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Marie Antoinette redingote c. 1780

18th century, Marie Antoinette redingote c. 1780, projects

Costumes at the Château pt. 2: Marie Antoinette redingote!

Next up, my interpretation of the c. 1780 redingote worn by Marie Antoinette:

Sketch of Marie Antoinette in a redingote, c. 1780 / Kendra's interpretation

Not an exact copy for sure, and I still need to add the random waist bow (is it a sash, do you think?) and various lace bits, plus I’d like to make a better cap more along the lines of the sketch.  But I’m quite pleased with it!

The last bits to do were all the trimmy bits.  For the zig-zaggy white taffeta bits, I measured the length of the skirt sides and drew out a template.  The angle and spacing of the zig-zags really changes on the sketch.  I’m not sure if that’s a perspective issue, or if the original really had such wonky trim, but I knew I couldn’t handle too much wonkiness!  I did change the spacing a bit as it moves down towards the hem, but that’s it — all the different angles would have driven me crazy.  I then cut lengths of pinked taffeta, which I gathered and sewed to the zig-zag edge, and then basted it all down.  On top of that is some kind of textured/pleated black ribbon.  I experimented with a number of different pleating techniques, all of which just didn’t read as anything, and finally ended up doing a zig-zagged gathering stitch on the ribbon and gathering it up.  Luckily I spent 3 days helping my husband vend at WonderCon, so I was able to sit with this thing in my lap the whole time and hand sew!  Finally, there were all those fabric covered buttons, which I made on the plane, on the train, and at the château… I used wooden button blanks from Burnley & Trowbridge, cut out all the circles of white taffeta while at home, and then sewed on various transports.  Buttons are a great thing to make while travelling, as they’re small, quick, and easily portable!

I wanted to try something new for the underbodice effect, so knowing they did use stomachers with this style, that’s what I went with.  It worked fine, especially since the fitted waist means that the robe doesn’t hang too much open.  My initial plan was to straight-pin the robe down at the waist, but since the fabric is relatively heavy, this was annoying — every time I lifted the robe to get in to my pockets, I’d pull out the pin, which would get bent and wonky and I’d have to repin it.  So for later wearings, I just gave up on pinning that point, and although the robe didn’t fit in quite as neatly at the waist, it wasn’t really a problem.

It was the perfect dress for traipsing about the grounds of the château — I felt very over-the-top with my train dragging in the dirt!  I basted on a thick cotton facing as a train guard and I’m glad I did, as it got VERY dirty — it was satisfying to just rip it off when I got home!





I’m planning to wear this at Costume College — hopefully with Merja in her version?  I was thinking about wearing it for the ice cream social, although I think the official redingote meet-up will be another day… I’m worried it’s too heavy to wear all day at CoCo in the heat and that I’ll quickly hit the wall!

18th century, 18th century wigs, events, Marie Antoinette redingote c. 1780, projects, travel

Shenanigans at the Chateau!

(Yes, I am shamelessly stealing that post title from the talented Cathy Hay!)

Aiee, we’re here!  In France!  In an ancient chateau, originally 16th century but restored in the 19th century, and very appropriately eighteenth-century themed inside!

Here is the lovely Chateau de Pys, in the southeast of France near Toulouse:

(C) Trystan L. Bass

(C) Thomas Dowrie. Currently I'm sleeping in the building to the right, next week I'll be moving into a bedroom in the chateau!

The view on a rainy late afternoon -- we actually have a view of the snow-covered peaks of the Pyrennees when it is clear, which I'll post once I've remembered to take a photo!

And we’re having a blast.  So far there have been sewing circles, cocktails, Eurovision final watching parties, yummy dinners…. and costumes!  Most of us are here for two weeks, so we’re spacing out the costume events to basically every other day, so nobody hits the wall.  It’s so lovely to BE in the place you’re going to be playing dress up — no hassle to get dressed and pop over — plus to then be able to put your pj’s on and have a late night, post-corset snack in the kitchen with everyone else!  I could SO get used to this…

Our first costume event was a picnic lunch on the terrace/outside.  It’s been drizzling on and  off, so we set up the lunch buffet-style on an outdoor table.  After food, we took TONS of photos, rambled about the grounds to see the nearby pond, woods, and lawns, played some ninepins, and lounged about on the steps.  As I keep repeating, This Does Not Suck.

Lisa & Francis


Thomas & Trystan

Cathy & Lisa

C'est moi!

