One of my biggest goals this year is making completed ensembles that I can use for a portfolio. I'm really hoping to find a job in the field of costuming in the near future. I already free-lance and take commissions for costumes but requests are few and far between at the moment. I would love to get back into theater, or use my art degree to get a job at a museum. My options are varied, but I need to take the initiative to go after them. I want a portfolio of fully realized costumes that I can be confident in, but all I have right now are bits and pieces.
With the bodice challenge coming up in the Historical Sew Fortnightly I decided to get a start on an 1880's dress I had on my costume list for the year. I had only a vague idea of what I wanted cobbled together from a dress in Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion 2 and a large quantity of navy-blue pinstriped cotton/poly suiting purchased on a clearance impulse.
The fabric in question looked and handled enough like a proper Victorian fabric and was priced ridiculously cheap enough that I snatched it all up and decided to plan the dress later. It's a very dark navy, almost black, and the pinstripes are on the silver side with a very silky finish. I considered pairing it with white for a sort of nautical look, but could never quite settle on what exactly it should look like. I purchased the Truly Victorian French Vest Bodice as a starting point planning to mock it up this weekend and then something came along that blew all my plans out of the water.
I found this dress:
It's an 1885 evening gown from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I hate the feathers but I absolutely adore the color and design! The dress hails from Boston, Massachussettes, which I live just outside of so I feel a little extra connection to it. The very best part though is that I have very similar fabrics in my stash!!
I had been lamenting the fact that I was going to end up with such a stark, nearly colorless navy and white dress when the 1880's especially was all about color! This dress has made me much more excited to get started on the project. I have a gold and pale blue upholstery fabric that's been sitting in my stash since my senior thesis show three years ago in a plausible Victorian pattern. I just purchased a lovely cotton fabric in the perfect pale blue a few months ago. I might even have some trim in the same gold and blue! It will be great to get these fabrics out of my stash and into a costume since they are some of my favorites.
I'm really hoping to finish the dress by the end of March. I also need to make a dress for the Fairytale challenge by the end of the month which I have a simple ensemble planned for. I will really have to stay focused and on top of myself to get it done, but I've worked with more impossible seeming deadlines before! If I finish both dresses in time I'll have enough material to do a photoshoot and start my professional portfolio. And then I can take it easy for a week or two!