This is a photo diary of my costuming "travels"; where I've learned and struggled to make historical costumes for myself. They're not always pretty, but always fun, most of the time. And I want to share with others what I learn along the way. **You can find me on Facebook, or have my posts delivered to your email by signing up at the lower part of the right column.**

About Me

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HI, my name is Val. I'm a member of Costumer's Guild West in Los Angeles, Dean Emeritus of 2018 Costume College; Past President of the San Diego Costume Guild, member of Orange County Costume Guild, and a representative of the San Diego History Center. I make my own historical costumes but don't sell any unless I get tired of one.The eras I've made so far are 1770 up to 1918. My favorite is the 1880s bustle.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Making my 1770s polonaise gown, The Pumpkin

Once you see this gown, you'll know why I named it The Pumpkin. It's bright orange, and is such a happy dress. It was the first one I ever named, and now it seems to have started me naming all my upcoming costumes.
I planned this gown to wear for the 2009 Costume College for the 18th Century theme that year. While looking for one I liked, I came across a painting online of Georgiana, Countess Spencer where she had on a spicey orange gown with lace flounces. I used it as my inspiration.

I used Period Impressions pattern for the polonaise, and just tore the length of fabrics to make the petticoat (skirt). I couldn't find a silk dupioni in an orange I liked so I bought a polyester with a moire pattern fabric in the Garment District, and the polyester "quilted" design cream fabric at JoAnn's for $1.99 yd. I lined the bodice of the polonaise with a lightweight twill but found out later these were not heavily flatlined like I was used to with my Victorian bodices. But because of this being a lightweight polyester, it was good I did so it would hold it's shape better. My friends in Williamsburg lined their's with a lightweight linen. So I'm looking into finding some reasonably priced linen I could use if I make any others in the future.
The petticoat had some weight to it but to give it a little more froofiness, I made an extra skirt under it out of silk organza. I also wore a red pinned-striped cotton underpetticoat under it.
After I was shown how to cut the neckline lower than it was on the pattern, it looked more balanced on me. I used hooks and eyes for my front closure, and then sewed a self-fabric ruching around the neckline and the sleeves. I trimmed the edges of the ruching with scalloped scissors.
Ruching pinned on the bodice

My flounces on the sleeves are two rows of lace, also purchased in the Garment Distric, and I used a JP Ryan anglaise pattern to cut the sloped shape of them. I also attached rows of self fabric ruching above them.

I handsewed the flounces on the underside of the sleeves.

My hat was made using a straw form I purchased at the Fort Frederick Marketplace in Big Pond, Maryland, while we were on vacation. I used some of my self-fabric ruching on it, along with a peach ribbon, peach and white feathers, and some vintage orange flowers loaned to me by Angela Burnley of Burnley & Trowbridge, whom I'd met in Colonial Williamsburg. It tied down behind my head under my hair, and had a pearl hatpin on the front, which I was told was period correct.

These are photos of me wearing it at Costume College
with Angela Burnley and Barbee Mullins, both of Williamsburg.

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I would love to hear if this was any help to you. Pretty please!