Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Pet en l'Air - Beige & Black Silk

Pattern: Norah Waugh, Diagram XV "1740 Sack Dress", from The Cut of Women's Clothes.
Fabrics: 100% silk broadcloth (see farther down for discussion of the fabric). Also cotton for the petticoat and linen for the bodice and sleeve linings.

Available on Etsy HERE
Available on Ebay HERE
Measurements:*due to the nature of this garment, fitting accommodates a small range.
Chest: 36 - 38"
Waist: 29 - 31"
Hip: Free
Back width: 14"
Hem of Petticoat: 39" at front
                            40" at back
                            44" at sides

~The Fabric~ 
I bought this dotted silk from an antique-mart in St. Petersburg some years ago. It came with no fiber content information. I did burn tests and determined it is definitely silk, though other than that the weave was somewhat of a mystery to me. It's not habotai, it's not satin, it's not taffeta, damask, or any of the other standards we all know. I eventually figured out (and I'm pretty sure on this) it's silk broadcloth. Little wonder I didn't recognize it, since most stores don't carry silk broadcloth.

Also, if you're wondering "are polka dots 18th century accurate?" the answer is yes =) They were not the most common thing, definitely not as popular as stripes, but they were around. There is a pinterest board dedicated to 18th century images of the polka dot

~The Pattern~
I scaled up the original pattern featured in The Cut of Women's Clothes by about 6 inches on the waist and chest evenly, so the ratio is still the same. I have made this pattern before (see Pink Pet en l'air), but I forgot to mention in that post the somewhat odd shape of the sleeves. The way they are cut as the forward facing seem quite high on the armhole.

The original pattern also has the lining on the back only, with the fronts being supported only by the dress fabric. I didn't like that, so I drafted up a lining for the front as well.

(below) front section pined to lining at sides and armhole. Also, top pleat pinned in place for top stitching.

(below) Back Watteau pleats pinned in place over lining.

I would have preferred to do ruching all the way around the hem, but I was unfortunately limited on my yardage. I trimmed the edges with a very narrow loop braid (I don't like pinking and have yet to find a good scalloping edge tool), then pinned out spaced box pleats on the leading edges.

Once that was done, I applied all the trim by hand.

~Comperes Front Stomacher~
This is also not part of the original pattern. I did the buttonholes by hand and made buttons by cinching circles of the silk fabric around existing flat shank buttons (not those metal covering buttons). Then wrapped the fabric tightly on the back side.

The stomacher is pinned to the lining, though I suppose once it is pinned as the wearer desires, she could then stitch it in place on the lining so that in the future she need only to undo the buttons.

(below) the robing pinned to the stomacher.

Finally, the back ties assist with fit adjustments.



  1. The underpinning, is that stays? Love that it ties in front, from where and what pattern is used? Also the petticoat shown on the same photograph, is this the finished waist?... Thank you for your time.

    1. There are no stays on the dress form, but I did pad it out to reflect the general shape of stays so it would lay well for the photos. I used one of the Francaise patterns from the Norah Waugh book "The Cut of Women's Clothes", though I drafted the lining and the front closures myself. The original pattern does have ties and features just a flat stomacher. I'm not sure what you mean by the petticoat being the "finished waist", but if you're asking about sizing then, yes, the measurements listing are as it appears on the dress fomr =) - LG