Sunday, December 20, 2015

English Gown--upgrade!

I decided to upgrade the English gown in my previous post.  I have several "plain" 18th century garments so I decided to make this one a little fancier.  I needed something to wear to the SAR Patriot's Ball and we wanted to go in period attire.  I simply didn't have time to do my silk gown that I have planned.  This gown, while fancied up a bit, would still not be considered to be a ball gown.  Multicolored cotton chintz was expensive in the day but it was still very much for day wear.  This might have been more appropriate for a daytime country dance.

This gown is made from the J.P. Ryan Robe L'Anglaise (English Gown) pattern.  The petticoat is made using this tutorial which is my standard petticoat method.

I decided to add boning to the center back which was an optional thing in the pattern.  I think it helps the back to lie more smoothly.  I just ripped out a little of the stitching that secured the lining to the bodice, ran running stitches in the lining catching the seam allowance to make the boning channels and slipped in two 18 inch pieces of steel boning.  Then I stitched the neckline back up.

As far as the upgrades go--First I added ruched trim around the neckline.  I cut strips 1 3/4 inches wide with a rotary cutter then trimmed them with pinking shears.  I decided to do the gathering and attaching in one step.  Basically I did this by tacking down the end, taking 3 running stitches on the trim alone, pulling them tight then taking a back stitch through the trim and bodice to anchor it.  I did this around the neck.  I didn't know how much trim I would need so I just seamed it together as I went along.

 Next I added sleeve ruffles.  I used the Mill Farm pattern for embroidered sleeve flounces and I just cut them with pinking shears, stacked them, gathered and stitched them in the sleeves.  I covered the raw edges with cotton twill tape.  I added bows out of silk ribbon and temporarily basted in some removable lace flounces I had made from antique lace to dress it up a bit.

 I decided to wear the gown as a polonaise so I made fabric covered buttons in period using bone button forms.  I found a perfect motif in the fabric print to use as the focal point on the buttons, cut circles twice the diameter plus 5 mm and ran gathering stitches around the circle pulling it tight to cover.  You can see the front and back of the buttons below.  These were stitched to the side back seams.  Silk ribbon loops were stitched inside which are looped over the buttons to drape the skirt.  It can be worn up or left down.

Lastly, I made a matching petticoat.  Typically I use 60 inch wide fabric and cut two lengths for a petticoat.  This allows me to put the pocket slits in the side seams. This fabric was 42 inches wide however so I had to cut three lengths and cut the fabric for the pocket slits.  I rolled the hem on the pocket slits and made thread bars at the bottom of the slit to keep it from splitting.  I made a 4 inch box pleat in the center front with 1/2 inch pleats going around to a 4 inch inverted box pleat at center back.  The petticoat is bound with 1 inch linen tape whip stitched on the inside and the outside.

I decided to make a nice pearl bracelet to wear since I was going to be dressed up.

I made a little hair ornament with silk ribbon and small ostrich feathers which I pinned in my wig.  The gown was worn over the matching petticoat, a medium weight linen petticoat, traditional linen 18th century shift, J.P. Ryan strapless stays, silk clocked stockings and white Dunmore shoes by the American Duchess. I also pinned a silk ribbon bow to the neckline. The wig is The Duchess by The Historical Hairdresser and the jewelry, which includes the bracelet, a lover's eye pendant and pearl and crystal drop earrings were made by yours truly.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

English Gown, take 1

I finished my English Gown last week.  This is the J.P. Ryan pattern.  It's pretty straightforward as it is a solid front with no stomacher.  Altering this pattern was a little difficult however due to the fact that there are no side seams.  The bodice is one piece for the front, side and side back then there is a narrow center back piece.  After careful measuring with my stays, I ended up combining two sizes, which meant buying 2 patterns.  I used the 8 on the bust and the 10 for the waist and sleeves.  I chose not to follow the construction directions however as they instruct you to make up the bodice with the sleeves and to do the same with the lining, then bag the lining.  This is not a period correct construction and since I was making this garment completely by hand, I decided to go with accurate construction methods.

I followed this article for setting in the sleeves and constructing the bodice.  Basically, I constructed the bodice without the shoulder straps and sleeves and the lining the same way.  I stitched them together at the center front then I stitched the lining shoulder strap in.  The sleeves are lined and put in at this point with the bottom of the sleeve attached seam inside.  Then the seam is shifted to the outside and stitched on top of the shoulder strap.  Three pleats are put in the back of the sleeve cap to make the sleeve fit.  After the sleeve is attached, the fashion fabric shoulder strap is attached.

Bodice seams were sewn with a combination stitch comprised of running stitches with an occasional backstitch.  The sleeves were attached with backstitches for strength.  Long skirt seams were sewn with running stitches.  The skirt and shoulder straps were attached with lapped seams with whip stitches.   The skirt pleats were formed freehand--something I've gotten quite good at doing.  I'm pleased with the final result.  Due to time constraints I chose to use hook and eye tape which takes away from the authenticity of this gown.  Otherwise, it's dead on correct.  I also regret not putting boning at the center back.

The materials used were:  Williamsburg cotton print from Renaissance Fabrics, white linen for lining from Burnley and Trowbridge, silk thread, steel boning, hook & eye tape.   Petticoat materials:  cotton matelasses from Renaissance Fabrics,  linen tape from Burnley and Trowbridge.

Front shoulder strap

back shoulder strap showing sleeve pleats

front facing with hook & eye tape

lining sewn to skirt

back bodice showing skirt pleats

sleeve lining

I wore the gown over a matelasse petticoat which was worn for warmth.  It had enough body to not need a hip roll.  The matelasse was 60 inches wide so I used two lengths, sewed the side seams with a running stitch and tacked down the pocket openings.  I pleated the top using fewer but larger pleats than normal--a 4 inch box pleat in the center front and a 4 inch inverted box pleat at the center back.  Typically I would have about 26 pleats in the front but I had about 10.   The top was bound with 1 inch wide linen tape whip stitched to the outside and inside of the petticoat.

front pleats

back pleats

Here are the pics of the gown:

At the Carlyle House in Old Town Alexandria VA

With my soldier