This looked like an easy gown to make. The trim stood out as being the most labor intensive part. After studying this illustration, I concluded this to be made like an Italian gown. While I was unable to see the back of the gown to determine whether or not it has the quarter back which is a feature of the Italian gown, the shape appeared to be the same--the extra full skirt which large hip pads.The sleeves are not really visible so I was unable to determine their style other than the fact that they are trimmed with sheer trimming. Italian gowns have a two-piece sleeve.
So to make this gown, I decided to make the gown with a quarter back based on this extant:
I used the lining to draft a new bodice. I had previously converted this pattern to a center front closing gown (profiled in this post.) You could really use any English gown pattern for this. The gown in the above photo appears to have no side seam. The shoulder strap also lines up with the side back seams.
I laid my bodice pattern pieces out--back and fronts--pinning them together at the side seams then I traced them onto Swedish tracing paper to have one bodice pattern piece.
Then I drew lines where I wanted the two side back seams. I laid the shoulder strap on top to make sure that the side back seams would line up with the shoulder strap.
Then I traced the side back pieces, adding the seam allowances. I pinned the pieces back together to check that they were cut correctly.
Fitting time! I sewed the bodice pieces together including the shoulder straps. I turned up the bottom seam allowance and turned in the neck hem.
The bodice fit the way I expected it to so I cut it out in the fashion fabric (silk taffeta) and the lining.
The center back seam and the adjacent side back seams were stitched together using the English Stitch --also known as the "Stitch with No Name." The outermost side back seams were stitched with spaced back stitches (Prick Stitch) as that appears how the extant in the picture above is sewn. The lining shoulder straps were also stitched on.
I folded the top edge in by 3/8 inch and made a facing strip out of the fashion fabric which was whip stitched to the lining.
Then the sleeves and shoulder straps were applied. The sleeves were sewn to the pattern instructions. The straps and the sleeve linings were stitched on using the Point a Rabbetre Sous la Main stitch.
I decided to trim the sleeves before adding the skirts so I wouldn't have to handle such a large volume of fabric. I wanted the trim to be extra full. The sleeve diameter is 12 inches so I cut two 48 inch long strips that were 5 inches wide. I stitched each strip into a loop using a tiny mantua maker's seam and roll hemmed the edges.
I ran gathering stitches down the center of each loop and 1/2 inch from each edge. Before drawing up the gathers, I marked the halfway points of each piece. I matched the seam in the trim withe the sleeve seam, drew up the gathers to fit.
Then after evenly distributing the gathers, I used a large spaced back stitch along the gathering lines to stitch the trim to the sleeve. The lowest gathering line was right at the edge of the sleeve.
Before proceeding to the skirt, I needed to make the bum pads. I followed the instructions in the new American Duchess Book for that. I bought feathers on Amazon for the stuffing. I used 1/4 pound for each pillow. I also went ahead and made a petticoat to fit over the bum pads. The petticoat is ankle length.
I used 2 and 1/2 fabric widths (fabric width was 56 inches) for the skirt. I had a 28 inch panel in the middle with a 56 inch panel on each side. The panels were stitched together using a narrow mantua maker's seam and the front edges were turned in and stitched. Then I pleated them. I started with a large inverted back pleat in the center back (4 inches total width) followed by 1/2 inch pleats all facing toward the back. The first few pleats overlap the inverted box pleat. The pleats were pinned in place.
I checked the measurements to make sure that the skirt was pleated to the measurement I wanted. Then the skirt was pinned to my blocking board.
I basted up the bodice waist seam allowance then laid the bodice over the skirt, placing a pin on the center back pleat where the bodice point reaches. I then cut a slit in the center back skirt to about a half inch above that pin. The slit allowed me to angle the back pleats outward a bit.
I stitched the bodice to the skirt using applique stitches. The front part of the lining was pinned out of the way for stitching. The skirt seam allowances were folded out of the way and the remaining bodice lining was turned in and stitched in place using the Point a Rabbetre Sous la Main stitch.
Here is the gown so far:
I tried the gown on to determine the hem. The entire gown drags as in the fashion plate. The center back was cut a little longer to form a train. The hem was stitched in place with a running stitch.
Now onto the trim. Using the same silk organza as the sleeve trim, I cut 3 - 8 1/2 inch wide strips across the width of fabric. I used 1.5 fabric widths for each trim piece. The fashion plate trim is narrower at the top so I angle the top 30 inches of trim down to 4 1/2 inches. This gives a 2:1 ratio for the gathering/pleating. I roll hemmed each strip on all 4 edges and I stitched two parallel lines of gathering stitches down the middle of each strip.
I started to gather the first strip and immediately knew that it would not have the look I wanted due to the crispness of the organza. So I flattened the gathers out then marked the trim strip at the quarter points. I also marked the gown skirt fronts at the quarter points. The trim strips were pinned onto the gown at the quarter points then I started just freehand pleating the centers of the strip and pinning them in place. The edge of the trim extended beyond the skirt edge by 1/2 inch. Once the trim was pleated, I stitched it in place along the lines, making sure to catch each pleat.
For the puffing strips, I played around with the organza to determine the size of puff I wanted. 3 inches seemed to have the right proportions. I cut two strips 10 inches wide and the full fabric width. I folded the long edge of each strip over the center pinning in place. I did not press this in place because I didn't want a fold along the edge.
I marked a line across the strip using tailor's chalk at 4 inch intervals. The end was gathered and stitched to the waist seam on the gown in the center of the pleated ruffle.
I placed pins on the pleated ruffle at 3 inch intervals to mark where the puffs would be stitched to the ruffle. Each line on the puffing strip was gathered tightly then stitched in place. The bottom of the trim was turned to the inside of the gown and stitched in place. The gown was basically finished but I still wasn't happy with the way the ruffle lay. You can see in the photo above how it has lose gathers which are very puffy. I steamed it to flatten out the ruffle and that did the trick. I made an organza tucker following the directions in the American Duchess book and whip stitched it to the gown lining.
I still need to trim the petticoat and I will write a separate post when I get around to doing so. I wore this gown with an Italian organdy cap, collet necklaces and earrings from Dames a la Mode and white satin Dunsmore shoes. It was worn over a medium weight white linen petticoat and a matching silk petticoat.
Over all, I'm quite pleased with this gown. I still have about 2 1/2 yards of silk left which I will use to line a black velvet mantel.