Saturday, September 15, 2012

Whoops! and Curtain-Along

Actually, it just recently struck me that I probably shouldn’t be posting tons of pics and info about my dress if I’m going to be competing in it.


Oh well, I’m just learning this blogging thing.

So I won’t be talking about my française just yet. I’ll keep writing entries, I just won’t post any of them until after the competition in May. (sad sigh)

Until then, I’ll be sharing other costumes (completed and in-progress) to fill the gap.

So let me tell you about the Curtain Along!

Jen over at Festive Attyre found a perfect 18th century print on some curtains at Lowe's in 3 different colors. (You can see them on the nifty little badge graphic she created above.) You can also buy the fabric itself at  Joann's craft store, but the curtains are MUCH cheaper for the same material. So she asked if anyone wanted to sew stuff along with her out of the curtains.

I ran out & bought 3 of the cream background & 1 with the red.
I think I'm going to make a late-period polonaise. The red one is going to be used for an alternate petticoat so that I can switch out the look. Of course, I have no idea if a different patterned petticoat is period. (Say that 3 times fast!) I've seen them with contrasting *solid color* petticoats, but not with a contrasting print. Oh well....
This one is just for me, anyway. :)

I'm thinking something like this example from the MET:

Wouldn't this look adorable in the cream with the red petticoat?

Plus it will give me the excuse to play around with a hedgehog style hair-do. I know the pic doesn't have one, but the MET says the dress is from 1780 which would totally allow me to rock a hedgehog!


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Pattern

Step number 2 on my road to a robe a la francaise - the pattern.

Okay…in the spirit of trying to be historically accurate, I’m planning on using a scaled pattern from Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion 1680-1880. There’s one in there for a robe a la française around the right time. What’s great about that pattern is that there is a detailed description of the same dress in Costume in Detail by Nancy Bradfield. And a photo of it on the National Trust web site.

So I’ll have lots of good info on the pattern. (I'll just be trimming it a little differently.)
The stripes on the sleeves are wrong, so I’ll fix that. Both books specifically mention how unusual it is for a dress of this period to have the stripes running vertically on the sleeves. So I'll do it the usual way - with the stripes running horizontal around the arm.

For the construction details, I’m going to try to make them historically accurate also. There’s a great book called Costume Close-Up by Linda Baumgarten that contains very good instructions in how people in the 18th century sewed and constructed garments. There’s also some good tips in Fitting and Proper by Sharon Ann Burnston.

Plus I found this really great blog by a grad student who was studying 18th century construction and decided to make some items for an exhibition. Check it out at Rockin’ the Rococo (

And Koshka (Catherine) over at The Fashionable Past has lots and lots of pics of how she draped hers. (
I like pictures!!
Hers is a little earlier period than mine, so mine will have a seam at the waist. But it definitely gives some good tips.