FOUNDATIONS REVEALED COMPETITION ENTRY
Kushiel’s Justice 18th Century English Gown
Outline the story …
I first encountered the Kushiel’s Legacy series by Jacqueline Carey in the mid 2000s in high school. I was enraptured by the beautiful descriptions included in her prose and the intricate and detailed world she created.
Blessed Elua founded Terre d'Ange and bestowed one simple precept to guide his people, “love as thou wilt”. Rife with court intrigues and plots, the stories contained in Carey’s trilogies managed to provide an escape from the banalities of real life. Her second trilogy in this setting follows Imriel de la Courcel, a Prince of the Blood and son of a traitoress, who bears the stigma of his mother’s misdeeds. Kushiel’s Justice follows his intense and secret affair with Sidonie, heir to the throne and beloved member of the royal family. At the Longest Night, one of the largest fêtes of the year, Sidonie wears a golden gown with a half-mask “and a sun-shaped pendant nestled above the swell of her breasts”.
Since no great detail is included, I realized that I could interpret this garment in any way imaginable for this competition. I chose to utilize the first gown I’d ever made combined with some specific accessories. The gown is a Larkin & Smith English Gown, whose exceptionally well-written instructions enabled me to craft my first wearable garment as a rank beginner. Underneath, I'm wearing a hand-sewn linen shift, stays, pockets, bumroll, & silk petticoat- all made by myself as part of my self-imposed historical costuming learn-to-sew curriculum which began in February 2020.
Outline the construction…
This gown is entirely hand-sewn and follows the instructions included with Larkin & Smith’s English Gown pattern, modified to close center front instead of employing a stomacher and robings. A muslin was used to make alterations to the bodice and sleeves before beginning construction with my final materials. There are numerous techniques I learned by doing them for the first time on this gown, and while I see some things I would like to have done differently, I am immensely proud of the outcome of this piece. The knowledge and skills I gained in construction have served me well on every project since. The final accessory is a hand-sewn cap made of lightweight linen and dressed with silk taffeta ribbon to complement my embroidered petticoat.
When I first began, I didn’t care that the only linen thread I had was too coarse and didn’t match my fabric’s color. Now I smile at the visible stitches- imperfect as they might be- since they are a reminder that everyone is a beginner at some point, and much of the insides of historical garments are a hot mess as fashions were worked and reworked to extend a garment’s useful life!
Gown: Bronze cotton sateen fashion fabric, Light pink linen bodice lining, 35/2 & 60/2 waxed linen thread
Petticoat: Embroidered olive silk dupioni, silk thread, cotton twill tapes Shift & cap: Linen fabric & thread; silk taffeta ribbon Stays: cotton blend, cotton drill, zip ties, chamois leather
Bumroll: muslin, poly-fill, polyester twill tapes