This dress was commissioned for a gorgeous woman who wanted something special to wear for a special birthday party. The party date was Bastille Day, naturally the event was given a “French” theme. As the birthday girl, who better than to dress as the French Queen Marie Antoinette!
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Marie Antoinette wore mostly pastel colours like pale pink and blues and greens, but the client already had some gorgeous silk fabrics in browns and gold that she had collected over the years and figured she may as well use them. She also had a lace scarf that was remodelled for the front panel.
The design was simplified and not exactly authentically designed. I cut corners omitting the hoop skirt, substituting with padded hip bolsters, and made up my own pattern pieces. Authentic pattern pieces are available if you search effectively, but our body shapes have changed since the 17 hundreds so it’s unlikely they would fit.
If you really want to create an authentic look, you can redraw pattern pieces putting the seam lines in the same places once you’ve defined your body block.
I took her measurements, drew up a patterm, then made a mock up in calico. Then after a preliminary fitting, I recorded the adjustments onto the pattern and made the finished garments up in the silks and velvet provided.
After a final fitting, final adjustments were made and the party girl was ready to party.
The outfit consisted of a pannier (“bread basket” or hip padding), a skirt which fit over the padding, a hooded, boned bodice with a side zip.
We met 4 times:
1. Design discussion, measurement taking and fabric drop off
-3 metres of the dark brown silk taffeta, 3 metres gold silk taffeta with little circular mirrors hand sewn into the fabric, a finely crocheted lace and silk chiffon scarf.
The client decided she wanted a velvet jacket. Since there wasn’t enough golden fabric to create a full dress, we decided to save time and budget by making the dress and jacket as one. She took samples of silk fabrics she’d brought in and found a velvet to match the rest of the dress
2. Fitting, making sure the construction is coming along as desired
3. Final fittings and adjustments
4. Final try on and pick up
The whole thing took about 40 hours.
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