Thursday, 11 July 2013

Costume auctions - bottle green 1880 repro dress

I am having another costume clear out.  The first one listed on eBay is a shot silk and velveteen promenade dress I made for the Llandrindod Wells Victorian Festival in 1998.  Here's the auction link - eBay.

About the dress -

Up for auction is a late Victorian / steampunk style bustle dress in sumptuous bottle green silk and cotton velveteen, trimmed with early C20th black lace and an antique silk velveteen bow.  It is inspired by the fashions of c1881-82, and I based the design on fashion plates and vintage photographs.  It is the kind of ensemble the Victorians would have classed as a promenade dress or walking dress, despite the rich materials.  The colour in the first three photos (the full views of the dress and the bodice detail) is most accurate.

Size is approx. UK size 12 if worn without a corset and it is walking length on someone 5 ft - 5ft 4in i.e. to the ankle approx.  It was originally worn over an Axfords 26in waist corset.  I will be posting actual measurements shortly.  As the bodice is unlined and all the construction seams are therefore accessible, it would be possible to alter it slightly for a better fit, but I would recommend only taking in velveteen, not letting it out, as the previous seam lines would probably leave marks in the pile.

The costume is made in three pieces - a 'shirt front' in silk to fill out the front upper body, a skirt in velveteen with a hand ruched front panel in silk and deep silk frill at the hem, topped off with a 'polonaise' or jacket-type top in velveteen, trimmed with black lace and a black silk velvet bow at the back.  The shirt front fastens around the back of the neck with hooks and eyes and is tied at the back of the waist with a tape.  The skirt has a box pleat fastening at the centre back with large hooks and eyes.  The polonaise fastens with chinese ball buttons made of black cord.  Most of the dress is unlined, with a silk lining inside the back 'tail' drape of the polonaise.  There is a tape hand sewn to the inside of the skirt hem edge, to prevent undue wear to the hem.

I cut the pattern for the dress myself, basing it on patterns in books by Norah Waugh and Janet Arnold, with the bodice cut by drafting up from a mid 1880s bodice pattern with drapery details copied from Victorian fashion plates.

I got the lace c1989 from an antique shop in Builth Wells and the dress was designed to show it off to the max.

Panel and back detail - 


The inside - 


I'm going to be ruthless, as I don't have the storage space for costumes I don't wear anymore, so anything that I can't drive in and can't be altered will have to go.  When I started making Victorian dresses, I used to stick closely to the original cut, but that means the shoulders, armholes and upper arms tend to be too tight for driving (I didn't need to drive in costume then), so I make the cut a little more generous now.  More costumes coming up soon.

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