Tuesday, January 3, 2012

An a la polonaise, a gown of the 18th century Georgian era

I've stepped into the 18th century, well the end of it at least, to create three gowns, one a la polonaise, one a la turque and one a la Reine.

I've never dabbled in this period before, I usually jump straight to the 19th century from the 1650s. Mainly because opportunities to play with 18th century interested people is pretty rare where I live and there always has to be a reason to wear a gown! However I purchased American Duchess's beautiful silk Georgiana shoes and now I need gowns to wear with them, of course! Plus all the other accessories, hats, fans, gloves, underpinings, etc <grin>. These gowns will be worn at this year's Jane Austen Festival Australia in April 2012.

To start, I needed a whole new set of underpinnings, chemise and stays, though for the fittings of the stays, I used a t-shirt as the thickness is much of a muchness.

I have used the Mantua Maker Georgian stays pattern. It works a treat, with only minimal adjustments for bodice length and underarm comfort. It's made with five layers, silk cover, two layers of canvas, a layer of cotton wadding and linen. I used cable ties for the baleen boning, I like it, it's flexible, cheap and cheerful and no whales need to be destroyed, a very large bonus. Sprung steel boning could be used, but it's really not period. The issue with cable ties is that they are plastic and make a pair of stays quite warm to wear as air doesn't flow through, but there are work arounds to this that I learnt from the Marquise website. I highly recommend her instructions on 18th century stay making, it is brilliant! I have to say that these stays don't feel that much different from my Elizabethan pair of bodies. These are still to be finished, I need to add the busk and the shoulder straps. I will write a separate post on the creating of these 18th stays, eventually!

To create the chemise I will use the Marquise 18th century chemise tutorial, it's easy to follow and simple to put together. I will use a light cotton muslin, linen would have been preferable but I have none in my stash.

a la polonaise gown
I am starting with the a la polonaise and am using Sense and Sensibilities Portrait Gown pattern. I have said this before, but I love Jeanie's patterns, they work really well for me and need very minimal adjustment and this pattern was no different.

The test toile was almost perfect with a few exceptions such as shoulder length, my right shoulder is always a problem, carrying heavy school bags created a dropped shoulder that no amount of osteopathy rectifies!

a la Reine gown
Over the Christmas and New Year break I worked on the bodice, I hope to get it finished by 12th Night, that's Thursday 5th January, I will post images of the bodice creation then.

Here's the next blog post ... Putting the a la polonaise together

1 comment:

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