Felicity Merriman is a a young colonial girl growing up in Williamsburg, Virginia just before the dawn of the American Revolution. Free-spirited and outspoken, Felicity struggles with her family's decision to support independence from Britain while her closest friends are loyal to the British crown. Felicity's blue ball gown is made for her when she is invited to the Royal Governor's Palace with her friends, an event which creates division within the household due to the family's anti-royalist beliefs.
I owned a Felicity doll growing up and I had wanted to make her blue ball gown for ages, so when the 2007 local cosplay tea party was announced as Rococo-themed, I thought it would be the perfect excuse to cosplay her. The first version of this dress I completely hand-sewed in about two days using a slightly modified version of McCall's M6139, shortening the sleeves and hand-patterning the bustle and stomacher design. I made the ruffle trim off the top of my head by box pleating strips of fabric and top-stitching it down along the edges of the stomacher and sleeve cuffs. I made the pinner cap using a tutorial in an old Felicity book and scrap cotton and lace edging I found around the house. It was the first time I'd relied heavily on a store-bought pattern and I was very proud of this at the time, however, it was also rushed and I wanted to remake it before wearing it again.
In 2020 I decided to finally remake a more historically accurate version of Felicity's gown; I did some research on 18th century fashion and ultimately decided to make the dress in the style of a robe Ó la franšaise. Although both the book and film versions of Felicity's story explicitly show that her gown is made in the English style, I thought the French style would be fun and that the Merriman family would rather their daughter wear a French gown than a Royalist robe Ó l'anglaise. I started with Simplicity 8579 for the cotton shift and panniers, though in the interest of time I used a modern pre-made corset instead of making an 18th century style one. I then used Simpliticy 8578 to make the underskirt from white cotton, which also served as an excellent trial run before making the main skirt and the long back bodice pieces using my expensive heavy blue satin. It took Sketch and I both several attempts to correctly interpret the pattern's instructions for the back folds and bodice liner ties. Once the main dress was complete, we used long strips of fabric salvaged from the main dress, satin stitched the edges in a darker, contrasting blue, and sewed in box pleats and ruffles to create the main accent trim. I love how the darker stitching gives the trim some extra dimension. I also used salvaged fabric to create the main skirt ruffles, and added white lace trim for the neckline and sleeves. I stuck with the pinner cap pattern from the source material even though it would have been out of fashion by 1774. For accessories I made the earrings and necklace and paired them with historically accurate white shoes from American Duchess. I love how this came out and it was so much fun to wear; I was shocked at how many people recognized the character!