In the continuation of the Violet gown, I painstakingly cut out all the remaining pieces needed, sliced up and prepped the furbelow strips, and then was suddenly struck to make the stomacher first. I usually leave the stomacher until last, but couldn’t this time– with such a meager amount of fabric left, I had to make sure I had what I needed for the stomacher, and then I could fudge the skirt furbelows with scrap-pieced strips. Couldn’t do that with the stomacher! It’s such a focal point I wanted it to be lovely– and I wanted it to be echelle.
I’ve spent the last few days trying to work out exactly what was going on with these “messy” looking stomachers. I’ve made “neat and tidy” echelles before (Like the taupe gown, where the bows are primly constucted and carefully placed) but this one I wanted that chaotic Madame Pompadour echelle look.
Hers are clearly made from tying ribbon into bows right down the front:
… and that would be so easy! But, nothing is easy, is it? I’m not making them out of ribbon, I’m making them out of fabric, the same fabric as the dress– just like the inspiration dress for this whole project:
And let me tell you, the behavior of the fabric is completely different. It would have been simple to just sew the strips on the stomacher edges and then tie them down the center… but then I would be an asshole. I know if I did that, the bows would be ratty and destroyed after just a few wearings, not to mention that I don’t like to leave it up to the client to re-tie the bows perfectly again– that never works out. But, I thought I couldn’t make them permanently tied because this gown has to travel– from me to Italy, and then wherever the dance troup goes around Europe and the Mid-East.. Those bows would be a tortured mess if there was no way to untie them, press them, and bow them up again for the performance. But, every cockamamie idea I came up with just seemed ludicrously convoluted and would be too much of a chore for the client to deal with each time.
So, I just decided to recreate the look of the messy ribbon bow, but make them semi-permanent. The bows are tacked in place, and someday, if the bows get too squished or wrinkled over time, they can be snipped undone, pressed, and then re-tacked. To keep the bows nice for transport and storage, I’m going to stuff them with wads of batting. I think removing and replacing the batting would be an easier job for a client than taking apart and re-assembling each time. I’m hoping to put the effort into keeping the bows nice, rather than allow them to squish and then revive them. *fingers crossed*
First I had to simulate the ribbons being attached to the sides– if you look carefully at extant gowns and portraits, this is how it was often done.
Then I had to simulate them being knotted at the center, as it would be if you were about to tie a bow.
…and sewing down the edges– I should have done this when I assembled the base, but, well, I was a dope and forgot.
Next up was making the graduated loops– ten in all, five matching sets, each one pinch pleated at the center and tacked to it’s matching neighbor.
Made the fake little knot, wraping the center of the double bows.
All sewn down the center, I think it looks very much like the original inspiration stomacher!
Voila! A Pompador style echelle stomacher that she never has to worry about getting the bows right. They will always be right!