Admire, Sewing

Finished project: Ninon’s dress!

I teased Chiara at the Grandeur & Frivolity talk that I should never let her wear my dresses as every time she puts on one, I love the way it looks on her so much that I never feel I look right in it again!

Sooooo gorgeous!

She looked especially amazing in Ninon’s 1660s dress at the Grandeur & Frivolity talk.  So amazing I almost don’t want to add any more trimming to the dress.  Or that might just be the minimalist in me talking 😉

The trim is on hold anyway while I find the perfect ribbon or lace.


I’m so in love with this dress.  It’s everything I hoped it would be, and then some.  The colour is perfect, the fabric sublime.  The skirt pleats, the smooth bodice, the sleeves, the laced bodice.  It all worked perfectly.

The skirt pleats! And the perfectly matched bodice lacing!

And the model! *Swoon*

The fichu/wrap thing is just pinned on with a fabulous brooch courtesy of Madame O.  I’m working on a way to attach it which is both practical and historical.

She looks so sweet and bashful here!

We took a few photos of Chiara and I together after the Grandeur & Frivolity talk.  I look like a dork in all of them, but she looks amazing, so I’ll suck it up and post them 😉

Dorky & gorgeous. Or should that be gorgeous & dorky?

I may look dorky, but at least we are having fun!

I loved my robe a la francaise, but now I LOVE Ninon's dress

All photos are courtesy of the fabulous Sarah.



  1. Dear Dreamstress,
    Chiara just swans in that dress. It worked out very, very well, and is just about my favorite of everything you have done, at least for now :}

    Very best,

  2. Zach says

    I’m so happy you finally posted about this dress! I think it’s my new favorite. You really did a wonderful job–I think the sleeves are my favorite part, but it’s hard to pick out just one thing. Keep up with the good work! 🙂

  3. Pamlin says

    LOVE it! The back curve is soooo perfect, and the color just rocks!

  4. I’m not seeing any dorky in the last three shots. I’m seeing a pair of ladies conspiring in some terrible, terrible court intrigue. Mwah ha ha ha.

  5. Dorky. Dorky? NO! Gorgeous and delightful and knowledgeable and funny and talented and amazing–those are just a few of the adjectives I like to regularly apply to Leimomi, regardless of what she’s wearing.

    I have worn the robe a la francaise several times over the course of my burgeoning historical dress model, and have very much felt it’s my thing–I know how to wear it, I’ve learned about its construction, and I feel quite sassy in it. I was naturally a bit uncertain when Leimomi told me she had a new dress for me (and that it involved neither panniers nor a bird’s nest in my wig), because why mess with a good thing? “Gold,” I thought. “Gold satin. Hmmmm.” Surely I’d be fine in good Ol’ Silver?

    And so we tried it on me, not sure what to to expect, and we were both like “Wait…is this…PERFECT, maybe? Is it? Can it be?”

    I would like to think that the dress couldn’t be any more delicious, but that’s just the minimalist in me too, and I actually can’t wait to see what you come up with for trimmings! And the only thing I look forward to more than wearing Ninon’s dress again someday is seeing how beautiful, charming, and witty YOU will look in it!

    • Chiara, you looked absolutely stunning in Ninon’s dress (and the robe a la francaise). I’ve always been jealous of your perfectly historical figure, and wish I could fit into a corset like you do!

      Leimomi, your work continues to astound — and you NEVER look dorky!

      • Awwwww! You have a beautifully historical figure too Theresa – it’s just 1930s historical, not 18th century historical!

  6. Not dorky at all I see a very young and very talented beautiful young lady.I wish I had half your talent and and patience oh and youth lol xxx

  7. jackiead says

    Absolutely beautiful dress, your talent as a historical dress maker is amazing.

  8. Precious, beautiful women in silver and gold, how much better can it get! 🙂

  9. Linda C says

    Oh! How beautiful! I adore the neckline and the sleeves are perfection. In some of those photos there is the illusion that someone snuck a modern camera back to the 17th century. In others it looks like a wonderful dress to wear to a ball this year.

  10. Lovely! I love the 17th c! For my fichu-ish type thing, I whipstitched it to the neckline of the bodice so that it looks ruched, and put the same swarovski crystal jewelry pieces that I used on the front of the bodice at a few points around the neckline. I’ve seen them do similar things in a lot of the period portraits.

    • Your 17th century gown is gorgeous!

      I like what you have done with your not-a-fichu, but I’m really trying to stick with historical accuracy (or at least historical plausibility) with this gown, and there is no evidence that the drapes were ever permanently attached, and a lot of evidence that they weren’t, so I need to find an easy, but non-permanent way to put one on and take it off. I suspect that a lot of them (like the one in my inspiration image) were just wrapped and pinned in front, and that the little jewelled bits in the ones that looked like yours were actually brooches or clasps, that held it on, but allowed it to be removed.

      • Thinking about this – engageates were sewn in in such a way as to be detachable for laundering – so couldn’t a hand sewn on fichu be the same? I also wonder whether an organza would be easier to work with than the chiffon – I’ve got heaps of offcuts if you want to play. 🙂

  11. This is my new favourite dress too, love the sleeves and you are right Chiara wears it so well. Congrats of another gorgeous creation, and you are not dorky beautiful one.

  12. The other thing that always fascinates me about historical garments is that in a time when people did not travel far, and one only ever shared sewing tips with one’s sisters, mother or close friends, how come we assume that everyone did things the same way? With so few extant garments and so little written about it, and only paintings mostly done by blokes so goodness knows how accurately they captured the details, is it a modern assumption overlaid on a situation? Or is there a genuine case for some kind of collective body of consistent knowledge and understanding of techniques?
    I have no idea what the answer is but it’s something I’ve been pondering.. 🙂

    • I’ve thought about that too, and there are certainly styles and techniques that were limited to certain regions, but there is also a huge amount of evidence for fashions and fabrics traveling great distances. The mid 17th century was also the era that began standardisations in fashion. The first fashion dolls would appear just a decade after Ninon’s dress, and they were so important that exemptions were made to allow them to travel even during wars. We know that the dolls were able to be hired for an evening, so that you could take them home and investigate exactly how their garments were constructed. When new ones arrived in the US viewings of the dolls instantly sold out.

      The first fashion magazines also started in the 1770s, with exact descriptions of the dresses shown. There is also a lot of writing about “please bring me a new french petticoat from London so that my maids can copy it exactly”, and examples of monarchs all over Europe sending to Paris for their fanciest clothes, the cuts and techniques of which would then trickle down in their home country. Based on 18th century writings, clothes became more and more homogenous.

      This was also the age of the apprenticeship, when people would learn sewing skills in a very exact fashion, and would pass them down in the same fashion, leading to a large amount of uniformity in the techniques used.

      With that said, I’m sure there were seamstresses who saw something, interpreted what they saw, and then just went for it in whatever way they could figure out!

      • Very interesting! Such commitment to fashion – makes buying Marie Claire seem ridiculously easy by comparison.
        As we also look at things and have a go, I guess that’s not changed much either! heheh

  13. The Ninon turned out absolutely gorgous! Not that that surprise me. 🙂

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