Four more 18th century dresses for the Pixie paper dolls today. So, by now I think I’ve already covered the various sorts of gowns women wore in the 18th century with a fair bit of detail.
On the left, we have a caraco jacket and a square hooped court gown. The caraco jacket was inspired by this gown from LACMA. The court gown was based on this gown in style and this gown in color scheme. Square hooped court gowns like this one were the most formal of a ladies wardrobe and, like court gowns generally seem too, stayed in style even after square hoops were disappearing else where.
Most of my color choices here came from the source gowns above. My favorite of the gowns, the caraco jacket with petticoat on the upper-left was the most painful to color. Those detailed floral patterns get my every time, but I just love the way they look. There is something about 18th century sprawling viney florals that I can’t get enough of. Even in my own house, I have an apron in that style of pattern that I wear while baking and simply adore.
I should say, I think, word about her hat. There are small dotted lines along the outside edges of the ribbon and you will need to clip those if she is going to wear her hat, as well as cut out the white area. That is best done with a sharp blade, like an exacto knife. I don’t usually use an exacto knife in my paper doll cutting (I am clumsy with those things), but for some things it really is the most effective option.
In my first page of gowns for my 18th century paper doll series, I talked a lot about different styles of gowns. I did not, however, talk about stomachers. So, a stomacher was a triangular shaped piece of cloth that was pinned or sewn in place to fill in the bodice of gowns. Most gowns had either an actual separate stomacher or something that looked like a stomacher. In today’s collection of gowns, they all have stomachers, except the polianse gown which is front fastening.
On the left side, the first gown is a polinase style based on this gown at the V&A. The lower gown was my rather poor attempt at capturing looped silk fringe which was very much in style in the 18th century. I believe this was the gown I started from, but I’m not totally pleased with the resulting outcome.
The first gown on the right was my attempt at the caraco jacket sort of garment with a stomacher. This example from the Met is a similar style. The gown on the bottom-right is based on this gown where the stomacher extends below the closure of the coat like bodice.
The two different sized caps on the page are needed to accommodate the difference in hairstyles between Joy and Faith. There will be a third Pixie doll for this series, but she won’t be up for a while. After this there is another page of gowns, I think. I have four pages of gowns and three pages of dolls, so you can see there’s a little bit of a challenge as far as going doll, gowns, doll…
Today’s 18th century paper dolls is my second of three. Joy, all of these paper dolls will have virtue names, is from between the 1760s though 1780s. She has underwear and a gown in the polonaise style. Poloniase gowns had a skirt that is raised up and bunched over the petticoat. Usually a gown could be worn either with the skirt looped up in the polonaise or with the skirt down- offering some versatility to the 18th century silhouette. The polonaise gown sticks around into the 19th century and is sometimes mistaken for a bustle.
It has been so much fun to share this paper doll series over the last few weeks. We have four more pages with one more doll and three more sets of gowns. The whole collection, so far, can be seen here.
Today, we have out first set of 18th century gowns for the paper dolls, including a round gown, a brunswick and a robe à la française.
Until the introduction of high-waisted dresses at the very end of the 18th century, most women’s garments consisted of a skirt or petticoat and a bodice. In garments like round gowns, less formal and/or worn by the middle classes, the bodice would fasten in the front and there would be a separate skirt. The far left paper doll costume is a round-gown, based on this round gown from the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Sometimes, the bodice would come down partly over the skirt creating a jacket like affect. These mid-thigh length bodices were called caraco jackets. Here, for example, is an extant caraco jacket from the LACMA. Later in this series, there will be caraco jackets, but our middle gown is not a caraco jacket, but rather a brunswick. Brunswicks were traveling garments, often hooded, that had long sleeves. Though relatively practical, they were made of fine fabrics like silk- which makes one wonder about the whole “traveling” thing. Anyway, you often see Brunswick’s in art, but the V&A has a rare extant version which would have had removable sleeves. I based my Brunswick’s on two portraits- Lady Mary Fox and Alexander Roslin’s Portrait of the Girl Holding a Spaniel.
If the bodice and skirt were attached to each other in the 18th century, the skirt would be open in the front to reveal the petticoat underneath. This style of gown was called a robe à l’anglaise, closed bodied gown or an English gown if the pleats in the back of the bodice were stitched down. However, if the pleats were allowed to fall open and loose than the gown became sack-back gown or robe à la française. In modern times, this gown has been called a Watteau back or Watteau gown, after a painter who painted a lot of this style. The dress to the far right of today’s paper doll set is a sack-back gown, but I think the style is easier to see through extant examples like this robe à l’anglaise and robe à la française, both from the Met’s collection.
Along with the gowns, today’s set includes a pair of slippers with overshoes based on this set from the Powerhouse Museum Collection. Over shoes were worn to protect the shoe from mud and muck, though I wonder how much protection a brocade and leather pair could have granted. I’ve also included several different styles of hats. My goal with the hats in this paper doll series is less to match specific dresses, but rather to provide enough variety for there to be plenty of choices. Women did not always wear their hair covered, but usually did.
