Friday, September 5, 2014

Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge #16 - Terminology

Above all else, keep your colors fresh.
ɍdouard Manet  1832-1883
The Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge #16 is Terminology.  This requires us to use a term from The Historical Fashion and Textile Encyclopedia on The Dreamstress' blog:
It was also the perfect time for me to recreate the gown from the Manet painting "Spring" finished in 1882 and on display at the Hermitage Gallery in St. Petersburg, Russia.
With all the work this gown would require I was sure there was a perfect term in the Encyclopedia.  There was!  And I found it completely by accident.  Just as Manet tells us to keep our colors fresh, so do we with our art of sewing have to keep our knowledge and methods fresh.

I had purchased some yardage at auction of a bordered 80% cotton and 20% polyester floral that I planned to use for a 1950s dress.  When the fabric arrived I was delighted!  It felt so smooth and looked like it would drape and gather very well.   The colors were beautifully muted and while there was lavender rather than the blue in Manet's painting, they had the right look and went well with my gold for the bonnet I've already made...
...and the parasol I'll be making for Challenge #17 Yellow.  This pretty lavender was in my stash and since the skirt and overskirt aren't shown in the painting I had some more freedom for color and design.
With the painting being finished in 1882 which is on the verge of the Natural Form/Late Bustle periods, I took my cue from the painting and felt that Jeanne Demarcy was not wearing a bustle.  I chose three Truly Victorian patterns for this very spring-like gown:  TV420 1879 Cuirass Bodice, TV221 1878 Underskirt, and TV326 1880 Hermione Overskirt.
I thought my fabric was a calico, but as I researched the definition I realized the all-over small floral print was not correct for a calico.  So I studied The Dreamstress' Encyclopedia and thought that since my fabric was sheer it might be a voile.
My fabric is extremely smooth, a very light weave, and drapes beautifully although it can hold a soft shape - all attributes of a voile.  I read and watched several informational pieces on the internet and I'll share them here since they were helpful to me and might be to you if you are a fabric novice like me.

While no one seems to agree on how to pronounce voile (foil, vawl, voil), they all do agree on how wonderful it is to work with and how beautiful it is for garments.  I completely agree!  In fact, I can't wait to work with voile again!  Since the bodice needed to be interlined I used a bleached cotton muslin and then used that same muslin to line the borders used on the panniers, apron, and skirt hem.  Leaving the remainder of the panniers and apron unlined allowed the lavender to color those portions of the gown and I really love the way the portions of the gown are in differing shades.
Here are some in progress photos.
The finished apron of the overskirt.
The bordered and pleated finished pannier portion of the overskirt.
The panniers laid over the apron to complete the front of the overskirt.
The inside back portion of the overskirt with the casing and ties.
Bodice pieces interlined with bleached muslin.
It's taken days for the rain to stop and now the sun is a bit too bright, but here is one photo from last night before the rain started again...
Here are photos I took this morning with the bright sun but I think you can see enough to appreciate this wonderful voile fabric.  Of course, the gown should be worn for a morning walk on a sunny spring day!

The collar is 2 layers of lace sewn into the bodice following the curve of the pattern piece and a third layer of lace and antique gold braid stitched to the outside edge.

Some pretty roses at the collar back just to pick up another color in the fabric.

A net lace sleeve based on the Manet painting and some antique gold braid.

Fabric roses made with the Clover Sweetheart Rose tool and purple satin roses in the center.

The original pattern called for a longer length below the overskirt back casing and ties.  I chose to double the fabric to create a soft ruffle effect and then added a border band which buttons onto the sides and back with 6 buttons.  Most of the band doesn't show when the drape is down but I found out it's nice to keep everything pretty when the wind is blowing.
What It Is:  The Manet Gown
The Challenge:  #16 Terminology
Fabric:  80/20 Cotton/Poly Voile
Pattern:  Truly Victorian 326, 221, 420
Year:  1882
Notions:  Grograin ribbons for underskirt and overskirt ties, buttons, lace, braid, satin roses
How historically accurate is it?  Close in design and extremely close to the painting in feel, but the fabrics are not accurate.
Hours to complete?  14 hours
First Worn:  Will be worn with the hat from Challenge #10 Art and the parasol for Challenge #17 Yellow on 9/15.
Total Cost:  Fabric $4.29 a yard for voile, $2.00 a yard for underskirt, $4.00 a yard for muslin interlining, notions, lace was scraps from another project = $50
Now it's time to cover a parasol with gold silk!
Love always,


  1. Oh Jeanette!!! This is so fabulous! The fabric is perfect for the painting as is your hat!! laaaaaa!!! I can't wait to see it on you!!

    1. Thank you, Gina! I'm very much looking forward to wearing it to recreate the painting!