Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Gold Galleon Gown - My First Francaise Finished!

My Francaise is finished!  That is, it is wearable and has been worn.  I still have more trim I want to add eventually, but I got enough attached so that I was not embarrassed to be seen in it at the Francaise Dinner this past Saturday.  In fact, I felt quite pretty and proud of myself!  But more on that later.

The next step in my construction process was pleating the petticoat to the waistband/ties.  I used every single one of my large colored pins for this:

Before I stitched down the pleats, I tried the petticoat on my dress form over my pocket hoops and underpetticoat:

I wanted to make sure that I had properly followed the guidelines from the pattern for making the petticoat hang evenly over the pocket hoops.  It seems to have worked!

Next I moved to the gown, where it was time to attach the bodice lining to the inside.  I hand-stitched the neckline edge as instructed, then tried it on Elsa with the front facings pinned in place:

I played around to see how the robings would lay:

Then I tried it on myself with a stomacher pinned in place, just to check the fit before stitching everything down:

This is without the pocket hoops on, but I was only looking at the bodice fit.

And here is how the under stomacher fits over my maternity stays:

I had also pinned the bodice back to the lining beneath the pleats, along the line of the boning where the internal ties are sewn to the bodice lining.  I was bothered by this wrinkle by the arm that I could not seem to get smoothed out:

I finally concluded that the only way to get rid of the wrinkle would be to release some of the pleats and re-stitch them, and I decided that it was not worth it.

I turned my attention to hemming the petticoat.  I opted to do this by machine to save time, since the petticoat hem will likely never be seen.  First I turned up and pressed the edge at 1" from the bottom, then turned the raw edge in to the fold and pressed again:

To keep the layers together, I placed a pin perpendicular to the fold every six inches or so:

Then I turned the folded edge under (working from the inside of the petticoat, so it's turned to the outside) and sewed it with my machine's blind hem stitch.  I always forget about this stitch!  But it's so useful.  It zig-zags, but not evenly.  It's like the overlock stitch, but mirror-image.  So it will stitch along the right side in a straight line for about five stitches:

Then hop over to the left side and catch one stitch of the fold:

So when you're done, it looks like this:

Then you take out the pins and fold the hem back down.  It likes to stay creased at the line of stitching:

But you can smooth this out by hand:

And after a good press it's flat again.  And from the outside it looks like a hand-stitched hem!  (If you don't look too closely.)

You may have noticed that the fabric at the hem still bears marks from the plastic threads that originally held the curtain hardware in place.  I chose to place the top edge of the curtains at the hem of the petticoat because I wanted to make the best use of my fabric, and because I knew that this would be covered by the gown skirt at the sides and back and by a ruffle in the front.

Speaking of the ruffle, that was next!  I cut a 12" wide strip of one of my scraps that was the full width of the original curtain - 52".  I used a scalloped shears (borrowed from my friend Melissa as my pair needs to be sharpened) to make a decorative edge, cutting straight along the top edge and making scallops at the lower edge.  (I used the same scallops template as the ruffle on the petticoat for my Striped Silk Gown from last year.)  Then I measured and marked out a 26" section at the center front of the petticoat.  I pleated the ruffle to this section using the "divide and conquer" method - which is the same method I used for the Striped Silk Gown and my coral petticoat, but I didn't know it had a name before.

I have a thing for box pleats.

Petticoat in action:

Checking to make sure the ruffle covers the gap in the gown skirt fronts:

I stitched it on by hand with a spaced backstitch, about 1/4" from the edge.

Moving on to the sleeve flounces, I started by making a new template of smaller scallops:

Then I traced the large scallops from the sleeve flounce pattern:

I then traced the smaller scallops along the edge of the larger ones:

Giving me scalloped scallops!

Using this template, I marked the lower edge of the flounces:

And I cut along those lines using the scalloped shears, giving me scalloped scalloped scallops!

Here are the two flounces on top of each other:

(For the top edges, I simply cut straight across with the scalloped shears.)

At this point in the construction, I knew I would need to take my sewing with me on the road.  We were driving up to Annapolis Friday night for the dinner on Saturday, so as long as I got everything done that required a sewing machine or my dress form, I could do everything else by hand after we arrived.  With this in mind, I started pinning the puff trim to the gown skirt fronts:

My main trim inspiration also gave me the idea to name this project the Gold Galleon Gown - the circular shape of both the puffs themselves and the pattern in which the trim was applied made me think of gold coins.

Here is the arrangement I came up with:

I plan to add scalloped-edged ruched trim later to complete the circular pattern with a matching serpentine wave in the opposite direction, and more ruched trim along the robings.  I knew I wouldn't have time to make all of this trim before the dinner, though.  I settled for just the puff trim for now.

