Musings of a Lady

Monday, October 8, 2012

Le Modiste: En fourreau or English back - Part 1

100% Linen, Indian Printed.  Oatmeal ground.
One project I have always wanted to do is a totally hand-sewn gown.  That particular dream is coming true and I am really excited.  A dear friend is helping me drape on the body and create a polonaise en fourreau gown.  I am using the above linen which I have been coveting at Discount Fabrics in Berkeley, California for a while.  It is 54" wide and I bought about 4 to 5 yards.  Should I have been using something from my 'stash'?  Absolutely!  Yet, I just couldn't resist.  In fact I consciously decided that if I am going to put that much work into it I might as well use something nice and that would encourage me to keep up with the project.

The first thing we did was to drape the front of the bodice over the corset.  The front bodice piece includes the side back, so there is no side seam.  Also, the center front is not cut on the straight which I found interesting as I was always taught to draft on the straight at the center front and back.  With that said, the drape of the fabric does work with the conical shape the corset gives you and there is less to do to make the shape develop.

Once you have the piece cut, (which you can do in muslin which I chose to do instead of actually starting with the fashion fabric), the draped piece becomes the pattern for the both the lining and fashion fabric.

The draped pattern piece.

Hand stitched the fashion fabric and the lining using a whip-stitch.
Whip-stitched the fashion fabric to the lining which was turned so the lining is offset from the edge.

Front pieces done except at the side back seam/shoulder/armhole - will be done later.

The back piece was measured on the body by taking a length of fashion fabric and measuring from the back neck to the waist and wee bit below.  I then created a dart down the center back starting at 1/4" and out to 2" at the waist using a back-stitch.
Center back dart pinned.

Back stitching the center back dart
  • Costume Close-up: Clothing Construction and Pattern 1750-1790, Linda Baumgarten & John Watson with Florine Carr, Costume and Fashion Press QSMC.W 1999
  • Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century Fashion in Detail, Avril Hart and Susan North, Victoria & Albert Publishing, 1998.
  • Cut of Women's Clothes, 1600-1930, Norah Waugh, Theatre Art Books, 1985
  • Costume in Detail, Nancy Bradfield, Plays Inc., 1975

Next up:  Drape and stitch the back pleats of the bodice-skirt.  Also, drape the sleeves and make-up.


Isis said...

Oooh, I'm sure it will be a gorgeous gown! I love the fabric!

Angela said...

Thanks Isis. I am going to put some work on Phase II tonight!

Angela said...

The fabric is beautiful - I can't wait to see the finished gown!

Kleidung um 1800 said...

Beautiful fabric. And you whip stitches are really invisible!


Angela said...

Thank you ladies. Will be posing Phase II soon. I love handwork...I know for many it isn't fun, but I love it.