Saturday, August 14, 2010

1839 Rosamund's Tea Dress

I have to say I was quite proud of myself for getting this dress done a full 12 days before wearing it at Costume College 2010. However, I lost sleep the night before furiously trimming my bonnet. Argh! I guess since the dress was done, my motivation and speed fell off drastically, so I drug my feet finishing the bonnet. -sigh-

But the bonnet turned out just dandy anyhow. It's covered with light seafoam green silk with the inner brim in a cream silk and lined in soft cotton organdy. The trim is 2" wide chocolate brown double-faced satin ribbon and two large ostrich feathers (which I stole from a previous Regency headpiece). Tiny faux flowers and their leaves accent the inside brim. Fairly simple really - but the effect was true to the period and perfect!

The dress was made from 44" cotton calico purchased at Jo-Ann Fabrics about nine years ago. I saved all 14 yards for a special "someday" project, perhaps in the 1830s/Romantic Era vein. Well, it found its purpose. It really is wonderful for the period. I even had someone tell me it reminded them of the fabrics in the Tasha Tudor Collection Catalog from the auction in 2007.

As I wandered the halls of the Warner Center Marriott on Friday, I kept getting the same question over and over: What pattern did you use? Um... let me think.


As one gets more experience in creating historical clothing, your selection of patterns to begin forming your chosen silhouette becomes quite varied. Here's what I used:

Bodice: This is perhaps a 3rd generation bodice pattern that probably originated from the Truly Victorian 1830s dress pattern. For this 1839 gown, I put on my 1830 "Slytherin" Green Dress for a first fitting, noting how much to lengthen the bodice and any fitting issues I needed to correct. (Shoot me now, because I still haven't worked out that little horizontal pinch across the back - total ARGH! Perhaps I'll just stand up straighter next time for the photo so no one will know.)

Bertha Collar: Drafted off the bodice and copied the V&A original for a nice look-alike.

Sleeves: I started with Hunnisett's Period Costume book and drafted out an Early Victorian multi-puffed sleeve, then greatly reduced the sleeve head and width. The bands holding the pleats were made from my arm measurements. The cuff was cut as 2-1/4" finished width to keep with what I read in Costume in Detail. (The pleats took 2 hours for EACH sleeve and were a pain to get even. I think that part of the sleeve needs to be cut on the bias. Too late to change now.)

Skirt: Cut from my measurements but relied heavily on my measurements from my 1844 Striped Dress.

The 1839 dress is worn over a linen chemise, cotton drawers, basic Victorian corset, corded petticoat, bustle pad, organdy ruffled petticoat, and a plain petticoat. The look was completed with a belt (Oh so period!) made from gorgeous royal blue ribbon with a mother-of-pearl buckle and a oval brooch.

Shall we to tea?