Musings of a Lady

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Le Modiste: Pet en l'air in the works

In the spirit of continuing to learn how to drape and work a gown by hand, I have begun another project worth sharing.  During the past holidays I began working with my sewing mentor Cynthia on draping and putting together a pet en l'air bodice and skirt.  This is an earlier fashion of the 18th century which I never thought I would wear as I am partial to the 1780's-1790's.  But, as I would like to make a Brunswick outfit in the near future and there is an 18th century dinner event coming up in February, I thought I would go with it and continue to build my hand sewing skills via the pet en l'air.  My inspiration has been:

Pet-en-l’air jacket ca. 1780-1790 via Manchester City Galleries

Listed as a Caraco, 1775.  The petticoat is 1720- Kyoto Museum

Victoria and Albert Museum collection
Caraco jacket, LACMA, c. 1760 (altered 1780)
Though a couple of these images are listed as Caraco's, the trimmings and shape are similar to the pet en l'air.  Like many fashion trends over the centuries, different countries and cultures adapted fashion styles and gave them different names.  So, often times you can look up pet en l'air and you will get images of caraco's and casaquin as well.

I was down in Los Angeles, California in November and a friend of mine took me to the 'Garment District'.  This fantastic place of store after store of wholesale and retail fabric and trims is an overwhelming but fun place to get fabric at good prices and quality stuffs.  I live in the north of California where we don't have access to such a wealth of resources for sewing other than online shopping which is just not as satisfying as spending hours feeling-up textiles and trims!  Anyway, I was overwhelmed and couldn't decide what I wanted to buy for the pet en l'air and eventually the Brunswick, too.  So, I took swatches - yes, they give you hunks of swatches for the asking - and took them home to make my decision.  So, I decided on a beautiful deep, slate blue silk taffeta and a grey embroidered taffeta.  I am grateful to my friend who was willing to brave the drive to downtown LA and get the fabric for me and mail it up to me in record time! Take a look...

The blue taffeta to the left - it is a beautiful midnight blue - probably shot with black to give it its rich hue  - which I am told may not be very 'period' for 1770's.  The right piece is the embroidered grey.

Close up of the embroidered grey.  This looks blue but it is a nice pale pewter grey.
The blue taffeta is a dream to work on but the raw edges fray if you look at it.  The embroidered taffeta is beautiful, has a lot of body (stiff where the embroidery is heaviest) and that complicates working with it by hand but is still doable.  The embroidery is like tambour work and stiffens the fabric under it.  However, both fabrics together is a really nice combination.

I had to purchase hip buckets - again, this is not a period I usually do, so, that was an additional item I had to get to make this work.  Where did I get them?  I got them from Smiling Fox Forge. Yes, I could have totally made them but I didn't have the time since the dress is needed for the 1st weekend in February.  

At this point, I am trying to decide on the trimmings.  Again, I am running out of time...I hate sewing under pressure...but I can make simple trimmings to make do for the event then upgrade later.  
Any suggestions from you all as to the type of decorative trimmings I should use for the stomacher, robings and bodice skirt hem? Yes, I have my inspirations that I shared with you but there are other options that might be fun to have.  Send me links and ideas - I would totally love it!

Next Post:  Updates on the Pet en l'air and/or a 1930's day dress.  A great resource for re-enactors, esp.  18th century.

1 comment:

Laura said...

I’ve nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blog Award: