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This post has been a long time coming. I keep meaning to write it, and then not having the time to do it justice. This gown was a learning process for me, and I poured many, many hours of research into it (not to mention the hours and hours of completely hand-stitching and hand-embroidering it…), so I’d like to share as much of my making process as I can. As always, I’ll start with a few photos of the finished product, and then I’ll go into detail on the very belated dress diary. The diary for the undergarments (chemise, hoop, stays) made for this outfit can be found here
This dress is a little different for me in that I was attempting to copy, as closely as possible, a real extant gown currently held in the collections of the L.A. County Museum of Art (LACMA), as well as the embroidered stomacher displayed with it. I had only the photos on the website, with no patterns or views of the gown innards, so I had to do some guesswork based on other extant pieces. To further supplement this, I referred to the books of research and patterns published by Janet Arnold, Norah Waugh, and the Williamsburg Association. I believe I came as close as I could, given my time and resources, to accurately replicating the gown.Here is the LACMA’s page for this gown
Here is my gown, compared with the original:
And here is the stomacher:( Dress diary under the jump.Collapse )
I was incredibly privileged to have the help and support of so many people on this project – from the people who helped provide supplies and historical details to the outfit itself to the people who made a point of coming to the show. Much of my medieval reenacting group was following the progress of the project and providing moral support, and my family back home was doing the same. Special thanks to my dad, who flew out for the show and indulged all my photographic whims!
In the end, it was probably crazy to decide to hand-embroider the stomacher and hand-stitch every part of this ensemble in the time I had, and to the parameters of the project. But I kind of thrive on crazy. And I’m really happy with the result.
By the way, that book is a beautiful copy of collected texts (including Homer, Ovid, Chaucer, and Boccacio's Decameron). It was printed in 1721, so it is perfect to be paired with this gown! It was given to me by my friend Joanne, who collects antique books, when she heard about the dress. Seriously, the people who have contributed to this project are amazing!
To those who made it all the way through this dress diary, I hope that at least some of the information I’ve provided here is helpful or interesting to you. I frequently rely on other costumers’ dress diaries to guide me in my own construction processes, so I hope I can pass the knowledge forward and provide the same assistance to others. Please don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions about how or why I did something on this gown, or anything else I post here!