Sunday, 10 April 2011

Rose La Touche in her Undies!

Finally got some work done and started dressing Miss Rose La Touche.

It's taken a while to figure out the style the of clothes for Rose. I really wanted to dress her as she would have been at about 15 years old. But it's surprisingly hard to find picture reference of adolescent girls at around 1760.

All the fashion plates and illustrated reference I could find shows either young women, or small children, with nothing in between. I know that at the time girls wore only slightly different clothes to their mothers, and the differences were only slight to distinguish adult from child. The idea of child specific clothing didn't exist.

Young girls went from wearing stiff stays when quite little to wearing a full corset by their early teens. And the short childish skirts grew as they did until they reached the floor.

I'd not really thought about it, but growing up then must have been nothing like what we know. I got to run around, ride my bike, skate and generally be silly with my friends. If I'd grown up when Rose had, I'd have had to sit quietly, learn to sew and darn, and how to run a household.

Playing dolls then was a very serious business to teach young girls to be mothers before they were married, sometimes at what we would think to be a very young age.

Rose was one of these girls. Still in short skirts and Pantalettes when the artist John Ruskin fell in love with her, although he didn't propose until she came of age at 17 as her parents disapproved of him for his lack of religion.
This seems extreme, but although there was a big age difference (her 20 to his 50 years old) even then, it wasn't unheard of for older men to marry very young women.

I started Rose's underwear with her Drawers (or knickers) which are big baggy things, gathered at the knee and with an open crotch (it doesn't seem like I'm ever going to dress a doll without crotchless knickers!). The bagginess of the bum in these bloomers keeps them closed  really well. You'd think that there would be quite a draft, but the cut of them seems to work.

Next came her Chemise, with short sleeves and a round neckline that's almost off the shoulder. It's gathered to a narrow yoke neckline and reaches to below her knees.

Like all her bottom-most layer of underwear, her under-petticoat is made of a plain, undecorated white cotton. As far as I can find out all underwear at this time was made of sturdy stuff that could be washed and scrubbed repeatedly. I cartridge pleated this under-petticoat to a wide waist band, and added a corset on top.

I have to give a major big Thank You to my father-in-law for his help with the Crinoline.

He gave me a few funny looks once I explained why I needed them, but he helped me cut the flat metal bands I used to the right lengths, and then helped me figure out how to fix them together into hoops.

I covered these hoops with a satin ribbon before hanging them on 6 vertical bands which are attached to a waistband with a tie in the back.

I decided to make the crinoline removable in case there was a problem with positioning her or getting her to sit. But the hoops work really well. I can't imagine having to wear one myself, but I hope I get the chance to try one out for myself one day. There's something really girly about it.

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