Friday, April 30, 2010

Stitching Lady Dunmore's Gown: Part II

Friday, April 30, 2010
Susan reporting:

After more than 120 woman-hours of handwork by the mantuamakers of Colonial Williamsburg, the magnificent formal ball gown for Lady Dunmore is finally complete (see here for Part I.)

Left is a detail of the completed trim that edges each side of the front of the gown. Those long strips of ruffles were hemmed and edged with lace before they were pleated, while the zigzagging poufs were quilted and stuffed with sheepswool before they were sewn to the gown. The bows are not only hemmed and trimmed with both lace and gold braid, but stuffed with more lambswool to keep their shape. The fabric is silk brocade, in a pattern that matches an 18th c. description of "pale silk with slight stripes."

In the pictures below, apprentice Sarah Woodyard serves as the model for the final fitting of the completed gown.

Below left, Sarah's hair is dressed high in a 177os style and crowned with ostrich plumes and bows that match the ones on the gown. She is wearing stays over her linen shift, the standard underpinnings for every 18th c. lady. Tied against her right hip is her embroidered pocket.
Below right: Covered in plaid fabric, hoops are tied around her waist to support the gown. (Sarah is standing on a cloth laid on the floor to protect the silk gown from dust and dirt.)

Above left: Janea Whitacre and Doris Warren arrange the gown's petticoat over the hoops and tie it in place around Sarah's waist, adjusting the fullness of the pleats and gathers.
Below right: The matching jeweled stomacher is pinned directly onto the front of Sarah's stays with straight pins.

All that's left to add now is the gown itself – but I'm going to make you wait until Sunday night. Then I'll post pictures of the entire gown, with front, side, and back views, and I promise they'll be worth the wait!


ILoveVersailles said...

So incredibly beautiful! More, more, more, please!

Rowenna said...

I'm revealing myself as hopelessly middling class, but...I'm really drawn to the printed jacket worn by one of the seamstresses! Sure, the gown is something to covet, but that jacket is something one could actually wear...just goes to show how lovely all the work the Williamsburg ladies do is!

Can't wait to see the rest of the pictures!

Vanessa Kelly said...

The detail is amazing, Susan!

Oh, and I love the can of coke in one of the pictures!

Mme.Tresbeau said...

These pictures are wonderful. I'm really looking forward to the 'Grand Finale.'
I, too, was wondering how much a dress like this one would have cost!

Isabella Bradford/Susan Holloway Scott said...

Final pictures will be up later this afternoon. *g*

Rowenna, I know what you mean about the jackets. They do seem much more wearable -- and comfortable, too. The tailor was working on a linen Russian drill postilion jacket that I really did covet....

Vanessa, Argh! That can of soda! I probably shouldn't have posted that picture because of it. Some of the photos were taken upstairs at the shop, in the not-for-public-view workroom, where modern things are permitted. But you'll never see Coke or Pepsi downstairs....

Madame Tresbeau, I'm going to post prices for the gown along with the pictures today.

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