Der Schauspieldirektor – Costume Diary, Part 4

14 Dec

My costume diary continues as I create the outfits for the two rival Prima Donna’s in my upcoming Der Schauspieldirektor photo shoot. Having finished my teal jacket and gilet for M. Silberklang, I then moved on to my orange, pigeon-breasted bodice for M. Herz.

Previous Posts in this Series:

  1. My first post follows the making of the corsets for both ladies.
  2. The second post takes a look at my embroidery process, and brief reviews of some of the movies I viewed while sewing.
  3. The third post shows how I put together my Jacket and Gilet.

I have to make all the costumes for my photo shoot, and I was inspired by a page in the book “Fashion” by the The Kyoto Costume Institute which features two fancy ladies’ outfits from the 1790s.

The costumes from The Kyoto Costume Institute that have inspired the look for my current project.

The second outfit I chose to make was inspired by the pink-ish jacket next to the blue-ish jacket & gilet in the photo from Kyoto Costume Institute’s book “Fashion”.

The caption in the book says that the jacket features a lace-up belt and a drawstring bodice. It also says that the back is boned at the center back. Now, my first issue when tackling this project was that I didn’t know how to make a drawstring bodice, nor could I imagine how to make one, particularly because I was unable to see the jacket from the front.

After sitting and considering how to create such a garment, I decided to ask almighty Google, and Lo! Google directed me to A Frolic Through Time!

There is an article on A Frolic Through Time which describes through images how the drawstring bodice came into being (A Wild Drawstring Bodice Appears!), and how it evolved into the far more familiar Regency gown (Jane Austen-y times!). I looked through these many images to find one that looked like it may be related in design to the pink jacket from KCI.

Front view. Here we see Madame Seriziat wearing a drawstring bodice and holding what is presumably a threshing flail used for beating that smarmy little baby in the corner. Painting by Jacques Louis David, 1795.

The Frolic Through Time blog also provides a link to a Colonial Williamsburg site which shows an original drawstring front gown as well as a reproduction and a pattern.

This pattern held all the answers to my questions, and I immediately set to work. Below you can see the gown that that pattern creates.

White Cotton Gown with a drawstring front from the Collection of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

I used the bodice from Simplicity 4092, though I’m not so sure you can tell because of the thorough modifications — namely a 28inch strip of fabric in place of the stomacher, a good amount for gathering. If you make your own drawstring bodice, I recommend using 29 inches or less. I started with a longer strip, and it did not gather well.

Because I had to use all of my ingenuity to figure out how to make this jacket, I was unable to document what I was doing as I went. However, I did photograph the final garment for your viewing.

My finished orange drawstring bodice Jacket, with attached and pleated belt, cotton skirt and lace fichu.

My drawstring front jacket uses an orange shot silk (red and pale yellow cross weave). The jacket is lined with the same silk, however the sleeves are lined with anti-static lining. Has anyone else ever noticed that anti-static lining is the most static-y fabric on the market? However, sewing with it and ironing with it is a dream. It holds an ironed crease like paper, and makes the top layer of fabric easier to manage as well.

The skirt is cotton, and the fichu is lace.

Side front view of my own orange drawstring bodice. The bodice itself has no pleats, but features enough gathering to create a pleated and pigeon breasted effect.

The drawstring portion of the bodice is tacked to the lining under the belt. This holds the gathers below the waist in that position permanently. The lining side of the garment is one flat piece below the belt, while above the belt the lining is the same as the rest of the front in order to allow the drawstring to function.

The lining also features bones at the side-back and side front seams, as well as one below the waist, center front, to keep the front tab stiff.

One of my concerns was about creating an effective “pigeon-front” bodice. I am pleased to say that a drawstring bodice almost naturally creates the pigeon front effect, and with a little stuffing from the fichu can create a the perfect effect!

A detail of the pleated belt and shoe buckle ornament.

The belt is attached at the side back seams, and tacked at every seam around the bodice to hold it at the correct height. I used a shoe-clip buckle to adorn the front of the belt.

Back view of my jacket. It laces up the back because I couldn't figure out how to close a drawstring bodice of this period from the front.

During my creative process, I could not figure out a single way to close the garment in the front satisfactorily. In the KCI garment, I believe the whole bodice is one drawstring piece and the belt holds it closed at the waist, but how does one stop the gathers from shifting and poofing out below the belt, like some sort of sagging alien baby? So, to solve the problem, I just decided to use a back lacing closure, and use an inner structure that allows me to tack the front gathers down below the waist.

Sleeve detail with three brass buttons.

I decided to add a nice little sleeve detail with brass buttons and loops at the cuff.

Now that this garment is complete, I will move on to the hats and wigs. Each outfit needs a hat a wig and accessories, so there is still some work left to do before the shoot! Please join me again next time as I create these gowns and soon thereafter, take the photographs!

Update – All the Posts From This Series:

  1. My first post follows the making of the corsets for both ladies.
  2. The second post takes a look at my embroidery process, and brief reviews of some of the movies I viewed while sewing.
  3. The third post shows how I put together my Jacket and Gilet.
  4. My fourth post shows the inspiration and final pigeon breasted drawstring-front jacket.
  5. The fifth post talks about the hats I created, and features a step-by-step construction process.
  6. The sixth post shows outtakes from our photo shoot and the ladies in costume.
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