I've been working on-and-off on The Red Dress, the Robe de Cour pattern for Simplicity. For those just tuning in, this is a pattern inspired by the infamous red dress Claire wears to Versailles in Outlander Season 2 as well as the amazing costumes from Hamilton, blended with original 18th century gowns. I am making the master pattern in paper, but I am also responsible for making the sample dress that will be worn for the pattern envelope photos.
So far, I've completed the side hoops and the skirt.
The side hoops are the simplest you'll ever make. It's a one-piece pattern! They went together very quickly with basic muslin, bias tape, hoop steel and ties.
Next, I made a Puffer. This is not part of the pattern (although you can use the skirt pattern to make it, or any other kind of petticoat, which I DO recommend, heartily), but I know Simplicity will need additional undergarments for styling this pattern correctly. We historical costumers all know the Rule of Petticoats, but if I don't supply Simplicity with one, they won't have one to use. Without a petticoat, the boning of the side hoops will show through the skirt. The most efficient way to get the most "oomph" was to make a quilted skirt support (and you should too - women of the 18th century certainly favored them for the same reasons). So that's this white monstrosity:
Now on to the skirt, finally!
The skirt is enormous. It's about a 170" hem, much more than a typical 18th century skirt, but such fullness was needed to create the correct look of the gown, and also because the top edge is cartridge pleated, which requires a lot of volume.
The cartridge pleating is not my usual choice for 18th century skirts, but it is the most efficient way to design a multi-size pattern without marking out a gazillion different lines for knife pleating for all sizes (insanity).
Cartridge pleats, though I despise them, are a far better choice than gathers, and can be squished flat in one direction for knife pleats, if you desire (which I usually do). So that's what I went with. In the end, I'm pretty happy with how they look.
But the greatest challenge of this ensemble so far? This f*%&@er:
Not even kidding.
I pulled the skirt off the mannequin to finish the hem over the weekend, laid the fabric out on the cutting table, began to smooth it, and was met with THIS BITCH making a web in the folds of the skirt!
Needless to say, she's not hanging out there anymore, but I'll have to be careful when leaving the gown on the dress form for more than a day or two. Gaaaaaaaaah.
So now, panniers made, skirt finished, spiders removed, I'm on to draping the bodice. More on this later!