FOUNDATIONS REVEALED COMPETITION ENTRY
1881 Embroidered Dress
Outline the story …
Entry inspired by the Phantom of the Opera, by Gaston Leroux. Christine Daaé, an opera singer in Paris, had planed to sew herself a new dress for her free days. And of course she needed something to do, when she was again with her Angel of Music. Often he worked on his opera and she was bored. After she had become one of the leading singers, she decided to choose something very special, something precious. For months, she looked through many issues of 'La Mode Illustrée' and hadn't found something suitable. Until one day in early autumn she saw it, on the main page: an elegant dress made of a 'simple' cloth fabric, a fabric she definitely could afford, and with the pleats and all the embroidery it would be an amazing dress for walks or for attending church services. She always dreamt of a dress full of embroidery and really there it was: her embroidered cloth dress. But instead of steel blue and gold, she would choose something more modest, she would use midnight blue and wine red. She saw herself sitting at the fireplace while Erik is composing, she would do her embroidery.
The time period in Gaston Leroux's novel is possibly 1880s or 1890s, due to some events it would be mid 1890s but I prefer to have "The Phantom of the Opera" set in the early 1880s.
Outline the construction…
The first challenge for me was the use of an original pattern of that time. It was printed in a book, so I first had the challenge of pattern enlargement, and then getting it fit to my body shape. With patience, and comparison to my previous patterns, I could get the bodice in the correct size.
I chose a midnight blue cotton poplin, as it was the closest fabric I could get to 'cloth fabric', but I lined it with cotton batiste so the fabric was more firm for draping. This is the first time I have knife pleated my trim for the underskirt, which was challenging to get in equal width. The overskirt was a bit tricky for draping, and I had to try a lot until I reached the desired slim line. But the greatest challenge for me was the embroidery. The last time I embroidered was more than 10 years ago. I enlarged the original embroidery pattern with the help of my printer and then started with satin stitches to fill the lines, it took me at least 300 hours to do the embroidery, as the thread I used was cotton thread. I sewed and embroidered it completely by hand, including the undergarments, a bustled petticoat and a corset. The bodice has a hidden closure of hooks and eyes. It is hooked up in the front and the embroidered vest is hooked above the main closure.