Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Historical Sew Fortnightly#16: Separates - Robe a la Turque (Outer Robe)

This was a pretty challenging project, not only is it a style I'd never made before but it's also a style that's rarely made period.  While there are quite a few helpful dress diaries on making slightly later era robe a la Turques I didn't turn up much for this earlier version.  That said, Kendra Van Cleave's information on the Polonaise, her dress diary on her Circassian, and her advice to me were all extremely helpful.  Also invaluable was scaled polonaise pattern in The Cut of Women's Clothes and this blog entry from Mimic of Modes/A Most Beguiling Accomplishment showing all three views of the fashion plate I was trying to replicate.

I like experimenting and am not constrained by the idea that what I do has to be totally historically accurate, so I used that information as my jumping off point.  I can't vouch for the authenticity of what I came up with, but in case it's useful to anyone else here's what I did:

I started off making a lining for the robe's bodice, using my basic 18th C body block as a base.  I then draped a muslin on the lining, following the lines of the pattern in the Cut of Women's Clothes and altering it as I went to create the silhouette I was looking for.  Once I got the muslin tweaked to how I wanted it I cut out the fashion fabric and got to work draping that.   I draped the funnel shaped sleeves and a front and back collar as well then put the whole thing together.   I used tassels and trim I bought in the LA garment district and created frog like decorations out of some of the trim that came with the tassels to trim the back seams.

I thought this could be an entry for the separates challenge because while it was made to go with the pink round gown shown, it could easily be paired with another gown in a different color.  I like the look of the all-white undergown in this plate, and in looking at other plates of Turques white under gowns seem pretty popular.  And the white petticoat/colored corsage combination is also pretty nice, and given I already have a nice white lawn petticoat all I'd need to do to create a new outfit would be to make the corsage - sweet!

The Challenge: Separates - Robe a la Turque (Outer Robe)

Fabric: Dark Teal Silk Taffeta, dark blue linen bodice lining.

Pattern: Draped by me based on the pattern for a polonaise on

Year: 1780
Notions: braid and tassels for trim, thread

How historically accurate is it? The long skirt seams are machine sewn but all visible stitching and most of the rest of the robe is hand sewn.

Hours to complete: Not sure as I worked on several other projects at the same time.

First worn: I will wear it to the Thursday Night Pool Party at Costume College!  Look for more pictures soon!
Total cost: $5 for trimmings, the fabric all came from the stash.

Sunday, July 28, 2013


I had SUCH fun going to see Austenland yesterday.  An invite to a preview of the movie went out to LA area costumers and I was most happy to oblige!  I wore my new military inspired Spencer (thanking my stars once again I'd made it out of linen rather than wool as it was about 90 degrees out) and the dress made from a sari I got from the Bohemian Belle along with my Mela hat.  I felt every bit the Austen Villainess.  Why Villainess you ask?  Because in the Austen movies only bad girls wear THAT shade of red! ;)


 I met up with a bunch of local costumers and we settled in to watch the show.  The movie was really such fun - one of those movies that both pokes fun of something and IS the thing it pokes fun of.  It was very funny, charming and sweet and I think was particularly entertaining when seen with like-minded friends who could get all the Janeite jokes.  Jennifer Collidge was hilarious and I've been a fan of James Callis since BSG and was happy to see him playing such a fun comic role in Austenland (He's the sandy mustache gent with the really pointy sideburns in the preview.)  Oh, costumers take note, the red riding habit worn by Lady Amelia was also worn by Natasha Little as Becky Sharp in the BBC production of Vanity Fair. 

After the movie was over there was a little reception with tea, tea sandwiches and cookies and Austenland schwag.  We all got "What would Jane do?" tea cups, "I <3 Mr. Darcy" t-shirts and totebags, and copies of Austenland.  Oh, and we got to pose with Mr. Darcy!


The exceedingly handsome actor, Ricky Whittle, who played Captain George East told us some funny tales of the making of the movie (I hope there are LOTS of extras on the DVD!) and was kind enough to pose for pics with me and my friend Colleen.