Tomorrow:  details on my redingote and wig!

1770s camisole, 1778 robe a la circassienne, 18th century, Marie Antoinette redingote c. 1780, projects

State of the Sewing – France Prep!

So I haven’t been blogging lately (obviously) — partially because I’ve been too busy, and also partially because I’m feeling like the dress diary is over.  There are so many costume blogs these days that I think it’s hard to keep up with them all, and I don’t get much feedback on my own dress diary posts, so I’ve been thinking of doing more wrap-up posts — here’s what I made and here’s how I made it.

But since I AM sew-sew-sewing for France, I wanted to show you where things are!

First off, the camisole à la polonaise is almost done.  I had a bit of quandry when it looked like I didn’t have enough of the contrast windowpane fabric to do skirt ruffles, but I managed to find a piece I’d forgotten about and have eked out enough.  Just need to gather and attach the hem ruffle, and I want to make a couple of sets of different color bows (I’m thinking green and lavender) to wear at the neckline and sleeves.

I’m working on a gazillion things simultaneously, which is kind of nice in that when I get sick of one thing I can put it down and pick something else up.  Here’s the robe à la turque, which turned into a robe à la circassienne once I realized how impractical a white silk satin gown was with a train.  This was a particular adventure because I decided to drape it on my dress form using the fashion fabric.  A great idea, except when you’re dealing with $40/yd fabric.  Yeah.  There were some screw-ups and fabric wastage.  I’ll give you the long version when I write my “how I made it” post!

Finally, there’s the redingote, of which I don’t have an up to date photo.

I still have LOTS of fiddly bits to do — sleeves to set, 10 million buttons to make, plus I am embroidering away on Francis’s waistcoat… And I want to style a new wig, and make at least one hat.  I’ll try to post more pics in a day or two!  Luckily I’m off work as of tomorrow, so I have 1.5 weeks to finish sewing, pack, and get generally organized.  EEK!

There’s also some important news to post about my research, but I’ll save that for another post….

18th century, Marie Antoinette redingote c. 1780, projects

Sleeves & Collar

Next up with the redingote was the sleeves and collar.  The sleeves are a pretty boring story, except:

1) I wasn’t sure whether to make a slightly elongated one-piece sleeve, or a shorter two-piece sleeve — I saw examples of both in Janet Arnold and Norah Waugh.  I tried the one-piece first, but the portion below the elbow gets so weird, that I decided it would be easier to go two-piece.  So I grabbed my pattern from the Maja dress and shortened it.

2) The cuff (and the collar) I’ve decided to make in black velvet, mostly because peering at the black pleated ribbon trim on the skirt makes me think black velvet ribbon.  I suppose it could be taffeta, but this is what I’m going with!  Anyway, the vertical stripes on the cuff are weird, and I had to play a bit to figure out number and positioning.  Sewing those down wasn’t too annoying, but the binding SUCKED.  I’m using pieces of white taffeta cut on the straight the way they would in the period, and hand sewing it down, and I even basted it… but no matter what, VELVET IS SO SQUIGY!  AGH!  The binding kept migrating so it’d be 3/8″ wide here and 5/8″ wide there and I had to unpick so many sections and resew them… what worked was 1) ironing the turn under, 2) ironing the point where the binding wraps over the edge of the cuff, 3) basting, and 4) unpicking/restitching over and over.  LORDY.

For the collar (SQUEE I’ve always wanted to make a big ole redingote collar!), I started with the pattern from Norah Waugh’s Cut of Women’s Clothes.  I’ve seen a number of redingotes in paintings with that extra triangular piece at the front of the collar, but I wasn’t sure about whether there should similarly be anything underneath the back of the collar.  I tried experimenting with a few different shapes and they all looked dorky, given that the illustration doesn’t show a double collar over the shoulder.  The collar looked so much like the one on this redingote:

Source: via Jozlyn on Pinterest


But without the wider under-collar. So I followed something of the line of that collar in back, but again, just the one collar:

Source: via Martina on Pinterest


Surprisingly, binding the collar was a piece of cake — possibly because I’d figured out the best way to approach it, or maybe because those curves made the velvet less squigy?  No idea, but I’ll go with it!

I was originally thinking maybe I’d finish the collar separately and then whip stitch it to the finished robe neckline, but then decided that would be annoying. So I opened up the neckline seam, herringboned the collar to the robe fashion fabric, and still need to stitch the lining back in place.

