“She was a remarkable, stunning beauty. Admired by Bernadotte, despised by Bonaparte. And no one could touch her”. Mme. Flamel

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I am preparing to embark upon a five day journey to the beautiful country of Malta for the Valleta Grand Ball. I am working on keeping my clothing very light and airy. In a coup de foudre, I have been struck with a love for another aspect of the early 19th century and I want to make sure my clothing reflects that. This gown is loosely inspired by Juliette Récamier, if not one of the most famous then certainly one of the most beautiful women in the art world.

I only have a few works in progress photos as this gown came together in a little under two days but at least this time I did remember to take photos for you!. Keeping with the period it is entirely hand stitched.

I came across this photo from the Madame Récamier collection displayed at the Musée Des Beaux-Arts De Lyon:

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The gown is described as being: ” . . . dress-shirt white cotton muslin, Train, short sleeves and square neckline. It dates from 1805: It’s called a half-set. This is the perfect outfit that Juliette Recamier to wear in the evening to sparkle in society (thank you Maryline!), or go to the ball, but this is not a Court gown. ” It was then followed by the closeup of the sleeves:

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The first thing I did was to use the techniques I learnt from my internship in Colonial Williamsburg to stitch up the side seams and to cartridge pleat the back.  Once that was complete I set about creating the basic bodice shape.

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I have been collecting entredeux for years as I am very fond of Heirloom sewing and I was so pleased to be able to put some of my collection to good use.

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The bodice went through various stages but I finally choose the second photo as my design.

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I prick stitched the pleats down so that they wouldn’t be completely flat.

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Here is the completed bodice!  The next step was the most tedious part of the entire gown. I timed myself to see how fast I could go and I was able to finish one entire sleeve in about 45 minutes.

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The last step was to remove the fabric from behind the insertion so it ends up looking a little like this:

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I’m currently inserting the sleeves but once that is complete I will share with you the final gown!

*Please note the title of this blog post has been taken from Mme. Flamel whose blog can be found here.

The Genesee Regency Gown: Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art . . .

When I was planning my gown for the Regency Society of Tennessee’s  tea I found a photo from the Greene Collection at the Genesee Country Village & Museum.  I fell in love and had to make it happen!

The museum website describes the gown as a  ” … dress, from the same time period (1815-1820) is also entirely hand stitched icy green plain weave silk. It has a very high waist and very long tubular sleeves which would have been worn slightly ruched on the arm. The skirt is in 3 panels and slightly gathered in front and pleated in the back.

It has a Vandyked neckline of little triangular tabs in the sleeve, forming a gorgeous cap effect which is accented with little white ribbon bows.

The stitching on this dress as well as the fact that it is made of silk indicates that this would have been considered a “good” dress and would have been worn for special occasions.”

The gown was made from a beautiful mint cotton swiss that I purchased from The Lace Cottage  where I take my heirloom sewing lessons and the little bows on the puffs are made of silk.  The triangles that line the neckline are individually folded vandyke points and were the most challenging part of the costume.

Based on extant gowns that I have been able to study I decided that the sleeves were most likely detachable sleeves.

I would also like to say thank you to Travellers Rest Plantation & Museum for graciously allowing me to take photos on their historic site.