Last year around this time I fell in love with a dress from a painting by Louis Rolland Trinquesse.
Since I’ve never done a proper Robe à la Polonaise, I decided to try and make this one.
The gown that inspired me, is described by its museum as “the apogee of the form [of the robe à la française].”
That description alone made this gown such an ambitious project. It intimidated me and it still does. But it also challenged me. I am doing a court gown out of lampas silk for the same reason – if I spend so much time on a project… why not go all out?
So how was it made….
I took ages to finish the stomacher. Not only has this thing a hook and eye closure, it also turned out to be too large. This is weird since it was the same stomacher that I used on the pet en l’air. But I think the Francaise requires the stomacher to sit higher at the bottom and thus it sat way too high on my chest area.
Just to give you idea how much time I spend on that stomacher – I binged-listened to 8 episodes of 50-minutes-an-episode tv show. (Although that might have slowed me down a bit.)
I also did the ties that hold up the train if the terrain makes it necessary.
So basically I finished the base Francaise. What I have is entirely wearable if a bit too plain.
But to rectify this I have started on my sleeve ruffles and thus the first part of what I count as the dreaded trim.
But to be fair, the challenge with the trim is that all of it has a pinked “scallops within scallops” edge. Now I have a pinking iron but – as previously mentioned on this blog – very little idea how I get it to work.
But I have found away around it, It involved pinking scissors with tiny scallops, drawing all the small scallops on the fabric and a lot of time.
Another challenge was that my dream gown has weird sleeve ruffles. I have no idea how wide they really are but I suspect that they are very wide. That theory has led to altering Janet Arnold’s pattern quite interestingly:
I have not put them together yet, so this might actually still turn out to be horrible (and a waste of fabric). We will see.
In retrospect, I would have been better off with the metric system… 2 yards of pink silk taffeta were just not enough but 2 metres would have been. I wonder if I am not going to end up agreeing with Janet Arnold’s take on the Francaise… that it is the easier type of gown to make. (If I ever make one of my own.) I guess the mass of fabric is bound to be unwieldy but the fit is much easier to handle. And having made this, I know where I can improve the fit – more shoulders/arms, less waist.
But this jacket also gave me some insight into the the scariest part of my planned Francaise – the self-trim. I didn’t actually need a lot of trim for this jacket… I forewent the trim at the bottom hem (even though this is pretty common with pet en l’airs (although there are quite a number without it) and the trim on the robings just went straight down. There is an exceptionally good reason for that although I didn’t document it well….
The robings had different widths on each side. I am not sure how I managed this – and how I failed to notice until fairly late into doing the stomacher actually. The stomacher had a few real life inspirations:
I was kind of floundering what to do with the stomacher trim, except that the stomacher’s purpose was to close the entire jacket through its middle with hooks and eyes. (I am not a fan of pinning a stomacher closed.) So I went through my copy of Fashion and spotted my fabric’s distant color cousin and was convinced that it would be perfect pattern-wise. I was working with my two-yard leftover yardage at this point (which was just assorted bits and bobs), so I didn’t have enough length with what I thought was the necessary full width. But then I found this:
And this is how I ended up with this compere stomacher with a false button closure.
I didn’t document making this one until now. And it’s a bit of a trial run for a francaise. The pattern is actually identical to the francaise pattern I would work with if I was making one. (Janet Arnold’s Francaise with a compere stomacher, scaled up to my height and shortened to hip length.)
It’s been easier than I thought it would be, aside from something really funny… I worked with two yards of leftover silk taffeta. This went well until I hit to trim. But then I had a very specific idea of the trim. So I basically went through the jacket itself in a weekend and am stuck on the issue of the trim for two weeks. I have the sleeve ruffles so far and this:
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