Francaise Dinner Gown – Part 1

After the lengthy and sad winter thus far, I’m looking forward to some merry-making later in a few short weeks. With friends planning a fabulous Francaise Dinner for March 1st, I’ve pulled out a long neglected project and have spent the evening stitching away.

kyoto blue dress

Kyoto Costume Institute: AC7621 92-34-2AB

I’ve admired this particular dress in the collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute ever since spying it in one of their books close to a decade ago. I had a color copy of the book page pinned to my bulletin board for years and somewhere along the way I picked up ten or so yards of a similar looking Waverly print. Bits and pieces had been cut and prepped – enough so that when I pulled some of it out tonight, I found a completely finished petticoat! Hemmed, waist bound with tape, and even the waist ties are hemmed at their narrow little ends!

The next pleasant surprise was finding that the self-fabric petticoat trim (pleats of two depths) had been cut to size, joined, and all edges pressed under. All that was lovely (and probably accounted for 3 hours sometime in the past) but it did mean that I was able to get straight to pleating and attaching trim tonight.

Here’s the first go round!close up of pinned pleats

The photo is quite yellow but one can see the deeper of the two pleated bands starting to take shape. The pleated band is 14″ tall and the first step was creating repeating box pleats about 1″ wide with an equal amount of space between pleats. Since I was doing this while sitting in bed and watching Bleak House, nothing has been pressed and looks much puffier than the inspiration gown. That aside, the proportions seem pretty close for my height. The top 3″ are pleated, then the next 4″ are ruched all over, and then the bottom 7″ are pleated. I stitched the panel to the petticoat at the lower level of the ruching to create an attachment point. Next I just went crazy stitching the ruched section down in random patterns. It didn’t start to look right until most of it was done and a pressing should improve it even further.

The upper and lower edges were sewn down to the petticoat with a running backstitch. I’m hoping to find some appropriate edging  and that will cover any stitching that shows and add a beautiful finish. Once the base trim was on, I started pinning the lower level of trim in place. This was simpler – just 1/2″ box pleats with equal space between. I’ve only pinned it in place as I was getting pretty tired of stitching!

I finally called it a night and gave it one quick try-on and lo & behold it actually looked the way I wanted it to!!

2014-01-29 22.00.34

Sadly the photo of a reflection doesn’t do much justice to my efforts but it is looking like a proper trimmed petticoat!

Now to get some sleep and start the next batch of sewing tomorrow!


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