Monday, October 19, 2015

Something Governess-ey

I'm a costume junkie, although a lot of people who read this blog are probably exactly the same. Anyway, I've recently discovered I love Halloween because it gives me an opportunity to try some type of costume which I normally wouldn't try.

Several weeks after Halloween I've been invited to a costume party, the theme being books. Dress as someone from your favorite book. While I could go as Jane Eyre (who I love), I've decided to go as a different well-loved literary governess with a dress inspired by Jane Eyre. I'm going with something 1840's-ish with a dash of 1850's. Historical accuracy isn't neccesary, although the shape and a few historical techniques have to be thrown in (come on, how else do you get 160'' down to 24'' without the right techniques?). A couple things I will leave off is piping except at the waist edge, and a large hem facing (a turned hem by machine is way faster).

With the theme of only being governess-ey, and also working on a budget, I'll be working with cotton/poly broadcloth in brown, for as my heroine once described her dress as being "somewhere between russett and bark", while her pupils insist that it is "somewhere between stick and mud".

Here are a couple sketches of what I'm going for:

A plain jane, with a slightly dropped waist, bias cut sleeves, and a dull point found in a lot of 1840's dresses. and buttoning up the front. Most 1840's dresses were fastened up the back, but my character shows quite a bit of independence and wouldn't have wanted help getting dressed. This dress is the most similar to what she wears on the front cover. I was experimenting with armscye placement, disregard the lopsided seams.

A little similar, but with a basque. This is the only dress which borrows and element that was very popular during the 1850's, but I thought it was an interesting way of adding another detail that was unusual. It could be either cut in one with the bodice with shaped seams, or sewn separately and maybe even with gathers. And whoops, I left off the head.

And the last is a fan front, which reads as very governess-ey, but the dress fastens up the back and I personally hate not dressing myself. I've always wanted to try a fan front, but I don't think this is the best opportunity to try it.

I have several other costumes to get done before the 2nd week in November, although I'd like this dress to be done by Halloween. As my favorite governess once quoted from the founder of her beloved school, “When the impossible becomes only difficult, that is when you know you’ve won.” Have you figured out who it is yet?

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