Monday, October 4, 2010

The Blue Ophelia Pre-Raphelite Dress

The inspiration: Ophelia by JW Waterhouse, 1905

Possibly my favorite inspired reproduction costume. The first time I saw the above 'Ophelia' painting - I just fell in love with the dress. The elegant drapes...the unusual color combinations - and the layers of different textures.

I hadn't considered making it until we planned to have a Medieval faire at our house. Then I started examining my fabric stash - and found the cadet blue wool - exactly like the color in the painting! It was a medium/ligh weight crepe that I had originally ordered for 1860s dresses (before I found out it wasn't a period wool weave).  Since I wasn't really going for a historical repro on this particular dress, (the inspiration was Medieval/Victorian fantasy art after all...) it seemed quite perfect. (Though, if I had wanted to exactly replicate the painting - I think a better choice would have been a blue/lavendar shot silk. See the different colors shining in the dress fabric?)

The pattern I used for a jumping off point was a supposedly historical Medieval one cut entirely of geometric shapes: Long rectangular body,  skirt made up of large triangular gores inserted in slits from hip to hem. I put quite few more gores than the pattern called for - I wanted to have a skirt that was full circle.

After the dress was put together, I then shaped some of the seams to be more form-fitting. I didn't have any gold fabric to do the wide band at the hem - but I did cut up the edge of a scrap silk sari veil for the gold 'belt'. (the dress had ended up looking a little too form-fitting, so it was a good way to break up the drape/color visually.)

The dress is put on over the head - there is no fastening or opening in front or back. The dress in the painting appears to have some type of opening with hidden fastenings at the center front - but I decided to stay simple.

 Half length sleeves with a nice drape at the elbow. The under dress is red-gold shot silk. Lovely stuff.  It follows basically the same lines as the dress, except that it is front opening with a drawstring neck, and is shorter, without the skirt gores. I decided to let the silk show a bit at the neckline to keep it from being too low. I also half lined the sleeves in silk. 

The neckline is embroidered with gold thread - in a flowing scrolls pattern that I drew out. If I had had more time - I would have liked to research Medieval ebroidery techniques. (I'm afraid I'm not very knowedgeable about embroidery anything....) But it was fun - and I think it gives basically the right effect! There is also a line of embroidery around each sleeve.


 Things I would do differently:
-Make the underdress longer and fuller with a wider neck.
- Do a more complicated ebroidery pattern
-Slightly narrower and longer under sleeves

I was also inspired by this painting, as the dress is almost identical:

Miranda- The Tempest by JW Waterhouse,1916

For the photo shoot - we were able to find the right color of wild-flowers to match the picture quite well. We even found a tree with a large knot - just like the painting!

Showing off the full skirt. Look closely and you can see the lines of the triangular gores.
The emroidered orange silk slippers were a present from my brother.

I highly recommend this pattern for medieval tunic dresses - it's extremely comfortable and fun to wear.
An incredibly fun inspiration project!


Ellyn said...

Wow! You're so pretty... and so is the dress - that's my favorite one you've made! How long did it take you?

Charity U said...

Love it! It's beautiful. (-:

Atlanta said...

Thank you!

Well - not sure if I can remember exactly. I think the actual dress construction took only a day or two - but the details like the silk lining, embroidery, hemming, etc. probably up to a week.

Chip said...

Lovely! Love the photo shoot Atlanta. You look so pretty in that dress. Great job -- it's beautiful!

Elinor Dashwood said...

Oh my, it's beautiful!! I love how you re-enacted the pose in the painting! :-)

I have a question. In the rules for the historical costume inspiration festival, one of the rules is that the dress must be inspired by a particular source. I am not sure whether the medieval-style dress that I made (which you saw on my blog) resembles any particular painting, movie costume, etc.... so would it not qualify?

I wish I had time/fabric/etc. to make more costumes inspired by particular sources for this event... I hope you will have one like it next year! :-D I may have a couple that I made previously that I can enter though.

OnceuponaTime said...

Very, pretty! I love the medieval period dresses. I can't wait to make mine.
Wouldn't it be great if we all could have a unlimited fabric and notion stock?! I have so many different costumes that I want to make!

Johanna said...

You did a SUPERB job dear Atlanta!!! My, how beautiful!

Kristin said...

Beautiful!! Your sewing skills amaze me...and make me jealous. :)


Natasha Marie said...

I love the painting and the dress is gorgeous! I've been inspired once again to finish my medieval dress:)

Grace said...

Remarkable job, Atlanta!!! My it is a pretty gown, and those are two of my favourite paintings by Waterhouse!!!
Many Blessings,
P.S. I have been admiring your headers for awhile now, and was wondering, what program do you use to make such pretty headers?

Atlanta said...

Elinor - you are right! :^) sorry about that. but - I'm glad you had some lovely previously sewn things to enter!

Grace - I use Microsoft Digital Image Suite. :^)

Felicity said...

Very lovely dress!
I love the colour of the blue fabric, and the wide skirt. I love circle skirts and dresses that have lots of material in them. :)

And I do love your blog posts keep it up :)

Maggie said...

Beautiful, Atlanta... I love the blue and the flowing skirt of your dress!


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