Thursday, 8 September 2016

1750 Mantua - Norah Waugh XIV. Anglaise en fourreau

Pattern: 1740-1750 Mantua, diagram XIV from Norah Waugh The Cut of Women's Clothes. Extant garment described as heavy white silk damask and housed at the Victoria and Albert Museum. I could not find images of the extant garment.
Fabric: 100% silk Taffeta, beige/cream. Medium weight.
Available on Etsy HERE
Measurements: *These reflect a range due to the nature of the front closure
Chest: 36/27"
Waist: 31/32"
Shoulders: 17"
Back Width: 13"
Upper Arm: 15.5" (Sleeves in the early 18th century were wider and more relaxed than later)
Armhole to Waist seam: 8.5"

The pattern has no lining closure. The lining is meant to end before the folds, leaving the front to be filled with a stomacher. Since I did not like the idea of the strain and fit of the bodice relying entirely on pins, I added front lacing panels attached to the lining. The stomacher is then pinned over the lacing.

~The Robings~
This was my first time making any version of an 18th century garment with hanging robings (the folds on either side of the front, which are not part of the skirt and are thus 'hanging'). I have made several Francaise gown in the past with folded robings, but all were the type that had no waist seam and in which the folds extended straight down into the skirt. One would think this was a simplistic variation, but I found it to be a nightmare.

As you can see from the pattern (right), the overlapping folds on the fronts are achieved in a sort of accordion style. The illustration shows them coming to straight, blunt ends below waist level. It was a mess getting them to eventually look like that. When you do the folds are shown, you end up with messy, pointed ends that are then folded and snipped and manipulated in a manner too ridiculous and long to describe. As you can see (below), I have quite the bit of slap dash whip stitching behind there to get it to create the desired outward look.

Quite frankly, I doubt I will do it this way again. In the future, I will use separate long pieces for the robings, in the manner shown so well by Fashions of the Past. Or, I will cut the bottom of the front pieces straight rather than with these points that don't seem to serve a purpose.

The next area of frustration you will have to contend with are the slits on either side of the back, which are part of the waist seam. The problem is that the pattern provides virtually no room for a decent seam allowance to do this, unless you are comfortable pleating on the skirt with barely 1/4" to spare! The good news is that the formation of the back folds (top stitched down) go over the inside of this slash and will cover whatever messiness you might be forced to create there.

These pictures correspond to step #7 in the list given farther down.

~The Order~
Because of the way the folds on the back are formed, there is a particular order of construction you have to follow when making this gown, otherwise you will end up saying, "Damn! I shouldn't have done that part yet!" at least a few times.

1) Sew fronts to backs at side seam only. Do not attach the shoulder yet. (You may have already done your folds and dart on the fronts before this step, or afterward. It won't really matter)
2) Sew backs together
3) Cut waist seam slash in backs as indicated.
4) pleat on skirt. Pleats facing toward center so they meet in an inverted pleat on the side. (You can hem the front of the skirt first or just make sure your hem is folded in the seam for later. Whichever)
5) sew up the lining, center back seam and front to back at side seams. Also shoulders.
6) lay lining under back, wrong sides together.
7) Now begin manipulating and pressing down the back pleats, pining them down through the lining.
8) Top stitch all the folds down with lining.
9) Phew! Now you can continue in whatever way makes you happy now. It was all about getting those skirt pleats done before doing the back folds.


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