{JennylaFleur: Dress Diaries}

late 1770s Pet En L'Air

a blue jacket of the late 1770s

draped by me

faille, cotton (lining), poly organdy, trim, lace

My first pet en l'air, inspired by the film Marie Antoinette and extant garments in Arnold and Waugh.

The fabric was dyed to go with a necklace in my collection.

Completed 2007.



The Results:


August 2007
At Costume College.
More photos from this event can be found here.

{photo courtesy of Jenni}

{photo courtesy of Trystan}

{photo courtesy of Trystan}

{photo courtesy of Aubry}


April 2007
At an RCHS tea.






April 2007
At home before the tea.







May 2005
At home.


hosted on YouTube.com 



The Dress Diary:


March 2007


Remember this fabric? No? Well to refresh your memory this fabric began it's days as cream faille. I made a petticoat out of it to go with my Polignac gown in October. I had plenty of fabric left over for a jacket but I decided I didn't want another cream jacket ensemble.

So in November I removed the waistband and ruffle and threw the whole lot into the tub sink with 1 cup salt, 1 bottle Rit evening blue and about a tablespoon Rit dark green. I used the hottest water I could get from the tap, soaking and stirring for about 25 minutes before rinsing (with a vinegar rinse) in the washer.

The color could have come out a little more even in places (I so miss my old washer) but I don't think anyone will notice with the full petticoat skirt. If you look at the edges you can see the warp and weft took the color differently. It's why it's so pretty in person - this fabric almost shimmers. I love it!

I was originally going for a little bit more green in my blue but this was such a pretty color I left well enough alone. It's the right color family and it goes with the necklace I was trying to match. Yay!


Now what to do with it. I schemed and pondered, researched and toiled. I only changed my mind about the project 4 times ... is this not a women's purgative? *rolls eyes* Then I saw this outfit from the film Marie Antoinette. I'm not sure what about it caught my eye but I saw it and instantly thought of my blue fabric. Finally inspiration!

March 18 2007

The cheeptrim.com trims for this outfit has arrived! I can hardly contain myself, I'm so excited to put this outfit together. Just have to get past the stays and pannier first ... *rubs hands together*

March 19 2007

Is it reasonable to assume that colored (as in blue) sequins are probably not period correct for 18th century? I can't recall ever seeing anything but silver and gold spangles, although I'd love to be wrong ... *evil grin*

March 20 2007

Well what to you know - colored sequins/spangles are period! Who'd of thunk. My darling costuming buddies have come up with some sources see my LJ entry #216571 for the details.

March 28 2007


Now that my stays are done, I started work on my bleu outfit today. It went okay. Well, slightly less than that actually. The plan is to make a version of the above outfit from Marie Antoinette. In short a bleu pet en l'air. After much research and trying to wrap my head around the whole sack thing, I printed out some inspiration/reference for my walls and went to work.

I cut out a rough lining from my basic anglaise pattern, trimming away the front and adding a false stomacher piece. I then began on the outer toile, which is when the slightly less than okay part of the day kicked in. I messed about with the back pleats for a while before concluding that my toile fabric was just not wide enough (fashion fabric is a bit wider luckily). So I decided to move on the front and mess with pleating later. The first draping totally didn't work and the second only a bit better.

I can't figure out how you can possibly use one piece of fabric from stomacher front to back/side seam without darts or tucks or another seam. There is just too much area to cover and without something to release the stress it buckles and wrinkles most un attractively. I'm not seeing evidence of tucks or darts though, except were the front bodice and skirt are cut separately (which is not how the MA or Arnold ones I'm copying are done). Am I missing something?

I'm not sure I can make the pet en l'air anyway as I have a very limited amount of fabric to play with. This sack thing really sucks up the yardage! I don't know. It's so much easier to skimp when you know what you are doing, which I don't. I'm hoping the whole thing will look better in the morning 'cause right now it's just not giving me warm fuzzies ...

March 29 2007


Thank you so much for your helpful words and advice on the pet en l'air - you guys really are the best!

With renewed interest this morning I started by flipping through Arnold again and looking at the caraco that Suzi was talking about. Another non-bodice/skirt front. Cool! I draped the front, using the grain angles of the caraco as guide but without any better results. Moo.

