Thursday 3 September 2015

Danish Chemise dress 1790s - Danish National Museum

I've finally finished my "Danish Dress". It's about 99% handsewn, which is a first for me. :) And I like it SOOOO much. I love the way it is drafted and assembled, I am absolutely awstruck and I think the seamstress that made the dress was ingenious.

The Original dress: (more picture of my version futher below...)

I had seen this lovely dress quite a while ago and wanted to make it. I had a bit of black voile left, so I considered remaking it in black.  if you want to know more about Chemise Gowns in black hop over to Festive Attyre

Anyway, as you can see from the pictures, I didn't choose black fabric, because whilst searching for that, I stumbled across Matilda ... a lovely fabric from our favourite Swedish furniture shop. Matilda is a very sheer cotton curtain  (yes!!) with white stripes with bobbles woven into the fabric. I love it.

The dress is from the Danish National Museum in Kopenhagen.
They even deliver the free pattern (taken from the actual dress, like e.g. Janet Arnold PoF)

The Museum dates it to "ca. 1797", but as they seem to know that it was Eleonora Sophie Baroness Rantzau's wedding dress and she married 1796, I suppose the date should be "ca 1796".

When I made the Mock-up, I found, that I could wear the pattern without many alterations. Just the sleeves needed slight adjustment and the length of the skirt. I felt a certain connection and wanted to know more about the lady, who wore this for her wedding. Also, I was brought up in Northern Germany, only 45min away from the Danish border and 3 hours from Kopenhagen. And my great grandfather is Danish. 

This is Eleonora Sophie Baronesse Rantzau:

She was born on the 24th August 1779 in Fjellebro Gods, that is on the island Odense (in Denmark, of course).  She was the second of 3 children, she had an older brother and a younger sister. When she was 16 (1st July 1796), she married Preben I. lensgreve Bille-Brahe (who 22 years old at the time). They had 2 children, Henrik lensgreve Bille-Brahe, (b. 21 Jan 1798) and  Frederik (Fritz) Siegfred baron Bille-Brahe (b. 26 Feb 1799). Her children were named after her father in law (Henrik) and possibly her father (Friederich Siegfried).
Only about a year after the birth of her second son, Eleonora died on the 21st of August 1800 aged 20 (that's only 3 days before her 21st birthday in fact, and also our wedding day, which is a bit creepy, but well, life's full of weird coincidences...). I couldn't find out the reason for her early death. I could imagine childbirth or pneumonia.
Her husband married again - 16 years later, a lady called Johanne Caroline Vilhelmine Falbe. They called their first born daughter Eleonora Sophie. Isn't that romantic? This is a picture of the couple a year after they married.

She died in 1823, and a year later he married another lady called Birgitte (Betzy) Susanne Sybilla komtesse Schaffalitzky de Muckadell  (b 1801) (wow, that name rocks!). But enough genealogy, if you are so madly interested, follow the links below for further information, because that's were I've got it from (including pictures) (look for Person ID I4890)
A little on the actual dressmaking:

The assembly of the dress is relatively straight forward, a big "thank you" to Mariell from for her help with the translation of the Danish Annotations... the most important one is "the drawings are not too accurate, sometimes there is up to 2 mm difference and maybe more" or something like that. I have written a short tutorial here

I am wearing a white bodiced petticoat (La Mode Bagatelle) under the dress, which for me replaces the stays. I suppose to do it properly I should make a pair of transitional stays but that's another future project. Unfortunately the straps of the bodiced petticoat show through the sheer fabric (which reminds me: I should have made a lining, like in the original... never try to be more intelligent that an 18th century seamstress.... at least not this one, the dress was made in a extremely ingenious way). (If I make the dress again, I would line the fabric... or maybe I take the sleeves off and line them... or so...)

Finally, pictures!!

back view, with a very bad hair day and stupid straps destroying the wonderful inwards setting of the sleeves. :( The sleeves are very beautiful and I think I will use the pattern for more 18th century sleeves in the future. They don't need darts yet fit comfortable (hence the wrinkles under the arms...))

Love letters (The one from Guy the Maupassant was great, albeit being anachronistic!)

I am poking my nose up other people's love letters.

This is dedicated to

I also want to tell you a little story about the book I am holding in the pictures. It is a wonderful book called "Briefe der Liebe" (Letters of love), edited by Camill Hoffmann and some more about him here (in German language)
The book was given by my great-grand-father to his then-fiancée for their engagement. This took place at Christmas 1912 (he wrote the date at the beginning of the book). It is love letters from the early 1700s to the late 1800s. And the choice of letters is wonderful. But here the romantic parts ends. Camill Hoffmann was killed in Auschwitz in 1944 together with his wife Irma. Life is bittersweet. If you can read German, try to get your hands on a copy. Or recreate the Danish Dress. Or both.

Have a great evening!

Hertzwerk X

1 comment:

  1. Interesting. The second wife also died young. Thats why he married a third time.