Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Versailles Progress, or Internal Panic

 I've been having a pretty productive sewing month, and I'm starting to freak out. Because I'm having the most productive sewing month I've had all year, and I'm still no ready to start construction on my robe a la francaise. If I can stay productive this week (and get my stays almost done/wearable for fittings), I can start cutting, fitting, and sewing my gown with four weeks until I need to take it on a plane to France. And I am likely to be on the road for work without access to most of my materials (although I can bring some hand sewing) for two of those four weeks.

Thus the internal silent screams.

this face about sums it up, and is rather on point
That said, I am making progress! I am in the process of stitching the lining to the exterior layers of my stays (then they just need lacing holes to be useful), and I have completed a shift (my first time making gussets!). I've also started testing out hair products--more on that in their own post.

I am using the JP Ryan pattern for half-boned stays for a fashionable shape, because it was the only stays pattern I found with straps. However, I am using the instructions from Hallie Larkin's stays pattern (which some of the cohort are using for their stays) for more historically accurate construction. Following this method, I assembled each piece individually, tacked down the seam allowance, and whip stitched the pieces together. Then I assembled a separate lining layer and am stitching that by hand to the inside, hiding all the seam messiness, before adding lacing holes and binding the edges. I machine-sewed the boning channels but am doing most of the rest by hand. This seemed reasonable when I started, but now that I'm freaking out about time I realize I probably should have done the modern (faster!) assembly system and saved the more accurate construction for a future pair...whoops. They seem to fit and be pretty comfortable--the horizontal boning on the front seems to offer some extra support, which is great as I am rather large-bosomed. I can't wait to actually lace them on and see!

stay pieces cut and marked (using heat-dissolving Frixion pens)
the assembled stays before I finished trimming the bones (plastic zip ties)
the stays and lining ready to be attached
My shift is cotton muslin and was constructed using the shift in Costume Close-Up as a guide. I found insanely wide (90 inches!) fabric by chance, so I was able to cut the main body piece strategically with the selvage as the hem. Hooray for not having to hem! I included the skirt gore in my main body piece, as my fabric could accommodate the larger width, and made gussets for the first time. 
This project ended up being a breeze (hooray!), so I was done in an afternoon. That also meant I finished my shift in March, and could use it as my HSM entry for the "protection" challenge.


my first gusset!
 Then I was feeling so great about my progress I shifted gears for a couple of days to make a Regency chemisette...and then I got sick and couldn't sew for a week. Now I'm better and trying to get back on track. Cross your fingers for me! I have a feeling May is going to be full of late nights. 


Still To Do:
under petticoat
visible petticoat
francaise gown
paint shoes

At least it will give me a good excuse to catch up on television...


  1. So much to do, and time is flying! Ack!


  2. You can do it! This is what I keep telling myself, too, as I am 1 1/2 weeks from my 18th century event deadline, am now binding my stays (may not line them until after the event), still have to make a petticoat, AND haven't yet cut out the gown. But since the gown--a chemise a la reine--is based on my Regency pattern (don't ask), I know I can put it together in a week. This weekend will be packed with sewing.
    Can't wait to see how your stays turn out. I bought the JP Ryan pattern too, but decided to go with one from Corsets & Crinolines this time. So curious to see your Francaise plans, too!

    1. Thank you!! I can't wait to see your dress and hear about construction--it will be awesome! And I will definitely post more about the JP Ryan pattern after I've been able to wear the stays and can decide how I feel about them. I made their fully-boned stays pattern in high school, and found it very uncomfortable, though it's hard to judge how much of that was the pattern and how much of that was my lack of sewing experience/skills.