Friday, April 4, 2014

Queen Anne- Process of Costume

The Process:
In creating the dress for Queen Anne, I thought it would be most appropriate to start with an 18th Century Robe à la Franç off to the Internet to research...
The Robe à la Française gown that is most associated with the eighteenth century Rococo style, or a decorative style that featured purely ornamental designs and ornament with intricate floral patterns, popular between 1715 and 1775, is the robe à la française.

Made of rich fabrics and loaded with frilly decoration, the robe à la française was worn by only the most wealthy women. It featured a tight-fitting bodice with a square neckline. The ties along the front of the bodice were hidden beneath a stomacher, or triangular panel, that was richly decorated with bows or ruffles.

Tight sleeves covered the arm from the shoulders to the elbows, where many layers of lace and ruffles, called engageantes, circled the lower arm.
The back of the dress featured the same floor-length pleats. The outer skirt of the robe à la française was made of a fabric was left open at the front to reveal a petticoat.
Next I needed to find an illustration, this will give me a more simplified look to help me understand what is to be created. This helps me in two ways, one breaking down the pieces and parts of the gown to create the pattern and to know approximately how much and what kind of fabric to buy for each part.
Finding the perfect fabrics was next on my list. It so happened that my dear friend Pamela Armas (Treasures of the Gypsy) was in town with her lovely fabrics.

I found these two fabrics...the ornate for the outside robe and the peachy "burn out" for one of the underskirts...other pieces can be filled in with dupioni (not period correct) silk.
What held my attention mostly of this robe fabric was the scallop edge that I thought would work out very nicely for the hemline and somehow with the sleeve.

Although gorgeous, I wanted to tweak the robe fabric, by softening the value -color intensity.
I have been over dying fabric for years and do not find this process in the least bit intimidating in any case...I decided to start with the less invasive treatment- tea. No luck, I believe the embroidery threads are of a poly mix and the tea had no effect. So my next trick up my sleeve is good ol' Rit dye. It will dye just about anything.

I mixed up a dye bath of tan a little stronger than usual to counter react the poly. Into the dye bath went the fabric and it came out not bad but, a little darker than I really wanted. So I washed the fabric in my machine. I know you are thinking how can this fabric take all this??- good quality is the answer.

It came out- still not happy with the color- so yes, I made a bleach bath and dipped it in and took it down in value to achieve the exact color I wanted- back into the washer (and dryer)...perfect!
The Design:

As I design any garment, I draw out my pattern, sew, make corrections, and (always) write myself notes. Sometimes, it may be a year before I come back to that pattern- so notes are always good!

In some cases, I will also do a test run on the paper before I commit and cut (my usually expensive) fabric. 
Here I folded the paper to see how it could drape and 
adjusted it several times, marking the final pleats in blue...
Side note: I love sewing, especially hand-sewing- and I am grateful, that now I have made schedule changes that allow me to be mindful- focusing of attention and awareness. It has brought a whole new caliber of experience to the moment-to-moment stitches. I feel that my work is reaching closer in communicating what is in my heart- my soul.
Sewing the Garment:
I am doing a gown of inspiration from a period and not a replication. I find that the more I use my brain in creating things that are an inspiration from something and not a replication, the more original it will be.
Much of this garment was hand-sewn together. I did use dupioni as many of my liners- which I have stated was not time period correct, but I love sewing with it and it drapes with a bit of stiffness that I like..and it IS my design!
sewing the ruffle to the sleeve

Robe a la Française 
Over lace with liner of silk orange dupioni

Skirts and Stomacher
Under skirt of pale peach dupioni with silk tie
Over skirt of (peach burn out) fabric with silk tie
 Stomacher pale peach dupioni with antique lace overlay
Hat and Mule Slippers
 All hand-sewn
Hat of mat board, dupioni, antique lace, & silk ribbons
Shoes of mat board, silk fabric, little pearl buttons, & silk ribbon
 Costumed and ready for an outing!

 check out the Designing of the Body! Link here

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