FOUNDATIONS REVEALED COMPETITION ENTRY
War and Peace Natasha Day Gown
Outline the story …
I decided to create a Regency Era gown, inspired by Natasha Rostov from the Russian classic War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. I fell in love with her character and really wanted to complete a dress she may have worn within the books (a sad failing of the book is that Tolstoy very rarely describes the wear of his characters), however the inspiration for the gown first came from the scene within Volume II where Natasha visits the Moscow Opera and meets with Anatole Kuragin, however her dress is described as blue.
Other areas of inspiration came from a specific dress dated to this era within the text 'The Empire's New Clothes: A History of the Russian Fashion Industry, 1700-1917' by Christine Ruane. This is one of the very few books written in English on the changing of Russian fashion from traditional dress to heavily European, as decreed by Peter I. The dress in question dated to around 1810, noting that the embroidery on the dress was designed to match with the shawl, which was foreign manufacture. This dress is where the main inspiration and design elements were introduced to the final product, although time and monetary constraints meant that I had to amend certain aspects.
Outline the construction…
This dress is the third sewing project I have conducted, the first dress I have ever made and my first attempts at both pattern drafting (with aid from a text) and embroidery. The dress is made from 100% cotton, although as it was quite thin (due to budgetary concerns, I was unable to afford the quality cotton, or historical wool/silk combination of the inspiration dress) I layered the bodice pieces with two pieces, rather than a single. The skirt and sleeves were single-layered, although in the end this had very little impact on the final product.
The create the pattern, I used the text 'Creating Historical Clothes: Pattern Cutting from Tudor to Victorian Times' by Elizabeth Friendship. The book was incredibly helpful, offering specific measurements and instructions on how to create the patterns, however I did have to adjust the pattern. The major mistake I made in creating the pattern, which I realised late in the project, was that the bodice needed to be lengthened to accommodate the modern bra worn by my model for the empire waist seam to sit in the correct position. Other mistakes came from my first adjustments, in not cutting the neckline correctly, causing sagging at the back due to the edges not meeting.
The garment was initially by modern sewing machine, then hand stitched embroidery using a basic satin stitch and French knots for the centre of the flowers. Closures of hooks and eyes were also hand stitched, as were the hems.