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Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

I've been plugging away at the purple silk Robe Anglaise that I started at the workshop set up by Burnley & Trowbridge. Last week, I spent at least 12 hours fussing over the skirt pleats. I'd made one of these gowns years ago and the memory of pleating had become delightfully forgotten. Those pleats were a true pain (and memory came back of the agony beforehand)! When I finally got something I could live with, I stitched the pleats together (though I have not sewn them in the gown yet).  I also finished most of the hemming.

Then there were the sleeves...

We draped the sleeves in class, but there was no really connection between the independent fitting efforts for the sleeves and the gown--so they needed to be refitted to match when setting them. Fortunately, joslinm  came over Saturday, we had a fun time with dinner & the guys and she fit one sleeve for me.

Sunday I worked at basting both in place--first, carefully marking where the fabric met, cutting it back and then replicating the fit on the other sleeve. There was a complicated bit about setting them differently on the top from the bottom, which I never realized when I made my last gown. I took my time, basted it in place and brought it to my sewing circle meeting last night.

My friend debbiedoodle  is one of the most knowledgeable people I know on the 18th century clothing--and she looked right at the sleeve and instantly realized I set the sleeves incorrectly--sliding them over (instead of under) at the top, and the opposite on the bottom. 


Well, at least it isn't the hardest thing in the world to fix. I'm pretty sure I reversed it somehow when I worked on it last Sunday.  I'll re-baste it, put in my final stitching and chalk it up to experience.

Debbie is making a gown for herself, so we had fun checking out the accessories she's got planned and discussing how to trim mine (my latest thought is that fairly simple is most period correct, which she said was right for mid 1780s). 

So, back to work! This weekend, however, I have a photography workshop--so I may not finish this one until next week. Then on to making another gown (my plan is to make another so I remember what I've done).


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 10th, 2011 12:51 pm (UTC)
You're keeping a diary of your work, right? With photos, too?

About the sleeve-setting, let me see if I understand this correctly: If you placed the sleeve over instead of under at the top, and under instead of over at the bottom, then right or wrong there's a point on the armscye where robe and sleeve just barely meet as the sleeve transitions from one position (under) to the other (over)?
Is that right?
Aug. 10th, 2011 03:29 pm (UTC)
Yes--there are places in the front and back where the seam flips. When I returned from class, I started looking at pics of period sleeves and that little lump is often visible. I don't think anyone knows why, but I think it might be to allow stronger stitches under the armpit. I'll take pictures when I sew it, which should be clearer.
Aug. 10th, 2011 07:03 pm (UTC)
I hope you'll take photos and share them in your journal! I find I'm now *veeerrrrrry* interested in seeing how these sleeves go into the armscye and how they work, and in seeing the little bumps.

By the way, I mentioned a diary with photos because I was thinking a detailed, photo-illustrated dress diary with lots of "I did this in this manner because...." notes, of the entire mantua-making process would make a good reference 'book.'

Was this "sleeve under at the top and over at the bottom" an American phenomenon; English; French; European?
Aug. 14th, 2011 04:12 am (UTC)
I'm glad you found an "expert" to help you along. Trying to do stuff on my own rarely works, but I fudge along.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )