Thursday, March 26, 2015

1780 Robe Retroussee - My Tribute to Avi

I have always been in love with this 1780s French gown from the Met, one for being a gorgeous gown, but because of the way the photograph was styled with the little dog mannequin:

The Met, 1780
To me, the little greyhound-like dog mannequin has always represented Avi, my dearest companion who passed away this time last year.  I had always intended to make this dress and take pictures with Avi, but never got around to it, though Avi participated in many costumed photo shoots over the years.

Avi and I posed together a lot in photo shoots for American Duchess. She would sit herself in the center of the backdrop and refuse to move, so we just went with it. :-)
When I was in LA last week, I found this embroidered silk taffeta and instantly thought of the picture from The Met, and this gown. The fabric was a bit of a splurge for me, but I knew I had to have it, and that even though I'll never be able to take the picture with Avi, it will remind me of her every time I wear the dress.  So I bought the fabric.

It's not a match, but it reminded me of the 1780 dress fabric, so I couldn't pass it up.
Luckily the Met has a lot of pictures of this gown, and I want to be true to the design. I'm hoping to have it done for a trip to Williamsburg in June - I better get stitching!



You can see more angles, and larger images at http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online/search/84611

Monday, March 23, 2015

1785 Williamsburg Chintz Pierrot - Progress at Last!


I've been so diligently digging into the UFO pile, finishing things left and right, so I decided to pick up this little chintz jacket I started ages ago.

Here's the photo from last year - you can see the sleeve is pulling the shoulder and back in a funny way.
I had run into a problem with the sleeves (as usual). The sleeve heads were too shallow, so I removed the one sleeve I had set, and pattern-matched some extensions onto the tops of both sleeves.


I re-fit the sleeves over my dress form's shoulders, using the 18th century method, which is usually a good indication that they'll fit me. They're a little fuller than I would like, but I value mobility, so I'll just live with the slight easing gathers that remain over the top of the shoulder.

I don't have too far left to go on this jacket. I need to finish up the right sleeve's shoulder strap, then hem and trim the back skirt with *ruffles!* The ruffles will take a little time, but they're the big "huzzah" of the jacket, so it'll be worth it.

Looking back, I don't know why I did this jacket zone-front. I can't remember if I intended to add trim there or what, but the busy pattern in the fabric didn't really work with this design. Same for the crazy pleated back - these details would have been much more striking on a solid color.

Learning experience. :-)

Friday, March 20, 2015

"Bronte" Victorian Slippers & "Highbury" Regency Slippers - Pre-Order Open!

I'm a little late to the game here on the blog, but better late than never!  If you follow us on Facebook or Twitter, you'll already know the new early 19th century slippers are now available to order, and with a $10 discount!


I've shared about the new "Bronte" slippers before, with extant examples from museums. I'm so happy with how our version turned out, and that unlike the originals, they're very comfortable to wear!

Bronte is available in black kid leather as well as white dyeable cotton sateen. The interior lacing loops mean you can wear them with a criss-crossed ribbon around the ankle, for a ball or just a different look, plus there's no end to creative things you can do with shoe clips and rosettes on the toes.


To Pre-Order Bronte for the $10 off discount, check out the Victorian page at AmericanDuchess.com

Left to right: Bronte in white sateen; Bronte in black kid leather; Highbury in white sateen. Ribbons not included.

Now the news for "Highbury" - thanks to your feedback, we made some improvements to Highbury. The fit is better, but the major changes are in the soling materials, which is now leather, and the upper material, which we changed to our favorite dyeable cotton sateen. They're so easy to dye with awesome results, and have that bit of sheen for dressier occasions, without the fragility of silk.

We've kept the four sets of lacing loops on the interior, which allow for several different designs in how you lace the ribbons, plus it's easy to decorate to your heart's content with shoe clip bows, rosettes, and pom poms. You never again have to fear wearing the same shoes as somebody else at the event!

To Pre-Order Highbury for the $10 off discount, visit 

Pre-Order ends March 27th. Delivery in about 2 - 4 weeks!