Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Historical Dress for 'The Oaks' Museum

This winter I was contacted by 'The Oaks' House Museum in Jackson, Mississippi about making an 1850s dress for display. Needless to say, I was honored and delighted as could be to take on such a wonderful project! As you probably already know, even though I do alot of costume work for Etsy, historical reproductions are my true sewing passion!

'The Oaks' is one of the few remaining houses in Jackson that wasn't burned down during the War Bewteen the States. Isn't it lovely? I'd love to visit someday!

The first sketches, trying to decide what style/years of dress to choose. In the end we decided on a fan-front style, similar to the green fan-front dress shown.

Eliza Ellis Boyd (a later portrait)
The target years decided on were 1856-7, when the lady of the house, Mrs. Boyd, would have been in her mid-thirties. We also decided to use sheer cotton fabric for the dress. Something that would represent a 'nicer' summer dress, but wouldn't be as stuffy (or expensive!) as silk or wool.

Inspiration pictures of 1850s-1860 original sheer dresses:

Fabric chosen: deep purple, yellow, and white cotton floral voile. Sheer fabrics are always so lovely!

Pre-sewing dress sketch:

Fan-front bodice, separate lace collar, double ruffle on full gathered skirt and pagoda sleeves, with white barred voile undersleeves.

I used a combination of Past Patterns Fan Front and Darted bodice patterns...

All seams and stitching visible to the outside were hand-sewn. That meant the hems of the 2 skirt ruffles too. Let me tell you, that's alot of ruffles....seemed like miles when I was in the middle of it!

The whole process was really great - I just loved every minute of it!! The material was great, and I loved doing all the little detail work.

The finished ensemble:


Fastens up back with tiny white china piecrust buttons.

The lace used on the collar and cuffs was sent to me by the museum curator - it's an absolutely gorgeous creamy lace netting - just perfect to finish off the dress!

I also used it as an overlay for the undersleeve cuffs:

I love the way the full pagoda sleeves drape! So elegant...

The dress was shipped off to the Museum just this week! I hope it does well in their display, it was such a pleasure and a priveledge to work on this piece!


Anonymous said...

WOW WOW WOW!!! All I can say is wow you are so so so talented!! Each time you post about the things you sew my mouth drops open from amazement!!!!
This is an AMAZING dress!! (:

Brooke said...

What a priveledge indeed!! Its so awesome they contacted you to make it! :) The dress is gorgeous, I'm sure it will do very well on display! :)

All the best,

Lilac Bud Gal said...

OOH!!! That was absolutely BEAUTIFUL!!!! Scrumptious, even! I am placing my order.... lol! You did an excellent job and I am sure it was very exciting to have been asked to do it. :)
When you go and visit the museum, can I go with you?? haha!

elle.mental said...

Wow, what a labor of love... it is beautiful and I am sure that the museum will be thrilled. Congratulations on a job well done! Elle

AuntLou said...

What a dream! Congratulations! It is beautiful. :)

Chip said...

How wonderful! Congrats Atlanta - you did a stunning job on this piece!

The Scarlet Thread said...

Absolutely beautiful! You did a terrific job!


Lindsey said...

Very beautiful! Looks just like an original!

Janel said...

I'll bet that was a lot of ruffles!! But it's absolutely beautiful! Congratulations!

SisterlyLove said...

Oooh!! I love it!
I am always in the mood for historical reproductions! Especially 1850's!
*sigh* Lovely...

PrincessR said...

Wow! Hand sewn! Of course, that is nothing new, but in the age of sewing machines it sounds really, really cool. :) How many hours did you spend on it? It turned out beautiful. I am sure the museum will love it! How neat to have them ask you to do that!

Pren said...

just lovely as always! i love your blog. i am a costumer but new to the civil war pariod and have been asked to do a number of similar dresses to this one. my question is what are the proper under things to get that sillouhette on the skirt. i know you are wearing a corset and chimize and bloomers but is there a very narrow hoop under there? or just one petticoat? a few ruffled petticoats? thanks for any guidance you can give me on the topic. i usually just let them tell me what they are going to wear under it and hemo it to fit. but is there a proper set of underthings for this style of dress?

Anonymous said...

Atlanta did an wonderful job on this dress for the museum!! I am beyond pleased and her craftsmanship and expertise are perfect......this dress WOULD have been worn in 1857!!!!


Atlanta said...

Thank you so much , everyone! Your comments are very much appreciated! :))

Pren: Under the dress I am wearing chemise, corset, drawers, quilted petticoat and two full plain petticoats. I wish I had taken the time to starch them for more fullness, as I think the shape was could use a bit more poof - but anyway. Hope that helps! :) Normally I wear a corded petticoat in the summer, but since this was just for an inside photoshoot, I went with the quilted. :)

Pren said...

Brilliant! Thanks for the info I really appreciate it. I'll look around your blog for more infor on the quilted petticoat. Im working on a corded one for myself now. :)


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