Apr 152011
 

My planning started – as usual – by carefully observing the painting. I came to the conclusion that I would have to make six different items for this gown:

  1. The chemise

    The chemise is slightly ruched in the picture and is closed by threads at the front. The sleeves of that chemise are wide and probably also closed by ruchings at the wrists.

  2. The bodice

    Basically made of satin, decorated with darker velvet trims. The bodice also has puffed sleeves made of the same material, also decorated with velvet.
    There is one thing about this bodice that disturbs me a little:
    The fact that the front seems to be ‘just’ standing open without being laced; yet there are horizontal folds which are usually a clear indication for the bodice being pulled together somehow.
    I then came to the conclusion that *originally*, the bodice was ladder laced but that detail might have gotten lost during a restoration of the painting. I will give some examples of other pictures that have ladder lacings on the bodice page to verify this conclusion.

  3. The sleeves

    The paned sleeves are obviously attached to the puffed sleeves of the bodice. In the picture, when closely looking at them, I found that they have some kind of pattern in them. It seems as if they were perhaps made of cut velvet. I have a black silk brocade with a similar, blue pattern which I will use for those sleeves.
    This decision also sets the coloring for the rest of the gown: Instead of making it orange with dark green, I will make it cobalt blue with black velvet decorations. As I have already written – the original colors are so not *my* colors, but the blue/black color combination is just what I like and want 🙂

  4. The skirt

    To me this looks like a simply, cartridge pleated satin skirt without any front opening. As the bottom hem is not visible I can use my own imagination for decorations 🙂
    I will construct the skirt in a way that it needn’t be worn over a farthingale, just with a bumroll.

  5. The belt:

    I will have to cast diamond shapes of pewter, then plate gilt them and attach them to each other.

  6. The necklace

    A simple pearl string with a pendant decorated with emerald and ruby stones. I will have to cast that, just like the belt, in pewter, plate gilt it and then decorate it with Swarovski stones.

  7. The decorating fur

    Yes! I’ll most definitely need a fur for the decoration. If I had to guess, I’d say (from the size) that this is a fox – the color, however, indicates a mink. I’ll see what I can come up with.
    I remember that www.sapphireandsage.com carries some fabulous ‘flea furs’ – perhaps I’ll order one from them. It’s not *exactly’ what’s worn in this picture, but I guess it would make a nice addition to my accessories collection 😉

Materials I’ll need (or already used) for this gown (constantly updated with further planning and making):
(This includes a price breakdown for the materials – I’ve made the experience that people are incredibly curious as to how much one would have to pay for the materials if they would make such a gown themselves.
Remember, however, that the below shown costs are *just* the plain material costs – so if you would have someone make you such a gown with the above listed jewelry, you’d have to pay their work as well.
Considering that I estimate this gown & jewelry to take roughly 50 hours of work, and considering that a *good* costume maker should earn at least $15 per hour (remember, she must pay taxes from that, *plus* make a living somehow!), *plus* adding some funds for research, shipping of materials and the finished gown, notions etc. – about $150 or so….
This means the price for a gown like this should have at least $900 *added* to the below listed, plain material costs, if you would want a professional costume maker to make you this gown.)

Status Item Cost
Material for the body of chemise (silk/cotton batiste) ~ $ 15
Material to stiffen the chemise sleeves (silk organza) ~ $ 15
Material for extra large bumroll to go with the dress ~ $ 5
stays to go with the dress
(I’ll use the ones I wore with the ‘Pelican’ gown)
~ $ 0
~5 yards of satin for bodice, skirt, sleeves ~ $100
Interlining / lining for bodice ~ $ 10
Dye for the satin ~ $ 15
Dye to re-dye the satin (see ‘skirt’ page for details) ~ $ 15
Large amount of velvet trims for bodice, skirt, sleeves (~20 yards) ~ $ 30
Crinoline netting to reinforce bodice / stiffen skirt ~ $ 60
Corset steel boning to reinforce bodice ~ $ 10
Brocade for the sleeves ~ $ 20
Pewter to cast the jewelry from ~ $ 5
Swarovski stones in various shapes to decorate jewelry (rectangle, bigger emerald stone and square, smaller ruby stone in the original picture – I guess I’ll change the colors for my dress to rectangle black diamond and square cobalt blue) ~ $ 5
Pearls for the necklace ~ $ 20
Clay / plaster to make the molds for the jewelry / belt ~ $ 5
Some jewelry hooks etc. for the belt and necklace closure ~ $ 5
black fur for decoration ~ $ ?
…so just the material will (did) cost: ~$ 335
…if you’d have this gown made, add the above explained ‘costume maker’ costs of… ~$ 900
…and get to a total price of… ~$ 1235
Explanation:
: already have that material
: ordered that material
: don’t have the material (yet)
Costs are calculated by the material price; no shipping/handling fees for those materials are included here.
The above listed ‘costume maker’ calculation was made just to satisfy one of my biggest needs:
To show people that *good* costume makers are often underpaid or undervalue their work (or the amount of work that goes into a gown).
I’ve experienced that myself when I was still a professional costume maker and *still* heard often that my prices are ‘too high’… just because people don’t take into consideration (or are simply not aware) how much time, work, craftsmanship and research go into making such gowns. I myself often miscalculated the costs for a customer’s gown, in the sense of me thinking that I wouldn’t need so much material / so much time, ending up with doing very much for considerably little.
So – the calculation is for ‘those’ people as well as for myself, so that I might know what exactly my spare time, in which I make these costumes, is worth (I wish I had made those very exact breakdowns when I was still professional – would have spared & gained me much at the same time) 😉

That was the planning for the beginning (as it turned out…); further planning will take place on the following pages.

For a start let’s go on to the chemise making, which is basically the foundation of the complete gown.

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