This Colonial Williamsburg fabric sat on my shelf for months. The fabric just wasn't speaking to me, for some reason. And then I opened my copy of Historical Fashion in Detail to page 42. The print on this 1780's Dutch gown at the V&A is remarkably similar to my print, but it had been further embellished with thousands of tiny gold dots. I immediately fell in love with the texture and depth that the dots added to the fabric. The gown was precisely what I wanted to make, too. And so, a “simple” personal project became much more complex.
You can read more about my dot process on my blog (link below). The dots took about 18 hours and 13 paint pens. I bought every pen within a 40 mile radius! The bodice pattern came from a previous custom gown made for a client who was almost exactly my size. I changed the sleeve and moved style lines. The skirt is 3 panels of the 44” wide fabric. The information on the V&A website, as well as the diagrams in Historical Fashion in Detail, helped immensely in re-creation. I used a mixture of historical and modern theatrical construction techniques to assemble the gown. All visible stitching is done by hand.
I had originally planned to make an ivory petticoat, matching the V&A display. However, I changed my mind when I found the berry pink silk in my stash. I used a rotary cutter with pinking blade to cut the zig zag edge on the ruffle.
The ensemble is completed with a false rump consisting of two stuffed pads, Redthreaded 18th Century stays, a linen under-petticoat, and a hand stitched organdy cap. I plan to make a fichu and chemise before I wear it again. Many thanks to my husband for playing photographer with my iPhone in 30 degree weather!