This dress is based on the painting “On the Thames” by James Tissot from 1874. I fell in love with the details of the dress and wanted to try to recreate these details on a gown of my own. As a relatively new costumer, just about one year and self-taught, this made quite an interesting project. I set the bar pretty high, one complete costume including undergarments and accessories. Primarily, the patterns I used were historical patterns from the book “Bustle Fashions 1885 – 1887” that I altered to my personal taste.
Undergarments: I reused the cotton drawers and chemise decorated with eyelet lace that I had sewn for my first Victorian dress, but I had to make a new petticoat with integral bustle to attain the silhouette that I was trying to realise. The corset was drafted using the FR article on “How to draft your own corset pattern”. It didn’t quite work out the way I wanted it to, so I might have to try sewing another one someday.
Main Dress: Skirt and bodice are made of rose print cotton fabric I ordered on the internet. When it arrived it turned out it was much brighter than I had anticipated, so I had to dye it to match the colour of the dress in the painting. Since you can see neither the sides nor the back of the dress I just made it up, after having done some research on how dresses might have looked in those days.
Accessories: In addition to undergarments and main dress, I set out to make as many accessories as I could. I recreated the hat from the original painting using the trial-and-error method. I really love the way it looks, even though it turned out to be a bit too small to fit on my head neatly. I actually bought the lace gloves, but then altered them by removing the fingertips and sewing rubber straps to the openings so they would look like the ones in the painting.
I have been working on this project since October 2013. I can’t believe that this competition is now coming to a close. I made numerous mistakes that had to be undone and corrected and there were many road blocks and detours along the way, which required rethinking the designs or taking a different route to get to the finish line. I have pretty much completed almost everything that I set out to do and I can say that I am very pleased with the completed costume and its overall period silhouette.