Finishing the robe de cour

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I finished the court gown. And yes, I ended up adding a small train.I was out of my original fabric (which I knew from the very beginning) so I just used a gold-colored silk taffeta. I kept it short so it could be actually worn in public without causing accidents, leaving it to drag on the ground a little (it was lined) but not by much. So in the end, it did end up being a grand habit de cour.

As you can see, it was worn at the Fetes Galantes 2016 in Versailles (not by me though) and people did step on it. Everytime they did I was so glad, they didn’t step on the petticoat and thus my precious Lampas fabric. (Priorities.)

 

As I didn’t wear, it I can’t quite comment on how comfortable it truly is. The wearer said it was quite comfortable and it actually fit her nearly perfectly (we have similar sizes but not identical ones, so I guess the boned bodice does do some magic). It’s obviously not a dress to do work in (no reaching for high shelves) but working in that dress would obviously be missing the point by a mile anyway.

To be fair, the skirt is not super-wide, the train was short and no high mules were worn which eliminated some of the challenges that are often cited as problematic with the grand habit de cour. Ironically, even in Versailles (the birthplace of the grand habit) some of the doors aren’t wide enough. The doors at the state apartments are okay but the second you go to the opera or any of the small apartments it was all “sideways please”.

Also, one of the reason I didn’t wear it (I wore the blue francaise) is that it is difficult, perhaps even impossible, to get dressed in it without someone helping who knows what they are doing. Due to the closure I ended up having on the skirt and the fact that the petticoat is both under and over the bodice, the process was a bit complicated. You have to close the bodice nearly shut, then put on the petticoat, hook it into the ribbon over the tabs but under the front and back and then close the bodice completely. And then pin or sew the fashion fabric over the lacing shut. But once you put on the bodice, you cease to be very flexible with your arms, so the easiest way of dealing with that was to help someone else into the dress. And keep an eye on the back not unpinning itself. (Which it obviously did.)

What really impressed me though was the shape the bodice gave the body of the wearer who has never worn anything like that in their lives. And yet, it looked exactly like it should. Obviously, it being basically a fully boned pair of stays helped. But I do think that the Janet Arnold-approved fishtail layout of the boning in the front and the boned shoulder straps made a decisive difference in distinguishing it from the more blocky look that you get if you just simply copy the boning layouts of the 1660s dresses.

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On a more practical note, fray checking the silk gauze was probably the best idea I ever had.

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3 thoughts on “Finishing the robe de cour

  1. That fabric is gorgeous! How much of the both fabrics did you have? I’m trying to figure out how much I should buy for a gown like this, and your gown is just about the width I was thinking about making it in. (Not too wide – for practicality)

    • The main fabric of the petticoat and bodice was cut and sown into a circle with a diameter of 2.5 metres when I purchased it. The fabric was such a lucky find that this didn’t really bother me. It does make translating it into standard fabric widths kind of difficult though but I will try to give some usable info.

      I started the project calculating how I would get the widest petticoat possible. I then cut the hypothetical leftovers from the “unuseable” sides of the circle. The finished petticoat I got in the end has a circumference of 3.2 metres and a height of exactly 1 metre at the centre back (which is my standard petticoat height.) The train has length of 1.25 metres and uses the full fabric of 1.37 metres in its width. Since it’s supposed to be worn draped over the petticoat, the style of the draping might require a greater length. The wider the petticoat, the longer the train needs to be.

      I cannot really tell much fabric the bodice uses but it should be a little bit more than what you would use for a pair of stays both for the fashion fabric and the lining. If you do the floofy sleeves, you also need fabric as a base on which to mount the floof. Here you have to calculate how much fabric your 18th century standard sleeves usually need, it should be roughly around the same amount of fabric. As for the silk gauze for the floof, I think I ordered two yards and still have some left over. I hope some of this info helps.

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