A Percale Crossover Gown (CoBloWriMo #29)

The CoBloWriMo prompt for today is “Ensemble”. It made me realize that I have not yet shown you my new crossover Regency gown. The gown will be the base for future ensembles. I have plans to make a sleeveless bodice and an open robe to have different options for topping it off.

When doing some research I found that there are much fewer surviving crossover gowns than other styles. Here is a pretty golden one. Have a look at the apron front closure which is pinned over a bodice extension. My gown closes in the exact same way. :)

Regency crossover gown, c. 1810-20 (Source: Vintagetextile.com).

View of the apron front closure (Source: Vintagetextile.com).

In fashion plates and paintings, there are a few more representations of crossover gowns. Date-wise, different crossover styles were especially “en vogue” in the late 1790s and then again in the mid-late 1810s. Below you can see two plates, one from each decade. The first is a crossover round gown and the second a French percale gown.

Plate of a crossover round gown, c. 1798.

Robe de Percale, Costume Parisien, c. 1816.

Speaking of percale… When I found this plate, my heart leapt a little. The fabric I used for my gown is also a percale! I realized as much after first blogging about it here. Only my gown is much plainer and does not have such a delicious vandyke trim. In fact, I did not yet trim it at all. Perhaps a ruffle or two will magically appear, once I know what the rest of the ensemble will look like. ;)

Here is the finished crossover gown. I made it using the Laughing Moon crossover gown, tunic and pelisse pattern. The fabric is a woven check cotton percale. After the photoshoot did not go ahead as planned, there are still no photos of me wearing it. So, for now, the dressform will have to do the job.

The finished crossover gown.

The back view. I made the skirt without the optional train.

The side view. The gown has a very “Regency-esque” silhouette, even without underpinnings.

A closer look at the crossover front. You can see where the skirt ties over the bodice.

I am glad to finally share this with you. After the first fitting, I already know that it wears pretty well. Here is hoping that I can finally take it for a stroll soon. :)

Cheers, Nessa

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A Fashionable Gift  (CoBloWriMo Day 7)

Today’s post should be about something we made for someone else. Since I very rarely do commissions and have already posted about the cap I made for a friend, I will tell you about the beautiful accessory a friend has made for me.

For ages I had been looking at the pineapple reticule from the Kyoto Fashion Institute, wondering if I could make my own. Being a relatively new knitter, I have not yet mastered knitting in the round. So this goal has remained unattainable up until now.

Yellow silk gown and knitted silk pineapple reticule (Kyoto Fashion Institute, c. 1800).

Last Christmas, however, the wait had an end: A very dear friend sent me one! Her mother had knitted it. She is a super experienced knitter, always looking for the next challenge. For it, she used this pattern, finishing it in record time. I will be eternally grateful to her for this incredible gift! Here it is. I have yet to show it off in a photoshoot to do it proper justice.

My pineapple reticule, knitted in cotton.

Much love, Nessa

Gloves On, Research Up – On Period Journals

When you think of the perfect historic library, what do you imagine?

Big, candlelit castle halls full of ancient tomes from floor to ceiling? A quiet back room at a museum, full of valuable books and curiosities? Or maybe even the gigantic, creepy library straight out of Doctor Who?

As far as I am concerned, the perfect library for my fashion research is somewhat different. And I found it, right here in Vienna. It is located in an old, palatial hunting lodge which also houses the Vienna Fashion Institute (the coolest vocational fashion high school ever). They own a huge collection of original sources, like fashion plates and magazines, dating as far back as 1798. And you can actually use them. :D

When I slip on my gloves and go through old issues of Ackermann’s Repository or the Wiener Moden-Zeitung in the small reading room, I am pretty much seated right in the middle of historical fashion: In the next room there is a small workshop where original garments from Vienna’s historical fashion collection are restored and often, you find garment models hovering right at your elbow. The last time I walked in, there was a whole pile of reconstructed 15th to 18th-century caps and bonnets just sitting on the table. I think I smirked with glee when I saw it.

The first time I went there to look at all these journals, I set my eyes on this belle here:

1816 promenade dress from Wiener Moden-Zeitung

1816 promenade dress from Wiener Moden-Zeitung

It is a promenade dress from the 1816 collection of the Wiener Moden-Zeitung.

Luckily I found this issue in digital on Google Books over here. This way I get the chance to show you. Now you can of course ask:

What the heck does the front part look like?

The answer came in this little text, written in German:

Description of the dress in German

Description of the dress in German

To sum it up, it says here that the gown is made out of red atlas silk and decorated with rouleaux made of the same fabric. It has an ornamental tie, fastened in a bow at the back and the sleeves are full-length and slit down the middle, as you can see. ;)

Now, about the front: The bottom half of it forms “half a shawl” and three rouleaux rolls run from the top front, over the shoulder where their ends meet with the tie. Okay, erm, “half a shawl”, what does that mean? It took me some time to puzzle out what it might mean. I came up with three possible ideas:

First, a crossed bodice like on this dress, worn by Theresa of Mecklenburg-Strelitz:

Crossed bodice front on a dress worn by Theresa of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (c. 1820)

Crossed bodice front on a dress worn by Theresa of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (c. 1820)

Second, an array of horizontal pin tucks/pleats shaping the bottom bodice like a shawl. I saw this on some gowns from various museums and it seems like the thing I am most likely going to do when sewing this beauty.

Third: You could fashion the dress into a cross-over gown like this one by the wonderful Kelly over on Tea in a Teacup. Her post gave me the last hints I needed to get the hang of the whole construction:
http://teainateacup.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/making-a-regency-gown-with-a-crossover-bodice

So much about my recent research adventures in Vienna. Right now, I am pretty cross there was no space for my sewing supplies at the student hall. Can’t wait to get started on more planning and pattern-making for this project. I will make sure to keep you posted and spam you with more pics and suggestions on my Regency research board, over on Pinterest. (To find it, just click the icon over on the left.)

Nessa