tiistai 30. heinäkuuta 2013

Natural form ball gown, the Toulmouche project

This project was inspired by the beautiful paintings Auguste Toulmouche painted in the late 1870's and early 1880's. The idea was to make a ball gown after The Love Letter and Le Billet to be worn at Costume College gala and change the bodice later in to a corset cover and short jacket combination, like the artistic boudoir ensembles seen in Réflexion de la Beauté or Watering the Flowers later in the evening. 

The dress is made from duchess silk satin. The bodice is flat lined with soft twilled cotton. The same material is also used to make a hem facing and train lining for the skirts. The main seams are machine sewn. Rest is finished by hand. It's boned with spiral steel on every seam.

The little jacket is made from duchess silk satin, flatlined with stiff cotton and lined with silk taffeta. For inspiration I looked at 19th century matador jackets and decided on a simple but eye catching combination of embroidery, metallic mesh trim and silver spangles. I had only a few days to make the jacket and I run out of time to make all the decorations I had envisioned but it will work as it is. I also ended up not having time to make the corset cover so I used an old Victorian undergarment that I had made years ago so it's not quite full  enough and it's also a little too sheer. The sheerness isn't that evident in the pictures, but it's quite clear in real life. For some of the pictures I also borrowed a sash I had made for the 18th century masquerade I went to in April to give the ensemble a bit more color like in the Awaiting the Visitor. 

It's worn over the natural form era corset, a chemise and one trained petticoat.

Some photos in outdoor lighting

I tried to get similar poses to the ones in the paintings just for fun.

Le Billet, Toulmouche, 1883

The Love Letter, Toulmouche, 1883

The "getting ready for the ball" -boudoir ensemble:

Réflexion de la Beauté, Toulmouche, 1878

Admiring Herself, Toulmouche, date unknown (to me at least)


Both the under and overskirt has 6 gores. Sewn together and seams pressed open and whipped.
On the underskirt I made a hem facing out of twilled cotton and added a tape to tie together in the back to keep it narrow against my legs.

It closes with hooks and eyelets. I've seen this in a few originals and I like how secure it feels and how flat it lays.

The overskirt front and train are both turned twice and hemmed. On the train I hand basted a cotton twill lining that goes almost all the way up, but I didn't want it in the waistband. The pleated silk was thick enough. It's drawn to back with tapes as well.

Because this portrait of Lillie Langtry has one of the most beautiful Victorian ball gown bodices I have ever seen and because the neckline treatment is so similar to the Toulmouche paintings, I used it as an inspiration.

Photograph of Lillie Langtry 1885

I drafted a mock-up, pinned the changes and made two bodice halves accordingly. It's flat lined with the same soft cotton twill I used in the skirts too. I made the lacing holes and whipped open the seam allowances.

Then I whip stitched in the bone casings and added the boning. Then I tried it on, pinned it closed and sewed the final seam.

Then I was able to make the last bone casing and then cord and face all the edges.

Then it was ready to wear but lacked all the trimming.

I tacked the lace around the neckline. 

Then I made a rosette, hemmed and sewed in the ruffles and lastly added a trim en Coquille as explained in the Fashions of the Gilded Age vol. 2.

As I was running out of time I neglected to take any construction pictures of the jacket, but first I made the embroidery, then cut out the pieces and assembled the jacket. Then I added the mesh trim, made a full lining and hand stitched it to the jacket around edges and lastly added the spangles. I even forgot to take closer pictures of the jacket but I have this close up.