One of these days maybe I'll learn that I don't look good without a fichu or tucker.
Starting out, I was inspired by this short sacque and matching petticoat at The Met, which also has a full-length overgown of the same fabric. What an interesting piece!
Unlike a traditional pet-en-l'air, the Met's example here has the back in 4 separate pleats, which I've only seen on an earlier Robe Volante. I decided to go with the more usually-seen pleats using the J.P. Ryan sacque pattern.
My fabric was a long roll of indeterminate fiber, probably a cotton/poly blend that has a really nice crispness to it, almost like taffeta, but fairly breathable.
Oooooh I just love this part of the process. I felt like the pleating was made extremely easy by the lines of the plaid.
Once I had the thing mostly sewn-up though, I realized that to me it felt a little plain (despite the loud fabric!) and I decided to trim it with a sheer off-white voile.
Cue a LOT of small hand-hemming. Ugh. I wanted to cheat and machine-sew it but I just couldn't bring myself to on something so visible. HOURRRRSSS
Lots of fun stomacher poofs and bows.
Annnnnd more hemming for the bottom flounce.
As for shoes, I knew the winter weather at this point was likely to be capricious and possibly wet, so I didn't want to wear my standard Pompadours since they're fabric and I didn't want to sit through a concert in wet stockings. My only heeled leather shoes, my trusty (originally white) Devonshires, were at this point painted brown...yeah sure red and green usually make brown when you mix them together but that's not quite what I was going for here.
But with these shoes, changing the color of them is only limited to the supplies you have! This is now the third time these shoes have been changed over, with no damage to the leather. They've been the original white, then bright yellow, then a lighter yellow with painted floral designs (whyyy did I ever wipe that off, still kicking myself because it was beautiful), then brown.
I first use Angelus Leather Deglazer ...copious amounts of it on rags. Do this step in a well-ventilated area, wearing gloves. It will take quite a bit of time and effort and you may get mixed results depending on your original paint, depth of color, and type of rag (I finally had the best results with the fleecy side of a cut-up sweatshirt over any other type of cloth). You will likely NOT be able to get the shoe all the way back to its original ivory, and if you're trying to go from a dark paint to a pastel, you'll have to work twice as hard at the cleaning process to make sure there's nothing left in the shoe creases or you'll have to do more coats of paint than you might want to.
First coat -- you can see I wasn't meticulous about getting all the dark brown off -- I'm familiar with how well Angelus paints cover leather and I knew I was going from a medium tone to another medium tone. The red is "Scarlet Red."
Second coat! I was pretty happy with this finish as it reminds me of the popular red Moroccan leather shoes advertised frequently during the 18th century, and this gorgeous pair at the Kyoto Costume Institute:
Being now ball-ready (even Cinderella didn't head anywhere without the perfect shoes, right?!), I headed across the river on concert day. A lot of people were a bit delayed by a nasty ice storm from that morning, and a few couldn't make it at all, but those of us who did had an amazing time! As usual, when I'm really excited, you can't see my eyeballs. I wore my red light wool cloak, and a fur muff I had just finished.
Christine's ridiculously gorgeous embroidered redingote was much admired, and I was terrified of stepping on it.
I didn't quite pull off 1780s hair, but made a good effort of throwing all kinds of flowers and gauzy lace at it, lol. You can see the absurdly beautiful background of Powell Symphony Hall's foyer, which is modeled after the chapel at Versailles, so it makes a great 18thc backdrop.
So many beautiful and talented friends!
Sara of Ensembles of the Past looking royal-court-worthy
We were all trying to gather for a group photo at this point but I was struck by the lusciousness of all the different fabrics and styles here.
The lovely Jean who covered her hat to match her cut-away gown
Tracey went all-out 1790s and rocked it
And photographer Genevieve humored our request to do the "Exhibition Stare-case" picture that now we cannot go anywhere without replicating. It's tradition. Since I don't believe in sliding down banisters timidly, enjoy the unashamed impropriety of bared knee.
A little rumpled from sitting for an hour and a half, but it turned out quite satisfactory. I think I'll shorten it up before the next time I wear it so it's a sassy 1770s length that I can also trim around the bottom with yet more voile (why do I do this to myself).
Next time's post: a little Regency ensemble of gown and spencer.