The 1660’s dress in action! New-year’s ball in Ghent

Last weekend I wore the full 1660’s ensemble for the first time! Although I’d been looking at this period for longer, the theme of this years new-years ball in the opera of Ghent was the perfect excuse to actually start. The theme was inspired by the early days of Versailles, and was 1660 to 1715, so I was one of the ‘old fashionably’ dressed. There were a couple more beautiful 1660’s gowns, but also some wonderful late 17th century ones, which was nice as it’s not a style to see too much.

We arrived in Ghent early afternoon, had some lunch and then went to the hotel to change. Luckily, we had quite some space and very good mirrors in the room, which really helped with changing. Doing some last-minute sewing, hair, and actually getting dressed took some time, and we were ready just in time for the ball!

My hair was inspired by these images:

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I curled the front of my hair with rags, put in the evening before the ball. As it looks quite ridiculous with the rags in, I wore a vintage-style most of the day. Perfect for hiding curlers! I’m really happy with how my hair turned out, a big thanks to Josselin for helping me, as it did require more than 2 hands!

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The ball itself was very nice, with quite a lot of dancing. There was a dance room, a room to sit and one where you could get drinks. Other than the dancing, there was not much in terms of entertainment and there was no food, but given the price of the evening I expected this, and I wanted to dance anyway. There was also a small baroque-dance demonstration at the end, which was very nice to see.

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Watching the demonstration

 

The building was really beautiful, and fit in perfectly with the dress code. Thanks to Josselin for these images, as I forgot my pocket and left my phone in my bag most of the evening…

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All in all, I had a lot of fun, and will definitely keep an eye out for next year’s theme!

The pictures of the full outfit!

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1660’s bodice – Finished!

The 1660’s dress is done!

Well, nearly done, because I’m skipping the lining of the bodice for now, as I also still need to make a shift, and the ball is in two weeks. First up, construction of the outer layer and the sleeves! (scroll to the end for pretty pictures).

When I left off in the previous post, the foundation of the bodice was done. The silk outer layer is attached to the foundation piece by piece, by hand. It’s also not patterned the same as the outer layer, so the first thing I did was compare where the new seams would be on the foundation pieces, and draft the pattern on top of the foundation. A lot easier than adapting the pieces first time around, as I now had the foundation to start from! I also put a cotton layer between the foundation and the silk, to get some extra ‘padding’ to hide the boning. Cotton is not period, but I didn’t have linen thin enough laying around, and my goal was that all visible parts would look period, and you can’t see this layer anyway. The original bodice did not have a layer of interfacing like this everywhere, but did have paper in places. I’ve no clue what type of paper would be best, so I used cotton.

Cutting the silk was terrifying by the way.

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The first piece that was attached was the side back piece. It was also the most difficult piece, as the foundation has a little gore between two of the tabs, yet the outer layer has not.

The book described how the outer layer was basted in place first with pad stitches, before being stitched down, so I did that for this piece. Took time, but helps in getting it to lay flat.

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After the basting, it was stitched in place around the edges and around the tabs.

Next up was the side front piece. For this one (and the others) I skipped the basting. Instead, I pinned the silk over the foundation while it was on my dummy, so it would follow the right curve. I kept most of the pins in while stitching the edges in place, which was a challenge as they were sticking out straight in the back. Yes, I pricked myself regularly.

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The edge next to the side back was cut to size (as I’d cut the pieces quite large), folded over and top stitched.

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For the front piece the process was slightly different. The sides were folded over first and stitched in place, before attaching it to the bodice.

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This is done because the lace is attached to the silk before being stitched to the bodice. I used antique metallic lace, a combination of netting and a scalloped lace. The cords are modern, but I wasn’t counting on getting lucky enough to also find golden metallic cord.

The netting was stitched on first, two rows down the center and along the edges.

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After that the scallops came on, and finally the cord was stitched along the edges. I really love the depth of combining the lace like this.

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The front piece was then attached as a whole. The back piece was stitched on much like the others, seams folded back along the side back seam and top stitched. Center back it was turned around the edge and prick stitched in place so that the space for the eyelets was secure. I forgot to take pictures at this stage….

I did take pictures of making the eyelets though! I also calculated that these took about 10 hours in total. I spaced them quite closely, as I find that eyelets spaced too far apart really look too modern.

It’s a bit of a pain to do so many.

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But so worth it.

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The top edges of the back of the bodice was finished by turning the silk in between itself and the foundation, and stitching it in place. Possible as the top of the foundation was already bound. The front wasn’t, so there the top was folded over to the inside and stitched in place there. The raw edges will eventually be covered by the lining.

Then it was time to trim the back! Again I used a combination of netting, scallops and cord. This time it was stitched on through all layers.

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Final thing on the main bodice was to bind the tabs! The original used a silk ribbon, I chose just to use strips from the silk fabric. This was my first time binding tabs, and they’re not the prettiest thing, but as they’ll be worn inside the skirt I’m okay wit that. You can also see quite clearly which side I did first (left image). I did get better (right image)!

 

Bodice done, right? Except the sleeves, which I’d put off slightly… I made a rough mock-up by making a cotton sleeve and fitting that, to see if I could use the original size sleeve without alterations. Turned out I was rather restricted in my movement, but that was wholly due to the strap being quite low on the shoulder, the sleeve was fine.

The little sleeve-wings were made first, 2 layers of linen, covered in silk, covered in netting.

The sleeves themselves are made of silk, with a cotton lining, and a layer of heavy linen partly covering the top. This linen mostly helps to fill out the cartridge pleats. The sleeves were trimmed with one side seam sewn.

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Inside stitch lines, also showing where the layer of linen stops.

 

After that came stitching the other side seam, and then the cartridge pleating, and pleating and binding the bottom. After pleating, they were attached to the bodice. The shoulder wings I attached after I did the sleeves to get the placement right, and the finial step was to trim the bottom of the sleeve.

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Almost ready to be attached! Left is already pleated, right not yet.

 

And now it’s done! This took so much hand sewing fiddling, pricking in my fingers etc. I’ts probably the most labour-intensive thing I’ve ever made, definitely the most structured. I learnt a lot making it though, and I’m really proud of how it turned out. The materials are gorgeous (still so happy with my metallic lace!), and with the heavy boned interior I think it really gets the look of the period right.

So, time for pretty pictures!

From the front:

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And a slight angle

 

I also love how the back came out.

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And some details:

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I’ve put the bodice over my new petticoat in these pictures. The skirt is also done, but deserves it’s own post (this one is getting way too long), so that’ll follow shortly!