Tag Archives: 1660s

New Year’s Eve Completion: The Versailles Dress

31 Dec

Dear reader, I finished it.

It’s taken 7 months, goodness knows how many hours and lots of planning, but my 17th century confection is finally done 🙂

I’ll try to break down the process in this post, and there’s the token terrible picture at the end, but this time on purpose. The photo is shot at night time, in a badly lit room, into a mirror on a phone camera to make sure that the real ‘big reveal’ happens at the appropriate time. You’ll have to wait until April/May time for that.

*Advance warning: this post will be hyperlink heavy, so that I don’t have to bog it down with too many pictures :)*

I’ve discussed in a previous post why I decided on the 17th century in the first place, and I think much of the reason comes down to how overlooked it is within the costuming circuit. It’s very easy to bring up pages and pages of information on recreating garments from the Renaissance, or the 18th century, but the 17th century, which is full of amazing people and events is seriously undervalued.

There’s also the aesthetic of the period. It ranges from starchy black and white Puritanism through to full on spaniel curls and high heels for men – perhaps these differences make it more difficult to classify visually than, say, the Victorian era, or the Regency. No matter. As far as I’m concerned, it’s awesome.

This project began over the summer while I was working away from home at an internship. I would spend the days writing reports on town centre management and social problems and come home to some costuming frippery. The two balanced one another out, and it worked well.

After much searching for a pattern (there is no way I was going to draft that bodice on my own), I came across Nehelenia Patterns’ Baroque Dress pattern, and the rest is history. I read and re-read the pattern envelope and instructions about 20 times before plucking up the courage to cut out my muslin – it’s worth being a little obsessive about a new project in the early stages – and then spent the next week taking in the shoulders a millimetre at a time until I was satisfied that the top of the dress wasn’t going ANYWHERE.

I waited for a Saturday morning to cut out my taffeta for the bodice, because I wanted the entire weekend to be able to sit and fiddle with it, uninterrupted. I don’t usually buy fabric over the internet, particularly not in such huge quantities (I ended up with about 7m for this one, just in case something went wrong), but when my fabric arrived, I was over the moon. Thank you, Nortex Mill – you have now been recommended 🙂

I boned and covered the bodice within the next week, and the sleeves and gold braid only took a few days to add. The chemise was also whipped up in double quick time. This is all part of the sewing honeymoon period, where the new project occupies your entire existence for a 3 week period, before you run out of steam. In my case, this was exacerbated by my internship coming to an end, moving back home and facing the realities of the job market. It wasn’t that I lost interest. Making the dress for its own sake just wasn’t enough of a motivation any more. 

The motivation returned with a vengeance when I was haphazardly Googling one evening (as one does), and found a masquerade ball that would not only accommodate this dress of nonsense, but also happened to be taking place on my birthday. Could there be a more amazing birthday party??  The game was back on.

As an extra bit of good fortune, my Pompadours arrived from American Duchess. Dear lord, they are BEAUTIFUL.

I’m really pushing the accuracy limit with the Pomp-Baroque combo, but whatever.

I made some rosettes for the front from the same fabric as my dress, and attached some clips to the back so that they cover up the laces, and hopefully rein the time period in a wee bit (but I’m not going to argue with such gorgeous shoes).

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The shoes were the part that was really needed for everything else to come together. I couldn’t hem anything until they arrived, so I’d put off skirt and petticoat construction until they did. 

The skirt and petticoat are just two long rectangles pleated until they reached a few inches over my waist measurement (to make sure they overlap at the back), and a waistband attached. I found this tutorial really helpful when I was trying to work out what to do.

When I put the last stitch in the overskirt hem last night, I could have cried with joy. It’s been a long road, but we’re finally there. And then I had a dress up and mincing session, with the whole shebang on for the first time. Ringlets, jewellery, shoes, the lot. Here is the outcome, complete with historically accurate phone.

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It’s not often I feel particularly out of the ordinary in clothes, but last night I was ready to take on the world. This has been in the planning for such a long time, and it’s finally finished. 

(I think the ringlets look really good – I just caught my hair back in a ponytail,  left a layer on the top loose, pinned the ringlets in and then covered the kirbie grips with my own hair. I’m still amazed how close the colour is. I still need to mess about with placement, how many ringlets I want to have and I what I do with the back of my hair, but I’ve got LOTS OF TIME 🙂 ).

So all that remains is to say thank you to everyone who has stuck through the long gaps in posting, who has read, liked or commented, or who has found inspiration in any of these little witterings over the last year. It’s been a bit of a journey, and has made me realise that I need a lot more self discipline. But the process of having to get thoughts and abstract ideas down on paper has also been therapeutic, and a good lesson in how to communicate with other people. I hope that I gain some focus in the New Year.

I hope that 2012 has been full of good things for you, and that 2013 will be even better.

Happy Hogmany everyone!

The One with The Amazing Woman Talents.

 

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