Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Williamsburg print gown (aka yet another floral print robe à l'Anglaise)

Can you already tell I'm crazy about cotton prints?

Honestly, after finishing my latest cotton print robe à l'Anglaise I hadn't been planning making yet another floral print gown. There are definitely other projects on my to-do list that I ought to be working on right now. But then Renaissance Fabrics started offering Williamsburg reproduction print cottons and I could not stop myself from getting some 5 yards of this trailing blossoms print in blue because I loved it so much.


This gown was made using Fig Leaf Patterns 101. You can find photos of the original gown, which the pattern is based on, on Pinterest. I simplified the construction a bit so I left the back facing out and decided not to use the large box pleats just because I prefer the look of smaller pleats.



I also decided to close the gown with pins, after using hooks and eyes for the closure method for my center front closing gowns for a few years. I had tried using pins to close gowns a long time ago when I was just starting out with 18th century costume making but I never liked pinning because I thought it was much easier and faster to close a gown with hooks and eyes. However, I found out that pinning hadn't gotten any easier by now. I especially had problems closing the gown at the waist level so that the back would fit closely/tightly enough. I tried stitching tapes to the back of the waist on the inside of the gown to tie in the front in order to keep the back in place but it didn't work out for me, resulting in awful wrinkling of the fabric in the back. So I added lacing plackets to the lining on the front to make pinning easier, as the lacing helps to keep the bodice tight around the body.


There's an extra 1/2 inch on the other side of the center front for adjustability (see photo below). What I'm loving about lacing+pinning is that you can lace yourself into your stays more or less tightly depending on how you feel and that it doesn't matter if you loose or gain a bit of weight over time. 


I first sewed the lacing plackets to the lining only but then started worrying that the linen might stretch due to the pull of the lacing so I decided to stitch through the cotton as well, so that the stitches are visible on the outside. It's not as obvious in the photos as it is in reality. While looking at extant floral cotton gowns, I was really excited to find out that one extant from Met definitely has stitches on the front of the gown so it might be closed in the same manner as mine. 

The plackets have bones in them on both sides of the lacing, in order to and support the eyelets as well as to stop the front from puckering too much .


What I'm not loving so much is that the floral pattern is unintentionally repeated on both sides of the front. Oh well. I never try to match my prints on seams as it wasn't done as economical cutting was usually more important for such cotton or linen gowns


Plus, of course you want to show off your beautiful seaming, especially in the back! 


The back is actually constructed of only two pieces and the seams next to center back seam are achieved with tucks. The lining is without them. 


The gown is worn with my 1770s/1780s underwear



If you're thinking about purchasing this pattern, I say go for it. It comes with a wonderful instructions booklet which I found to be very comprehensive, with everything from information, photos and research about the original gown to general sewing instructions, fitting tips, construction etc. I would imagine this would even be great as your first 18th century gown in case you're just starting out 18th century costume making. 


Also, I think this dress would work the best with a pair of stays like this, without a dramatic difference between waist and bust measurements. I wear a more curvy type of 1780s stays with this dress so I had to add width to the pattern on the front of the bust. However, there are instructions for making such alterations to the pattern in the booklet, so of course you can wear any type of stays you like, but I thought I'd mention that anyhow.

The only suggestion I have is to make the sleeves smaller than in the pattern, since I found them to be really roomy, especially for a period when sleeves are more tight-fitting than earlier.  And I'm a person with a large arms, often resulting in having to cut the sleeves in the next size by comparison to the bodice size. A nifty thing about the sleeves is that there's a triangle piece under the arm, which allows for movement so this is especially great in case you're going to dance or work while wearing the dress.


I've already had two chances to wear this gown. Here's a teaser of how it looks when worn, until I get around doing a proper photoshoot and posting about it... This photo was taken at L'Amusette's spring ball that had an oriental theme.


16 comments:

  1. What a wonderful dress! Gorgeous pattern ans fabric, love the blue ...God - I'm afraid I must make one myself...

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    1. Thank you! I very much recommend the pattern so I hope you do make one, it would be fun to see other versions of this! :)

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  2. I understand why you had to buy this fabric - it's so pretty! And I think the blue petticoat goes very well with it.
    I do own the Fig Leaf pattern but always hesitated to use it, because there's so much information in the booklet and I'm so bad at deciding. Now that I know how nice it can turn out I might finally do it!

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    1. Yes, I simply couldn't pass this fabric! :) And I'm terrible at deciding, too. That's why it so hard to start sewing anything so I feel you. And once I have a clear vision of what I want to make, it difficult to start because I'm afraid the result won't match the vision properly. But I do hope you'll make this dress at some point anyhow! :) Before purchasing the pattern I actually tried searching for photos of this gown made up on Google and in some Facebook groups because it helps to see how it looks finished so I could be sure it's good but didn't find anything.

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  3. Lovely, as usual! Also, a very comprehensive review of the pattern you used and the unusual qualities about it. :)

    Best,
    Quinn

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    1. Thank you! :) I'm surprised you think it was comprehensive - I could have said so much more! ;)

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  4. Gorgeous! The inside of the gown is finished beautifully too! Can't wait to see additional photos of it being worn.
    -Emily

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    1. Thank you! :) I'm afraid it might take a while until I get to take some photos of this gown being worn because I want to make some new accessories for the photoshoot but I'm hoping to get it done before the summer is gone!

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  5. LA LA!!! The heavens are opening up, angels are singing, that fabric is GAWGEOUS! (That's a word, right?) Love the simplicity of it, it shows off the fabric and your awesome back seams at an advantage. I am a complete sucker for that perfect cotton print, particularly because my home town basically never as any :(

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    1. Thank you! :D The back is my favorite this about this gown! :) When it comes to historical dress, finding good cotton prints locally is basically impossible for me, too, but luckily there are places online that offer them. :)

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  6. Oh, that's a gorgeous anglaise. And kudos on pinning it front. I still working on pinning stomachers without pinning where it really hurts.

    I do have a question though. How economical did you need to cut your 5 yards with this pattern? Did you have much fabric left over or was it merely scraps?

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    1. Thank you! I have to admit I'm not a big fan of pinning either. I always have to ask someone to help me pin this gown closed or at least have a mirror. Anyhow, I ended up using almost all of the fabric. There's just enough left so I can cut new sleeves + some small scraps. I'm quite short (158cm), though, so I usually don't need that much fabric. I can squeeze such a plain gown from just 4 meters (that would be without train). I'm currently working with a dress with a matching petticoat from 6 meters, we'll see how much of the planned trim I'll have to leave out because there's not a lot of fabric.

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  7. Lovely! I've recently been working on a gown in which I added lacing under the front. (Hate pinning, too! lol). It's nice to see your review of how that worked for you. Thanks for sharing!

    Caroline

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    1. Thank you! And I look forward to hearing how lacing works out for you! It certainly helped me! :) (I think my next gown will have hooks and eyes again though!)

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  8. Aaaaah, lovely-lovely!!! Fantastic print and the gown itself's so very stylish!

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