Sunday, 4 March 2018

Belle Epoque Ensemble, part 1

For as long I can remember I've always loved the jewelery from the Turn of the century/Belle Epoque/Jugendstil. The fashion however beautiful, I think is less becoming for my short and stout build and my age. So I've never really dared to make a Belle Epoque era costume, until now that is! A while ago, quite a while ago as costumes take a long time to plan, I fell in love with Butterick pattern 3716, the Victorian Bridal gown.

So when I could snatch it up for an afforable price I didn't hesitate. Now I am starting to wonder if it would have been wiser to wait a little londer. Why, you might ask yourself. Well I am still not sure whether or not I am bold enough to wear the leg-o-mutton sleeves, so characteristic for 1890's era. I am tempted to make them a little bit smaller.

After recieving the pattern I wasn't really happy with the construction of the bodice. So after some consideration I bought Laughing Moon #103, 1890's waist with four bodice and five sleeve options. Not only is this pattern more versatile but the construction is far more historically accurate.

With the pattern pieces for the skirt I encountered the same problem. Something that I did anticipate when I bought the pattern but I had hoped that it would be easy to work around them. The biggest issues with it? The skirt has a zipper and no walking or short train option. I think I am spoiled by all the great historical patterns available. The long train was taking up more fabric than I had and the pattern pieces were to wide for my fabric.

"Insert great big SIGH" Back to the drawing board it was! 

The easiest option would have been to purchase Laughing Moon #101 1890's Five gore skirt and I would have if I hadn't been flat broke.

The line drawing on the back of envelop reminded me of another pattern. One that I did own already, the Folkwear #209 Walking skirt. Which has a walking skirt length and a short train length.

I still didn't have enough fabric for a train but I'm not a big fan of those anyway, I am far too clumsy to wear one. The pattern pieces fitted my fabric and best part, no zipper required!The biggest difference between the two patterns is that the back of the folkwear skirt is gathered and the back of the Laughing Moon is pleated. I decided to go for a pleated back, it worked better with the velvet I was using and looks slightly more sophisticated in my opinion.

And then I got a chance to buy McCalls 7732 by the talented Angela Clayton, which is also from the 1890's era. The hasn't arrived yet but maybe I will be using elements of this pattern like the belt, undershirt or coat for this ensemble.

It's hard to judge a (very nearly) finished skirt pictured on a coat hanger but at least this way I get to show off the lovely colour of the fabric, Emerald green!



I cut the skirt the exact length of the pattern pieces. The bottom of the skirt ended up on the floor. I added a wide hem of different fabric to keep the skirt as long as possible. I am going to wear it at the Salon de la Societe raffinee, so it will be part of an elegant evening ensemble. 

The hand sewing of the wide hem in progress.
Front & back view.

Here are some of the inspirations for my outfit.

Edith Kingdon Gould in her red Worth dress, 
portrait by Théobald Chartran, 1898

Original dress from the portrait

Maria Feodorovna (Princess Dagmar of  Denmark) 
wearing a fur-trimmed red dress
 by François Flameng in 1894. 

(l) Portret of Louise van Loon - Borski painted by Alexandre Cabanel, ca. 1887.
(r) Original dress from the painting, attributed to Maison Worth, paris 1886

Posthumous portrait of Empress Elisabeth of Austria
 attribute to Joszi Arpad Koppay ca.1898 

and ofcourse  the list of inspirations would not be complete without, Scarlett O'Hara Red Velvet Ball Gown.

The conserved burgundy ball gown worn by Vivien Leigh 
as Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With The Wind.

The dress or me won't be anywhere near this dramatic I promise !