Tag Archives: elsa mantua

Elsa mantua- unusual inspiration 1

While I edit and standardise some files I thought I’d also share some of why I decided on a mantua over a francaise: The Blue second Managers gown from Phantom of the Opera.

The 1870s had a heady mix of 18th century inspiration. Right across the Baroque to Rococo.

So there are times where self fabric or matched colour trimmings mimic or reference the latter part of the century, so too are there times the mantua is a clear inspiration.

This is especially true for the late 1870s as the waist dropped a little, and the bodice hem dropped further. The entire style was narrow, with a focus on the tablier (front of skirt panel) and a looped back train.

It’s possible to consider pannier style drapery as the extension of the front of the mantua robe, and the water fall as the back of the robe. The apron drapery can even be brought in separately though usually these seem to be of a different material.

I am quite enjoying the fact that my mantua can be used to illustrate the similarities and differences in cut and fit and in construction as I used my library of patterns for both my own Blue dress and Mantua.

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Elsa mantua inspiration -3

I’m separating each inspiration source, so here is the Welsh Museum garment with a bit more information.

COLLECTION AREA Social & Cultural History
ITEM NUMBER 23.189.1
MATERIAL damask (silk) metal thread silver parchment flax (spun and twisted) silk (spun and twisted)


I don’t know if it’s possible to convey how much I love this gown.

A few people have managed to take photos when it has been exhibited and it does exactly as expected- the colour shifts to a more aqua tone.

British circa 1730 Teal Spitalfields Silk Court Mantua possibly belonged to Lady Rachel Morgan nee Cavendish daughter of the Duke of Devonshire. St Fagans National Museum of Wales


For a pattern and a lot more information:

Arnold, Janet, A court mantua of c. 1740,Costume, London,#6, 1972, pp 48 – 52.

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Elsa mantua inspiration-2

I’m still working through my files, so here is another of my favourite Mantua. A deep blue silk covered in silver embroidery.

Right now I don’t have access to the printed materials so I’m mostly inspired by the over all effect, and as my lace has a very uneven but scalloped hem I’m using this to help with what to do with it. I wish I had noticed the hem protection earlier as I am going to want that, and I can do that by machine. If the machine work is over in my lace I’m going to reserve my hand sewing for where it will have impact.

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Elsa mantua inspiration -1

My progress has gotten to the “piece very chunky silver lace into an invisible join” stage of my own Mantua, so to let my mind work in the background on that I’m using the front of my mind to look at my inspiration garments.

So the first is the one that started it all. Many years ago I was perusing the University library and a tiny book on some garments of the Museum of London. At the time I had the Arnold and Payne pattern diagrams of the Kimberly gown in the Metropolitan museum of art and was interested. But also I had all the fashion prints that show decorations are like very ornate piped icing on tall and narrow cakes.

It was not my deal. But the early London Museum mantua strips all the ostentation down to the stomacher.

Now this is “Me.” All the fit is in the pleats and turnings, much of which is done from the outside. What a nifty and frustrating way for someone used to draping and drafting toiles!

I wish I could link to the museum but they no longer have a record of the garment.

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Elsa Mantua foundations

I have all my stay pieces. They are a beautiful satin faced linen, a very close weave so still will be a bit warm.

I need to cut some straps, but all the channels are stitched and it is fully boned. Meaning no gap between bones. The majority of stays are like this. But the channels also tend to be much smaller. I’m using some left over cable ties as I can quickly swap out permanently bent ones. Without waiting on a package from overseas 🙂

Actually I do want to order a huge amount of ultra thin boning. I think I could actually get a better match to the extremes between my rib and waist that way but also I will be able to do so a bit more comfortably.

Cording just collapses.

I’ve had a look for stay patterns as close to 1700 as possible and I think I need to alter a few pieces. I’m missing a little extra at the waist in either a side front panel or side back.

I had to include Garsault here for the boning within each panel, but a c1700 Polish manual (scroll down to 2016)and a 1713 manual (there are two parts so I linked to my reference site) can be used with it.

The Linzner Schittbuch also includes some gowns.

I think I used Hunnisette for the basic shapes to allow me to have a little leeway for my ribs because they distort stays even like this. It’s very hard to get a conical shape, so the way Hunnsett’s works seems to work with me.

I keep really wanting to go earlier as well like these:

But look at how fine all those channels are. And these are not outliers. Most of the stays even from the 16thC have narrow channels.

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Elsa inspired mantua

Finally, I’ve started to get back to projects. I really need something with no rules, and makes use of two very pretty but modern fabrics, a shot blue taffeta and a heavy fully sequined lace. It was very hard to decide between my two designs. My few rules are it does stick to historic cut, and to use up all of both fabrics. 4m of the lace, I think it was 9m of the blue.

Deciding to go all in on an early Mantua by pinning my lace the full width? Wow.

I started adding all of my references but I think I should do that over a few posts so I can focus on each properly.

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