Handmade textile products // Early 19th century dress
I present a handmade ‘meeting mr Darcy dress’: with prints of stripes, plaids, roses, and dots in bright colours. My statement against nowadays mass production.
My statement against mass production, mass consumption and fast fashion
Every lady should own an enchanting ‘meeting mr Darcy dress’
That is what I thought while creating a dress for a special 6 year old. With its long, wide skirts, it was meant to make her twirl and sparkle. I love making pretty dresses. Not only because I enjoy the creating process, but also because by doing so I make a statement against mass production, mass consumption and fast fashion. I wish all my dresses could be like the 19th century handmade ones.
My frenzy for 19th century dresses
I have a soft spot for historical period dramas that take place in the 19th century, and for Jane Austen’s books. The BBC miniseries Pride & Prejudice released in 1995 starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle is my absolute favourite. I will probably rewatch the series many more times, just to study the costumes the actors are wearing.
Fortunately, I am not the only one. My friend Mireille shares my frenzy. When she saw my long skirt with short sweater, she told me she wanted to have something similar. This was my opportunity to create an enchanting ‘meeting mr Darcy dress’ for someone older than 10! ;)
After 9 months, 3 prototypes, several dyes and stamping experiments and 123 hours of work, I am finally able to present the end-result. This was amazing to do!
The creating process of a dress inspired by the early 19th century fashion
Creating a 19th century dress: from sketch to dress
My process started with studying the fashion of 1813 (the year the novel Pride and Prejuce was published). When I put pen to paper I quickly created a sketch of the enchanting ‘meeting mr Darcy dress’.
My design consisted out of a jacket and a dress with a high waist and prints of stripes, plaids, roses, and dots in bright colours. I made several prototypes of the dress to make sure that the dress would fit Mireille easily.
Because I could not find the printed fabrics that I had envisioned, I decided to create the prints myself.
I used 100% natural (unbleached) cotton. Before dyeing the fabric, I first overlocked the fabric to trim off the raw edges, and finish the edges.
Materials I used
Unbleached 100% cotton;
Creall Dacta Color posterpaint 08 Cyclamen;
Creall Dacta Color posterpaint 02 Primair Yellow;
Creall Dacta Color posterpaint 10 Primair Blue;
Talens colour posterpaint 502 Deep Blue;
Creall Tex Medium (textile medium);
Bucket, paint rollers, pencil with an eraser, pieces of timber, linoleum and linoleum cutter.
After soaking the unbleached cotton in water and salt, I dyed the fabric in a mixture of poster paint, textile medium, and water. The fabric was ready to be decorated with striped, dotted and plaid patterns.
Decorating by stamping
Decorating by using a paintbrush
Painting the fabric for the skirt was a lot of work: 150cm in width and 120cm in height, with a stripe every 1,5cm.
I created the stripes using a paintbrush. One stripe at a time.
I stamped the roses on the fabric. However I wasn’t too pleased with the results. The roses weren’t visible enough. So I re-painted each rose using a paintbrush.
After the paint had dried, I ironed the fabric to set the paint.
After ironing, I soaked the handpainted fabric first in vinegar and then in Vanish to brighten the colours.
I decorated the fabric with ornamental stitching in different colours to accentuate the stripes and plaids.
Sewing the dress took several attempts. I had to take out the seams a few times and re-stitch them.
To improve the fit of the dress, it can be taken in at the waist with a ribbon.
The hem of the skirt is decorated with ornamental stitching – one of the stitching options on my Pfaff sewing machine.
The plaid print of the jacket is the same as on the collar and the waist of the dress.
Showing of the handpainted and handmade ‘Meeting Mr Darcy’ dress
With a special thank you for Mireille and Jenny :)