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


  1. She is really a lovely doll, so many interesting and intricate details. A pattern would be great!!

    1. Thanks for your comment Mary- Next year this will be a pattern as part of the Master Series Pattern line including Queen Anne and also Ling Li!!

    2. Your Queen Anne is just fabulous! I love watching the process of how your doll is becoming a Queen Anne. I can't wait for the pattern:) Thanks for sharing pictures~

  2. Love, love, LOVE what you did to the fabric! Your simplified gown was perfect for the style of doll. Well done!

  3. I love how the RIT dye toned down the fabric. I have quite a few pieces of Pamela's gorgeous fabrics but sometimes they're a bit color intense. It's nice to know that ordinary RIT will work. :-) Can't wait to see your new line of patterns.

  4. Love following the process. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I love her eyes! They look like glass inlaid into the "wooden" face. Really excited to buy the pattern. Thank you for the inspiration Leslie

  6. PS. Roughly how much bleach in how much water do you use for a "mild" softening of a too intense colour, and how long would you leave the fabric in the solution ? Hope you don't mind my asking......the thought of bleaching beautiful fabric terrifies me ! Thank you

    1. Bleach is a tricky substance... I used it because I have used it many times to lighten and did it knowing that I was taking a risk of destroying the fabric. I did a strong solution - 80% bleach 20% water-because I knew that fabric was a poly-blend. If you are using silk I would reduce the bleach dramatically to 5% or less. You can always add more bleach but can't repair fabric. Remember bleach does compromise (ages) your fabric so rinse really really well. I washed mine in the washer after I bleached it to remove any hint of bleach remaining in the fabric.

    2. Thank you so much for the tips, have looked on Doll Makers Journey for the pattern but couldn't find it. Fingers crossed it will be there in time for Christmas ! Best wishes

    3. Hi Jules,
      Thank you for checking in...because of things that needed my attention, the Queen Anne patterns have been pushed back to 2016.

    4. Hi Leslie, 2017 is almost over and still no Queen Anne ! I keep checking on DMJ but no joy. Are you still going to make the pattern available or has it been cancelled ? Yours hopefully, Jules .

    5. Hi Jules,
      It is still on my list to accomplish by end of year.
      I know that many want the pattern! I have not forgotten!
      With many life changes, my focus has been on my private personal life.

  7. Thanks for the update Leslie, really can't wait ! There are so few decent patterns that reproduce these lovely old dolls, so it's really exciting when a quality designer is about to launch one. Also saw your Amelia Grey doll classes and hope (fingers crossed) that pattern will be available eventually too ? I am too far away to visit your classes but would love the opportunity to purchase Amelia as well as the Queen Anne pattern. Inspiration strikes when ever I see your work, thank you and best wishes.


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