This year I was a co-host, and I really wanted to sew for it. I faced a lot of challenges including:
- feeling totally incapable of choosing a fabric
- having to make the supportive undergarments as well as the dress
- deciding I wanted to make my husband a costume for the event
- not really starting to sew until the end of January, knowing full well the event was at the beginning of March
- managing the details of the event
- working a full time job
The patterns I used were Simplicity 3637 and 3635. These particular patterns don't seem to be in print anymore but can still be found on ebay and etsy. I picked them up when Joann's was having a 5 for $5 sale.
I will admit I am afraid of more historically correct patterns. I'm terrified that I'll buy one and the directions will read something along the lines of: (1) cut out fabric (2) sew together (3) wear. As my first ever Robe à la Française (I feel the *need* to type the name fancy like that) I thought Simplicity was right up my alley.
So here she is, in all her wrinkled glory (the dress may or may have not been living as a heap on my floor for some time):
It doesn't fit so well on my dress form (apparently her right boob is bigger than her left...) and I'm a little taller, but it's impossible to take a self portrait in this, and I managed to get no really good shot of me the whole evening.
The more down and dirty about the dress behind the jump.
FABRIC: The dress is made of 5-1/2 curtain pannels from Lowes. Not the most budget friendly fabric, but I'm not very good at knowing what to order online. I'm also not lucky in the ways of finding super discount fabric that is just right. I saved ALL the scraps after cutting pieces for trim and the petticoat. Finding ways to tetris peices together saved me from buying another curtain.
TIME: If your new like me, and terrified of this project, I cannot recommend the "how to" up on squidoo enough (http://www.squidoo.com/marie-antoinette-dress-sewing-project). In some ways it'll scare you more (the whole ten month completetion time), but the photos were insanely helpful to me.
This dress, start to finish, took me 30 hours.
ALTERATIONS: You bet your fanny. There are a couple things I did differently. Some saved me time. Some saved me money.
The petticoat is only partially made out of fashion fabric.
This is a side shot of my petticoat You might not be able to tell in this photo, but I also just used premade bias tape at the waist/slits for my pockets. Again, they're not seen. I picked up a color as close as I could to the fashion fabric and said good enough.
Another fun fact about the petticoat, the front is cobbled together using two different squares left over from cutting out other pieces. I don't have a photo of it, but I knew the trim on the petticoat would cover the fact that the pieces didn't have the pattern going in the same direction. So one less curtain pannel to buy.
There are apparently steps about interfacing. I skipped them. All.
This is the inside of my bodice if you would like to compare to what is up on the squidoo tutorial (Step 14).
There's some bit about adding grommets to the lining (I suppose so you can adjust the waist from the inside, I really don't know). I skipped that part, too.
The bodice called for hook and eye closures. But that left a gap. The pattern calls for bows to slapped over it, but I can't admit to loving the bows. So I made a stomacher to pin on.
http://www.koshka-the-cat.com/) has an amazingly helpful how to for draping the pleats if you find yourself working alone. I can't find the exact page, but I will.
Several of us that were attending the dinner got together for a sewing day, and a friend draped the pleats for me. It was decided that I should have a train. Once we were done, we drank lots of tea and watched The Scarlet Pimpernel.
And finally, my trim is different. The great thing about trim is you can do it any way you want. The poofy trim just didn't feel right to me with the design of the fabric. I thought about box pleats, but in the end I settled on gathering fabric
and down the front of the dress
The pettiocat has the same trim (but all one big piece) going across the front. All the trim is made from the scraps I saved. Since you can't tell what's going on with the pattern when it's gathered, I didn't worry about it the pattern was all going in the same direction or not.
EASE OF INSTRUCTIONS: Hard to say. I relied very heavily on the squidoo site. The sleeves were tricky, but sleeves always all. I'd like to note that the pattern had me bag line the sleeves. Only to then attach the flounces. Was there a point to that?
Eventually I will discuss the panniers and the husband's costume, but for now, time for tea.