Changes for Felicity, 1774

Dress with two stomachers and matching petticoat of silk taffeta, hand sewn with silk thread. Dress trimmed with box-pleated strips of the silk taffeta and lace. Stomachers trimmed with lace, silk ribbons, and glass "pearls." Necklace of silk ribbon and glass "pearls." Cap of white cotton and lace. This ensemble is a copy of a doll dress that I have been in love with and dreamed of being able to wear since it first appeared in the Pleasant Company catalog in 1991!

The cloak shown is the one patterned in "Costume Close-up," and is red wool hand sewn with silk thread, and having silk ribbon ties. The muff and mitts will also copied from the doll's ensemble. The muff will be of silk that I will embroider with silk floss, lined and interlined in cotton, handsewn with silk thread, and with silk ribbons drawing in the ends. The mitts will be linen, embroidered with silk floss, and handsewn with linen thread.
Dress Diary
I have to start out by saying, what a childhood fantasy come true this dress is for me! How many times did I play with this doll in this dress and wish I could fit it? Now I finally will! My goal with recreating this dress is to try to be true to the doll dress, but with some tweaks to make it more historically accurate. For instance, the fabric I scored is 100% silk taffeta - just perfect!

I found royal blue silk satin ribbon, as well as some hand-dyed pink silk satin ribbons which are the closest I think I will be able to get (short of dying them myself - which I don't feel up to at present!) to the ribbons on the alternate stomacher.

Below are pictures of the fabric and the ribbons:
I've been slowly collecting all the bits and pieces that will be involved in the making of this dress, and I'm hoping to get started on it soon!

I was able to find glass "pearls" that will do for both the stomacher (the one with the pink ribbons and pearls at the center of each ribbon) and the necklace:
After hunting for the perfect lace, I found this, which I think is close enough to do for the stomacher, and hopefully the sleeve flounces as well. I still need a smaller lace that will blend nicely with this one to use around the neck of the dress, as well as to go round the "pinner" cap.
I've also been looking at pattern options for this dress. My goal is to recreate the doll dress, but I want to make those slight changes necessary to have it also be a period-correct gown, and so I definitely want a period-correct pattern. I think I'll be using this dress from "Patterns of Fashion 1" as a base (and will alter it to use a stomacher - or two, in this case! - myself).
In typical Jenni fashion, I've done more talking and planning about this costume than any actual working on it! ;P But, the time has finally come. I'm determined to get started, and then to see it through, uninterruped, until it's completely done.

Now might be a good time to mention though, that I do plan to do more than just the basic dress and accessories. I've already started (and almost finished) a "Cardinal Red" cloak, and I bought linen and embroidery floss to make some mitts as well. I even have a yard of silk satin in case I decide I need the muff as well, (and you know I will!)

Just a reference picture of the doll-size cloak and mitts:
I somehow didn't get around to updating this page, but I did, a month or so ago, cut into my silk and started the petticoat for this ensemble. Exciting! I also have a fitted 18c bodice mock-up that I am using as a base for this dress:
It's been way too long that this project has sat, unfinished! Twenty-one years is a LONG time to long for one particular dress! ;) I'm presently on a little bit of a "summer vacation," and am dreaming of wearing this dress in Williamsburg this fall (I hope!) and so, I've picked back up where I left off. Which is, with an almost perfectly patterned bodice/sleeves/stomacher, and a partially made petticoat.

My goal here is still to find a happy medium between faithfully recreating the doll's dress, but also achieving some historical accuracy. One of the reasons I stalled on this project for a long time was because the doll's dress has the bodice back pieces and skirt back cut separately, yet every extant example of a dress from this era with a stomacher that I could find had the bodice and skirt cut in one, and then pleated down. I wasn't sure if I wanted to lean more towards the doll dress, or historical accuracy with this detail. In the end, I've decided to go with the separate bodice back and skirt pieces. I hope I'll some day find at least one surviving example supporting this, but even if not, I feel it is plausible that someone who was sewing a dress at home would like the stomacher-front that had been in fashion, and mix it up with the new fashion for cutting the bodice and skirt separately. And in the story, this dress is indeed homemade, partly by Felicity's mother, and then finished by Elizabeth's mother. That the dress was made by two different seamstresses helps my case for the possibility of the two styles being blended even more. Yes, I am a dork. ;)

So far today, I have cut everything out, and shortly will begin sewing it. . .
Dress pieces cut out
I recently decided the time has come to finally finish my "Changes for Felicity" ensemble! A couple of weeks ago, I picked it back up, and started in where I left off (which was at the point where I get to start assembling the silk layer!)
Bodice assembly begun. . .
I'm making the tiniest, most perfect stitches of my whole life, so it's taking a bit of time, but I'm really enjoying it. My OCD self is feeling very indulged and content! ;)
Bodice in progress. . .
It's really starting to look like a dress! I also already had the petticoat partially made, so I think once I get beyond the super tiny hand stitched bodice, the rest of it will really just fly together. . . And, after 22 years of dreaming of it, I'll finally have Felicity's blue dress in my size! :D
This page © 2010 by Jennifer E. Lithgow