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I’m particularly interested in remodeled gowns, not that I have the patience to make a ca. 1750 or 1760 gown and then re-make it, even though I suppose it would be the path to the greatest authenticity. In figuring out “what next” now that the pleats are stitched down and secured to the lining, and the front panels cut, and one even pinned, awaiting a seam, I looked at the sack/sacque in Costume Close Up. It’s both tiny and a polonaise, so it’s not the best example for me to follow, but when you’re trying to understand construction before you totally screw up  take the next steps, you look at whatever details you can.

That led me back to Colonial Williamsburg’s collections database, which I try to avoid because they don’t have stable permalinks to their records. However, they have good cataloging and an amazing collection, so it’s hard not to end up back there.

I feel a little more confident in thinking of a ca. 1770- 1775 gown with a compère front. A compère front is a false stomacher, where there are two halves sewn to either side of the opening in the bodice. The sides then button closed. Button, and not pin, people: sweet. I will gladly trade you a week of sewing buttonholes for a wardrobe failure today (Of course, I’m not sure whether a compère front is accurate for a ball gown, but I very much want to avoid a pin explosion at a public gathering.)

Trim is another tricky area: in my regular, 21st century life, I am not someone who wears ruffles and lace or even many colors other than black, brown, grey and red. When I chose the cross-barred fabric, it was a choice really grounded in who I am, and in my love of things architectural, bold, and elegant. (Thanks to my Dad and my education, I now wonder, can one make a Miesian sacque? Let’s find out.)

Serpentine trim, no matter how appropriate and accurate, is not for me. I like the simple trim on the purple gown (padded furbelows), and will probably replicate linear, and not serpentine, trim.