1690s Mantua fit for Versailles?(HSM 9/2017) – Construction part 1

The 17th century have long been on my wishlist to explore deeper (I have so far only made one dress from that entire century), and even though it seems to be a relatively forgotten part of costume history (at least if you compare to the ever popular 18th and early 19th century), It seams like it’s grown in popularity in the last year(s).

So when the news hit that there was to be a grand ball dedicated to the 1680s this fall, I knew that 2017 would be the year of the Mantuas.

Unfortuanly I wasn’t fast enough snatching a ticket (with the costs of the ball and a really clingy/mommsy toddler combined, I hesitated to long, and once I decided I was to go, it was to late), but the dress got done anyway and in perfect time for the HSM 9/2017 – Seen on Screan – “Be inspired by period fashions as shown onscreen (film or TV), and recreate your favourite historical costume as a historically accurate period piece.”

The only thing I needed to make the challenge was to find a tv-show/movie that would fitt the bill.
And what would be better then the Tv-show “Versailles” that airs its second season now.
I know the series focus it’s story around 1667 and the young king Louie VIX. But since his reign reaches into the 18th century I figured it wouldn’t be to far fetched to use it as inspiration.

As usual I started my process by doing some research on the topic.


After a quick glance at the existing pattern for this kind of dress (there is about 1 that I know of, and it haven’t gotten the best reviews) I decided to try and draft my own using The 1700s mantua from Waughs “Cut of Womens Clothes” and the great blogpost by Isabella of “A damsel in this dress”.Drafting on the floor.

I started by drafting the papper pattern following the direction and measurments from the book.

Checking the general fit and proportions.

Then I cut and made a mock-up
After some tweaking – like making the whole thing a little bit bigger, it was time to cut the fabric.

And here’s where I hit my first road bump.

I’ve been looking for a suatable fabric (for a good price) for a couple of months but hadn’t found any. So I decided to make do, and use something from my stash.
After some digging I surfaced with tre options: Green, red or striped?

I did a quick survey on my Instagram and got my own instincts re-asured
– Green for the win!

The only trouble was that I only had aprox. 4 m of it, and I the grown usually requires a lot more fabric then that.
But with some resorceful cutting and carefully measuring I was confident I could do it.
Sleeve and back pieces being cut.

Mind, this was around 23 o clock (11pm) and no cutting should EVER take place at that time…
Of course my eagerness to get started on the dress backfired,

And I realized to late, I’d cut two lefts and no rights…
With no possible way to rescue the situation, I had a quick breakdown and went to bed really annoyed and frustrated with myself.

It took a few weeks before I could gather the entusiasm needed to continue the gown.
Because I got upset every time I glanced at the pile of destroyed green fabric and un-cut pattern pieces.

But once I discovered a copper taffeta in my stash witch happened to match perfectly with the stripes in the grey fabric, and which would be perfect for the skirt/petticoat, I was back on track.

It’s hard do se in these pics but one of the stripes matches perfectly with the copper of the taffeta, and the blue/grey fringe is identical in hue to the main fabric/strip in the gown fabric.

Starting with the skirt/petticoat, constructing it as you would an 18th century skirt (using two widhs of fabric pleated to an overlapping waistband).
The only thing that took a bit of time was the decoration, made from two rows of fringe and a strip of grey/blue fabric, that needed to be measured and placed exact right to look good

Unfortuanlly I only gotten 1 of the two fringe trim avalable at the thrift store, and my dream of several rows of fringe fell short of 1 m. 😦
But I figured it wouldn’t be noticable benneth the train anyway (at least I hope so).

The finished skirt:

Click trough for part 2 (comming soon)

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