The book has a pretty good breakdown of what each part of the dress should look like and how it's fitted together. There are these two pieces at the front, which fold over each other into a V, very much like a wrap dress. Over the top there is a girdle, which holds the bodice in place and the skirt is attached too it. The description is rather confusing, as it talks about the lining and the drapery. I believe that it's actually two skirts, one made of lining and one of the dress fabric (you'll only really see the trim of the lining fabric, underneath the zigzag part of the picture, which I think is meant to be the end of the drapery). At least, that is how I'm going to try and make it. The back of the dress is a polonaise of a contrasting fabric, that still holds the dress together.
Now that I know the different parts of the dress, I have to find a pattern for them. While there are 57 patterns in this book, there are only 6 full dress patterns, and then a number of different drawings of how the same pattern can be done to create totally different looks. A few pages back from this image there is an "Evening Costume" which has the same V neck/wrap shaped bodice as the empire costume. I take the front, sleeve and cuff pattern from that, a polonaise pattern from the polonaise section. The skirt has four gores, the book tells me, of which look like rectangles which are gathered into shape. The only problem is that there is NO pattern for the girdle. Anywhere. So this will be fun.
|Quick photoshop recolour, just to show you|
|The dress that never was|
I bought myself some lovely white/light blue stripped cotton for the bodice/skirt, and have some navy blue cotton/silk for the polonaise, girdle and underskirt. These were bought not for this dress, but for another Victorian one that sadly never made it past the enlarging stage. The patters in Directoire Revival Fashion are specifically designed to be made in to a number of different sizes and can account for my curvy shape.
The Mock Up
This is the first time I've every used this book for a proper dress (though the chemise pattern came from here, though I knew that was going to be large enough that I wouldn't really have to make a practice piece). The pattern has to be hand drawn, and some of these pieces are HUGE (would not fit on an a0 page huge), so I ended up drawing them on AutoCAD to save my back, and had them printed out locally (only then did I realise I forgot to print out the sleeve pattern, so will have to do a mock up of that later). I used some old curtain and upholstery fabric to make the bodice and polonaise (didn't think it was worth making the skirt as it's simple).