Thursday, February 14, 2013

Fabric Decisions

So... I have a dilemma.  I have this lovely taffeta fabric:

And I really want to make it into a robe a la francaise, but I don't have enough.  :(

The fabric I have is in the form of two skirts, two dresses, and two tops from a discontinued line of bridesmaid designs.

Theoretically there is enough yardage contained in all these garments to make the gown I want, but none of the pieces are long enough to form the shoulder-to-floor pleated back section that I desire.  So the way I see it, I have three options.

Option A:  Make the robe a la francaise anyway, and piece the back section.

Robe à la Française, circa 1750–75
This idea does not appeal to me, as the piecing would be obvious given the iridescent nature of my taffeta fabric.

Option B:  Make a robe a l'anglaise instead.

Woman’s Robe à l’Anglaise (Close-bodied Gown), circa 1785 
I would certainly have enough fabric for this option, and it would eliminate the need for piecing.  I really want a formal French court gown, though.  And nothing says "French court" to me quite like a sack back gown worn over huge panniers.  Would a robe a l'anglaise be proper court attire for late 18th Century France?  I don't really know, and anyway I had my heart set on those lovely flowing back pleats!

Option C:  Compromise and make a pet-en-l'air.

Pet-en-l’air, mid-18th century From Christie’s 
Of the three styles of dress this is my least favorite.  I love the look of most jackets from the 18th Century, and I love the robe a la francaise.  But something about their merging just seems... unfinished, to me.  It's certainly more informal than the look I want.

Help me, oh internet!  Is there a fourth option I'm not seeing?


As has been pointed out to me in the comments, I do have an Option D:  Make the robe a la francaise and wear it a la poloniase.

Robe à la française, ca 1760-1775
This might be the best of all the options I've considered, but unfortunately I just don't like how it looks.  :(  Am I being stubborn?  Yes.  I just want my dream dress, and I can't bear to take "not enough fabric" for an answer!  *sigh*


  1. Can you make a Francaise and then polonaise it to cover up the piecing?

    1. I could, but that would defeat the purpose of having those long flowing back pleats. :p Thanks for the suggestion, though!

  2. Here are my personal sewing rules:
    1) Never ever compromise on your "dream dress" no matter how strong the temptation. You will inevitably regret it.
    2) Never make anything that you don't love to wear. (Unless it's a necessity).

    So with those in mind I propose the following:
    1) Save up if you have to but buy the right amount of fabric for a francaise you will LOVE. For all the effort you will put into it, it will be worth it.
    2) Use the fabric you have for an anglaise. You'll be able to make a truly beautiful gown out of it and can make it as grandiose and courtly as you like. It will be your secondary dream gown!

    1. You're right, of course. I should have told myself exactly the same things you propose. (I probably did, too. I just clearly didn't listen.) I like your sewing rules, too. I think I'll adopt them. :)

  3. Grrr. I somehow deleted my last attempt at a comment. I apologize if this comes through twice. There is another "almost-but-not-quite" option: the elusive Robe a la Piemontaise. Hallie Larkin wrote about one surviving example last year-

    If you don't have enough fabric to do this (or even if you do), I'd save the Francaise project for the PERFECT fabric and the right time. I agree with Laura 100%.

    1. I did not even know about this style! How fun! I love learning new things. :) I like it, but it presents the same problem as the francaise itself, unfortunately. It's not a lack of fabric, it's a lack of fabric pieces of sufficient length.

      Anyway, I think you're both right and I should save up for my someday francaise. Somehow I feel better about making this taffeta into an anglaise after two people have told me to. I think I really just wanted someone to make the decision for me. :p