Monday, March 28, 2016

Striped Silk Gown Version 1

When I left off with this project I had replaced the worn sides of the gown skirt with panels from the sacrificial matching petticoat, but had not yet pleated the skirt back into the bodice.  I had meant to finish my stays first so I could fit the bodice properly over them before making the necessary alterations, but in the end I didn't have time.  Maybe I shouldn't have committed to hand-stitching the boning channels on the stays, but that's another story.  I ended up fitting the gown over my mock-stays, which I then wore for the Francaise Dinner itself.  They're not terribly comfortable, but it's better than wearing no stays at all!

I made the bodice large enough to fit me by removing the robings and re-attaching them to the edges.  I didn't take pictures of the sewing process, but I do have these mirror selfies to show the transition:

Bodice sans robing
Stomacher in position for reference
Robings pinned back in place
Checking stomacher position with robings
I did take a small dart on either side to bring in the waist a bit.  Then I re-pleated the skirt and stitched it on by hand.  No pictures of this, either.  It's boring.  :p

Finally it was time to add the seven yards of trim from the last post!  I pleated it so only the teal stripes show at the center, which is where I stitched down by hand. 

I also decided to add some interest to the contrasting petticoat in the form of a ruffle along the hem.  I started with another old bridesmaid gown, this one being a shade darker than the original fabric I used for the petticoat itself.  (I do have more of the same color, but I didn't want to use it because it's set aside for my Brunswick project and I'm worried I won't have enough.)


I took the thing apart at the waist, removing the zipper from the skirt and opening up the back seam:

I wanted my ruffle to be scalloped along the lower edge, so I made a template to trace.  First I used a piece of lined paper to create three equal scallops, which I then traced onto a piece of cardstock for five scallops across:

I started at the hem of the skirt, tracing as close as I could to the edge:

At the seams I attempted to straighten the edge as I traced:

Then I measured 10" up from the center of each scallop, and used those marks to smoothly cut the top edge of the ruffle.

I used these awesome scalloped shears I got from my mom:

Once the first strip was cut away, I repeated the process three more times:

I attached the strips to each to each other at the junctions between scallops.

After all the strips were assembled into a circle, I used the scalloped shears to cut the lower scalloped edge, as well.  I then marked center front, center back, and sides of the ruffle, and marked the center front and center back of the petticoat, 9.5" up from the hem.  Then I matched up centers of ruffle to centers of petticoat:

And matched the sides of the ruffle to the seams of the petticoat:


Next lots of pinning.  Measuring the center point between pins:

Pinning the ruffle in place at these points:

Rinse and repeat.  Once the pins got down to 3.5" apart, I pleated the excess ruffle on either side of each pin, making each pleat approximately 1" wide.

This gave me evenly spaced 2" wide box pleats:

To save time, I stitched the ruffle on by machine.  I quickly tried on the finished petticoat over the pocket hoops, and found it very fun to wear.  :) 

You can probably tell from the way it dips in at the middle that I'm not wearing any underpetticoats with it, but fear not.  I wore three (one plain and two ruffled) when I dressed for the Francaise Dinner.

Speaking of which, here are pictures of me all dressed up!

Oh, I also added neck and sleeve ruffles the day before the dinner.  They are a fine cotton voile, and I used the selvedge for the edge of the neck ruffle so I didn't have to hem it.  :p  I hemmed the sleeve ruffles with a hand-rolled hem, though.

I stitched small bone rings to the inside seams of the skirt, and attached long ribbons to the waist seam which can be threaded through these rings to pull up the skirt into swags a la polonaise:

I did my own hair for the event, using pomatum that I had purchased from LBCC on Etsy, and powder from Colonial Williamsburg.  I'm quite pleased with how it turned out!  I had never done an 18th Century style before, and I mostly made it up as I went along:

I also used LBCC cosmetics for my period makeup, and wore my gorgeous aquamarine collet necklace and earrings from Dames a la Mode:

My look was created with white paint for the face, liquid rouge, burnt cloves, and tinted lip balm.
My full complement of historical cosmetics

And of course I wore my American Duchess Kensington shoes with Fleur shoe buckles and red clocked stockings.  You can also see my three underpetticoats in this shot:

Now I'm very late on posting about it, but this is my entry for the Historical Sew Monthly Tucks & Pleating challenge.

The Challenge:  Tucks & Pleating

Material:  Striped silk, acetate taffeta

Pattern:  My own (I didn't make the gown, so pattern here refers to the pleated trim and the ruffle)

Year:  1770s

Notions:  bone rings, petersham ribbon (not shown)

How historically accurate is it?  The gown itself is probably 95% accurate, as it's machine-constructed and hand-finished, but the materials and the pattern are good.  The petticoat is all machine-sewn, and loses further points for being acetate taffeta.  I'm giving it 70%. 

Hours to complete:  I'm only counting the work documented in this post, which I'd say is around 18-20 hours.  The work in the previous post does not feature any tucks or pleating, whereas this is pretty much ALL pleating! 

First worn:  March 12 for the Francaise Dinner

Total cost: I think I spent around $30 on the gown originally, and the bridesmaid dresses were free.  Bone rings from Burnley & Trowbridge are $.60 each, and I used six total.  The petersham ribbon was $.15/yd, and I used about two. 


  1. Your ensemble turned out beautifully! And your hair looks fantastic!

    1. Thank you! It was quite enjoyable to wear. :)

  2. What a productive remake of a dress. I think your hair turned out very well, as though you'd practiced! ;)


    1. Awww, thanks! I was afraid it was going to turn out horribly. :p

  3. THAT HAIR. The outfit came together so well, and you look beautiful in it. I love the way you finished off the stomacher and the trim on the gown!

    10/10: would admire again.

    1. Thank you so much! It's always nice when a plan comes together the way I envisioned it! :)