YWU2014 Winner!I saw this gown on a trip to Paris in January 2013. I loved it and spent a while drawing the pattern and making notes on the colours. I have always loved the 18th Century—definitely a favourite thing of mine!!—and when the chance came to make the gown I took it.

I love the beauty in the detail, and have always loved passementerie, so this gown gave me the chance to actually try my hand at it! I had no idea how I was going to do it, but with some encouragement I decided just to go for it and take some risks. The original gown was made of cotton, which helped a lot with finding a suitable fabric. I used a very simple unbleached, scoured cotton - basically a lightweight calico - which had a suitable creamy colour, with the flecks of darker natural tones. I used this for the whole gown, and for the robings.

Other fabrics I used included linen or the inner bodice and pocket hoops, and silk and coutil for the stays. I created period correct underpinnings, the corset from Norah Waugh’s Corsets and Crinolines, and the hoops from Jean Hunnisett.  I used plastic bones rather than steel, as I felt they were the closest thing to whalebone currently available.

There were three major parts to the gown aesthetically  - the print, the buttons and the trim. I found a photo of the original gown online and used that to digitally create the outline of a pattern that could then be printed onto the cloth. I used two screenprints, and then hand painted in the other six colours. This didn’t take as long as you might think, I thank God for audiobooks!

The buttons required a lot of research, and some trial and error. But I’m so pleased I persevered, as I think they are a key element to the final gown. Deathshead buttons are made by wrapping a thread around a button mould in a star shape, until the button is full of thread. Changing colours gives the star appearance.

The trim was another trial and error situation. Original 18th century passementerie was hand woven, and anything vaguely along those lines is very expensive. So instead I worked out a way of free-machining along a fine russia braid to give a looped edge to the braid. The hat and shoes were bought and then reblocked/dyed/trimmed. 

Check out Hannah's blog for more


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The original c1770 gown, LACMA

Hannah Sutherland

Hannah's recreation
Hannah Sutherland Hannah Sutherland Hannah Sutherland
Hannah Sutherland Hannah Sutherland Hannah Sutherland
Hannah Sutherland Hannah Sutherland




I understand why you fell in love with that gown! smile
Yours fits you so well and those buttons are really nice.

Thanks :)
It's just irresistible isn't it!! A friend of my housemates modelled for me so I was able to try it on her a couple of times while I was going, I can put some instructions for the buttons onto my blog (or even on here)if anyone is ever interested?
As someone who studies buttons & passementerie I have to congratulate you on both - Excellent buttons and your passementerie solution is great - it really does look 'right'.
As someone who studies passementerie and buttons, it is really nice to see such great detail. Your buttons are excellent and your solution to the trim using a sewing machine is brilliant. Well done
Mad props to you for both the fabric and the buttons. The result was exquisite.
Amazing job on the fabric - I love this dress! I've only tried using custom designs from Spoonflower - just don't have the room to try something on this scale.
It is an absolute BEAUTY and your model showed it off to perfection, well done Hannah!! The buttons are beautiful. Full marks from me.
It was lots of fun!
It was so much fun to print the fabric! I had a few plays and it's amazing how quick you can add painted decoration to any costume. I've used the leading for silk painting to add 3D effects to things before. Maybe try a little bodice and paint your own floral pattern if space is an issue? You can do it! smile
Holy Mother of God, you screened the fabric yourself and then hand painted it? I worship you.

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