Monday, 21 March 2011

Elizabeth Armistead's Pelisse

As always I've been really busy working hard at sewing clothes for my latest doll. And just finished is one of my least favorite jobs - a removable coat! Why I seem to decide to do these thing I really don't know. But it actually came out quite well. I just always think it's nice if the outside wear comes off so that the doll can be displayed with or without it.

Known as a Pelisse in Elizabeths time, these coats were constructed with a tight fitted bodice and skirts that matched the shape of thier dresses. I had quite a job matching the curve of the high back and gathering two layers of pleated fabric into the small bodice, but lots of stab wounds and careful snipping seemed to make it possible.
A few years later the tight short bodice was worn without the skirts, and was known as a Spencer. I couldn't find too much information of the different versions in Elizabeth's time.You can often see these and versions of the Pelisse in period films looking really cute with leather gloves and lace and ribbon trimmed bonnets.

I've made Elizabeth's Pelisse from a dusky pink silky Dupion fabric, and lined it with the same. As you can see I've still got it pinned shut at the moment, and the collor pinned back in place, until I add a proper closure and press the collor in place. I was worried that the puffy sleeves of Elizabeth's gown wouldn't fit inside the sleeves, but the shape of them is wider at the top that tapers to the wrist. One of the sleeves did come out a little tight, but does fit over her hand, thank goodness.

It was interesting to find out that jacket and coat sleeves were worn quite long back then. Coming down to sit over the back of the hand, sometimes almost to the knuckles. I remember well my mother telling me off for pulling my sleeves down over my hands. And I still do it to this day in winter. I wish I'd know that now so I would have had an excuse :)

I've not quite decided how I'm going to trim the Pelisse yet. And am currently in the process of sewing a lot of ivory lace pieces to Elizabeth's ivory gown. This fashionable Courtesan is on her way to a very select ball, and of course has to be dressed in her best. Even though these Robe de Chemise gowns were made to be quite simple, as early as this was (around 1790-95) they would have still worn expensive trimming of their ball gowns.

The lace I'm using is quite delicate to create a look of white-work embroidery, and I've tied a pale pink satin sash around her high waistline, with long floating ribbons hanging in back.
I can't quite decide yet if I'll be making Elizabeth a bonnet or reticule for her to carry. I really want to see how she looks when her gown and pelisse are finished first before I decide.

I should have her finished in the next few weeks. The trimming is very detailed, and it's taking me quite a bit longer than I'd planned. But it's worth it.


  1. i can't wait to see the lacework!

  2. Thanks, I'll be done soon. Just a few more pieces to add, and a trim for the hem of her underskirt. Maybe some satin ribbon on her petticoat at well.

  3. Wow - you are so talented... looks fabulous already!

    Smiles, From The Other Jeanie, on the etsy!!!!

  5. Thanks Abi :)
    And Thank you Jean :)
    I'm in two minds about wether or not to add any trim to her coat at the moment. I think it looks nice as it is, but we'll see.