For Grace’s second outfit for Gallifrey we decided on one of Reinette’s costumes from “The Girl in the Fireplace” episode of Doctor Who from David Tennant’s tenure as The Doctor. None of the dresses worn in the episode were inspired by any particular painting – they had all been worn in different movies previously to this episode. (Check out the beaded champagne number she wears at the end – Helen Mirren wore it in The Madness of King George!)
We were all going to do 18th century versions of the Doctor, so this would have fit in perfectly. However, as things tend to happen, that plan rapidly fell apart and Grace was left to wear this on her own. We saw several other Reinettes that weekend, but this one was the closest to the screen version.
I found the fabric on Fabricguru, and it was the closest match out there to the original fabric. The pattern was much larger than I had anticipated, but it worked well. The ribbon was an Etsy find, and the lace was from my stash.
We built it on top of a corset that my friend Peggy had made many years ago that now belongs to Ashley, as well as a set of pocket hoops that Ashley and I made from Jean Hunisett’s pattern. Being able to borrow these items rather than make them at the last minute was a huge life saver, and I thank Ashley profusely.
I used Katherine’s francaise tutorial as I have previously, and everything was going great until I realized that I had cut pieces without checking for length. As I only had 5 yards of 60 inch wide fabric, this could have been bad. Luckily I was able to use a different fabric for the back of the underskirt, and shave off pieces from the sides of the underskirt to use as the side back pieces of the gown. In Katherine’s tutorial she discusses how she cut her fabric too short and pieced it together. I have seen this dress in person and you would never know this had happened – she was able to match the fabric really well. So taking this inspiration, I fiddled with things and was just able to get it all out of 5 yards. There is, however, ABSOLUTELY NO FABRIC LEFT. Not even a square.
I did drape the whole thing onto a cotton lining that was fitted to her shape, and instead of eyelets in the back with lacing, I used ribbon ties, which I tend to prefer, as it gives you more options in making the garment tighter or looser.
I got the entire gown done the day before we were to leave, except for the back pleats at the top, which needed to be stitched down. I hand stitched those down when Grace arrived in L.A.
The sleeves pattern I had for the outfit was on the large side, and the sleeves are rather larger than I would have liked, not having access to Grace to drape them on her till after I had sewn them in. Consequently the seams run down the front edge of the sleeves. This is hidden somewhat by the large cuffs and bows that are sewn onto the bottom of the sleeves.
The dress is done with the bodice portion and skirt in front as separate pieces rather than all one piece (as in Katherine’s chocolate francaise tutorial) due to my mess-up in cutting the pieces. The stomacher was made from my pattern, and unfortunately as I sewed the ribbons on I sewed them at an angle. I was able to hide this through clever pinning on the front, but I am going to have to go back and fix it at some point.
Grace wore similar pearl earrings, but we were not able to finish the lace and pearl necklace in time, so she wore a pearled necklace that I had already. She loved the fact that the pocket hoops did in fact act as pockets, and that she didn’t need a purse/bag/etc. She wore white knee highs from Target and some black leather stacked heels with ribbons attached to the front.
The wig was a re-do of my White Queen wig. All I had to do was roll it up in back and secure it with a couple of bobby pins and a comb. A decorative comb on top of this completed the look. We had the side pieces come down lower than in the episode photos due to Grace’s hair being a completely different color than the wig.
Grace found the outfit to be a little itchy (likely the fabric) but otherwise liked the way it looked and how easy it was to put on. I was pretty pleased with how quickly it went together (despite the amount of hand sewing required) and with how close it was to the original.
Now I just need to make Grace some pocket hoops so she can wear it again….
Big thanks to Katherine!!!