Friday, 14 August 2015

A c. 1780 chintz Italian gown, or robe a l'Anglaise

I've been working away at my list of projects here in Williamsburg, both in the shop and on my own. One of my personal projects was a gown made of the reproduction chintz sold here. The chintz I really wanted is out of stock, so I chose the red "trailing vines" print. The red is the original colourway of this print, and it comes from a single-fabric quilt in the Williamsburg collections (accession number 1953-100, if you're curious). I'm a bit sad that it's a home decor print as opposed to an original dress print, but the scale and placement of the pattern is generally correct for the type of chintz used in women's gowns in England and the Colonies: not too big, not too small, and not too dense. And I like the colours.

Abby draped the pattern on me (thanks, Abby!), and I did all the sewing. I stitched it by hand, using the stitches and techniques which the millinery shop believes to be those employed by period mantuamakers. It was my first gown of this type, so it took me a bit longer than it will next time, but an experienced mantuamaker should be able to do a gown like this in about 10 hours. I think it took me maybe 20, broken up over various lunch hours and evenings. I really enjoyed putting it together - it was a straightforward and quite a simple process.

Anyways, I know you're all really here for the photos, so here they are. =) I forgot to take in-progress shots, so rather than doing a full writeup of the making of this gown I'll just say that if you have any questions about the process you are very welcome to message me here or on facebook (link on the sidebar on the left).

I'm wearing the gown with my black silk taffeta market bonnet, which I made, as well as an apron, a neck-kerchief, mitts, and petticoats from the intern wardrobe here at the shop. I'm working on a petticoat to match the gown right now, and it should be ready to wear by next week. I think the next project will either be a pair of mitts or a bedgown. I was going to make a new shift, but honestly I wouldn't finish it in time to have it really be useful at this point, so while I have the expertise of the shop ladies at my disposal I'd rather work on more involved projects that I can't do in my sleep.

All photo credit to Rebecca Starkins (thanks, Rebecca!)

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