I’ve based my pattern on the 1805-9 dress in Janet Arnold with reference to patterns from other slightly later extent garments, and my inspiration fashion plate and extent garment, to bring it up to date for a dress that would be the latest fashion in January 1813.
The bodice will be fully lined with white linen, so I started with that, sewing the linen together, and then sewing the wool pieces to the support lining, using careful little 14 stitches to the inch (OK, sometimes it was only 12 or 13).
The side-back panels went first, followed by the back panels:
There was no ideal layout for the paisley border print, so I just did my best. I quite like the way the pattern meets at the centre back.
I originally considered having the centre back fasten with buttons like the 1805-9 dress in JA, but I didn’t have any suitable buttons in stash, and decided that hooks and loops would work better with the fabric, and be easier. The wool is too heavy for the tie fastenings used in this dress to be an option:
With the back all constructed, I put the bodice on Isabelle and pinned on the skirt to play with sleeve and bodice front options.
I love the white under-sleeves in so many of the inspiration images, and the sleeve-swags in my main inspiration image – there is a lovely tension between the pure white sleeves rising above the dress, and the slight suggestion that the dress is about to slide right off the wearer.
However, as so often happens, what looks good on the mannequin doesn’t work on the body, so when I actually sewed the dress together, what happened was a little different:
I’m afraid I have no real source to authenticate what I have done with my bodice, but it does echo what you see going on in paintings of Kashmiri dresses such as this one, and it actually worked with my fabric, and my body:
These photos were taken at the Basin Reserve with the last of the sunshine on a very windy Saturday. It was supposed to be a photoshoot for the finished dress, but that didn’t quite happen.
Still, I’m not entirely sad the photoshoot didn’t work out – it’s great to give the dress a test run to figure out what is working and what isn’t, and now I have two days (well, one now) to get everything perfect before my deadline.
So what needs to be done? This:
- Re-do skirt pleating at centre back, pleating in a different way and bringing the pleats out from the CB slightly more. While I do this I may get rid of the demi-train, because fetching as it is, it’s not accurate for a dress made of Kashmiri shawls.
- Give the sleeves an organza underlining, re-sew them on, and gather them at the bottom.
- Sew on the sleeve swags (you can see the little pieces that they will be attached to in the pictures)
- Sew hooks and loops to the bodice-skirt meeting, and possibly the skirt opening
- Figure out why the heck the back of the bodice turned out so low, and fix it if possible (I mean, I wanted it to be low – the orange dress above has a low back, but this is ridiculous):
Still, the dress generally looks quite good, especially paired with the last of the pohutakwa blossoms: