{JennylaFleur: Dress Diaries}

18th century robe à la Française


a gown of the late 1770s in the French Style

draped by me

silk taffeta, cotton (lining), lace, paper flowers

My second robe à la Française.

Phase One completed March 2014.
Completed March 2015.



The Results:


August 2015
At Costume College.
More pics from this event can be found here.

March 2015
At the 2015 Française Dinner.
More pics from this event can be found here.

{photo courtesy of BWPW Photograpghy}

{photo courtesy of BWPW Photograpghy}

{photo courtesy of BWPW Photograpghy}

{photo courtesy of BWPW Photograpghy}

March 2014
At the 2014 Française Dinner.
More pics from this event can be found here.

The Dress Diary:

January 1 2014


Despite my sewing time being limited with school and everything, I decided to push myself and make a new Française for the dinner in a few months. I'm very excited about it. I have today and tomorrow off of school so I'm hoping to get the fitting and cutting and back draping well underway before Friday.

The nice thing is a Française is mostly handwork and I'm becoming one of those hand sewing enthusiasts - will wonders never cease?! After a long day/week of the physical labor that is hairdressing all I want to do is sit and watch mindless TV. If I have a project I can just drape on my lap and stitch on I'll do it, anything more and I never get to it. So if I can get my Française going this week I'm confident I can get it done by the Française Dinner.

I need it to be finished too, not just in wearable condition, to fulfill my epic visions of grandeur. No Ghetto Fabulousness this year! I'm going for excess and over the top. This will be my Française equivalent of my Frosting Hat. Only in purple. And with lots of diamonds to accessorize it.

January 2 2014

So I didn't get any of the Française sewing done that I wanted to do. Too much real life stuff going on. So instead a fabric/kitty spam photo. You can thank me later. The fabric I'm using is a bright purple silk taffeta I got for a steal in the LA fabric district last year. Honestly purple isn't my favorite color but it's a flattering one and the price was too good to refuse. So purple it is!

January 13 2014


First toile down, not too bad! Just needed to make a couple of tweaks from the Française Noir pattern from last year, mostly length and shoulder issues.

January 19 2014


The second mock-up went very smooth indeed, mostly fiddling with the stomacher.


The sleeves were surprisingly friendly, only two mock-ups and they were done - whew.

January 20 2014


Purple silk - wheeee! My silk is interesting because it is shot, but very subtly with a dark purple and white threads - Shiny!


I got a lot done today. I cut all the panels of taffeta for the dress and skirts (we love ripping silk, yes we do!) and pinned the back pleats in place. I also started the laborious but brainless process of fray-checking the scalloped edges on the sleeve ruffles. I was thinking of doing all my trim with these scallops, I'm now rethinking that idea!

February 9 2014

Lots of school and real life happening around here but I've been working quietly and steadily on the française in my quiet moments. The back pleats have been stitched down and the bodice has been sewn together and finished by hand in the proper 18th century way.


While I had my Française Noir on my dress form for reference tonight I decided to layout my paper flower scheme, just to make sure I have enough flowers. I know I need more of the little purple hyacinths from Michael's but not exactly how many. I also needed to make sure I had enough paper flowers from Dames à La Mode. I'm so addicted to those little flowers!

February 10 2013


Still working out the trimming details. I found a fabulous ribbon from Dames à La Mode that will be perfect on my self trimming but before I order it I had to know how much I needed. Math, oy.

February 14 2014

I hate everything about my purple française right now. I tried it on to drape the skirt pleats and mark the petticoat hem and it doesn't fit. Ahh!


Not only is the bodice too small but it has huge horrible wrinkles. Wretched bodice wrinkles! Ahhhhhhhh! I can't figure out how they happened, the mock up was perfect. Perhaps it's not cut on the right grain line? So bloody annoying. I could cry right now. I spent an extra week refitting the blasted thing so this wouldn't happen!! I don't even know where to go from here without starting from scratch on the bodice front fitting, which I hardly have time for.

Oh and I'm out of thread so I can't even work on the petticoat. This dress and this day are officially made of epic fail.

February 17 2014

I really do have the best friends/costume mentors EVAR. I've gotten some great advice on my bodice wrinkles including:

* Perhaps the lining has stretched or moved while the silk has not so picking the silk layer and smoothing it over the lining while it's on my body.

* The bodice is a little long, shorting it up should take away some of the wrinkles.

* The back seam may be off-set slightly. In this case the front is too high on that seam and needs to be shifted down. (It won't happen in a mock-up since usually that fabric will stretch and give a little more.)

So I just finished taking apart my Française (the beautiful hand stitching - sob!), so I can refit. This is what it looked like before I dismantled it. I think that is the most annoying part - it was just starting to look like a pretty dress and now I have to take it apart. I really just want to work on the trimming not the construction!

Hopefully the second time on the bodice fronts will be the charm. Seriously this shouldn't be so hard.