I also marked the hem on the dress form.  I put pins at the level where the fabric met the floor, from the front edges to the side seams, then tapered to the raw edge at the back to give the gown a slight train.

I pressed a sharp crease along this line and removed all the pins for transport.

In the car, I continued to make puff trim to attach to the petticoat.  I can't do much real detail sewing in a moving vehicle (without getting nauseated) but the puff trim requires very little concentration.  When we got there, I attached the puff trim to the gown and quickly hemmed it by hand.  Once that was done I attached the sleeve flounces:

I pinned both in place in box pleats before stitching them down by hand through all the layers.  Then I attached the lace inner flounces I had made previously.

I actually made them weeks ago, so they were already complete and ready to be attached.  The lace is machine-stitched to the hemmed linen, which I had to piece on one of them:

I had also sewn two rows of gathering stitches on my machine before leaving the house, so all I had to do was draw them up and whip-stitch them inside the sleeves.

And that was the final bit of sewing I did before it was time to get dressed for the dinner!  I did not have time to attach the puff trim to the petticoat, or to make the bows to decorate the stomacher, so instead I pinned the puff trim onto the stomacher as a temporary embellishment.  Here is my final look for the evening:

I was quite amazed at how the gown hid my pregnancy, at least from the front:

From the side was a different matter:

But fortunately I think this gown will still fit beautifully after I have the baby.  I'm quite happy with it.

For accessories, I wore a beautiful set of jade jewelry that Brian the Engineer bought for me on a recent trip he took to Japan for work.  I thought the color looked lovely against the gold of my gown:

I will post photos of the dinner in my next post!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A Puff Trim Mini Tutorial

I trimmed my Gold Galleon Gown with puff trim, which I found to be a lot of fun.  I had several people ask me about it at the Francaise Dinner this past weekend (more on that later) so I thought I'd do a little tutorial about it.  First, my inspiration:

I found this image on Pinterest, and unfortunately I was unable to trace it back to its original source, but I found indications that it is from the Royal Ontario Museum.  Anyway, I loved the puff trim and decided to replicate it.

Here are my materials:

Strips of silk, strips of batting, matching thread, and a long grabby device*
I wanted 2" diameter puffs, so I started by cutting 5" wide strips of my silk, pulling threads to be sure I was cutting on the straight of grain.  I cut a total of five strips from a section of my scraps that was 45" across.  I had calculated that this would give me enough for two vertical serpentine bands along the gown skirt fronts, and one horizontal one on the petticoat.

Very crude drawing of my vision of the final trim placement
I sewed the 5" wide strips into tubes with a 1/2" seam allowance, and turned them inside out.  Then I took one and folded it in half to find the middle:

I placed a pin there to mark it:

I started from the back side, where the seam was:

I pulled the needle through to the front, then wrapped the thread around:

And stuck it back in through the front, coming out near the knot in the back:

Pulling this tight gathered up the tube:

And I tied another knot to hold it in place, and cut my thread:

Now it was time to add stuffing.  I had cut 4" wide strips of batting, which I folded over:

And cut 2" squares:

Now with my grabby thing* I took hold of the batting square:

And stuffed it into the tube:

Starting from the center meant I had less distance to travel with each puff, since both ends of the tube were open and I could go in from either side.

Once the batting was in place, I needed to squish it around from the outside a bit to give it the correct puff shape.  Then I gathered up the other side, added a new bit of batting, and continued:

Pretty soon I had a row of puffs!  When I got to the end, I turned in the edges:

And whipped them closed with large stitches:

Which I then pulled up to gather the end:

And secured it with a final stitch:

Knotted it tightly, and I was done!

Then I started over from the other end of the tube, and followed the same process.  This end I left open, so I could connect the next tube to it.  I pinned the row of puffs in place on my gown skirt:

After I finished the next row, I attached the tubes by folding in the edges of one, and inserting the end of the other:

Then I whipped them together in largely the same manner as I had closed the previous end:

And drew these stitches tight as well:

And my calculations were correct that two strips was enough for one side!

I found that the grabby thing* was also useful for turning the tubes inside out.  Just grab the seam allowance at one end:  

Stuff it into the opening:

And push it through, out to the other side:

Piece of cake!

I also found that silk thread is not the best thing to use for this purpose, as the thread is slippery enough that the knots occasionally pop through the fabric.  I switched to cotton/polyester thread halfway through the first row of puffs, and it went much better.

*I'm sure that "grabby thing" is totally the technical term for it.  I bought mine at Lowe's several years ago.