Foundation garment photoshoot: The Vamp Studio (@thevampstudio) at Maison Burlesque (@maisonburlesque) Photos by 42nd Street Photography (@42ndstreetphotography) Hair styled by Michael Davids (@bouffantdelacroix) Makeup by Eevie la Volpe (@eevie.la.volpe.hmua) Garden photoshoot: Photos and footage taken by my wonderful partner, Aidan. All garments made and modelled by me.
The unspoiled wilderness of the pastoral utopia that is Arcadia would be a delightful spot for Renewal. As the flocks wander and graze, the shepherds and shepherdesses frolic. Imagine merrily feasting on ripe, fresh fruits with the fluttering melody of flutes on the wind…
I’m taking inspiration from paintings and porcelain from the 18th and 19th centuries. I have long enjoyed the inclination of ladies to cultivate a shepherdess image. The attire in many of these images seems to hark to the late 18th century, so that is where I have focused my costume design.
I aimed to use materials from my stash as much as possible. I had a beautiful brocade for the stays and a wool blend with gold stripes that I thought would make an excellent gown. I had enough ivory satin for the visible parts of the petticoat, and some plain white for the back. I had bought two beautiful gold laces and was thrilled to finally have a project in which to make use of them!
My cotton voile chemise was made using Simplicity 8162 - the American Duchess 18th Century Undergarments pattern, and I added a ruffle along the hem. I also used this pattern to make my linen bum pad.
This was my first pair of stays and I used Redthreaded’s 1780s Front Lacing Stays Pattern. The brocade fashion fabric was rather tricky to work with and I had to unpick some of the flat lining stitches, but it is delightfully pretty. Binding the tabs was scary, but I’m sure I’ll get better with practice. The synthetic whalebone was easy to work with and very light and comfortable.
The bum pad meant the hem of the petticoats was longer at the back than the front. I pleated the waist and adjusted the waist height to align the hem lengths. I wasn’t completely happy with the way the pleats sat on the underpetticoat, so subsequently focused on the pleats for the outer petticoat and was much happier with that.
I had just enough of the gold stripe wool blend fabric to make the outer gown following Simplicity 8161 - the American Duchess 18th Century Costume, cutting the bodice pieces at 30° to make the most of the stripes. I added flaps to cover the eyelets and decorated it with gathered self-fabric trim.
I also used this as an opportunity to try filming a project for YouTube. It adds a whole level of complexity, having to consider camera angles and the story you want to tell.
Materials from stash: cotton voile (chemise and underpetticoat), small herringbone coutil (stays strength layers), brocade (stays fashion fabric), flat steel (stays - either side of eyelets), gold Prym eyelets (stays, gown), linen (bum pad), fibre hobby fill (bum pad), ivory satin fabric (petticoat and gown stomacher), white satin fabric (petticoat), white herringbone tape (petticoat), gold lace (petticoat and gown stomacher), cream with gold stripe wool blend fabric (gown), ribbon (crook and hat), white ostrich feathers (hat).
Materials purchased: ribbon (stays and gown), cotton tape (bum pad), synthetic whalebone, bias binding (stays), linen (gown bodice lining), straw hat, fake flowers (hair, hat, crook), dowel rod (crook), plastic coated fixing band (crook).
What was it like to compete this year? What would you say to someone who is on the fence about entering next year?
This was my biggest entry yet - six garments and two accessories. It was a huge undertaking and I’m really proud of what I managed to accomplish.