It took me days and days and days to finish this– end of summer with school looming next week is always a time sucker. Darn kids neeeding clothes and haircuts and school supplies and such. Earlier in the summer I thought I could FOR SURE get these two gowns done– ha! What a joke on me that was. Oh well, there is really no due date, I just want to get them done ASAP… so I will keep plugging along, even if it takes me days and days.
If you are looking for an authentic way to put together a historical Robe a la Francaise, you will be disappointed in me. I am cobbling this bodice together with a method I made up with no thought to historicality at all. The gown is for a dancer, so she needs to be able to dress herself and not wear any stays. This is what I came up with to accomodate her needs.
I started the bodice with a drafted paper pattern– I use freezer paper, which I also coincidently use to line the bottom of the parrot cage, so I have loads of it hanging around. Useful stuff!
Checking the fit on the dressform, which was padded out to match her measurements..
Then cutting out an identical piece from canvas and fitting again, this time with a few bones duct taped to it to simulate the corset underneath… yes, this works. I love duct tape in the sewing room!
Now checking the fit again and again, snipping and shaping and hoping I’m getting it right. I always worry.
Got the pattern how I liked it, time to cut out the genuine fabrics, a plain cotton lining and the pretty faux shantung.
One of my major pet peeves is seeing that little stripe of lining at the edge near the stomacher, so I added a little strip of facing to get rid of the issue. (Oh, and I also added built in boning channels, didn’t take any pics of that, must have been an off day.)
There, all five layers readdy for assembly.
First things first, I had to attach some furbelows to the revers. Well, first I had to cut out the make the revers. And second, I had to make the beaded trimmed strips. But then I was able to attach the furbelows to the revers. (Are they called revers in the 18th century? I can’t remember what they are called off hand. It’ll come to me later, when I don’t need it.) I did this now because otherwise it would be a gigantic pain in the ass to do it when the dress is fully assembled. I’m all about shortcuts and saving myself handsewing grief.
Marking off the furbelow attachment points. I’m not going to talk about how I screwed up, made them too big and it looked ridiculous. Had to unpick it all and do it again smaller. Oops.
Marking the furbelow strips.
Pleating up the strip at the marked points…
…tacking them down with a wide zig zag stitch…
…and flipping the strip up to form the little scallopped puff. Love that! Such an easy way to get a great looking furbelow.
Checking the scale on the dressform, yes, this time it looks nice, not gigantic like the misstep I took earier that I’m not going to talk about.
I had a V-8 moment when I remembered that I bought this bolt of pattern tracing fabric. I LOVE THIS STUFF. So nice to work with.
Mapping out where the understomacher should be, and making the pattern. I am using this unboned under stomacher to just secure the gown together at the front, she can just lace it up, and then the stomacher is sttached with snaps on top of it, thus taking the pressure off the snaps and doing the real work to hold the bodice together. Kind of important while dancing! I would die if her dress flung off during a twirl.
Stomacher and under-stomacher drafted and ready to be made real.
Making the understomacher, adding strips of iron-on interfacing to strengthern where the eyelets will be.
Folded in half, seams graded and trimmed.
Flipped rightside out, pressed, overlocked the raw edges and added eyelets.
Sewing it to the lining…
Both sewn to the linings…
Making sure that stomacher still matches– being off on these measurements would spell disaster for fitting properly!
Attaching the furbelowed rever to the front bodice piece…
Then attaching that to the entire lining…
And now for the snaps. These are gigantic super strong snaps. I wish they were silver, but I had no choice so it is what it is.
Using drapers tape tosecure the snaps in place while I move to the sewing machine.
Sewing them on without a foot and with a small zig zag stitch. Yes, I know I shouldn’t have used black thread. Oh well.
…and now all raw edges neatened up. Ready to add the front skirts!