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Trusting my costuming instincts

I feel I’ve reached a point in my costuming experience where I can safely trust my instincts. I certainly don’t know everything, but I feel like I’ve absorbed enough information that I when I imagine something in my head, I can usually find documentation for it after the fact.

For instance, I purchased some fabric on my recent trip to Williamsburg. I knew I wanted to do something transitional 1790s with it – I envisioned a dress with long sleeves, gathered front, and most importantly, a pleated back with no waist seam. I knew I had seen all three elements separately, but I couldn’t remember finding all three in one gown. There are extant examples of 1790s open robes with pleated backs, and 1780s examples gathered front round gowns, but I could only remember seeing them with a waist seam in back. Still, the idea seemed plausible. That’s the fun thing about transitional fashions; there is room to play and experiment while still staying relativity accurate. Nonetheless, I wanted some documentation, some validation that my instincts were right. I did some more digging and the gown I pictured magically materialized at the MET:

Gathered front, longish sleeves, pleated back with no waist seam.

Ok, so it’s not a cotton print but there are enough extant cotton print gowns from this time that I was happy to move ahead with my plan. All this rambling to say, I’ve learned to trust my gut and just take the leap if I’m inspired to make an outfit. It may seem obvious, but its really validating to reach a point in a hobby where you can feel comfortable making these assumptions. I realize this approach isn’t for everyone, especially if you are making something for reenacting purposes, but it’s a design process I really enjoy.

I’ve started the dress construction, and you can see from my Pinterest board the overall look I’m hoping to achieve.
Posted: 4/19/2014 11:45:29 AM by Aubry | with comments
Filed under: 1790s
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Project Details

Gathered Front Print Gown