18th century, Marie Antoinette redingote c. 1780, projects

Cutting the Back, Putting Together the Robe

So the next thing I want to talk about with the Marie Antoinette redingote project is how I patterned/cut the back. From what I’ve seen from various late 1770s redingotes, they’re generally cut with the center back pieces in one with the skirt, but without the pleats that we associate with what modern historians/costumers call “en fourreau.” There does seem to be an interior box pleat at the center back, where the bodice merges into the skirt:

This one is a lot later (1790), but still has the one-piece center back/skirt with interior box pleat:

Source: via Jennifer on Pinterest

The method I used is similar to The Merry Dressmaker’s lazy en fourreau back tutorial.  First I patterned and fitted the back lining, which only goes down to where the bodice meets the skirt, as shown in this post.

Next, I used that same pattern to cut out the center back piece, but I didn’t cut away the side extra, since the lower part of that would become the skirt, and I wasn’t sure exactly what the waistline would end up looking like.  I also made sure to leave an extra 2-3 inches along the center back seam, from the waist down, to create the center back pleat:

Next, I sewed together the center back seam of the skirt, then separately the center back of the bodice.  I laid it all down on the ironing board:

Notice that the seam of the bodice has to overlap the seam of the skirt, so that there can be seam allowance to stitch down and support that CB pleat:

I lined up the center back seams, pinning the pleat open on top of the bodice seam (now we’re looking at the outside).  This will all get stitched down when I attach this to the lining, which ends right where that horizontal pin is.

Then I put the lining on my dress form and pinned the CB bodice portion to the lining.  I tried to be careful not to cut all the way to where I wanted the center back side seam to end, as I was worried about the weight of the fabric ripping further down.  Well, I was right, and the fabric did rip, but luckily just to where I wanted it to end!  So be careful with that point, and support the side fabric by holding or pinning it up — otherwise all the stress is right on that point.

Now I could pleat up the skirt onto the lining, cut away any excess above the waist, and attach the other bodice pieces.  And, sew across that center back piece where the lining ends, attaching the lining and supporting/placing that pleat.  Here’s what it looked like when I’d done all of that:

And the front:

And yes, I am machine sewing a good deal of the interior of this dress.  I’m a little bit surprised at myself, since I do love to handsew 18th century garments, but with all the sewing I need to do for France this May, I needed to get the base of this sucker slapped together so that I could have that feeling of accomplishment.  Of course, I put in the lining by hand, and I’m finding lots of things needing to be ripped out and handsewn, but that’s the next post!

18th century, Marie Antoinette redingote c. 1780, projects

Marie Antoinette Redingote: Starting the Project

So we’re just going to pretend that I’m not further along on this project, so that I can go back a bit and blog its beginnings!

Like all sane, rational people, every time I came across this sketch of Marie Antoinette in a redingote I thought, “Wow, I need to make that.”  I didn’t have any firm plans, however, just a general wanty-ness.

Drawing of Marie Antoinette, about 1785, ink and color on paper, Artist unknown
From Lofstad slott, Norrkoping, Sweden. From the blog Fashion Is My Muse.

Similarly (and somewhat weirdly), every time I walked past this Victorian house down the street, I always admired the color combination of cream, white, and black, and thought that it would be great for a costume.

Color scheme inspiration -- cream, white, and black

But it wasn’t until Leia was selling a bunch of yards of the silk/wool blend that she used for her riding habit (which I LOVE LOVE LOVE) that it all came together, as I was thinking of what to do with that fabric that wouldn’t end up being a copy of Leia’s habit (which, have I mentioned? I love).  So we were off and running…

Now, the original drawing sometimes reads as cream, white, and black to me, and other times as just white and black, but I was happy to read that the color is probably a later addition to the drawing.  Not that it would matter, just that it lets me let myself off the hook for possibly not doing it 1000% RIGHT.  I’ve always thought the brown fur detracted from the color scheme, so I’m going to make that element black.  Just cause I wanna.

One other tweak I want to make is that from what I can see of the drawing, it’s being worn over one of those relatively wide hoops that are one full garment and cross in front and back of the body (like this one).  I don’t love that look, so I’m going to use my standard pocket hoops and call it good.

So out came the dress form and the stays and I started draping!  I referenced a number of different extant redingotes for seamlines, including this one from the Palazzo Mocenigo, and this one from the Fastes de Cour exhibition/book.  Here’s the drape and mockup; I didn’t bother fitting the center back pieces below the waist, since that section doesn’t matter for fitting!