Sunday, 27 January 2008

Working class day dress 1820's

It's long been a worry for me that we mostly make glamorous evening dress or court dress when we reconstruct period clothing, possibly with the exception of Viking or early Medieval. I guess we all aspire to being a Lady or a Princess etc. Even most blokes want to be a knight, or a king, or a dandy, or Luke Skywalker, not the lowly townspeople in the tavern in a Star Wars movie.

I'm researching Australian convict women's clothing at the moment, for an exhibition in August in Parramatta which will be touring around Australia. So I'm looking for images and drawings of everyday clothing worn by the working class.

On Saturday I volunteered at Hambledon Cottage Parramatta and wore a dress I sewed up on Friday. I had pulled out my Regency evening dress to wear on Thursday, but then had a change of heart. The temperature was predicted to be very warm and that dress is silk taffeta, so I thought it might be a bit warm to wear all day. I thought it was high time the working class was represented, so I graded up the pattern I made for Elizabeth Farm guides' costumes, changed a few details, pulled out some pre-washed 100% cotton fabric and started stitching!

The photos show the front bodice in detail, and the back bodice and sleeves. The seams are piped and there are small imitation mother of pearl buttons down the back. I may change the buttons and work over the buttonholes by hand in the future, but you understand that this dress was produced on a strict timetable, LOL. I tried to keep the visible machine stitching to a minimum, but the seams are overlocked internally. I wore my 1825 chemisette with collar (from Jean Hunisett's excellent Theatrical Costume for Stage and Screen) under the dress, a calico petticoat with a long frill on the bottom, and an 1820's cotton cap. I did cheat with the cap a little, since I have short straight hair. I slicked back my fringe with hair spray and sewed a small plastic comb at the top of the band to hold the cap on my head at the required place. It didn't move all day, and I got quite a few compliments on the outfit. The photo at the house was taken by a visitor, sorry about the quality, LOL.

1 comment:

Mandy said...

It really looks good. Do you find it easy to find all the information you need to make your costumes authentic?