The Idea and Inspiration:
The idea for this gown was sparked by a Terry Pratchett’s Diskworld themed ‘Unseen University Wizard’s Ball.’ Polly / Oliver Perks, from Monstrous Regiment, is my favourite Diskworld character. Or at least tied for favourite with 72 other characters. But she definitely has the best clothes! As it happened, I didn’t end up wearing the ensemble to the ball, and it took me over 4 years to get it done.
Spoiler Alert: Polly / Oliver is a girl (Polly) who dresses up as a boy (Oliver) to go to war to rescue her brother. So she wears a uniform.
Major Spoiler Alert: At the end of the book, Polly gets a ‘girlie’ military uniform, with a skirt instead of trousers, a tailored jacket, and lots more gold stuff all over the jacket.
I decided to make Polly’s dress military uniform from the end of the book. Pratchett’s books are a bit vague on clothing details, but there are mentions that bustles are in, and Polly Oliver’s story has hints of 18th century design. Would it be possible to make am outfit that both honoured Diskworld, and stuck to a reasonably accurate historical precedent? I settled on an 1880s military inspired, 18th century-influenced walking ensemble/fancy dress. With lots of gold stuff on the jacket.
My original inspiration sketch looked like this:
As it happened, the design morphed a fair bit over the four years it took me to finish it, and I ended up drawing on a wide range of inspiration.
|Moniteur de la Mode, 1887||Oct 1784, Robert Dighton||Actress Jean Alwyn, 1890s|
|Journal des Luxus, 1791||Woman, ca 1885||Dress, House of Worth, 1885|
Fabric and Materials:
Jacket of scarlet cotton jacquard, flat lined in ivory sateen, with a false waistcoat of ivory sateen. Antiqued gold buttons to trim.
Skirt of ivory cotton sateen with gold braid cornelli-work trim
Research and Resources:
Janet Arnold, Patterns of Fashion 1860-1940.
Jacket adapted from extent 1880s patterns
The Dress Diary: