Avant Garbe

Re-kickstarting Ada Lovelace

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So 2 years ago I posted that I was going to make an Ada Lovelace costume for Halloween. I don’t know what was in my brain, that I could finish an elaborate costume the same month I got married.

So that didn’t happen. I had even mentally repurposed the mini purple-on-purple stripe now in the stash to be this 1890s dress:

Aaand then some jerkwad decided to post a memo on various topics including how women were biologically unsuited to work in the tech industry.

(I’m not linking to it because dude got enough attention. Note, all eyerolling here is my opinion, and not the opinion of my employer.)

So my coworker Bunny (she of the idea to do suffragettes at Costume College as a subtle protest against the extreme vile twatwaffle that is American Politics right now) said we should dress up as Ada Lovelace – the first woman programmer – as our own form of protesting as women in tech.

Feminist Halloween costume hell yeah!

So the purple stripe got re-re-purposed to be Ada Lovelace again, and I got to work.

I decided to stray further away from the complete shenanigans that is the dress in one of the few Ada Lovelace portraits, and use it as a general inspiration to make a purple dress from 1838.

My first plan was to make it with detachable lower sleeves, so the dress could double as a day dress (with the longer lower sleeves, a chemisette, and a bonnet) and an evening gown (with shorter sleeves, a lower neckline, and clowntown 1830s hair). Amazingly, after I decided to do this, I actually found two extant gowns where this was done!

According to the website, this is a “Printed wool challis dress with detatchable sleeves.”

1838 dress from the Museum of London

1836 dress from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. #1988.105.5a–d. I loved this top so much I considered doing this instead, but I really wanted poofy lower sleeves.

And the detachable sleeves!

I took inspiration from a hodgepodge of other gowns to create something recognizable from the era.

I plan to do a surplice (also known as a wrap or crossover front) with pleats like so:

Silk day dress from Augusta Auctions

It will have two ruffles on the upper sleeve:

And some sort of poofy monstrosity on the lower arm:

Metropolitan Museum of Art, #1984.89

Piping and gathering on the shoulder straps:

Dress from Manchester City Galleries

A big ol’ bias flounce on the skirt going up the side:

Really this dress ended up being everything I’m looking for in one

And while it seemed to be less common, 1830s dresses could open in the front, as seen here:

Unless someone is taking some serious artistic license, I don’t see a back closure on that left dress.

Same on the green dress

And a real dress that closed in front.

I haven’t found any evidence of evening gowns opening in the front, but I value dressing myself really super highly so I’m going for it anyways.

Now that this is posted, I’m nearly done with just the bodice top. Which is a corded petticoat and sleeve pattern behind where I wanted to be by this point in the month… At this point I don’t have any concrete Halloween plans anyways, so I may just dub this a dress for Dickens and re-wear something else for Halloween.

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