Last Saturday I wore my chemise a la reine, inspired by “Portrait of a Lady with a Book, Next to a River Source” by Antoine Vestier. The pictures were taken at the Rite of Spring Ball, so I wore a simple floral headband.
These photos were taken with my phone in a side room where snacks were being served. I’m sorry if they are a little dark and grainy. When I make a hedgehog wig and complete the whole ensemble I plan to take some nicer photos!
I made a few little changes. The sheer layer in the portrait is more fitted, while I made my dress gathered with drawstrings for several reasons: 1) I could reuse the same pattern I used for the underdress. 2) I wanted the dress to be adjustable so I could wear it with and without stays. 3) Let’s be honest. I’m flat-chested and usually a little more fluff in the front looks better on me. =)
The other major change I made is in the neckline. In the original, the neckline of the sheer dress is very low, and shows what appears to be the subject’s chemise underneath. When I tried that combination with my outfit I thought it looked rather odd, perhaps because my cotton chemise material isn’t as delicate and transparent as the one in the portrait. In real life, it would have looked like I was falling out of my dress!
The dress opens in the front, with organza ribbon drawstrings to close the neckline, waist, and underbust. I also used organza ribbon for the gathering channels.
I used a sheer striped silk organza for my dress. I spent a long time looking for the right fabric, but alas, could not find the exact type from the portrait with the correct alternating wide and thin stripes. Renaissance Fabrics now has a reproduction of the portrait fabric in a sheer taffeta. I wish it was around when I purchased my fabric months ago!
The dress was constructed in much the same way as the cotton voile chemise dress I wore underneath. There was an extra gathering channel under the bust, instead of just one at the waist. The organza was rather stiff and puffy, and did not lie as flat as I would have liked, but the extra channel helped.
The sash is a 4 inch wide German rayon moire ribbon, about 5 yards long. I loved the color and texture.The sleeves are a silk taffeta leftover from my 1830s Hopeless Romantics dress. The sheer puffed part consists of a tube (I love sewing tubes!) tacked in strategic places to create its shape. The top part of the sheer tube is curved to fit in the armscye. The bottom part of the sheer tube was sewn into the taffeta fitted sleeve, which was sliced apart horizontally, then sewn back together with the sheer part sandwiched in. The cuffs are organza lace.
I carried around a Kindle cover “book” to hide my phone. I plan to sew in some straps or pockets to hold dance cards, cash, or secret notes! (I also got some suggestions at the ball to turn it into a flask haha).
To save time the dress was machine-sewn. However, I would like to go back and redo the hems by hand. I also need to hem the underdress a wee bit shorter.
I am wearing a half-moon bumpad and 2 petticoats underneath the dress. I am still working on my stays!
Here are the other lovely girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes (and some boys, too!) The group consisted of many of our Hopeless Romantics, plus a few new faces.
- 4 meters silk organza: $80.23 ($54.80 + $25.43 shipping from Halo Silk Shop).
- 5 yards cotton voile: $20.90 ($14.95 + $5.95 shipping from eBay). Yes at $3 a yard this was cheaper than the sash!
- 6 yards moire ribbon: $25.50 ($24 + $1.50 shipping from Ribbonstore.com)
- Organza lace: $5.10 from eBay.
- Organza and satin ribbons: $5.67 from Michael’s.
Total cost: $137.40 (It’s more than I normally spend on a project, but I have two dresses for the price of one! I can wear the cotton chemise with the sash for a daytime look).