Sunday, 12 July 2015

Nora Waugh Sack Dress

Pattern: Norah Waugh, The Cut of Women's Clothes, Diagram XV "1740 Sack Dress"
Fabric: Silk. Plaid, pink and ivory. Cotton batiste.
          *When choosing fabric, remember that the folds on the front edges of this garment are such that you really must have a fabric that is the same on the back and front (since the "back" of the fabric will be what shows on the folds). If not, you will have to devise a facing of some sort.
Size, Unaltered from diagram: 34" Chest, 26" Waist. Sleeves run wide for the general size, 16" at bicep. 
Shoulders are 17.5" from armhole to armhole at the top.
Dress available on ebay HERE

The pattern is for the dress only, not the petticoat. I drafted that myself from the standard methods.
The body of this dress, as you can see from the diagram, is two giant pieces with a center back seam. If you are working with a 54" fabric or wider, the piece fits perfectly, selvage to selvage. If you grade up the size at all the piece won't fit and you will have to decide where to add a seam to piece it. Below you see the pattern over the fabric, still folded, but laid out full the pattern fits with about 1" to spare. Because it was so close, I chose to just extend it so I could have those nice selvage edges on the garment. 

I chose to make a Pet-en-l'air from this rather than a full length robe. Mostly because I was limited on the fabric I wanted to use. I started with only 3.75 yards at 54" wide. Only mere scraps were left, but I managed it with some luck. 

The first thing that threw me with this pattern is the fact that it is only lined at the back, where the laces are. There is no side-front or front lining. This means that, according to the original pattern, it is the outer fabric of the dress that is pulled to fit and will take the strain of fit where the pins attach the stomacher. I did not like that, so I added the ribbons inside to at least pull the back lining against the body for fit. That will help alleviate some of the stress from the pinning points.

Now, there are some things with this pattern that will require some finagling as you go. For instance, seam allowance. They are not included, yet where you should add them isn't consistent. As you can see in the pic below, adding seam allowance to the back made it too large to match the lining piece. Easily corrected, though. I just lay the back lining over it and trimmed the edges to match.

Below you can see the ribbons pulling the back lining tight against the body. The pink material you see is just padding on the dressform torso. 

Here is the robing being folded so I could prepare the shoulder seam. Pretty simple. Just two folds over. If you choose an artificial fabric for this, be careful. You need something that will hold a press well to keep these robings in line. 

Below I have the side-front pleat pinned for top stitching. The notes on the diagram are very scanty in the Waugh book and don't say if this is a top-stitched pleat or one sewn from the inside. I chose top stitching by hand to give it an authentic feel.

 Below, I made an...oops...with the binding at the top of the Watteau pleats. I forgot to cut the damn piece so that it could fold over the top and bind it like it's supposed to. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough fabric left to even cut another of these tiny pieces, so I had to just add another narrow strip at the top. Luckily, the end result matched the plaid pattern perfectly, so you can't even see it without really looking. 

And finally....

All Finished! =)

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