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Originally published at Historical Personality Disorder. Please leave any comments there.

dsc_0389Fashion Through History talks about her inspiration and construction of her chemise gown, here. Lovely!

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Chemise Post #20: A trip down memory lane

Originally published at Historical Personality Disorder. Please leave any comments there.

I have this vague recollection of 2007 being the Year of the Chemise Gown in my costuming circles. I think it started off with Katherine, who spontaneously decided that she had to have one, and then others rapidly followed suit. Yeah, costumers are kind of sheep like that. ;)

Katherine in her chemise gown, c. 2006

Katherine in her chemise gown, c. 2006

At the time, I remember thinking “Why on earth would you want to wear a boring white cotton dress?” Well, seeing Katherine and my other friends at Costume College the following year changed my mind.

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L-R: Jenny Rose, Samantha, Sarah, Jenni, Kendra, Theresa, Vanessa (hidden), Katherine.

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L-R: Aubrey, Sarah, Katherine, Theresa

This picture makes me kind of miss the old Airtel Hotel, where Costume College used to be...

This picture makes me kind of miss the old Airtel Hotel, where Costume College used to be…

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Originally published at Historical Personality Disorder. Please leave any comments there.

I think it’s high time I gave a shoutout to Cassidy over at Mimic-of-Modes. Cassidy has been putting up translations of Galerie des Modes and Cabinet des Modes fashion plates for a few years now. Her translations on the chemise gown have been helpful for my own research, as her grasp of the nuances of French is somewhat better than mine, so I’d frequently check my translations against hers as I was compiling written references to the chemise. Her thesis was also on the chemise gown, but on the later iterations, whereas I’m focused on the earliest incarnations.

If you haven’t been spending hours trawling through her translations, you really should start. It’s an impressive project she’s got going on there!

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“Gown en chemise of white Foulard, with lemon spots, and edged entirely with a black ribbon, contrasted rather well with the Casque à la Bellone, diversified with such resplendent colors. It was tightened by a wide black belt, forming a bow in the back.” – Translated by Cassidy Percoco.

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Chemise Post #18: The Hangover

Originally published at Historical Personality Disorder. Please leave any comments there.

No, not me. This poor thing:

The return from the masquerade, 1784.

The return from the masquerade, 1784.

The Museum of London identifies her as dressed as a shepherdess, based on the crook that’s wedged into the sedan with her.

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Originally published at Historical Personality Disorder. Please leave any comments there.

A while back I mentioned delving into the topic of the chemise à la reine and its *ahem* racier associations. I figured what better day to do that than a Saturday, when people aren’t likely to be checking this blog at work?

But just in case, I have put the image behind the cut.

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Originally published at Historical Personality Disorder. Please leave any comments there.

I love Cynthia’s chemise gown. I think she perfectly captured the fit and overall look of what I like to think of as Trianon Chic.

Cynthia Griffith in her lovely chemise à la reine

Cynthia Griffith in her lovely chemise à la reine.

You can see how Cynthia created her gown on her website, where she goes into quite a bit of detail about the construction on her dress diary.

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Originally published at Historical Personality Disorder. Please leave any comments there.

I carpool to work with Trystan and the last two days she’s been ragging on me for falling off the daily posting bandwagon. Work has really ramped up in the last week and I’ve been up to my eyeballs with it, which means less time to think about pretty dresses.

Anyway, today, Kendra posted this to my Facebook wall, with the caption:

“Chemise gown WITH KITTEH.”

Miss Brummell, Thomas Gainsborough, 1781-2.

Miss Brummell, Thomas Gainsborough, 1781-2.

Ok, point taken.

Standby for more posts…

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Originally published at Historical Personality Disorder. Please leave any comments there.

I carpool to work with Trystan and the last two days she’s been ragging on me for falling off the daily posting bandwagon. Work has really ramped up in the last week and I’ve been up to my eyeballs with it, which means less time to think about pretty dresses.

Anyway, today, Kendra posted this to my Facebook wall, with the caption:

“Chemise gown WITH KITTEH.”

Miss Brummell, Thomas Gainsborough, 1781-2.

Miss Brummell, Thomas Gainsborough, 1781-2.

Ok, point taken.

Standby for more posts…

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Chemise Post #14: My chemise gown

Originally published at Historical Personality Disorder. Please leave any comments there.

As you saw in the previous post, I worked off of my notes for the Platt Hall chemise and wound up taking some shortcuts, like machine sewing everything. At that point I didn’t have the time to handsew every seam. The toughest part was figuring out how the shoulder piece attached to the front and back of the gown, and then eyeballing the armhole shape once the shoulders were attached. In the end, this is how it all turned out:

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Not sure why I have the bitchy look on my face, because I was pretty happy. Champagne, the gorgeous countryside of southern France… I mean, what’s to hate?

