Sunday, 22 January 2012

A Harlot Named Nancy - Work In Progress

Right after finishing Mr Darcy and Elizabeth the young Nancy shouted out loud and started nattering away about being dressed and brought to life.

She's been very specific about what she wants and what she'll wear. The only problem I've had has been keeping up with her demands and very sore fingers from all the stab wounds I've given myself as I sewed all her ruffles (I'm starting to hate Ruffles!!).

Nancy is a Victorian Harlot. A street walker, a lady of the night, or, more bluntly, a Prostitute.
She's a very pretty young lady, and has had quite a bit of success because of her good looks and easy smiling charm. She's been lucky enough to gain the attention of the better class of men and has become quite popular. And she thinks herself quite a cut above her street corner sisters.

Nancy doesn't realise that the attention she receives won't last, and those that she looks down her nose at look back with sympathy as they know the disappointments she'll face just as soon as her looks begin to fade.
For now she earns her living entertaining the wealthy clientele that frequent the smarter Gin Shops and Inns, occasionally accompanying a gentleman to one of the private clubs, and sometimes having easier nights earning a few pennies singing by the fireside of a tavern in her sweet lilting voice.

Even a Harlot needs underwear, so Nancy has the usual set of long crotchless drawers and a knee length loose shift that she wears with the neckline gathered wide on her shoulders.

She insisted that her corset was black, even though I offered her white, red and blue. And I fitted her Chemise sleeves tight even though it's not in the right style so that the loose gathered sleeves of her blouse will look as good as possible. She's showing off a lot of her fair complexion with her shoulders almost bare and a very low front.

Nancy has very little, and works hard to maintain as fashionable a way of dressing as she can. Her rich patrons are generous with their gifts, and her clever nimble fingers help her alter the second hand fine gowns discarded by affluent ladies.

She wears the usual type of plain white cotton under petticoat to help protect her legs from the heavy layers of her skirts. And a second petticoat of stiff cream cotton voile that I've made with three ruffles at the hem. All the ruffles are of different lengths, but all fitted to be floor length to make it appear like she has many more petticoats on than she really has. It's a clever technique that I came across in one of my books a while ago. And I've been waiting to try it out on a suitable doll. It really does help to give the skirts the proper shape without the weight of extra layers. It uses much less fabric than full skirts that I'm sure that poorer women would have used it to save money.

I made Nancy's last petticoat from a bright red cotton fabric with another ruffle at the hem to add bulk and support. Trimmed with a peachy coloured tapestry style ribbon. The layers look so pretty when she sits. Like a mass of frilly lace hidden away.

I want to make Nancy look as I've pictured her in my head, which means giving her a slightly gypsy look with lots of layers and mixed texture and patterns. So have decided to give her a skirt, blouse and bodice combination, with layers of shawls and lots of extra detail that she may have added thinking it made her look more fashionable.
I've already started her skirts in a very patterned dark blue and white fabric that has a silky feel. And am working on even more ruffles to decorate the hem to add as much detail as possible.

It might be a bit difficult to get Nancy to look how I want as it has to be the most overboard costume I've ever attempted before. I'm hoping that I manage to get her looking as I see her, and I hope you like her too :)

1 comment:

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