the next post: Snow White II

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