Saturday, September 3, 2011

Rococo Rehab

So, I went poking around in my fabric stash trying to dig up the lavender satin for the "was going to be a polonaise, then was going to be something else, and now may be a polonaise again" 18thC gown. And I couldn't find it. The fabric gods are somewhere laughing at me right now, because they suddenly made that bolt of blue cotton velvet reappear. The fabric gods giveth, and the fabric gods taketh away.

So, after half a day of running around, tearing stuff apart, trying to find the satin, I just gave up. It's been swallowed by the vortex. (The one that eats socks and pattern pieces.) I did manage to find a purple robe francaise that I wanted to rehab, but which the fabric gods had hidden from me, and I even found the very first 18thC gown I ever made.

Y'all, I can't even describe how bad this dress is. The fabric is some sort of old lady curtain material with grasses and ferns and stuff, and the skirt is too short, and I couldn't even sew down the robings in the back the right way without catching the side of the dress in the stitching. And I just left it like that. There's also no stomacher or petticoat, and the waistline is way too high. Here's a picture. You're allowed to laugh.

It's kind of mind numblingly horrible, and I still kind of love it. I can't help but love the safari curtain fabric, and it was my first attempt at an 18thC gown. So, instead of stuffing it back into the stash or cannibalizing the fabric, I'm going to try and save it. You heard me. And I think the only way I can do that is to go totally Tim Burton on it. That way I don't have to worry about historical accuracy, I can keep my first gown, and I'll totally have something badass to wear to...something.

Here are the Burton costumes and the elements I'm using for inspiration:

First off, my absolute favourite gown from Sleepy Hollow:

Photos from Naergi's Site.

Tan stomacher and black petticoat. Can't see much, if any, detail on the petticoat, so I'll have to improvise. Not sure about that weird panel on the front. I love it on this gown, but not sure if it would work on mine, since it's not going to be a polonaise, and therefore won't have the skirt of the gown pulled away from the front like on the movie gown. I also don't want my gown to resemble this gown too much, since I still plan to make an accurate copy of the movie gown.

Photos from Costumer's Guide.

One of Johanna's gowns from Sweeney Todd, this is prime Burton-style costuming. The costume designer's name is Colleen Atwood, and she loves these triangle details. They were in Sleepy Hollow, Sweeney Todd, A Series of Unfortunate Events, and Alice in Wonderland. I haven't checked her other works for them, but I'm sure they'd creep up here and there.
I love how striking they are. I think I want to add them to the stomacher of the gown, and maybe redo the sleeves of my gown to include them and sort of mimic the sleeves on this gown.

Photo from Costumer's Guide.

Another gown from Sweeney Todd, this one was one of Mrs. Lovett's masque gowns. This trim is another one of Colleen Atwood's reoccurring details. It was also on Violet's dress in A Series of Unfortunate Events. I do love this trim. It's very dramatic, and there's something off-kilter about it. Not sure exactly what I'm going to do with it, though. I was going to put it along the front openings of the gown, but with the triangle cutouts I'm planning in the stomacher and sleeves, I'm not sure I want that much crazy. I think it would run the risk of looking jester-esque, and I definitely don't want that.

I'm going to start rehabbing the gown pretty soon, so I'll share pics as I go along.

Edit: Oooo, lookie what I found on Costumer's Guide! It's an actual extant gown, and has the diamond/triangle cutouts on the bodice just like the purple gown from Sleepy Hollow! (right)

If I want to do that, I'll have to eliminate the robings in the back of my gown to have enough fabric to cut out another bodice, so I'm not entirely sold on it yet. Still, it's a cool detail.

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