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18th century

pocket detail
18th century, embroidery, projects

A Little (Ok, a Lot) of Broderie and Travestie…

Hey, let’s dust off the old blog to share a project with you! I don’t normally sew for hire, but when my friend Tara was heading to Carnevale in Venice and wanted a hand-embroidered 18th century men’s suit, and I needed the money, a deal was made! She had seen the tambour-embroidered waistcoat I made for Francis, and wanted something similar.

Tara was going to both a Cinderella party AND a cross-dressing party on the same day, so she wanted to go en travestie as a super foppy Prince Charming. She picked out the colors and fabrics. Since tambour embroidery is basically the main 18th century embroidery in my wheelhouse, we decided on that, focusing on this (1770s?) men’s suit at the Victoria & Albert Museum as our model:


Tambour embroidered men’s suit from the Victoria & Albert Museum. I’d give you a better citation, but someone borked their collection database and I refuse to go through 1000 listings to re-find it.


Tambour embroidered men’s suit from the Victoria & Albert Museum.


Tambour embroidered men’s suit from the Victoria & Albert Museum.

We mixed up the colors and added spangles for shine. Tara’s signature design element is the bee, so I replaced the main floral sprigs with bees made from spangles and gold-colored thread.

And then commenced endless, endless embroidery!

A fraction of the soie perlée used in the embroidery.

A fraction of the soie perlée used in the embroidery.


You have to start somewhere…


Adding spangles for shine!


The bottom border of the waistcoat.


Oh wow, I rounded a corner!


Most of the border, bees, and pocket outline done! Of course, this is just ONE side…


Close-up on the embroidery.


And another.

Trying to decide which color to use for an accent (I went with pink).


Done, with accent and bee pocket! But before buttons and buttonholes.

Making the suit was CRAZY, so I have 0 documentation, as I was doing all this WHILE MOVING. In fact, I had to call in reinforcements and sub-contracted Sarah of Mode Historique to make the breeches! And then had a total melt-down when the pattern I had mocked up TWICE to be sure resulted in breeches that totally didn’t fit. Cue a whole lot of near-all-nighters while I recut the entire backs of the breeches.

We initially wanted to embroider the coat, but there was literally NO time. Luckily we thought ahead and decided on a purple mini-stripe so that the coat would be interesting on its own, and at the VERY last minute I managed to whip out buttons with embroidered/spangled bees (matching the bee-embroidered/spangled buttons on the waistcoat).

Tara is still in Venice, so all I’ve got to share are these two pictures she posted to Facebook. I’ll post some more, and hopefully take some detail shots, when I can!


Tara rocking the 18th century travestie in Venice!


She custom-dyed the stockings and shoes to match, and after a crisis with red hair powder getting onto EVERYTHING (thank goodness for try-on’s), Tara restyled the wig I made her and did a great job!

18th century, court dress, embroidery, projects

18th Century Ribbon Embroidered Skirt Panels

So a few months back I posted about looking for more examples of 18th century ribbon embroidery. The AMAZING Suzi Clarke did me proud and told me,

I have two front pieces from a gown like the top one [my court dress inspiration image], which are embroidered with ribbons in different colours. They are ivory silk and are shaped. Do you want to e-mail me to discuss how I can share them with you? I also have some ribbons very like the originals.

Did I want to see them? DID I?

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demode plan2
18th century, 18th century court dress, court dress, projects

Robe de Cour Plans!

Now that this project is underway and the under-petticoat is done, I want to talk a bit about what I’m planning for my dress!

Here’s my source image, which is a preparatory drawing for a fashion plate:


The caption reads: “Robe [in] color of the King’s eyes, striped, robings [in] white gros de tours [a kind of silk], embroidered, or trimmed with Garlands of pearls, [something?] of olive branches, double border of pleated gauze, all the ribbons [in] English Lilac.”

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