Attack of the Genovese Dress!
I needed to remind myself of what exactly I am doing since it’s been quite a while since I made the dress and have all these old notes on the cut away coat that’s supposed to go with it. So, beyond giving you a heads up on what’s to come, this is me putting my things in order for the project.
While we’re going for a much simpler look without nearly the ornamentation (just some damn good fabric), the cut I’m going for is like the girl on the left in this Anguissola painting:
There is a single side pleat produced by the cut away look indicating that the cut would otherwise be straight but is folded under the skirt. There is no collar to speak of, and either a single or pair of front closures. Sofonisba Anguissola painted both herself and her sisters in this style of coat several times, though some have more closures, and some are cut-away at a higher or lower point, and some do have collars, either high – like the sister on the right – or folded over. My mother in law liked the swept back look, and we settled on this version as a nice one to use over the grey velvet dress.
The sleeves on the coats are also at varied degrees of closure, but I have not seen a painting of one worn without the sleeves. The showing bits of white may be false, but it is possible that the sleeves are loosely laced or loosely sewed so they could be changed, as a majority of sleeves match the dresses being worn. None of the paintings really show off the underside, so it’s up to conjecture based on other styles of dress as to whether the sleeve is completely sewn shut. My mother in law is used to a great degree of freedom of movement in dress at previous school Faires, so I am tempted to attach the sleeve to the body only on the upper half, or use ties, whether or not it’s accurate. After all, it’s about finding something that suits her needs as well as being historical, and her needs are the more primary. The method may not be accurate for the particular dress, but it will at least be period.
I had a little sketch previously of the sleeve and coat:
I cannot say enough how sketching really, really helps my costuming. If I draw things enough, and from all the angles, and diagram it out, I can really see the cloth in three dimensions and have a greater success at mock-ups the first time round. Where is that seam needed? how does the fabric fold? From what direction is it coming? how should it lay? What trim is used? So I use a lot of sketches like this one to help get it right on the mannequin. And I keep sketching until I can do a clean one like this one that I can use as a cheat sheet. I’m a drawer, and it helps me put on the seamstress hat.
So, the fabrics we’re using are the steel grey velvet from the dress for the sleeves, and a gem of a find I purchased online from Brick House Fabrics. They have a lot of just fun things and prints intended for decorating and are out of Maine. Check them out.
Anyways, I thought I had a photo already of this beautiful red and black paisley, but I don’t, so I will have to update this with it. It’s surprisingly lightweight and catches the light beautifully. I also can’t recall if I ever bought proper fabric for lining the darn thing, so that’s on my to-do list as well.