Sunday, November 16, 2008

Williamsburg Zone Gown Workshop

I went down to Williamsburg this weekend for yet another fabulous Burnley and Trowbridge workshop. For this workshop, we were constructing backs made out of four pattern pieces, and then fronts that were either sectioned or had drawstrings (like the late 18th century chemise dresses).
Here, I'm at work draping the back of my fitting partner's gown.These were the pattern pieces that when my partner draped the gown for me. A 'quartered back' or four pieces make up the back of the dress. This back style was the basic difference between the Robe Anglaise and the draping back of the Robe Francaise.Here's a photo of me once we finished draping the front of the dress.Finally it was time for pinning and fittings.Many of the dress pieces are simple pinned together at this point, but the back has been completely assembled and finished. This is what the back of the gown will look like (I'll cut a rectangle of fabric...probably 108 inches long, and pleat it until it fits into the dress. The skirt sews right onto the finished bodice).Here's what the front looks like. The stripes are supposed to do that - I didn't mess up when I cut them. You can see the line where they have been pieced together. I'm doing to cover that line with some trim to dress it up a bit. This is what I walked away from the weekend with - I have more sewing to do to finish up assembling the bodice, and the it's up to me to figure out the skirt and petticoat. I'm pretty confident I can do it.
The owner of the Silly Sisters was at the workshop, and brought a period gown from her own collection for us to look at. The stitches were amazing, and it was interesting to see how the seamstress worked with what she had, piecing where she needed to.Here is a close up of the trim. As usual, I love the pinked edges. How pretty! Amazing that it has survived for over 300 years.There is talk of beginning 1812 workshops so that we'll all be ready for the 200th anniversary of the war of 1812. In honor of this, we got to see a replica of early 19th century stays. Given how much trouble I had making mine, I might take this course if they decide to offer it.
There was lots and lots of inspiring costumes on display this weekend. I love this cap made out of silk gauze (what we could call organza today).
The color and detailing on this jacket and petticoat combination are simply gorgeous!
I especially liked the back - it's a pet-en-l'air with a hood. I had never seen that combination before.
Here is a quarter back round gown, worn by one of the ladies that works in the Milliner's shop in Williamsburg. I love the little detailing at the bottom of the dress and the sash.
This gown has the drawstring front that was one of the options in this course. The gown is based off of a portrait that we were shown during the workshop - it's a dead ringer for the original, right down to the purple hem.
This is Janea Whitacre, Mistress and Mantua-Maker of Colonial Williamsburg, the teacher for this workshop. She's wearing a beautiful zone gown with a raspberry colored petticoat.I love how the stripes on the indian print cotton worked out in the back. The bunching that you see is because she is wearing the back bustled up. In the 18th century, this was called a gown "En Polonaise."
Sarah, the apprentice at the Milliner's shop, is wearing a chemise gown with a drawstring front. I LOVE the sash she is wearing. Her hair is styled in the fashionable 'hedgehog' style of the later 18th century.
On Sunday, Dave went to the museum in Williamsburg (somehow neither of us had ever made it there). He wound up on a once a week special tour of the historical fashion display and was very thoughtful and took pictures for me. Pictured above is an amazing stomacher - all the trim and detailing is just amazing.
These are silk quilted petticoats (they would have been worn on the outside of the garment as a skirt...this was not an undergarment).
The green skirt under the red is quilted, but that is lost in the photo. However, I thought that the red gown was pretty.
Here is a quilted petticoat that is meant to be worn as an under petticoat (undergarment). The stays are a late 18th century style (one of the girls in my sewing group made this pair of stays in her own size). They give a bit more of a curve to the front of the body, instead of the ridged straight front that earlier corsets provided.This is an example of the ridged, full boned pair of stays that would mold your body into a triangle torso, and the front is ridged and flat. The keen observer will note that these are the exact pair of stays my blue 18th century stays were patterned from. I actually have the pattern pieces that would create this corset in the size shown here. Pretty neat, huh?


Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for sharing your latest adventure! I'm really going to have to get myself down to Williamsburg one of these days soon!

I have seen the pet en l'air with hood before in some picture or other. I know that the fitted jacket with hood and matching petticoat is called a Brunswick (though I don't know why) and was a popular travelling outfit. My guess would be that the sack-back style is along the same lines, though I don't know if it would have been called the same thing. There's so much more variety in 18th century people's dress than they are often given credit for!

And I also just happen to be making an almost exact reproduction of the same stays as you (I just altered the sizing by about 1-2") for my MA project. I even got wool satin in what looks to be the same colour according to the book Costume Close up:

I haven't yet decided whether I will bind them in leather.

Where are you getting your boning from? I've been having difficulties with that.

Inoui said...

I also had problems with the binding. Our instructor recommended oak or ash reed splints. I ordered ash reed, and it was so flimsy it snapped as I tried to put it into the channels.

One of the other participants in the workshop is trying actual whalebone ('s legal as long as it's from a native hunter with a license), and another used a combination of oval reed, half oval reed, and steel at the seams. I liked the way her corset looked, so I might go this route.