Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Countess of Provence Gown

In the last couple months, I've had a chance to finish up some things that have been languishing on the "almost finished" pile. When I have no deadline, I have a terrible habit of getting 99% of the way through a project... and then stopping. I have no idea why! And there a garment will sit, and sit, and sit.

On the bright side, this means that when I finally get around to resuming, the project is almost done!

My most recent ensemble to be completed is a similar gown to the one worn by Marie Josephine of Savoy, Countess of Provence, in the following portrait. I love the gown. I love pretty much anything white. And that cap, pouf, whatever it is... is just wild!

Painting by Alexander Kucharsky, circa 1790.
I haven't had a chance to wear this properly yet, but am planning to take it to Costume College next week, so I'm hoping to get some good pictures of it then (because I'm too lazy to get dressed twice). But until then, here's a few!

My favorite part of copying a garment from a picture is trying to puzzle out what's going on with the back and inside. For these parts, I took inspiration from other garments. For the front,  I chose to make a lace up lining, like I've seen on some originals that have the cutaway front with the tabs. One example is this pink ensemble I have seen go by on pinterest. Unfortunately I can't find the correct link to the original source. I fashioned the style of the tabs after this pink and white striped dress at the Met. The tabs are bound with on-grain binding, since it looked like the dress in the portrait has tabs that are bound.

Most of the dress is done using usual 18th century sewing techniques. It's white silk and linen, trimmed with cotton lace. The bodice was draped on a lining which was draped from the yellow silk gown I made last year. I chose to make this dress an Italian gown, but opted to drape the back pieces over the fitted lining and stitch them down, instead of cutting the back into individual pieces and reassembling them. It just seemed like a waste of time and fabric to cut the lining and have to repattern out the back to account for the seams.

I have only seen this on one other period gown. I always though the back of that gown was unusual, but now I understand how it ended up that way. Honestly, I haven't made enough of a study of the backs of gowns to know what really was most common or what is just perceived to be most common by what is available to study.

Overdress, 1780, silk, L 62 in.
Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York,
Gift of Douglas Robinson, N0219.1962a
via tumblr

The very fluffy sleeve ruffles were fun to make. I cut net in the shape of a ruffle and then stitched lace to the edges. 

The petticoat and pouf are finished, too, but I need better pictures to share. Hopefully I will be better about taking pictures next week than I was at Costume College last year!

And now, back to stitching away on my gala gown!


  1. OMG I love it! I'm fascinated by how you did the tabs - I'm working on the same style right now with the tabbed waist and I didn't bind mine and now thinking I should have. Yours looks much cleaner and easier. I can't wait to see this all put together!

    1. Thanks! Honestly, I couldn't figure out how to do the slits without using binding. I mean, like in theory, I get the snipping and turning the corners under, but I just couldn't get it to look right. And then the painting seemed to show bindings, so I was like oh good that sounds easier! Even, so, the corners of the slits still got a little funky :/

      I'm excited to see yours too! We will be all tabbed out! Woot!

  2. Oh. Yes. I cannot wait to see pictures.