Wednesday 16 December 2009

Velvet New Years Dress

So, my funds being a bit low, I could not buy the fabric I needed for the 1911 dress. I have to work with what I have at home, so that makes a dramatic change of plans.

The dress I have decided on making is very much inspired by Swedish court dresses. The court dresses was introduced by King Gustav III in 1778. The history about how it got introduced is a bit complicated, so I won’t go into that. The dress has looked pretty much the same all the time it was in use, only the silhouette changing with the fashion. This is how it looked when it was first introduced (the lady to the right):

And as worn by Crown Princess Desideria in the 1810’s:

Crown Princess Josefina in 1825:

And again in 1837:

Three generations of noblewomen in 1944 (the two girls about to be presented at court):

The dress was always black, full length, and very simple. Pretty much any black dress could be made a court dress by adding the lattice sleeves. Even though the dress was simple, it was very desirable to be allowed to wear one. Only the royal ladies, and ladies presented at court was allowed that privilege. The last time the court dress was used officially (to my knowledge) was in 1974 (when it looked like this),

and since they’ve not be in use for more than 30 years, I think I can get away with wearing a dress much like it.

My dress will be made out of dark blue velvet (old curtains really), and the sleeves will be in thin, white satin with soft white tulle over it (both fabrics are leftover scraps from other projects), and the lattice in some semi-shiny, blue, polyester fabric, cut from an old dress. The zipper will be salvaged from that dress as well, so I won’t spend anything at all on this gown.

So far I’ve all but finished the bodice, and am now working on the sleeves. I’m too tired to take pictures of it now, so you have to be patient. I have always liked the look of these dresses, and think it’ll be very pretty. Not sure what other people will think, though my brother sort of liked it.


  1. Beautiful!! And I love the history behind the design as well. The lattice sleeves are so feminine and striking. I think it will be a beautiful gown. What style for your dress will you be making?

    I think I like the 1810's dress best, but I LOVE the hairstyle in the 1825 portrait. Beautiful! :)

  2. In this one, I won't be inspired that much by history at all, exept the sleeves. I will simply make a simple, floor lenght dress, that looks flattering on me, and add the lattice sleeves (in keeping with the spirit of these dresses). Though, thinking about it, the style of the dress is probably just a little inspired by the 1930's... but I've made dresses for modern use in that style before, so, to me, it doesn't feel like it's historical anymore.

  3. Wow, these are lovely - I really liked that you posted the pictures of the different eras, to show how the dress is different but yet so similar. :) I wish Americans knew more about these kinds of things - this is the first I've ever heard of Swedish court dresses. :S

  4. Well, most Swedes don't know about them either.... History is not a big thing in Sweden, except for the (with american standards) rather small group of reenactors, and most of us do viking- or middle ages. Sad, but true...

  5. The present queen (Silvia) renewed the court dress in the late 1970's / early 1980's: it is no more worn by the royal ladies but the ladies-in-waiting to the queen when they accompany the queen in official galas. The dress is very beautiful dark blue (royal blue?) velvet with short lattice sleeves. The idea is to spare money as the ladies need not have a new evening gown every time.

  6. Yeah, I know - however I don't like the new version, and since I was going for the look of the old ones I didn't mention it.


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