Friday, February 28, 2014

1920's Panniers for a Robe de Style

A few weeks ago I showed off my Robe de Style, with the promise of soon showcasing my side hoops that I wore to give the proper look to the historic gown.


I've waited this long only because this is my entry for the HSF Challenge #4: Under it All.  Without these side hoops, the elegant Robe de Style loses its oompf. So here is my saga of trying to create the oompf!

First I did my research and found a lot of basic descriptions and teasers. Most of my sources agreed. The understructure required for the Robe de Style shape is a set of 18th century style panniers on a smaller scale than their predecessors.  Jean Lanvin, who designed the Robe de Style, hearkened back to the 18th century in creating this elegant gown that could be worn by any body shape of any age, to offset the popular flapper fashions best suited to a straightline figure. A common descriptor in my research was the word, "basket-like."

Here the various resources from my research:

A description of the side hoops with an illustration of a gown with the proper silhouette from DK Publishing

From the FDIM Museum blog, a description of the panniers with a gown properly modeled.

From the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum, fashion plates of stylish Robe de Styles. They also have a gown on display with hoops, but the effect is far more subtle than the fashion plates.

A description from the Berg Companion to Fashion

Heileen's Pinterest Page (not mine) on Robe de Styles.  The key photo I wanted to share is almost towards the bottom. It shows a light blue Robe de Style gown, with what appears to be the bodice portion flipped up to reveal the side hoops as part of the structure of the skirt in the same fabric. Shown on the waistband is a Jean Lanvin label. I tried to access the original source of the photo but it immediately dead ended. While scrolling down you'll see numerous other Robe de Styles, in various array of fashion, some with panniers and some without. With some you can see the framing underneath the skirts.

However, none of that was enough information for me to figure out how to actually make the side hoops. I have never sewn side hoops before, not even for the 18th century. I fussed around a bit and created a basic shape. While wearing my gown, I measured from the top of the dropped waistline to the top of my knee. I guessed that should be the length. For the width, I measured how much length it would take to do a semi-circle next to my hips, to create the proper silhouette. All I want to ultimately do is extend my hip line.   From these measurements I cut out some fabric, so that when folded over they would be these dimensions.

I forget all the specific steps I took, but I did sew channels into the doubled fabric, into which I inserted leftover reed from my 18th century stays project. It wouldn't hold a semi-circle shape at all because there was no structure to keep the semi-circular shape. I wasn't sure how to do this. Then I recalled The Dreamstress' 18th century Panniers Sew Along.  After looking at her directions, I simply added fabric to the hoops, that forced it into a semi-circle.


Here is the back. It's not as pretty as I had originally aimed.  At this point I was under a time crunch.


Also when I tried them on with my gown, the silhouette didn't look right, so I added an additional hoop. Two pictures above I had 4 casings per each hoop, but only boned three of them.  In the photo below, I boned the other casings and was much more pleased with the resulting silhouette.


You might see pin heads at the top of the hoops, on the far right in the photo above. That is where I would sew them to the skirts. However I was under a time crunch, so I merely pinned them and I was glad!  I didn't notice until I was all put together, that the weight of the hoops when pinned to the inside of my gown's waistline, pulled down my gown in a most unpleasing manner. (I unpinned the hoops from the gown and repinned them to the tops of my pantyhose.  The gown looked much better!)

In the above photo, I tried to shoot down the tube, fromm the end that is pinned to the skirt. In the photo below, I am looking through the other end of the tube.


Unfortunately I cannot put my gown on my dress form to lift up the skirts to show placement of the panniers. There is no opening to the bodice. As per the period pattern directions, the gown merely slips over my head, but not over my dressform. But I got this idea to pin the robe de style to the front of the dressform and going from there. You can tell the skirt kicks out to the side a wee bit.  It's better when wearing it.


Here you  can see some of the "wire basket" through the fabric. If you check the pinterest link above, there is a photograph of a lady in the 1920's wearing a robe de style, where the "wire baskets" were quite obvious. While I was wearing my gown, the framing showed through a bit but wasn't too obvious. It seemed quite period correct from all my research.


In the above photo, you can see the green head of the pin that I used to pin the panniers to the underside of the skirt, at the waistline. In the photo below, the skirts are pulled up a bit to see how the panniers hang.

I pulled back the skirts a bit more...


I raised the skirts higher to see that they do pin at the waistline. 

They hang well and do not flap around at all.  With the weight of the skirts surrounding them and the panniers pressing against my hips and legs, they stay in place quite well.  A wee bit of movement but I'm sure that's normal and to be expected. Nothing seemed odd while I wore my gown.  However while I was wearing my gown, I unpinned the panniers from the hemline because the weight was pulling my bodice down and it didn't look good at all. I repinned them to the waist of my panty hose and that was perfect.


Now for the HSF details:

HSF 2014

The Challenge: #4 Under it All

Fabric: cotton

Pattern: self-drafted


Notions: reed

How historically accurate is it? not sure but based on extant 1920's panniers

Hours to complete: 3

First worn: history presentation

Total cost: free, from stash

1 comment:

  1. Good work figuring all of that out! We worked on a similar project using PVC tubing for the channels--not authentic, but effective (and awkward to work with).