My color choices for these gowns were taken from my 18th century color pallet which I showed off in last week’s paper doll post. I chose pale blue for the round gown, since the source gown is blue striped, bright yellow for the brunswick, and a rich teal-blue color for my first robe à la française. That is certainly the most formal of the gowns from today’s set. The shoes were done in a neutral light brown color to go with any of the dresses.
Sometimes, I get started on projects and they don’t seem “insane” and then a few weeks later I find myself further into them and I am thinking, “Was I crazy to start this?” and, of course, “Will this ever be done?”
So, over the next seven weeks on every Friday, I will be sharing pieces from a historical paper doll project that started with a simple, “I should draw some 18th century clothing for the Pixies.”
It kinda grew a bit unexpectedly.
My original plan was to do three Pixie paper dolls, all with different skin-tones, and each would focus on the first part, middle part and then last part of the 18th century.
No plan, as they say, survives contact with the enemy.
Instead of three clearly defined sets, I ended up with three paper dolls and four pages of dresses and only one set, my late 18th century set, seemed clear cut. So, I did what any rational paper doll artist would do, I said, “Meh. I’m just going to go forward anyway.”
Today I am pleased to present the first of my three Pixie paper dolls and for the next six weeks, each Friday, there will be another Pixie paper doll or a set of dresses for the 18th century Pixies.
As you can see from my 18th Century Color Palette graphic above, I knew I wanted to use a consistent color palette through all of these seven pages of paper dolls. I chose to based my colors on a stomacher, also from the V&A Museum. I wanted all the colors to be fairly soft, but also rich, reminiscent of what you see in portraits of the era.
Today, I am pleased to present Faith, the first of this seven week series.
Faith wear’s her hair in a style known as tête de mouton (or “sheep’s head”) and it was extremely popular in the 1750s. She, of course, has her hair powdered, through powder was not universally worn, despite what some people seem to think. Her underwear consists of stays and hoops. As with many of my forays into historical underwear, her undergarments won’t fit under all the dresses of this set. Her stays are based on Stays from the V&A Museum . These type of wide narrow hoops were usually used to support the wide skirted formal gowns of the 18th century, but Faith doesn’t have a formal gown on this page. Instead, she has a riding habit. Her riding habit is based on Riding Habit from the V&A museum dated between 1750 and 1759. Her small hat is a combination of a hat from the Met Museum and the hat in this portrait of Princess Marie-Thérèse-Louise de Savoie-Carignan which was sold at Christie’s.
The colors of her garments were, of course, influenced by the original riding habit, but also by the stomacher I showed above. I wanted a consistent color scheme across all these paper doll pages, for maximum mix and matching possibilities. Playability, a word I am not sure is a word, is something that I value very highly in my paper dolls. While I rarely cut them out and actually play with them, I like to think about how people would cut them out if they were going to do so.
Tune in next Friday for a page of dresses and then the next week a paper doll and then a page of dresses and then… well, you get the idea. 🙂
At the moment, I am trying to get inspired to give the male paper dolls some love. I am trying to convince myself that male clothing is as interesting as female clothing. I am trying to develop the same interest drawing for guys as I do for girls.
It is not easy.
I realize that a lot of it is in my head. I don’t think I’m good at drawing males and my insecurity makes it hard to want to try. Usually, I think of drawing male paper dolls as something I do “for my readers” and not something I do for myself.
This is a line of reasoning that I am trying to stop using. Drawing things for other people is, for me, a fast road to burn out. No one keeps up a blog like this for as long as I have by doing it “for other people”. Trust me. You have to do it for yourself.
But I also want to challenge myself. I also want to try things that I have never tried. I want to create things that I have never created. I want to stretch and do things that scare me a little. So, male paper dolls it is.
I usually steer clear of monochromatic color schemes. Nothing against them, I just think that they can be boring. Still, green is a nice color and when I asked a friend of mine what color I should go with for male clothing, he said, “Green.”
So, green it is.
One of the nice things about green is that I don’t find any of the shades really horrid. I mean, there are shades of yellow I think are awful and shades of orange that I don’t like either, but green and blue are pretty much all okay with me. So, a green prince to match, I suppose, my yellow and my pink princesses.
Inspired by Victorian and Art Deco valentines, I designed two 18th century inspired gowns with a Valentines Day theme. Hearts, of course, but also stripes and polka-dots. Plus ruffles. Ruffles are very important. Our paper doll got a wild up-do and a heart encrusted bodysuit to wear under her gowns. After all, it is the season for both wide up-dos and heart bodysuits.
Originally, I planned on using a traditional red, pink and white color scheme. However, I just didn’t like how bright that made the dresses. So, I went to ColourLovers and searched for a scheme that was a little more subdued. I ended up using Happy Valentines color scheme. I often use ColourLovers both to find inspiration for color palettes and to build my own color palettes using their tools.
I hope everyone has a lovely Valentine’s Day. I am making stew for me and my boyfriend and we’ll be eating it while watching Box Trolls. I am very excited about both the stew and the movie.
Meanwhile, there’s supposed to be snow on Monday and I have become a true Southerner, buying milk and eggs, just in case. I certainly wouldn’t mind an unexpected day off work, since I don’t get President’s Day off.