FOUNDATIONS REVEALED COMPETITION ENTRY
Lady Hilda Makes an Impression
Outline the story …
"She swept across the room and seated herself with her back to the window. It was a queenly presence—tall, graceful, and intensely womanly."
Lady Hilda Trelawney Hope is a key character in Sherlock Holmes' "The Adventure of the Second Stain". Lady Hilda, being extorted over an unbecoming letter written in her youth, has paid off the blackmailer with diplomatic correspondence stolen from her husband, Trelawney Hope, Secretary for European Affairs of the United Kingdom. The stolen letter contains incendiary information which could lead to war.
When she discovers the severity of her actions and her blackmailer is fortuitously murdered, Lady Hilda executes a ballsy plan to retrieve the letter. Disguising herself as a lady of lower rank, she charms her way past the police officer guarding the scene and reclaims the letter from a secret compartment (which she had seen used previously) hidden beneath the bloodstained rug. Inadvertently she creates a second bloodstain impression, which gives both Sherlock Holmes a vital clue, and the story its name.
I was drawn to Lady Hilda as she is charming and naïve, but also brave and willing to go to great lengths to protect her family. She is more than a little ridiculous, but also endearingly ballsy. My kind of woman! My inspiration for this gown came from fashion plates and photos of upper class ladies of the time. The scalloped detailing on the bodice was inspired by an extant garment.
Outline the construction…
The construction of the cotton velvet bodice is based on the 1887-89 day dress from Janet Arnold's "Patterns of Fashion 2". I scaled the pattern up and then draped the bodice on the stand over my padded out 1880s corset. I found I had to move the dart positions in order to work with my body shape and, during the fitting process, that I needed to add an additional horizontal dart under the bust to remove wrinkling at the bust point. The bodice is flat-lined with sprung boning and hand sewn buttonholes. The scalloped silk taffeta details have a piped edge made from bias cut strips. It took me a long time to source the buttons to suit the garment, but I eventually found these which are cast from original 1880s buttons. The cuffs and centre front panels have pleated glazed cotton sections, and the cuffs have a strip of bias velvet through the centre.
The silk taffeta and glazed cotton skirt was draped over a lobster bustle and layered petticoat. The asymmetric top skirt is draped and edged with pleated, gathered and scalloped self fabrics. The tassels are made from stripped-out glazed cotton to match exactly. The French bonnet was drafted using cereal boxes, and made from silk taffeta and cotton velvet over a base of wired buckram. Fully lined with pleated glazed cotton and finished with rust feathers. Mitts were drafted from scratch and made using ecru cotton lace, sewn together to make panels.