Tag Archives: extant gowns i adore

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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Extant Gowns I adore


Mantua, V&A Museum, London

  • Place of origin:  Spitalfields (textile, weaving) England (mantua, sewing)
  • Date: ca. 1720 (weaving)  1720-1730 (sewing)
  • Artist/Maker: Unknown
  • Materials and Techniques: Silk, silk thread, silver-gilt thread; hand-woven brocading, hand-sewn.
  • Museum number: T.88 to C-1978
  • Gallery location: In Storage
  • Interactive full views

I am not sure if the petticoat and front are original, if they are it’s a lovely example of a non matching set.  There are a handful of these early mantua that are extant. The very delicate colour choices of pale blue and silver would have made this stand out in candlelight.

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Adjusted my hoops a little today

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The shape on the left hand side is the shape I want so I’ll mark the levels so I can sew the tape. The side seams are diagnonal so really stretch in this lovely but soft sateen.

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Interior views to show how the whole thing is actually quite light, but is maintained with tapes. At the moment the only tapes in place are in my original Robe de Style (pink) panniers and my normal sized Reitte (tan cotton).

ANd you can sort of see just how much bigger the hoops actually are!


But maybe this helps even more 😉

What is nice is that this hoop will work for her Confrontation gown as it seems to use a similar shape, and it will also work for a real court gown. But possibly mor elike a mantua than the silver gowns I adore so much.

So more like this:

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Victoria and Albert Museum, London Mantua

Place of origin: England, Great Britain (made) France (woven)

Date: 1755-1760 (made) 1753-1755 (woven)

Note the length of the torso, the film version bodices are not that inaccurate in that specific regard, but they are a bit out of time. And the actual shaping is modern, it’s why I’m looking forward to making the support for the bodice, as it is so unique- and while other actresses had really defined modern busts, they left Norma to have the long quite flat shaping. In this gown at least. But there is clever seaming going on to create that illusion.

Another Mantua of this shape:


British Kensington Palace Art Funded in 1995
British, Court mantua by British, 1750–1760
Court mantua by British, 1750–1760
© Kensington Palace
Medium:Silk brocade Dimensions: 130 x 214 cm Art Fund grant:£30,000 ( Total: £78,826; Export stopped) Acquired in:1995

And another:

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Museum of London- Mantua
Production Date: 1751-1752
ID no: 83.531
Location: On Display: Museum of London: Empire: London’s Manufactures

I need to do a Extant Gowns I love post for all of these, but I wanted to show this particular flared shape was also not a modern only decision, but based on 18thC dress.


But next one will be the silver gowns in sweden 🙂

And this movie costume.

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Extant Gowns I adore-3

I’m cheating, these are all doublets.


Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Costume bodice, Spanish, possibly early 20th century, in the style of about 1600

If this is a copy it’s a remarkable wonderfully accurate copy! I know there was a lot of interest in historic costume and collecting extant items in the late 19thC especially but this has a good cut.So I’m keeping this here until I know for sure. There is a fold under the right arm that looks like a long dart, but that would be closer to the 1950s in terms of placement, as the same kind of side darts in the 1920s were shallower and longer on the whole.

So if this is a copy, this is the kind of copy I aspire to. It’s so well made that you have to look for details that show modern workmanship- the weave of the fabric, the order of construction, and nods to contemporary wishes. However this bodice keeps the conical shape while fitting for a more curvy shape than the fashionable ideal. The curved front join is correct for the period but also only until the late 19thC and it’s rare to see a garment deviate from established systems of cutting.


Museo del Traje- Jubón

Jubón femenino de seda con bastas flotantes por urdimbre de color gris que dibujan una decoración en zig-zag y roleos.

This is very definitely of the time! But it is for a different body type. This is almost certainly intended to be worn under a ropa as there are no shoulder wings.


Les Arts Décoratifs- Costume: pourpoint espagnol
Création: France, 1589-1610, Henri IV

Now this is what I mean by the MFA looking so close to the original. The placement of the trim (There are two distinct placements of trim on Jubons) the shape of the shoulder wings, the texture of the main fabric, the shape of the nib front, the proportion of the waist tabs. The most obvious difference is the set of the shoulders in the MFA.

As far as fitting this has a very similar method of shaping, which is to do the bulk of the general size in the back and pull the fabric from the sides to the front to pinch out for customised fit. You bring in under the bust and to the waist then smooth over the bust and over the point. And spread the fabric from the bust up and out to the shoulders. This way the most stable part of the fabric, the closest to the grain is under the bust and to the waist which then allows some ease over the bust and to the throat.

This is sort of similar to Victorian fitting as well and was mainly lost in modern pattern draping and drafting systems. It is still seen today in modern tailoring. ANd that is because these garments above were made by a tailor, dress making came about with the rise of the Mantua and lead to a very different kind of patterning and construction.


The Metropolitan Museum of Art-Jerkin

Medium:silk, metal thread
Credit Line:Gift of Bashford Dean, 1926
Accession Number:26.196

This garment is earlier than the rest but shows a shaping feature often overlooked in the various tailoring books, the side front seam. This appears to be optional as they are only drawn in occasionally but they do sit in the same place. But you can see some issues with trying to sew on this slight curve on the outside of the seam to our right. There is more fabric eased on the outer curve than on the opposite side.

This garment was patterned for Blanche Payne’s History of Costume. It’s not easier than the normal three part bodice types but it does allow for a little more ease over the bust and into the armscye.

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Extant gowns I adore-2

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Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague, 2 Vendulka Otavská-Restaurování a konzervování historických textilií

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3, 4, 5 Regionálního muzea v Mikulově

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6, 7, 8 Shakespeare’s England- Clothing from beyond the grave

Garment of: Margaretha Franciska Lobkowicz

Obsessed since: 2012

Recommended resources:  Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague, Regionálního muzea v MikulověShakespeare’s England- Clothing from beyond the grave

The Museum of Decorative Arts has also produced a document detailing the restoration of several garments: Vendulka Otavská Funeral attire of Maria Anna Josefa of Dietrichstein and its preservation 

They also have produced a document on the excavation of the burial as well: Eva Drozdová Antropologický výzkum Markéty Františky, hraběnky Dietrichsteinové

Vlasy Markéty Františky Dietrichsteinové – Lobkovicové, Eva Drozdová, Ph.D., ÚEB Biol PřF MU, Ústav antropologie – Biologická sekce – Přírodovědecká fakulta. A dissertation on the hair of Margaretha, mostly analysis of the hair strands but includes in situ and detail photos as well as.

The Burial Clothes of Margaretha Franziska de Lobkowitz, 1617, Johannes Pietsch, Page 30-49 | Costume, Published online: 29 Nov 2013

Patterns: I am waiting on the copy of the Costume article, however Johannes Pietz has made remarkable studies of the Kostümsammlung Hüpsch im Hessischen Landesmuseum Darmstadt. This thesis included detailed patterns for each layer (shell, lining, facings, interlinings) and this bodice would suggest the same care has gone into this gown not just having a striking visual appearance but transforms the wearer through careful use of support and shape.

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Extant gowns I adore-1


1,2 Der Mitteldeutsche Rundfunk 3 Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden

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Werkstätten Ackermann & Pfannenberg, 5 Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden,* 6 Alamy,

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Werkstätten Ackermann & Pfannenberg, 8 Alamy

Garment of: Magdalena Sibylla of Prussia

Obsessed since: August 2016

Recommended resources: 

Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden Also has a pdf of the brochure for the exhibition

Werkstätten Ackermann & Pfannenbergmakers of the figurines for display

Machwerk– blog post of the exhibition

Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden– The home of the gown now.

Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden– new permanent exhibition

Der Mitteldeutsche Rundfunk– very high resolution images in gallery.


Patterns: The closest patterns are those of the Kostümsammlung Hüpsch im Hessischen Landesmuseum Darmstadt as incredibly detailed in the dissertation of Johannes Pietsch

Originaltitel: Die Kostümsammlung Hüpsch im Hessischen Landesmuseum Darmstadt
Originaluntertitel: Bestandskatalog der Männer- und Frauenkleidungsstücke; Studien zu Material, Technik und Geschichte der Bekleidung im 17. Jahrhundert
Übersetzter Titel: The Hüpsch Costume Collection in the Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt
Autor: Pietsch, Johannes
Jahr: 2008
Dokumenttyp: Dissertation

This gown is in remarkable condition, extremely remarkable condition. The slashes in the skirt have been faced with the same fabric which allows them to remain very firmly closed.

The jubon clearly has some fine tailoring with pad/stay stitching in the upper back and shoulders- this can be seen through the neckline.


The gown is on display for a few more months at the time of writing.

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