Is it going to be done on time? :p Actually, I do feel like I'm in pretty good shape, which is why I'm pausing from my marathon sewing to write a quick (HA!) post.
When we left off with my dress diary, I had the lining constructed and the main body of the gown cut out. I had not yet cut out the petticoat, but I had two of the curtain panels set aside for it. Since this is my first Francaise, I am following the pattern very closely. It goes together very well, but the instructions are not always crystal clear. I'm making notes as I go along, for instance when it is not clear if I'm doing something on the right or wrong side of the fabric. That messed me up a couple times, like with the robings. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
The back pleats are the part that have always scared me, so I appreciated that the instructions told me "Do not panic." Of course, I would have appreciated it even more if it had said "Don't panic" in big friendly letters on the cover, but I digress. Turns out, the pleats are not as formidable as they seemed! Of course, I had a secret weapon. I had recently found this awesome mini-tutorial on Did You Make That? and it worked like a charm! That is, I took the basic concept of thread-marking the pleat lines and adapted it slightly to my needs.
I started marking the pleats by punching holes in the paper pattern where the dots are located on the pleat lines, and marking these with a wash-away fabric marker. Then I marked each set of dots with a pin corresponding to the order in which each pleat was to be made. I have always associated certain numbers with specific colors, so this made remembering the steps very easy. One = white, two = yellow, three = red, four = dark green, five = blue, six = light green.
|(Seven = purple, eight = orange, and nine = black, but I only needed to go up to six.)|
This gave me twelve color-coded lines for the six pleats:
At this point I decided that I needed to overlock the edges of my fabric, as it was beginning to fray quite a bit, especially at the upper and lower edges:
The first two pleats lined up:
|I continued to use color-coded pins, just for fun.|
Then I pulled out my basting stitches:
Whew! Two down, four to go! (Then start all over on the other side.)
I marked 5" down from the top, as the pattern suggested, so I would know where to stop stitching:
I pinned all the remaining pleats on the right side, then went through the same steps for the left.
I assumed that these pleats would be stitched through all layers (the instructions do not explicitly say this), so I carefully pinned the pleats down smoothly on the back side, even making sure the hidden inside ones were controlled:
I was taking no chances with these pleats! They kind of make the gown, after all.
Finally all pinned! I had to substitute some pin colors, as I was running out of the original ones:
I did a quick check that the pinned pleats would fit the top neck piece:
|(Too quick, as it turns out, but I'll come back to that.)|
|*gasp* It's looking like the real thing! :D|
And it looked good, so I went ahead and started hand-stitching the pleats. I used a spaced backstitch, as the pattern suggested:
Then once again I got to pull out the basting threads.
It's way more fun than it should be.
This led to my back neck piece not fitting properly:
|(Told you my quick check was too quick.)|
Around this time, I needed a break from the gown itself. I pressed the remaining two curtain panels and began making the petticoat. The instructions had good pointers on making a petticoat to fit over pocket hoops. I measured down from the center front and back and marked a curve to allow a "scoop" at the front and back of the waistband, so the petticoat doesn't droop in the centers. You can barely see the line I marked in wash-away marker:
I haven't put the petticoat together yet, so I'm hoping it works!
Back to the gown. I was never quite convinced that I had pressed the robings properly:
So I re-did one side, pressing the opposite way than what I had interpreted the instructions to mean initially, and tried out the result. It may be hard to tell, but the right side is the original way I had done it, and the left side is fixed:
That definitely made more sense, as it kept the raw edge turned to the inside. Relieved, I made notes in the instructions and fixed the other side, too. Then I could attach the fronts to the back (with the back neck piece now attached).
It's starting to look like a gown! Of course I couldn't resist trying it on at this point, but I have no pictures of this.
Next came sleeves! I was confident that these would pose no challenge, as I had already done them twice - once for the mockup and once for the lining. I really like this method of setting sleeves, and the instructions are very easy to understand (for this part, at least!).
Then I just needed to attach the side skirt extensions and pleat the skirt sides. This proved to be another challenge of interpreting the instructions. I pinned it the wrong way, decided it couldn't possibly be right, and tried it the opposite way on the other side. It made much more sense the second way, so I re-pinned the first one and stitched across the tops of the pleats inside the skirt. The result:
And finally I tried it on over my pocket hoops and underpetticoat:
|Brian the Engineer kindly took these photos for me.|
|It's looking like the real thing!|
I'm so excited! :D :D :D
Now all I have to do is:
- attach the bodice lining
- finish constructing the petticoat (it's currently pinned to the waistbands)
- add the sleeve flounces
- make the stomacher
- hem gown and petticoat
- ALL of the trim!
I have a feeling that I will attend the Francaise Dinner with minimal trim on my gown, and that I will add more elaborate decorations later. Which will give me an excuse to wear it again, of course! Do a photoshoot for a "Look! It's finished!" blog post. :p
(Oh, and I still need to finish binding my stays.)