Copy of a dress worn by Emma Thompson as “Elinor” in the 1995 adaptation of “Sense & Sensibility.” The dress is of cotton voile, is unlined, and was entirely hand sewn using cotton thread, and using patterns created by myself. The dress has an interesting closure method, with the bodice opening at the center front, but the skirt opening being approximately midway between the center front and the side. The bodice is gathered and tied closed with cotton twill tape, while the waistband uses hooks and eyes. In some pictures, the dress is shown with purchased ribbon tied around the waist, and necklace of glass(?) beads made (and loaned to me) by my talented friend, Katherine.
Dress Diary
My first step with this dress was to figure out construction. It definitely didn't close at the back, so it had to close at the front. I did a lot of pausing and staring and screen capping and finally determined that it's sort of a drop-front dress but without the "bib" part at the front, and instead of overlapping and pinning the bodice front pieces, they tie together at the center front. Here are a couple of screen caps so you can see what I mean:
I decided to use a bodice pattern from "Period Costume for Stage & Screen" as a base for my bodice. It had a similar shape in back as well as a front piece that I thought would work very well if I just extended it a bit at the center front. I started out mocking up the bodice at its fullest, and then I will draw in my alterations and cut it down. So, here is the "D" bodice, as presented in the book:
I actually finished the mock-ups and started the dress in voile about a month ago, but apparently forgot to post updates here. So, I give you pictures of the last bodice mock-up:
As you can see, I've made a lot of changes! I think I've changed pretty much every single seam in this bodice from the starting point! The most major changes are obviously the neck which has been cut way down, the fullness added to the front of the bodice, and the widening of the seams at the center back so to look more like the original. I am very happy with the fit on this bodice now!
I finally got around to trying on my Elinor dress the other day, and I am so happy with it! It still isn't quite done (which is why I'm holding it together in the first picture below, and also why the sleeves are too long - not hemmed yet!) but it's getting there! Sorry for how scandalous these pictures are. I can't put on my bodiced petticoat without assistance, and so you get photographs without that crucial layer!
After so many years of daydreaming about getting to wear this gown, I finally got to! I am so incredibly happy with the way this gown turned out, especially with how well I got it to fit. I ended it up wearing it twice at Costume College 2008 - the first time just plain, and the second time with fancier shoes, a ribbon "sash," and a borrowed necklace. (Thanks, Katherine!) It's so light and fluffy and fun to wear!
This page © 2010 by Jennifer E. Lithgow