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My favorite pic from the trip. It looks like the still from a movie.

The hardest thing to figure out ended up having enough fabric in the dress. I stuck fairly closely to the Platt Hall measurements, and as you can see, it’s not very full on me. Also, I wore a small pad under my petticoat… Um. Probably won’t bother next time as it threw the line of the skirt off.

There’s a lot more that needs to be investigated as far as construction goes, and I can’t wait for next month!

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Originally published at Historical Personality Disorder. Please leave any comments there.

I’m out of town for the weekend so I’ll be republishing the next three Chemise Gown installments from the original blog I started a couple of years ago to specifically track my research progress on this project.

 March 3, 2013

Well, my little breakdown a few weeks ago has passed, and the good news is that there is now some progress in the way of finishing my degree. I received notification last week that I have been approved to take the comprehensive 2 exam, which is the part where my thesis committee comes up with questions pertaining to my proposal, and I do my level best to answer them. Once the committee has been satisfied that we’re all on the same page, I get to enroll in the thesis writing course and write write write until I go cross-eyed.

But that’s not all that this new development has given me… I now am motivated to work on my chemise gown Mark I based on the visual analysis I did of the Platt Hall chemise gown and the diagram in The Cut of Women’s Clothes by Norah Waugh.

Some thoughts about the process, so far:

  • I used the sheerest, lightest weight cotton voile I could find. After swatching a zillion fabrics, I settled on this stuff for the body and sleeves of the gown. The neck flounce is going to be made from the bleached harem cloth from Dharma Trading, Co. The difference between the neck flounce and the body and sleeves of the gown is based on the Platt Hall chemise.
  • Waugh’s diagram lacks seam lines, which has always frustrated me. Based on the measurements I took of the Platt Hall chemise, each panel is ~31″ wide from seam to seam, and the whole outfit is comprised of 4 panels, for a total finished circumference of ~124″.
  • My fabric, however, is 59″ wide, so I settled for a width of 29.5″ for each panel, not including seam allowance (~1/4″), which gives Mark I a total circumference of 116″. Given that this is essentially a trial run for my pattern and construction techniques, I’m not too worried about the 8″ difference between then original and my version. However, for the final version, I am going to cut the panels from the length of the fabric, rather than the width (selvedge to selvedge), to get more width into the gown.
  • The first thing I did was to measure my neckline to waist, and then divide it a little less than half for the first row of gathers. The top row of gathers should technically hit about where a bra band would hit on your body, and I under-estimated a little bit and ended up with the top row of gathers slightly above that point. The second row of gathers should sit at the natural waist, though the Platt Hall chemise shows a dip in the CF waistline, which could either be intentional or the result of hanging on a mannequin for all these years.
  • DUDE, THIS FABRIC IS SHEER. Seriously, it hadn’t really hit home to me until I finally got the body of the gown assembled and on my dress form that this style of gown really is not like anything else seen during the lead-up into the 1780s. Sure, we can look at the portraits and the fashion plates and say, oh, yeah, it’s not quite the same sort of gown people typically wore during this period, but when you’re actually working with the fabric and putting it together, it just smacks you in the face how skimpy the chemise à la reine really is. I can wad it up into a little ball about 5″ around. And this was something meant to be worn out and about? Yeah, no wonder it caused a sensation.
  • Once the gathering channels were stitched down (by hand, because I’m hardc0re like that), I inserted the cords and tightened them while on the dress form. This is where the loss of 8″ in the dress was first apparent. There should be more fullness from the waist down, and the additional width from the waist up would make the bodice portion of the dress less transparent when gathered. Still, it’s not too bad.
  • One of the things that is not apparent until you examine the Platt Hall chemise up close and personal is that the neckline is actually piped. I hadn’t consulted my notes prior to going for it and piping both the front and back portion of the neckline, and it turns out that there’s a possibility that the front neckline is actually still tied closed at the CF. I stitched it down, however. The irritating thing is that my notes and photos are a little unclear on the treatment of the front neckline, so I’ll have to go back and visit the dress again, I guess! ;)
  • The back neckline, however, is definitely piped all the way across, with the gathers totally stitched down.
  • You will notice, no doubt, that I haven’t actually cut the armscyes at this point. I wanted to get the neckline stabilized and the shoulder straps put in before I started cutting away extra fabric around the armholes.

 

  • And this is where I stopped progress. The shoulder seams are stitched down in front and need to be attached in the back after I put it on my own body to make sure they’re properly positioned.

 

Next stage will be figuring out how to insert the sleeves. Gotta let it sit and stew in the gray matter for a while, though, before I take that leap…

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