The Idea and Inspiration:
The idea for this gown was sparked by a Terry Pratchett’s Diskworld themed ‘Unseen University Wizard’s Ball.’ Â Polly / Oliver Perks, from Monstrous Regiment, is my favourite Diskworld character. Â Or at least tied for favourite with 72 other characters. Â But she definitely has the best clothes! Â 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. Â 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. Â 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. Â Would it be possible to make am outfit that both honoured Diskworld, and stuck to a reasonably accurate historical precedent? Â I settled on an 1880s military inspired, 18th century-influenced walking ensemble/fancy dress. Â 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 Â Â||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. Â 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: