For the past few months I have been working on my Major Project. This project ran from January until May and allowed me the time to carry out really in-depth research into my chosen subject. I embarked on an own project of a historical recreation gown and chose to do an interpretation of François Boucher's 1759 painting of Madame de Pompadour which is on display at the Wallace Collection in London.
François Boucher's 1759 painting of Madame de Pompadour
For this project I made both the under and outer garments which consisted of -
• 1760's silk brocade corset, with hand covered eyelets
• 18th Century chemise
• Pocket hoops
• Bum roll
• Petticoat with frilled edge
• 18th Century Robe a la Française
I spent from the end of January to March working on the undergarments, which I absolutely loved making, having never made a full set of undergarments before. I especially loved making the corset as I got to work with such beautiful lilac silk brocade fabric. During this period I also undertook many research trips to places such as, The Wallace Collection, The National Gallery, The Victoria & Albert Museum, Whitchurch Silk Mill, Bath Fashion Museum and more further afield to The Palace of Versailles and The Louvre to gain greater insight into the type of world Madame de Pompadour would have inhabited and the luxury and excess that came with that in all aspects of life, especially clothing.
"I especially loved making the corset as I got to work with such beautiful lilac silk brocade fabric."
Once the undergarments were complete I moved onto cutting the pattern for the Robe a la Française. Using techniques I had developed in second year of cutting on the stand I draped fabric onto the mannequin and used a pattern as a visual guide to assist me as to where the pattern marking should sit on the body. Once made the pattern was then ready to be cut from the top fabric of silk taffeta. I then got the garment ready to be fit before the Easter holidays. Unfortunately I hit a bit of a snag before Easter and was not able to fit the garment before most people left to go home, however, I was able to work through the problem and was ready to fit the garment when term started again in April. Once fitted I began finishing up the garment by finishing hems, attaching sleeves and some very exciting flounces to the bottom edge of the sleeves. I had to work very quick after Easter as there was only about 3 weeks until the hand in but this is something that I think has prepared me well for life in the industry following on from University.
"Once fitted I began finishing up the garment by finishing hems, attaching sleeves and some very exciting flounces to the bottom edge of the sleeves."
One of my favourite parts of the project was making and attaching all the decorations to the dress. 18th Century garments are all about excess and showing how much money or power you had through the amount of fabric used in their construction. My garment features fabric bows on the stomacher and sleeves, frayed edge trim applied in various patterns, silk and lace flounces on the sleeves and a hand made paper flower. Getting the decorations on to the garment was my favourite part as it really brought the garment to life.
"My garment features fabric bows on the stomacher and sleeves, frayed edge trim applied in various patterns, silk and lace flounces on the sleeves and a hand made paper flower."
This project was a big challenge and definitely pushed my making skills to new levels. It has given me fantastic opportunities to research broadly into the time period, who Madame de Pompadour was and garments of the time period. Alongside my own project for Major Project I also assisted on some of the University projects such as alterations and a small make for Far From The Madding Crowd at the Lighthouse theatre in Poole and a small make and embroidery for an Arts University Bournemouth Graduate film Sealskin.
"Started drafting a Robe à la Française for my current project supported by the @arts_council_iom using a 1770-75 Sack Dress pattern from Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion 1 as a reference. Great fun to be draping on the stand again, can't wait to get cutting in top fabric!!" - @sarahbuss_costumes
Having a chance to look back and reflect on my past three years of study on BA (Hons) Costume & Performance Design and the Arts University Bournemouth, I have learnt so many new silks and been able to develop existing skill bases ready to take out into the costume industry. I have absolutely loved my time studying costume making and getting the chance to be so immersed in the world of performance and am really excited to get started in the industry. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Isle of Man Arts Council for their continued support of my work throughout the course of my degree, from funding to promotion, a lot of my work and especially my last project would not have been possible without your generous support.