Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Historical Costume Inspiration Festival - The Marguerite Blakeney Gown

I am very pleased to present my second entry for the fabulous Historical Costume Inspiration Festival!

The Introduction
It all started back in January.
I was planning a "Literary Tea" for my eighteenth birthday.  The girls and mothers were all to come dressed as their favorite literary or historical character, keeping their alias a profound secret - only to be revealed during a game of charades before tea.
I knew I must go as Margurite Blakeney, a heroine I greatly admire (to put it lightly).
However, Margurite was not only known as "the cleverest women in Europe", but was quite a fashion plate, being the wife of London's greatest dandy, Sir Percy Blakney, Bart.  
Not having time, money, or materials to work with (or so I thought), I was quite in a quandrary as to how I would create a costume worthy of so lovely and elegant a charecter.  
Nevertheless, human nature asserted itself all the more in the face of adversity, and I decided to go ahead.
So began one of the most enjoyable sewing experiences I have ever yet been blessed to work on.


The Inspiration
I began ransacking my stash, looking for something suitable in the way of material.  Nothing.  Not yet despairing, I started researching various resources online, hoping perhaps to find a gown or two to spark my imagination.  Long story short, I did.
I found this.
Oh, yes, I was quite inspired, by this time!  I started to make various sketches of my gown based on this one, carefully breaking down the garment in my mind's eye, deciding just how I was going to re-create this bit of loveliness, not having a pattern.  Still, no fabric was forthcoming.
I showed the picture to my Mother.  "You know," she said.  "That material reminds me of curtains. . . "
Now I knew.  My aunt had very recently sent us a box of misc. things, including a wild jumble of some old, dark green curtain/upholstery fabric - and a luscious gold brocade.  
The Costume
I could not have finished this project without my Mother - a very accomplished seamstress, by the way!  She used me as a dress form to get the general shape of the jacket.  We then transferred the shape to newspaper, drafted the sleeves, and the gown started to take shape. 
Of course, I must have a hat with such a dress.

When I had cut out all of the pieces for the gown, I found that I had exactly enough material left to cover my 18th c. low crown straw hat.  A few roses gathered from the remains of the skirt trim material, a bit of white lace, and a handful of peacock plumes graciously bestowed by a kind neighbor completed the millinery.  I sewed two grosgrain ribbons to the inside of the crown, to be tied on under the wearer's hair, to secure the hat.  That, combined with a hat pin in the front, served to hold it put quite nicely. . . most of the time!
I plan to post a tutorial in the (near) future, showing just how I covered the hat.
"Is my hat alright?"
Blue skies, dreamy gowns, and a photo shoot with a very dear friend - Bliss
I just adore shadow pictures=)

Aussi longtemps, mes chéris!

Let us not say goodbye, but as the French say it, "Au Reviore!"
Yours truly,
~The Lady Marguerite Blakeney~
{P.S. A heartfelt thank you to Alex and Aubrey for devoting your time and expertise to help create such a wonderful photoshoot!}

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