Here’s a touch of Throw-Back-Thursday as I look at past projects and commissions. This lovely gown en fourreau was made in a 1770s style in medium weight printed cotton. I had spotted a gown made of identical fabric (white ground with repeating blue floral and butterfly motifs) featured in the Milliner’s Shop at Colonial Williamsburg about ten years ago so when I stumbled upon new yardage at a local fabric shop a year later, I scooped it right up.
My dear friend A.T. was the lucky recipient of this made-to-order gown and matching petticoat – both with self-fabric trim and blue silk bows on the sleeves. I’ve been hunting my photo files for closer views of the gown but thus far… no luck! However, I do remember that all of the trimming was made up of gathered ‘poufs.’ Strips of fabric were torn from selvedge to selvedge in varying widths according to where it would be placed on the gown. The bodice trimming used strips that were probably about 1.5″ to 2″ wide and each long edge was turned under and secured with a running stitch before gathering into the ‘poufs’ every 1.5″ or so.
The gown skirt started with trimming of the same width at the waist. As the trim progressed in S-curves along the front edges, I used slightly wider trimming. It’s hard to be sure, but from looking at the photo, the trimming strips were probably cut as wide as 4″ by the time I was trimming the lowest portions of the skirt. That same size of trimming is also used on the matching petticoat.
As with most of the gowns that I was commissioned with, only a few seams were sewn by machine. The bodice lining seams, the armsyce, the skirt sides and the petticoat sides are typically the few that see machine stitches. The remainder were sewn by hand and at the time I was making this gown and others, it was usually taking about 8-10 hours to complete a basic gown and 3 hours to complete a basic petticoat. I wish I could remember how long it took to do all that trimming but alas… no idea!!!
The sleeve ruffles added just the right finishing touch to the gown and I got lucky finding a blue silk satin ribbon that matched the print exactly. Speaking of the print – although they don’t show up in this fragment, there were indeed butterflies mixed in to the print and it still makes me smile when I find bits and pieces among my scrap bags!