1803 Drop-front Gown
It is finished...sort of. The only thing left to do on my 1803 Drop-front Gown (which is what I've decided to call it, since I can't technically say it's a riding habit...since I won't be riding in it), is to hem the bottom edge of the skirt. One would think that a drop front gown would be easier to put on them most other gowns, but one would be wrong. It's quite complicated. First, you tie the front panel of the gown around to the back, then you put your arms through the arm scythe, then you tie the back panel around the front, then you pin the under bodice 'modesty flaps', then you pull up the drop-front and pin it to the shoulder straps. Crazy! And I'm sure my explanation didn't explain anything at all. So, here are a couple of shots from Bradfield's "Costume in Detail" of the gown I was modeling mine after.
The only real differences in mine are that my 'modesty flaps,' or the bodice lining flaps, overlap instead of tying in the front, and I don't have sleeves or lace on my gown. Also, my fabric is slightly stiff and firm, compared to the muslin used in the extant gown. So, my bodice doesn't drape like it should...which is a real headache for me. It sort of forms a "v" shape in the front, rather than a really drape-y "u" shape. See what I mean? I've tried all manner of manipulation, and nothings working. Any suggestions? I guess I will just have to be delighted with how it is, not how it should have been (a proverb I always struggle with in life.)
Over-all, I like the look of the ensemble...it's a very pretty, although plain, dress...BUT...I don't think it's a very flattering on someone with my figure. Possibly it would look better on a very thin person, because it's all straight lines and column-esq. Maybe I'm just not used to the change of style, since I've only ever done late 1790's before, which is a much more 'fluffy' or 'billowy' time in Georgian fashion.
I did add a few extra pleats on the back and side of the skirt, in addition to the stroked gathers, in order to try to accommodate for my curvier figure. Maybe that just made it even more frumpy, I don't know.
Oh, and the fabric is a cotton and silk combination, the warp strings being a golden silk thread, and the weft strings being a turquoise/teal cotton thread. It's a beautiful combination, soft and airy, but with a little bit of crispness (sort of like linen...it wrinkles like linen too), and in different lighting, each color is highlighted. I purchased the fabric last Fall at an 18th century market fair at Locust Grove, from the famous 96 District Fabrics vendors. I love that place, but who doesn't.
Even though I am not pleased with the way I look in the gown, I will, because I love you, try to have someone take some pictures of me wearing it at the Jane Austen Festival. I have a feeling I will be tripping over...or someone will be stepping on...that train every five seconds.