Tuesday, 20 December 2016

1750s Anglaise with Robings - Red & Gold

**Note: I decided to post all the photos for this post at original 
size, which may be difficult to view on phones and tablets
Pattern: Larkin & Smith "English Gown", with significant alterations.
Fabric: 100% cotton, medium/heavy weight (lighter than canvas, heavier than calico). Gold and Red damask print. 8 yards at 54" used in total, gown and petticoat.
This dress is available to buy on Etsy HERE

Chest: 34-36"
Waist: 28-29.5"
Hip: Free
Back Width: 11" (18th c. style, of course)

This is the 3rd time I've made the Larkin & Smith English Gown  with some sort of alteration. The beauty of this pattern is that it lends itself so easily to alterations. First, everything I changed from the original pattern:

  1. Double robings rather than single
  2. Extra width & length skirt panels to accommodate side hoops (OP is designed for a bum roll)
  3. Tying closure at center front added, hidden behind stomacher. 
  4. Sleeves cuffs are lined.
  5. Separate shoulder piece to bind sleeves. (OP has the robings doing this). 
  6. Fronts reshaped at bottom edge to suit pocket hoops
What I left the same:
  • Back pleating (en fourreau)
  • Sleeves
  • Cuff shape
The primary purpose of robings-other than being aesthetically pleasing--is that they provide the cover for the pinned edge of a stomacher. Robings were done as separate strips of fabric, or built in the front pieces and then folded back; both ways are historically accurate. 

Personally, I think the frustration that comes with the built-in, folded back manner of robings is not worth the final result. Also, if the fabric you are using is not the same back and front, the built in method causes all manner of problems. I have used separate robings.

(above) The robings are double layered, made from strips of fabric; one 5" x 28.5", the other 5" x 27". They are stitched and folded into tubes and pressed flat. The second under robing is loosely whip stitched to the top so the stitches don't show through to the outside. 

(above) The original pattern has the robing serving as the top sleeve binding, but I wanted the robings to be free on the outside edge, so I went ahead and added a separate binding, mirroring the lining piece. To see what I mean about the lining and the sleeve, below is a view of the sleeves being set in using the 18th century manner (sandwiched between lining and outer fabric)

(above) The red piece of cardboard is there to provide a hard back for my pins, so I don't inadvertently pin the garment to the dress form.

(below) Now the top piece is added, with all edges seam allowances already pressed down. I then top stitched all of this in by hand.

Anyway, back to the robings.
Their main purpose is to provide the edge coverings for the stomacher/front closure. I could have stitched the robings down the along the front, leaving an inch or so clear underneath for the stomacher and pinning, but depending on the shape of the wearer this might cause the robings to pucker or not lay right. It's much better to leave them free below the bust line, so they can then be pinned into place as the wearer likes. 

 (above) showing how the edge of the robings is pinned to the stomacher. The stomacher would have already been pinned to the garment prior (this type of dress requires a lot of pins!)

 (above and below) With pins removed, the robings hang freely. the robings can be pinned just to the stomacher edge, if you like, but I also recommend one or two pins further outside, just under the fold of the inner robings. This will keep the robings firm against the torso.

(below) Finally, the stomacher removed, you can see the tie closure. Ties and lacings were used, so either method is accurate. The front edges of the tie closure panels are boned.

~Inside Work~
Much hand stitching goes into a dress like this, not just for the sake of accuracy, but also for ease. Trying to shift and manipulate a 6 pound dress through the arm of a sewing machine when it's full of pins is more frustrating than it's worth. 


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