Monday, July 6, 2015

1780s Kelvingrove Dress

Something about the new year inspired me to make a copy of a stunning dress that I had seen in the summer of 2014 at the Kelvingrove Museum - a lovely Robe a l'Anglaise influenced by the Chemise a la Reine.

An example of a Chemise a la Reine, Musee de la Toile de Jouy, circa 1787

Some views of the gorgeous Kelvingrove dress, also from the 1780s:

Such a beautiful, light dress. Perfect for the summer!
CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collections

Having close-up images like this was invaluable when trying to recreate this gown.
CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collections

The muslin material and the gathered bodice echo the Chemise a la Reine.
CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collections


A side view - the beautiful pattern and the light petticoat and ribbons are such an amazing combination.
CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collections

The original dress is very delicate and feminine, and I feel as though my copy is not as dainty. I did work with cotton, but not muslin, so my bodice and overskirt were not as light as the originals. Perhaps, several years down the road, I will make a more faithful re-creation.

I got the material from Ikea, and I am not the first to use it for an 18th century dress. According to the Shadow of My Hand blog, the print is taken from an original 18th century one.

I used the Sense & Sensibility Ladies' 1780s Portrait Dress Pattern, as I liked the look of the back, as it seemed to match the Kelvingrove Dress pretty well. 


The back view of the original dress.CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collections


I did most of the bodice by hand, but chickened out and did the petticoat & dress & the front bodice panels by machine. 



The V-shape in the dress pattern was more pronounced, and if I were to do it again, I would modify that, as well as making the bodice itself longer. These are things I should have picked up on, however, when fitting it to my dress-form. The sleeves are also very bizarre, with too much extra material in the back, which did not match the dress I was trying to copy, nor many 18th century sleeves. I might try to re-do the sleeves at some point. 

This was a very challenging project, and ended up taking longer than I supposed - I think that happens a lot when I take on a new sewing project! I finished this just one day after it was due for the June Historical Sew Monthly challenge.

One of my two front bodice panels, with same-material casings. 

Seeing how the front panels fit!

The finished product! Not perfect by any means, but I'm pleased with the result. 


Hopefully you can't tell that my over-dress has a wonky hem. I am not very good at cutting, and I used a duvet cover from Ikea, so that make it even more difficult! My sister Heather was a great help in salvaging my wonky hem!


It was a challenging dress to make, and if I ever do it in the future, I would get lighter material, and I would either modify the pattern more, or use a combination of others. It was a great learning experience, and I hope that it has improved both my skill and enthusiasm for historical dress making. 

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for all the details: interesting and invaluable. What courage to take something like this on! You did a wondrous job, and I love the lines of the back, myself. Altogether, it's a gem, and I can't imagine how you feel wearing it!

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  2. Wonderful work, Mairi! I really admire you taking that challenge on. So inspiring! I think it turned out lovely, and I'm sure it was quite the amazing learning experience!

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