This is an 1826 Spanish evening dress made from a fashion plate that can be found in “Ackermann's Repository”.
I got the assignment to make this full garment with undergarments and all the accessories with a budget maximum of UK£250. It was intended as a theatre costume, whilst also being as accurate as possible.
The corset is a "divorce" type with wooden busk in center front, plus hip and breast gussets. It is made with two layers of coutil. The top of the corset is cut very low and the straps go over the shoulders because the dress is off-the-shoulder.
Under the corset there is a very normal straight cut chemise, which made it easier to keep the other garments clean.
Because of the slightly higher waistline at the time, the petticoat is worn higher than the natural waistline and very often it would have a bodice petticoat. However, due to the off-the-shoulder cut of the dress there was no point in having a bodice. What I ended up doing was attaching bars to the corset and hooks to the waistband of the petticoat so it would stay up. I also made a padded hem for it so that it would help give the skirt that extra kick out.
The dress is made from satin with a little bit of gold ribbon on the decoration on the sleeves to give the dress a little more than just the same colour on everything. The off-the-shoulder style forced me to think throughout the process - it could not to be too heavy, and I had to make sure it was tight at the neckline so as not to fall off. Because it was made as a theatre costume I decided to make fake buttons on the front and have hooks in the back to make it quicker to put on. Considering the decoration all over the dress, that ended up being a smart choice.
The hat was a little tricky to make because I was not sure how the strange pile of fabric was sitting on it - I only had the front view. Covering the crown of the hat seemed to be a good solution. The feathers that were used at that time were from birds that no longer exist, so I had to try to dye one. Then I painted it to make it look like the brush strokes that are in on the fashion plate. I painted a wooden fan black and hand stitched a handkerchief to complete the whole thing.
I am very happy with the final result and it looked really good on stage.