The idea of how this gown, “the Revolution Dress,” is going to come together has been milling around in my head for a couple weeks now, in a somewhat nebulous form. Luckily fashion plates and two new, fantastic books have pinned down the design.
Thanks to Costume in Detail: 1730-1930 and Costume Close Up: Clothing Construction and Pattern, 1750-1790, I’ve learned SO much about proper 18th c. patterning and sewing techniques, and am excited to get crackin’ on this early 1780s polonaise, using some of the new things I’ve learned.
But first, the design:
|Click for a larger image.
I’ve decided to face my fear and do the back en fourreau, also known as “the English back.” Some draping experiments, and cross-referencing Costume Close Up (gown #3, pgs 24-28) helped me figure it out. It’s so oddly like the French saque back, and I can see already how useful it will be in fitting the bodice perfectly to the wearer.
Here’s a little diagram of the back:
I’ve been looking at the English backs in Costume in Detail: 1730-1930, specifically the English backs + Polonaise, such as the gown seen on page 49. The book has a great chunk of pages on Polonaise’d gowns, incredibly helpful, pgs 49-66. Costume Close Up‘s example (gown #3) is also an English back as a polonaise.
|I traced over the draped muslin in red so you can see it, otherwise it’s just a blob of white-ness.
|The front, one solid piece with the strap that attaches both front and back, as seen on the gown in Costume Close-up, pg 49
Normally, now, I would spend several hours adjusting my draped pattern to fit my actual body, as opposed to my dress form. I’m long in the torso, and my stayed waist measurement is smaller than my dress form can adjust down. This is quite frustrating, and more often than not leads to garments that fit not-quite-right.
I’ve decided to *hopefully* fix this problem with a new dress form. She’s actually a store display mannequin, but what I like about her is that her waist measurement is smaller than mine corseted, whereas her bust and hip are my natural measures, which means I can give her a batting wrap through the middle and put my stays on her for not only an accurate measurement around, but the proper length of waist. She also has bendy arms, which I’m ridiculously excited about because they can be posed (even the fingers!), but more importantly used to fit sleeve heads over the shoulder cap of the arm, something missing in my other dressmaker’s dummies.
|I got blondie, on the left.
Nameless Mannequin came from a website called StoreFixtures,USA, and cost just over $100 shipped. Pretty flippin’ affordable compared to other dressforms. I’ll do a review once she gets here and I’ve had a chance to work with her, and also hold off on continuing the patterning until she arrives.