While flipping through Arnold again I noticed the Brunswick-quilted-travel-thing had a dart/tuck right under the arm. *gleeful smile appears* So I took to heart the positive words on tucks/darts from Kendra, Sarah and Sara and worked a tuck in under the arm - suddenly it worked! *throws confetti*

I seriously fudged the back pleats and the side pleats - have no idea what I'm doing there but it looks good so ha! I basted up the lining and toile and did a fitting. Everything looks pretty good. Noticed some little things (like hello, way too small in the shoulders. It's the one area where Narcissa can't be padded to fit me.) but over all I'm feeling the warm fuzzies again. It even works with pannier (these are temp, still working on some smaller ones), which because of my limited fabric I wasn't sure would happen. The pet en l'air definitely needs pannier.


I'm totally winging this project and have plans on totally winging the construction as well. I simply don't have time to be fussy about this thing. For once in my life I don't have the inclination either. I'm leaving for Baltimore and a Mary Kay conference tomorrow. It's only an overnight thing but thanks to my efficiency with the stays I have nothing to work on while I'm there and there will definitely be opportunities to work on something. With my deadline quickly looming that seems wasteful so I'm going to try and take this with me. I'm thinking one more fitting of the lining and then just tally ho with the fashion fabric. I can't believe this is me, Miss Jenny Perfectionist. I must be ill or something. :P

March 29 2007

Well, in the end I didn't spend my evening on sewing so no second toile and nothing cut. I did some much needed clothes shopping for tomorrow and spend time with Daddy (who, because of working late all week I've seen for a total of about 10 mins since Sunday). I shall now be cute and comfortable at my conference and had a good chat with Daddy. Priorities. *sigh* I wish I didn't have to choose sometimes.

I was all bummed about not having anything to take then I thought, hey! The tweaks to the lining are all in the front and the back is what I need to do mostly by hand, so why not just take the back and worry about the rest later? I love these brilliant moments!

So I'm sitting here letting the nails I just painted dry and trying to decide what to use as the lining. I have a pretty polished cotton purple, but I'm really not a purple person and I'm trying to decide if it will bug me. I do have more of the pink sateen from the stays but it's actually not the sturdiest of fabrics so should I not use it or just interline it. There is always plain white cotton but that is boring. Umm ... what about black - not period but well fun.

Maybe I should do eni, meni, mieni, moe ... :P

April 2 2007

I'm back! Actually got back before today but today is my first time back online. Had a lovely day yesterday with friends - soup, crying, prayer tea, & chatting. Today is catch up day so no sewing on the horizon.

I indeed took my pet en l'air back panels to Mary Kay conference in Baltimore but didn't get much done. I didn't have as much time to relax/hang as I did last year and I found I really need either a large space to lay pieces out or to drape the pieces on Narcissa to do the pleats. It's okay, I'm definitely further along with the project by trying to take it on my trip.

April 6 2007

Worked a bit on the pet en l'air today. I'm happy so far, the side view looks perfect. That center box pleat is bugging me though. It's plenty full at the top but looks kinda skimpy at the bottom. Must mess with it a bit more.

April 9 2007


I have the pleats all pined down on Narcissa. I'm not entirely happy with the pleats but I think I'm just going to sew them down as is and fiddle with them again after the tea. I eyeballed the whole thing so one side is like 5/8" off, making the pleats on that side a little shallower. No one will notice I'm sure and I don't have time to re-pleat one whole side for the sake symmetry. Priorities!

April 9 2007


We have sewing progress! The back of the pet en l'air is pleated and stitched down to the lining. I made up a second toile so I could work on the front tweaking.


Looking pretty good so I started on the sleeves. I have one pinned in but have reached my self-imposed curfew. I've learned not to do anything involving a sewing machine after 11pm, it's never a pretty thing.


Cute kitty alert! Nefret has been my constant companion this week, being very snuggly and cute. She loves my stays, being a fan of silk in general. She loves to rub up against them and sleep on them. Sill kitty!

April 10 2007 | 5:40pm

Ack! I hate sleeves - aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!

I REALLY hate sleeves. *razenfrazen*

April 10 2007 | 8:38pm


*sigh* Three hours and I don't even know how many toiles later the sleeves are still not working. I really do not have time for this.

