I've been lucky enough to find some great fabrics that mimic some of my favorite 18th century gowns from museums. They aren't exact exact exact or anything, but for me, they're similar enough to make the effort.
To start, in the winter, there are two events that allow for something very, very fancy. I have always loved this gown, from Williamsburg. I was equally inspired by this silver embroidered cotton dress I saw at Kensington Palace.
|Silver embroidery on sheer cotton. For more pics, click here.|
When I saw this fabric, I was reminded of both gowns. It is a light cotton, from India, with millions of teeny spangles stitched on, in a diamond pattern. The photo doesn't do it justice. I can totally see it shimmering away, under the glow of candlelight. I also found some handmade silver trim (I LOVE eBay), also from India, that very much reminds me of the metal torchon lace that I picked up in London, which is original to the 18th century. I'll investigate more/different trim, but it's a start.
|Cotton with spangles, new silver lace and antique lace, for comparison.|
Also, possibly, if time permits, I found the closest fabric I have ever come across, to what was then referred to as Chine a la Branche, which is basically an ikat weave. I pinned a bunch of examples here.
|Uzbek silk ikat. My wannabe Chine a la Branche :)|
The motif is a little large, but the colors and floral design is the closest I have ever seen to the original fabric. Usually, today's ikat is very graphic and tribal looking. This fabric is a crisp, airy silk, and it's very narrow from selvedge to selvedge, only inches off from period silk widths. I thought that was a pretty fun detail :)
And then, something a little more down to earth.
I have always had my eye on making one of those dark printed cloaks, much like this one, from the KCI, or this one. This fabric is calling out to me to make one. Also from India, this is hand block printed cotton. I have really been loving eBay lately, btw. I don't really have any need for one right now, but I couldn't resist snapping it up for the future.
|Block printed cotton from India.|
Also, sometime in a near future, I want some nice 18th c. stockings. I have been looking into making some. I just received some swatches of silk and wool knits. I also will look into linen knit, but I haven't found anywhere to get a sample from, with reasonable shipping. I found some nice instructions on how to make stockings here.
|Silk knits on the left and two weights of wool on the right.|
So hopefully, I will have time to make some of these beautiful things. I don't currently have a sacque so perhaps that will be on my list. In the mean time, I've started on a fluffy, frilly, white cotton polonaise jacket and petticoat for the fourth of July. I'm getting super inspired looking at these.