Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Past Projects - 18th Century Doll Gowns

American Duchess recently blogged about how she found her era, and this made me think about why I'm so in love with 18th Century fashions.  I've concluded that it dates back to my childhood playing with American Girl dolls. I had Samantha, my younger sisters had Kirsten and Felicity, and my cousin Melissa had a Girl of Today she named Sarah.  Melissa and I played with our dolls every chance we got, even after my much younger sisters "outgrew" them.  And looking back, I realize now how much fascination Felicity's wardrobe held for me.  She's a colonial American Girl, growing up in Williamsburg, Virginia.  I loved her clothes and all the little accessories and undergarments and everything.  And although my clothing and costuming interests have gone through major changes since those days, I'm still fascinated by the 18th Century.  Stomachers make me happy.

When I learned to sew, I started with doll clothes.  Many of the doll dresses I made were from the same pattern my mom had for colonial doll gowns, with polonaise and saque-back variations.  (I wish I could find it now!)  I thought it would be fun to go back and look at some of my very early work in this area, now that I'm going full-scale.

First, the undergarments.

Samantha wears a shift and stays by American Girl, with The World's Ugliest Petticoat by me.
Felicity also wears and American Girl shift, with  corset and petticoats by me.  
I loved making petticoats for dolls.  They were so easy!  Felicity is actually wearing three separate petticoats that tie together at the sides with ribbons that are also the draw-strings.  This was so you could change how "poofy" you wanted the skirt to be by adding or subtracting petticoats.  I thought it was ingenious at the time.

Cute buckled shoes by American Girl
Embroidered stockings and shoes with interchangeable ribbon bows by American Girl
One of the first Colonial gowns I ever made
The polonaise gathers have relaxed somewhat, over the years.  
Alternate petticoat
I have always loved the mix-and-match potential of the 18th Century.  I tend to be indecisive when it comes to making creative decisions, so I love having the ability to change my mind about how I want a gown to look.

Another early gown
I loved the idea of a sheer saque-back.  
Alternate stomacher and underskirt
I really honed my sewing skills on these doll dresses.  It's amazing to see how far I've come, not to mention how my design sensibilities have changed over the years...

Kaya wears a very Polynesian-inspired peplum jacket and skirt.  
Alternate stomacher
Back of jacket
Sometimes I used incredibly inappropriate fabrics for the style.  :p

This gown was inspired by a description of a ballgown in Ella Enchanted, one of my favorite books.
I don't have any research to support the train on the petticoat - I just liked it!  
 Over time my sewing skills improved, and I think this is one of my better doll gowns:

Though it could use a good pressing!
I even made a hair ribbon.  
Reversible stomacher
I'm still indecisive, so I see many interchangeable petticoats and reversible stomachers in my costuming future.

Jazz thinks doll clothes are comfy.  

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