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Thursday, 4 August 2016

1770s Robe a la Francaise

I'm just back from Costume College so I hardly know what to write!  I'll write a post about that soon.  You know, once my luggage arrives home...

My 1770s gown started as it so often does; it all started with a gorgeous striped silk I picked up for $11!  I've had it in my stash for over a year knowing it would become a Francaise one day.

I already had the stays so I just had to make panniers.  I followed The Dreamstress' pannier along tutorial.  I highly recommend it!  The only adjustment I made was that I decided not to put a bottom in my panniers.  Stupid, stupid idea.  Ignore me and follow the directions!

It started as a 1760s gown with this delightful number from the MET as inspiration:

MET, 1750-1775 European gown, silk
I used Katherine Caron-Greig's tutorial on making a Francaise gown.  I found it quite easy to follow.  Check out the nine part series here: http://koshka-the-cat.blogspot.ca/2011/03/draping-sort-of-sacque-part-one.html

I started with the back in order to make sure I had enough fabric.  Matching the stripes was the only tricky part.  

Once I had the pleats in I could add the side panels and start pleating in the skirts.  Once I knew how much fabric I needed for the back I could cut the petticoat.  Then, came the trim...

This was quite the trial and error! I did my best to replicate the trim in my inspiration photo, but honestly I was just winging it!  I cheated and machine sewed the trim on the petticoat.  Not ideal, but I was running short on time.  The straight line was a little finicky, but doable.  The wavy part was completely crazy!  I made a guide and just started pinning.

But it worked:

Knowing the amount of trim I had to do on the gown I was feeling a little apprehensive.  With a little advice from various sources I just dove right in the to the rest.  I finished the rest of the gown.  I'm especially proud of the back robings :)

Now, this is where things got tricky.  I found a delightful little ship for my hair.  A SHIP.  FOR MY HAIR!  I wasn't willing to sacrifice the ship so I had to adjust the gown.  Ships in hair were worn specifically to celebrate a naval battle fought and won against the British by the French in 1778.  I had planned to create a stomacher for my gown, but that was WAY too early and wouldn't hit that middle ground I was aiming for.  Then I came across a compere front gown.  

It's a perfect blend of styles.  It's a sewn in stomacher with functioning buttons.  How clever!  It also makes it easier to get in and out of.

I draped it like a normal stomacher and then just marked the centre, added my seam allowance, and away I go!  

After sewing on MILES and MILES (I just got back from the US!) of trim, here's the final dress:

I'm so proud of it!  

The Challenge: #8 Pattern
Material: Silk stripe and trim, cotton lining
Pattern: Draped based on Katherine Caron-Grieg's Sacque tutorial
Year: 1770s
Notions: silk and cotton thread, covered buttons, ribbon for bows
Accuracy:  I'm going to give myself about an 80% on this one. Materials and pattern are spot on.  I did cheat and use modern techniques for the sleeves, and a button cover kit, but it's almost entirely hand sewn.
Hours:  Oh boy.  I have no idea.  If it weren't for very dear friends helping me sew this it would have been impossible!
First worn: July 30th, Costume College Gala
Total Cost: $25.  No, that's not a typo :)

Special shout out to Jenny La Fleur for the AMAZING hairstyle.  The ship and flowers were absolutely perfect!  And jewellry by Dames a la Mode!

Special, special shout out to some very lovely ladies for helping me pleat all this trim and hand sew it on!  Without their love and support this gown would be me in a puddle of silk, crying.  Ladies, you are truly amazing friends!


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