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1770s camisole

1770s camisole, 18th century, projects, travel

Costumes at the Chateau pt. 4: the white ruffly camisole & petticoat

Last project to blog about from France!  For some reason this was the project I was most excited about making, and ended up loving the most while wearing — I think I just had a fixation on being WHITE and FROOFY and RUFFLY.  In all caps, natch.

I posted a bit about the early steps on the project here.  After that, it was all a matter of borrowing Trystan’s embroidery machine to sew the scalloped edges on the miles of windowpane ruffles.  I had a small crisis when I thought I’d run out of the windowpane before trimming the skirt, but managed to find a bit more of the fabric — I had to wing it on my machine for doing the scalloped edges, as I don’t have a fancy machine like Trystan, but it all worked out.  Minus the scallops, all of the rest is handsewn.

I added some striped lavender and white bows, from ribbon that’d been lurking in the stash for years, to the CF neckline and sleeves to bring some color to the ensemble.  And I wore it with the hat I originally made for Vaux le Vicomte, although I changed up the trimmings a bit to suit the lavender color scheme.

The one thing that’s bugging me is that, since I was worried about wearing stark white with my warm coloring, I used a slightly off-white lining for the jacket — and in these photos in the shade, it really changes the base color of the jacket.  I’m not positive it looks that off-white in regular lighting, but it’s annoying, as it’s made of the exact same fabric as the skirt!




Mrs. Meringue & Mrs. Marshmallow: Kendra & Sarah


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….

1770s camisole, 18th century, projects

1770s Camisole à la Polonaise: Draping & Sewing

Because this ensemble is in white, I don’t know how riveting all these various pictures are going to be.  Apologies!  So, as mentioned in my last post, I’m going to be making this polonaise jacket and skirt.  Because what is better for running around the garden of a French chateau, I ask you?

Before Christmas, I draped the bodice and took it to my mom’s house so I’d have some hand-sewing to work on.  I’ve been debating exactly what I want to do for the underbodice effect — period options include a false waistcoat, separate waistcoat, or a stomacher.  Since I’ve done the false waistcoat a number of times, and I like the idea of a solid front “underbodice” (ie no center front closure), I think I’m going to make a separate stomacher.  But for fitting purposes, I initially made the lining close CF, so I could be sure everything fit well.

Here’s the extant jacket I’m copying.  It’s a good example of the fact that there are numerous variations in the vertical pleating of the bodice — this one only has one pleat at the side front, unless something’s hidden under that sleeve, but I don’t think so:

Caraco, entre 1770 et 1780. Musée Galliera, Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris. GAL1992.177.X.

Caraco, entre 1770 et 1780. Musée Galliera, Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris. GAL1992.177.X.

I’ve seen many variations in these pleats, which are what allow you to get some level of fitted-ness.  I found that, with my high waist to hip ratio, I needed something more at the side or side back, so I ended up pinning in a pleat at the side which gives the jacket some shape.

Then during the holiday I managed to get all of that sewn down into place:

It still needs a hem and sleeves, obviously!

1770s camisole, 18th century, projects, publications, research

New Project: 1770s Camisole à la Polonaise — and Forthcoming Research!

So if you’re an 18th century costume geek, you’ve probably noticed the discussions floating around about what is a “real” polonaise.  I’m excited to report that Brooke Welborn, the researcher who discovered that what many modern day historians were calling a polonaise was not the same thing as what eighteenth-century people defined as a polonaise, and I (who had been researching the very similar robe à la turque for a few years) decided to put our heads together and research and write an academic article on the topic.  It’s been accepted by Dress, the journal of the Costume Society of America, and will come out this May.  I plan to write a summary of our findings and post them here as we get closer to the publication date (as well as info on how to get the full article), but the in the meantime, here’s the two sentence summary — no news to those of you who’ve taken Brooke’s polonaise workshops through Burnley & Trowbridge, or been to my classes at Costume College, or read the various blogs mentioning our research:

In the eighteenth century, the “polonaise” was a term for a style of dress or jacket that was cut differently from the robe à l’anglaise:  it had a cutaway front, with the bodice closed at the neckline and sloping away into an inverted V shape (incorrectly called “zone”); the robe/jacket front and back were cut without a waist seam, with inverted pleats opening up from the seams, like a man’s coat.  The term “polonaise” was never applied to any dress worn with skirts looped up; these were called “retroussée” in French (e.g. robe à l’anglaise retroussée), with no specific equivalent term found in English (dresses were worn “back” or “up”).

So look for a longer summary in the next few months, as well as my research into that pesky term “zone,” which I would like to hereby banish from everyone’s vocabulary!

Of course, I’ve had to experiment with recreating this style — a few years back I made a proper robe à la polonaise, but didn’t blog it as the more information you put out there, the more likely you’re going to get scooped!  I will, however, post some more information about this dress as I get that research summary posted.

Now, I’d like to make a jacket version of this style, specifically this polonaise style jacket from the Musée Galliera in Paris, which I love for its froofy trim:

Caraco, entre 1770 et 1780. Musée Galliera, Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris. GAL1992.177.X.

Caraco, entre 1770 et 1780. Musée Galliera, Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris. GAL1992.177.X.

I particularly love that if you look at the trim up close, you’ll see that it’s done in a windowpane cotton, while the jacket itself is in a solid:

Caraco, entre 1770 et 1780. Musée Galliera, Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris. GAL1992.177.X.

I’ve decided to fill out the ensemble based on this 1780 fashion plate from the Gallerie des Modes:

Camisole à la Polonaise, de Mousseline des Indes, doublée de Taffetas rose. Gallerie des Modes et Costumes Français, 31e. Cahier. 1780.

Specifically, the plan is a solid white cotton voile for the jacket and petticoat, with trim in a windowpane cotton.  The fashion plate’s dress is a sheer cotton lined in pink taffeta, an idea about which I started to get very excited, until I realized that I didn’t have any solid silk taffeta that I could use in my stash, I really shouldn’t go buying a bunch of silk taffeta given my current budget, and when I held up swatches under the sheer cotton the lining color didn’t show enough to make me love it as much as I did in the abstract.  So, I’m hoping I can maybe wear a colored petticoat from another outfit under the skirt, and of course a kick ass silly hat!

Next post:  draping and sewing the jacket!