Ponderings on a Polonaise

March 23, 2011

So, I'm in a full 18thC swing. I dug out the Red Contouche so I could work on finally getting the Advanced Contouche tutorial up (still in the works!), and once I had it up on the mannequin...it started to stare at me. All the gleaming taffeta, the crystals, the ruching...it's a naughty temptress, and she wants friends.

I looked back at the inspiration painting for my red gown - the teal and roses gown that Madame de Pompadour was wearing, and my mind starting ticking. It said, "You have teal satin in your bins somewhere...you should go find it". So, I spent a couple of hours digging through various bins. Nada. I looked through my project baskets. Nothing. I dug under the couch, under the bed, in the closet. Still nothing. The teal satin is hiding from me.
But it was too late. I'd gotten stuck on the idea of getting my hands on some teal satin and making this gown.
So, I headed out to Joann's and started digging through their special occasion fabrics and their clearance section. There was one teal satin, which wasn't great, and there was only a yard left on the bolt. So, sighing in defeat, I grabbed some fabric for a commission and headed to the cutting counter.
Good ol' Joann's. They must have known I was coming. And that I had satin on the brain. Because there, in the middle of the aisle by the cutting counter, was a bin of newly clearanced items. And inside the bin was a bolt of this fabulous lilac dull satin. Gorgeous. I bought the whole thing.
So, here's the new plan. I'm going to make this gown, from the 2006 Marie Antoinette movie. The gown in the movie seems to be inspired by a painting of young Marie Antoinette, in which she's wearing a very similar gown. I do like the movie's interpretation of the gown better, though, and I think the pastel tone of the purple would look pretty in this style.

From what I can tell looking at the photos available, the petticoat has a line of the same rouched trim, about 6 inches wide, that runs about a foot above the hemline. The trim on the gown itself has two different parts - there's the narrow trim around the neckline, and is about 3 inches wide. It ends under the front trim, which is in the same style, just wider. You can see what I mean in the photo below. There's a bit of ruffled net trim also decorating the neckline.


The trim on the front of the gown widens from the centre front down the the hem of the skirt. You can see that in the first picture.

It's a little hard to tell what's going on in the back of the gown. It looks like it may be a polonaise, since it seems there's a bit of drapery going on in the back. In the second photo above you can make out some puffings and such going on back there. The best we get for the back view of the skirt is this picture, which shows what looks like more puffings and such. It's just so hard to be sure since she is sitting down and the folding of the fabric from her sitting could be giving us the illusion that it's polonaised in the back.
Still, I'm never one to turn down a polonaise.
The back of the bodice seems to be pretty straightforward. We get a glimpse of it as she walks in front of the camera to look at herself in the mirror, revealing three back seams. What we can't tell, however, is where the waistline is. In every picture she's either too far away, the camera is too high, or her arm is in the way, and we never see the waistline. In one picture, you can faintly make out a seam that's under her arm, toward the back, meaning the back of the gown is in four pieces, and the front is in two. The front panel seems to wrap around until the side back seam, so that it appears all to be one piece, though.

I can't make out anything about the waist in the back, but from what I can tell, there is a waist seam in the front. My guess is that the entire polonaise itself looks something like this, though I think that the gold gown is en fourreau, and not cut in panels. Still, the waistline looks right to me. Plus, that polonaise is just a nice bit of eye candy!

I'm guessing that the ruched trim on the MA gown goes all the way around the hem of the skirt, but I can't be sure. I'm going with yes, since the peach gown seems to be very similar to this fashion plate. Actually, except for the sleeves, and the change in fabric after the ruching on the petticoat, the two dresses are nearly identical!

Anyway, this post got far more in-depth than I first planned on, and there's still Algebra homework to be done tonight! Hehe. I'll have updates as soon as I start work on the gown.

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