The famed *secret project* is revealed! *throws confetti*</p>
My second ambitious project of the year is an embroidered Regency gown & robe. I've been planning and working on this for 6 months now, not that you would know from the progress I've made. I guess some projects just have to have a few stops and starts. :>
I'll be wearing this gown to Costume College, the James Madison Ball & the gown by itself to the RCHS Fall Tea.
The inspiration for the madness began with the red bee fabric. When I was given this gorgeous fabric I knew I had to come up with a project worthy of it. I quickly decided to make an Empire something. Bees are just so Napoleonic.
The fabric was far too heavy to be made into a gown of the period so a robe was the logical choice. I thought it would be a good use of the fabric, especially as will allow the underside of the fabric (which is equally pretty) to show a bit as I move. Besides I've always wanted a robe like Marianne's peach overdress in Sense & Sensibility. *wink*
I'll be using the pattern from Janet Arnold for my robe, or at least as the base for my toileing.
The gown will be made of silk twill from Dharma, in it’s natural color, and embroidered with cotton floss. Originally I was going to use silk floss and 5mm Habotai silk. I decided against the silk floss from purely a financial standpoint (besides the fact that it's hard to get ahold of locally) and against the 5mm Habotai because when I tested it it didn't hold up well. I decided I didn't want to invest at least 100 hours in embroidering in a gown that will prick and snag before I've even finished with it.
I had wanted a sheer silk but the three factors that mattered to me the most was having silk , being able to afford the silk and being able to do the embroidery. Also I love the color of Dharma's natural silk. So it won't be sheer but it will be everything else I want so I am content.
I'll be using patterns from Jean Hunnistt, namely the 1800 bodice and straight sleeve. This gown is sort of a re-visit of the Greensleeves gown I made a few years ago. There were several things I wasn't happy with about that one, mostly the fit, the fact I attached sleeves incorrectly and that I ran out of time to do the embroidery I had originally planned. With a few years experience and research under my belt I'm confident I can do a much better job this time around.
The design is from "Costumes of the Greeks and Romans". I wanted something extremely neo-classical and this fit the bill perfectly. I know I should really be doing this white-on-white but I don’t want to so I’m not. So there. :P I have my heart set on gold, it’s so regal. I’ve been very inspired by the red gown in Williamsburg’s collection as well as David’s painting of the Coronation of Empress Josephine. See it's really all about the bees. :>
To make sure my design was proportional but not skimpy, I traced the design onto a length of muslin with a gold marker. After a few tries and enlargements I found a size I was happy. I have to say if the one dimensional version looks that good I can't wait to see the embroidered version! *grin*
Later I tested the design in stitched. I decided to use a stem stitch for the outlines, chain stitches for the insides and buttonhole stitches for the little center ditties. Simple stitches I know but the fancy things I tried didn’t look as nice. I simplified the design a bit too, taking out some of the flourishes. Again simplicity worked better.
I have lots of accessories I want for this outfit but the one I'm most excited about is the diadem. Bridget has volunteered to make me a tiara for my outfit. I was originally going to make a tiara of coral or to resemble laurel leaves but then I found these napkin rings on clearance at Pier One. We will take them apart and use them along with some small gold bee pins I have. *rubs hands together* Have I mentioned that I'm really excited yet? *hee hee*
So I'm just waiting for my silk to come in from Dharma to start on this. I can do the front of the skirt without any frock toiles or patterning, all I need is an Empire waist to floor measurement. Neat, huh? :>
Oh yes I should probably decide on a color of embroidery floss too. I went to Jo-Ann's and bought a whole bunch of different shades. I'll corner B while she is home this weekend to help me pick one. She is very helpful with that sort of thing. :>