I've been making historical costumes for years now, and it's mostly been for SCA, but I did a lot of menswear for a black powder reenactor friend of mine, and I've drawn inspiration from other periods, such as Victorian, and early 20th c. for making my own goth and steampunk clothing...
So I made this wonderfully awesome c. 1730s gown from Reconstructing History #822 Open Robe Anglais with Polonaise Option.
And I've worked with other patterns from this period before, but this one worked out really well, and I'd call it one of the better, more user-friendly patterns out there. This particular pattern is definitely not for beginners, and requires some advanced skills like draping, fitting, and pleating, but an experienced sewer like myself, who never attempted a gown from this period before, should have no problems. The only problem I have is figuring out where to wear it. I might have to "crash" an 18th c. reenactment event or something.
I have also used RH #410 Heian Japanese Lady's Informal Robes to make some Japanese garb that I wore to Pennsic last year, and it was so comfortable and easy to wear that I want to make a lot more of it.
I haven't had a chance yet to use RH #407 yet, but I'm eager to try it. I am waiting for the right fabric to come along and "speak to me."
That's typically how I work, which might be backwards from what most pro designers do. They come up with a design and do a sketch or have some vision of what fabrics to use, and they look for a fabric that comes close to their vision. I, on the other hand, I find the yummy fabric first, and it "tells" me what it wants to be. When I found that piece of printed linen that I used for the open robe Anglais, I knew it had to be an 18th c. ladies gown of some sort. I often don't have a choice in the matter. If the fabric says, "you must make me into an 18th c. gown," even though what I really need to work on is a sci-fi costume for DragonCon or some other convention, I end up making the gown, doh!
Speaking of which, I'm strapped for ideas on costuming for upcoming sci-fi cons: GenCon and DragonCon, which fall close on the heels of Pennsic. I have all the gear to do the sci-fi military stuff that we typically do, but I wanted to do something different besides that. If I were a sci-fi or movie character, who would I be? Any thoughts?
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