V29: Fabrics for Colonial Williamsburg…Again.

Oh, the best laid plans of seamstresses….

I went shopping for fabrics today and came across the perfect stripe silk for my future Colonial Williamsburg polonaise.  It looked at me and just screamed “MAKE ME INTO A POLONAISE!”  This is it:
So, of course, the CW “Mix-n-Match” plan has again changed, again:
Two patterned linen/cotton jackets, one striped polonaised gown, two solid colored silk petticoats.
After reading Demode’s and Dreamstress‘ articles about printed cottons (thank you Kristin and WandaBVictorian), the printed jackets really need to have light/white grounds, but I have a choice of colors to use for the prints.  I’ve acquired linen/cotton to work with, and I think the floral stamp in a red will be lovely, and the leaf stripe in a blue will give a different look.  I’d also like to try my hand at hand-painting a more open, organic vine and flower design, but one thing at a time.

Time to experiment! 


  • Sharon

    January 29, 2012 at 10:22 PM

    Nice find, that striped silk! I recommend you buy enough to be able to make yourself a matching petticoat to wear with the gown for some other occasion, even though you don't intend to take a striped petticoat to CW. If you don't buy the extra fabric now, chances are good you'll regret it later. (Ask me how I know!)

  • Catherine

    January 30, 2012 at 12:06 AM

    Awesome find with the stripe silk! It's beautiful. I must agree with Sharon, if it's in your budget at all… buy enough to make a matching petticoat. I too have gone back later for more of that "perfect fabric" only to find it sold out . I'm looking forward to the posting showing the fabric made up. 🙂 Wonderful fabric. Thanks for sharing!

  • Lauren R

    January 30, 2012 at 1:05 AM

    Sharon and Catherine, I think you are right. I should go back and get some more! I thought about it at the time, don't know why I left the store without buying extra, but luckily they had a large bolt of it, so it will probably still be there this week 🙂

  • KittyKatt

    January 30, 2012 at 11:44 AM

    Hey Lauren, I love to watch the process of design that you use. It gives me a little hope in knowing that if I change my mind, it's not the end of the world. I DO need to make my changes a little earlier in the process, but I make fantasy costumes primarily, so it's not as critical for me, but I think I could still learn a thing or two from your wonderful sketch plans and how they change over time. Which leads me to my question: do you do your renderings on computer, by hand, or a combination? They look so nice and have the appropriate amount of detail without being too fussy. I can draw beautifully, but my sketches are too, well, sketchy usually to be of much use. What's your secret?

  • Rowenna

    January 30, 2012 at 2:02 PM

    I agree with Sharon and Catherine–I fiddled with my striped gown forever, never quite getting it right, until I made the matching petticoat. Immediately realized that was what I was going for all along!

    I wondered why you say the jackets must have light-colored backgrounds for the print? Several of Demode's examples show dark backgrounds (and there are others in museum collections). Does it have to do with your dyeing technique? Or personal preference? I personally much prefer prints on white/light backgrounds–makes them pop more!

    • Lauren R

      January 30, 2012 at 6:47 PM

      Rowenna – I totally agree, and now I think I've got to jet back to the shop and get some more of that stripe 🙂

      The cotton – my block prints are pretty simple, and I have no experience doing this, so I think it best to start on the light/white ground. I know there were some very complex, dark prints, especially earlier in the 18th century, but I also read that the West favored the light grounds, and it seems like there are so many more examples of light grounds. I realllllly wanted to do a bold yellow jacket with a red print, but I haven't found a source for it, showing that kind of textile worn in the West, so I'm reluctant. …

    • Rowenna

      January 31, 2012 at 4:36 PM

      Even if you can't do the jacket–and I agree, I haven't seen bold yellow with red–that would make an excellent printing project for something else! Cheerful curtains or a vintagey sundress, perhaps?

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