I've made another Merveilleuse gown for the Jane Austen Festival. This one is for my friend Polly Singer.
Polly loved this light and airy gown from Napoleon and the Empire of Fashion: 1795-1815.
Here's my interpretation of the gown. Polly is a small waisted, but large busted woman, so her gown is slightly larger on top than the original, but I tried to keep similar proportions.
This original gown inspiration seems to have large dots or floral motifs evenly spaced throughout the fabric. We couldn't find anything closer to that than a dotted-Swiss cotton. However, most dotted-Swiss fabrics are made of small, closely placed dots. In order to feel safe using something like that, I went in search of evidence that this did indeed happen during the Derectoir period. I found the above fashion plate, which has a sort of striped, dotted-Swiss pattern, and appears to be semi-sheer, cotton. Because of this, we found were able to find the perfect compromise from Farmhouse Fabrics. Our particular fabric is no longer available, but you can find others that will work just as well.
All construction techniques are period correct, and everything is hand sewn. I put a modesty flap in the bust area, that pins across the chest. This not only keeps things PG-13, but gives the gown structure and support. Only the back and side of the bodice, and the modesty flaps are lined. There are two drawstrings, one at the top and one at the bottom of the bodice, this gives the gown even gathers, and also allows for measurement differences in upper and under bust for a good fit.
The gown on my dress form is without a petticoat. While some Merveilleuse might have gone without a petticoat, Polly will not be doing this...so no worries.
I haven't hemmed her dress yet. This will be done in person when I see her next. I certainly hope Polly loves her gown. It was a fun one to make.