February 18 2014


Refitted the bodice fronts... I'm back to an acceptable amount of bodice wrinkling, really none when II',m not taking photos. So they look much better - whew! Glad it was an easy and painless evening of work - I' was so afraid it would be another week of fitting!

I got the new version's master pattern drawn and the new bodices cut tonight.

February 18 2014

So stomachers... I was originally going to interline mine with twill but now I'm rethinking the idea. Do I want it to be stiff/structured or should I just line the silk with muslin, like my bodice?

Edited: So the answer is no to the extra stiffening. It's too hard to pin otherwise. The stays provide enough stiffness. So I'll take the twill out...

February 24 2014


I've been busy the past few days. I've gotten the dress back to were it was before I had to refit it, adding the gown's skirt panels.

I also whipped up the petticoat, including a little ruffle at it's hem. I have to say this photo of the petticoat is the closest to what the fabric looks like in person, at lest on my screen. This fabric really doesn't like to be photographed!


With the bodice in place and the petticoat done I tried it on to drape the skirt panels - always a challenge to do on one's self!


I've also been working steadily on the flower bunches. To make them easier to attach (and detach if I ever want to!) I'm sewing the flowers together on a little felt base.


February 25 2014


Pleating a Française skirt - we hates it Precious!!! Really it's just evil. The first side wasn't too bad but the second side has been a nightmare. Oy.

February 26 2014

Two hour school delay for because of snow = sleeves. Redeeming the time... Honestly if it hadn't been for all the delays and snow days this winter I probably won't have finished this dress in time, if I do of course. :>


Home from school and I started again on the right side skirt. Merh. Let's see, 6th time the charm? These wretched pleats may be the death of me!

February 26 2014


My last fitting - Mom is kindly marking my hem... getting there!

March 1 2014

It's been a crazy couple of days trying to finish up! It's the morning of and by the tim we leave for Philly I'll have a wearable gown, it's even got some trimming on it! All that is left is the sew on the trimming (it's all prepped!), trim the stomacher and pin on the flowers. It's not going to be totally trimmed out for this event but I'm feeling pretty proud of getting this project to this point without sacrificing schoolwork, my sanity or sleep. Well maybe a little on the sleep part...

March 2 2014


I had such fun wearing my new frock, I felt quite amazing in it!!

At the 3rd Annual Française Dinner was absolutely fabulous, as always. Everyone looking amazing, especially everyone's hair. Even though Kendra's book isn't out yet clearly it's had an influence! I had the honor of having the tallest hair and the tallest feathers - such fun!


March 15 2014

A long overdue photo of the finished stomacher. I'm really quite proud of this part of the gown!

March 16 2014


The one thing that was missing from my gown was a trim to top off all the self trimming/ribbon ruffles. Unfortunately I didn't have anything quite right in the stash so I decided to dye some ivory rococo trim to see if it would work. I cocktailed three different colors, mostly purple but with a hint of the red and the tan (which has a green base) to hopefully better match the ribbon. The results were a little disappointing. It was a poly trim that just didn't want to take the dye. Oh well.

I sewed some on the bodice (along with some sequins whee!)but honestly I'm not liking it. It's fine but it's not really "me" somehow. I'm going to leave it one for a week and then see how I feel.


The Revamp:

Portrait of Pieter Cornelis Hasselaer and his Children
by George van der Mijn, 1763 (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam)


January 4 2015


This has been sitting in the pending bin long enough, it's time to finish this thing! I've been thinking about it good and hard and I decided I just didn't like the original trim or the original sleeve ruffles. So I took everything off and now my dress is naked! Now I just have to figure out what I DO want. Not as easy as it sounds apparently. Umm...

January 7 2015


After much noodling around and experimenting I finally have a plan for the trim - yay! Unfortunally this fabric trim just doesn't look right whe done on the sewing machine. Looks like lots of handwork in my future! Now just keep sewing, just keep sewing...

January 31 2015


I'm loving how the skirt decorations are coming out!


The large fan ruffles are acually the sleve ruffles I took off the sleeves - waste not, want not! After pinking both sides I ran a running stitch down the center and gathered until it fit. I'll admit it, I'm feeling pretty clever right now.

Feburary 5 2015


I've been working steadily on the Purplerobe à la Française, handsewing my endless trimming. I'm missing the instant gratification of the sewing machine but I have to admit this is more relaxing. And, in this instance, it just looks better. Silly stiff fabric.


February 23 2015

Taking a break from the self trim and the purple ribbon to add a bit of sparkle. Scattered colored sequins like this are more typical of menswear in the 18th century but I can't help myself - I love shiney tiny sequins. These are 4mm & 2.5mm from Joyce Trimming in NYC.

March 1 2015


I'm almost there...

March 5 2015


This finial part of the trim are these lovely paper flowers - oh they look just as pretty as I hoped they would! I'm so glad I went with both the yellow and the peach, I think it adds so much dimention and interest..

March 8 2015


The dress is done! Just adding a few small paper flowers to the stomacher and I'm done - Whee!!!



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