Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Green Round Gown

So, the TrekCon whirlwind has finally calmed down, including the post-con craziness of quote requests, pic tagging, and other insanity. That means that I finally have two minutes to make something for myself!

I've been aching to add to my 18thC wardrobe for months now, but funds being as tight as they are, I don't have much cash on hand to buy new fabric. But, I did still have at least 30 yards of green drapery fabric that has been sitting patiently to be turned into historical stuff for quite a while now. 

So, I laid out the fabric, and started cutting. I've been wanting that green round gown I posted about almost exactly a year ago, in the Stash Dash post, so I used the original dress as my guideline as I worked. I cut out the back first, and pleated the back en fourreau.

As you an see, I had made the back HUGELY wide, so there was a lot of excess fabric to pleat into place. It took quite a bit of finagling, but I managed to wrangle it.

I then decided to make the World's Biggest Bumroll.

It eats souls.

I then set to work on the skirt. I used three panels of fabric - one the full width of the fabric on the bolt, and two half the width. The half-width panels went on either side of the back piece to finish out the back, and the full-width panel was used to create the skirt front.

The way this gown works is that the entire skirt is one piece. The back of the skirt is attached to the waist, up until the side front of the gown, as if you were making a gown with a stomacher. The front panel of the skirt is pleated into a tie-on waistband, the way you would if you were making a regular 18thC petticoat. (See Katherine's petticoat instructions to see what I mean.) So, when you put this dress on, you tie the front of the skirt on the first, then close the front of the gown the bring the back of the skirt over the pocket slits.

Anyway, once the skirt was on, I added the hook and eye closure down the front of the bodice. I should have done it before putting the skirt on, but c'est la vie. At least I wasn't cold, with all that skirt piled up on my lap!

I let the dress sit for a couple of days while I worked on other things, and returned to it last night. I needed my 18thC undies to fit another project, and instead of just taking the dress off the mannequin and tossing it aside, I decided to buckle down and finish. Yay, me!

I finished off the back bodice first. I cut a wide strip of fabric that I folded lengthwise and stitched to the back neckline, attaching it to the shoulder straps on the sides with hand-sewing. 

It's one of the proper ways to finish of en fourreau bodices or the back necklines of robes à la française, but I had never really done it before. I'm glad to say that it was a lot easier than I expected. I'd always sort of avoided it because I couldn't quite work out how to do it in my head. Sometimes, you just have to start pinning fabric and see what happens!

Once the back was finished, I made a set of sleevils (thanks to American Duchess for the great term!), which took a while to fit properly. I was going to take a stab at making shaped sleevils, but I didn't have enough fabric left from cutting out the bodice to make it work without cutting more fabric off the bolt, and I didn't want to do that. So, I just went with a two-piece straight sleeve. Once the sleevils were attached, the dress was finished!

Pretty, isn't it? I just love the back. 

I'm going to try and talk my photographer into a photoshoot next week so I can have proper pics of the dress. I love having something informal in the closet, since there are some 18thC events, like the November picnic, that don't call for more formal styles I usually make. Granted, I'll probably wear my Indienne curtain caraco to the picnic, but at least I have this on reserve, and I'll definitely be wearing it in Williamsburg this December.


  1. How much fabric did you end up using for this dress? I can think of a couple of my fabrics I could use for such a dress.

    1. I would say it was probably between 5 and 6 yards. The fabric is really wide, though, I think it's about 55" wide, so if your fabric is 45" wide, you'd probably need 8 yards or so to get the same fullness in the skirt. :)