Embers – 1876 Visiting Gown

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This particular frock has long been on my ‘to do ‘list. One of the ‘love at the first sight’ thingd – the moment I opened Harper’s Bazar on that page, I fell in love in the elegant lines of the frock, beautifully accentuated by the trim. I simply had to do it…

 The original fashion plate and the description:

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  Getting the colours and trims right was always going to be tricky – and indeed, the gown was finished much later than I had planned as I couldn’t get the trims to play with the fabric. I wanted to keep the original colouring of the gown – grey, black and crimson/red, and if possible to get the trim patterned as well.

 The fabric was easy – looking through my James Hare swatches I stumbled upon the booklet with Connaught silk ( wool and silk  blend) and their graphite was just perfect.

 Trims – well, that was tricky indeed!

 Well, after buying  a few lots online, i realized that it didn’t  work – the trims that looked perfect on the screen turned out to be too gold, or too orange or too brown. In the end I went with a ‘back up’ plan – I had 4m or silk velvet in almost the right colour ( with a bit more raspberry sheen than i would wish, but the best match so far), and just needed a secondary trim – and since Lucas was in London one day, he was sent on a trim finding mission in the caverns of Lawson and Barnett Trimmings. Armed with fabric swatches, hubby was able to hunt down a few possibilities and after reaching approval additional trim was finally bought.

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 altogether the following materials were used:

 Silk – 6m,

lining ( cotton, black and red – 6m),  red silk for the sleeves – 1m

 silk velvet -3m

trim – 37m ( yes, 37!!!!)

 black cord – 16m

 black chenille cord – 15m

 metal buttons for baleyeuse – 20

cotton broderie anglaise lace for baleyeuse – 12m

 silk and cotton thread, black lacing, bones for boning the bodice etc

velvet covered buttons – 40

tassels – 4 pairs from Gina B  ( need to get one more pair)

 Now I had the components I could at last start work….

 The garments per se were not too tricky – the skirt was simple ( similar in shape to the skirt for my 1877 polonaise), and the overskirt was  pretty basic too – though the draping wasn’t!

 Bodice – I drew the pieces up first in spare cotton fabrics, made a mock up and only after making sure it worked well, I cut the proper fabric.

 Here skirt and bodice half way through – awaiting trimming… looking very demure, but already liking the shape

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 then it was cutting the velvet bias bands to go over the skirt… with the usual helper of course…

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 In the hindsight, I should have cut the bands in exactly the shape i needed them – that would take up a bit more fabric, but would make the trim lie flatter…

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skirt is bound in black cotton, chenille cord applied, and now the fancy trim is being sewn on

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pinning up the velvet strips

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stitching the thing… hate sewing velvet…..

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and the other side being done…

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most of the trim on!

Then the overskirt received the trim treatments and it was time to start draping the thing…

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hindsight – should have bought 1 more meter and made the overskirt just a tad more voluminous at the back…

the side was pleated..

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bustle part bustled and secured by the inside tapes…

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side pleats were set and then the cords were attached – they all come together, secured in a bit of fabric – the cords with tassels will be added here too. that bit simply pins under the bustle once the overskirt is on.

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the rosette and tassels were added… the centre of the rosette is decorated with a button – the same silk covered buttons with chenille braid embellishment were then put on the folds, over the braid attachment

 and then I could actually try the thing on…

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 Once I was happy, I added closures to the skirts, added  the cords and buttons, and started on the bodice – and I must admit that was one of the most complex thing I have ever done! the shape and construction were easy, it was the closure and the trim placement that was a bit of a logistic nightmare!

 The trim itself was very tricky – here it had to be cut in exactly the shape it needed to appear on the bodice, bias strips did not work well 😦

 The description says the bodice is laced – but you see buttons on the illustration. I originally planned to go just with the buttons – but once I started playing with the trim placement, I realized that buttons, will only work, if they have loops, so that the pieces don’t overlap ( lines of the trim were upset by this). loops may put too much strain on the bodice/button – so maybe the original was right after all…

 In the and  I added lacing strips inside the bodice, so that the bodice laces up, and the buttons and lops secure the very edges providing a neat, flat finish and bot bearing too much strain.

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inside lacing, outside buttons and loops

  the sleeves were a handful too – I did each of them separately, so it was completely finished, trim and all, when it was set in.

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cuff detail, with the cord and tassels

 The whole thing was first worn on a set of a Sugar Skull photo shoot – I was providing costume for one of the models and we decided to shoot Embers in between the other stuff ( a whole new post on that once the photos go public! very usuasual and magical stuff:-).

 The gown was worn on the usual underpinnings:

  A new lawn and lace chemise ( we now stock a few of them for sale:-), drawers, stockings, basic corset ( again, testing our  stock item here – worked very well!), Tavistock boots ( American Duchess), small bustle pad.

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close up

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considering the corset was a generic size 12 and not made for me at all – it was surprisingly comfortable!

And the frock itself

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 After the shoot, and before the first event, I added a baleyeuse ( dust ruffle) to protect the trained skirts from the dirt.  the Ruffle simply unbuttons and is chucked into the washer when it is dirty – then is pinned up again.

 Here’s the baleyeuse after a whole day of walking around the market – not too bad!

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 It also peaks just a bit from the skirts – and the weight of it makes the train lie better and not bunch up when walking:-)

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at the market

  Altogether -pretty pleased with it.  yes, should have ordered a tad more fabric, and still need to add the collar, but  so far I am rather pleased how it turned out, even despite all the bad language that occurred while making it….:-)

  Now hopefully we can have some more Victorian booking to wear the thing!

 photography : Pitcheresque Imagery

 frock –  Prior Attire – obviously 🙂

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7 thoughts on “Embers – 1876 Visiting Gown

  1. Pingback: Sugar Skull Photoshoot | A Damsel in This Dress

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