April 10 2007


*sigh* I have workable sleeves - finally! Not perfect but good enough. Seems to be the theme of this project that. I'm not totally happy with my results on this thing but then again I didn't expect to, this being my first attempt at a sacque-back type garment. I'm never pleased until the second try (the notable exception being my Rohan), look at my website and you'll notice I make everything at least twice. I was just noticing that the other day ... it amused me.

Anyway, I originally tried using my english gown sleeves for this. After two toiles it was clear that was not going to work. So I switched to the long two-seamed curved sleeves from my ruffled jacket. Much better but it took me 4 toiles to work out all the kinks and get them to a workable state. *sigh* Stupid sleeves.

I've got everything but the outer front toile piece traced out onto interfacing and ready to be cut and sewn tomorrow morning. I'm not really sure I CAN make a master pattern of that outer layer, I may have to drape and just cut it to fit the lining ... it's such a fiddly piece.

I'm also trying to decide if I want the stomacher to be false and if so do I want to sew it so that it doesn't look false (finish the edge as an edge, add boning and hand sew it) or not. At the moment I'm leaning toward not but then again I don't really like stomachers either in look or practice. There is a reason they went out of fashion in favor of close-fronts you know. :> This opinion of course begs the question of why am I making one for which I don't have a good answer except that MA has one and I'd never tried it before. Besides it seems more appropriate for the française

Ack I'm rambling - it must be bedtime!

April 12 2007

This outfit has turned out in many ways to be the project from heck, or perhaps it just seems so because of the condensed timeline. *sigh*

The toile of the front section, which I did in such a rush before I went to Baltimore, proved to be totally unworkable when I went to cut it out. Added to the 'fun' was the fact that I had a shorter length of fabric to work with than intended because the finial sleeves took up extra fabric.

I tried draping the unworkable toile on me again but it totally wasn't working. I fussed, fumed and despaired then got on the internet and starting trolling for ideas of how cut the bodice separately from the front skirt (the easiest solution I could think of). I then noticed something I hadn't noticed before. The tuck/dart Kendra had been talking about was horizontal along the waist, not vertical along the arm like the Arnold. Eureka!


I could have created a seam there instead but the tuck/dart seemed simpler and would use less fabric. Having had enough of muslins that wouldn't work when it came to the pinch I decided to drape a new front (with waist dart) in the blue fabric. I sewed the pleated back to the lining front & strap to use as my guides. I of course had to drape it on me for an accurate fit which means I actually talked Mom through the draping. She was a real trooper though and the front piece came out wonderfully. I SO owe her a big bag of M&Ms.


So last night I got most of the main things done.


What's left? To bind the center back edge, attach the sleeves (already sewn, clipped and pressed), sew on hooks and eyes and decided what the heck I'm doing with the trimming. Oh yes and the waistband and ruffle attached to the petticoat (already pleated thank God). No pannier, no cap. But right now I'm off to work (an appointment in Richmond) so I won't be able to work on this again until tonight.

It has to be done tonight though as tomorrow I have to get going on B's dress. Umm... an English gown, MK appointment (in Richmond), and baking 100 pieces of shortbread all in one day - I must be mad. Darn my stubborn streak.

April 12 2007


Finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with the pet en l'air. I'm going to tack down the side pleats (pinned) then try it on. I need to make sure the stomacher is in the right place before I sew trimming. I didn't mark it well, bad Jenny.

So left to do:
add the trim
sew the hooks and eyes (last minute as I can always sew myself in Sat morning)
finish sleeves, add ruffle

B came home tonight to help (the sweetie!) so I was able to give her some fiddly but necessary tasks like trimming the boning for her stays, cutting, fraying and gathering the organdy trim etc. So helpful! She is also going to make the shortbread tomorrow. We were joking tonight that the price of her outfit was 100 pieces of shortbread. She seemed to think it a dear price; I told her she was still getting a bargain! *hee hee*

Enough of a break ... back to work!

April 13 2007


So it's Friday night about 9pm and I am just starting on B's English gown. The theme of the night is Nessa Dorma – no one shall sleep tonight! As of this morning my pet en l'air was put together and tidied up. The trim is pinned on and the petticoat pleats were pinned and ready for the waistband.

B is home to help but it's going to be a long night!

April 14 2007


It's over! The week of sewing madness is over! I did not plan it this way, I really didn't but I have to be flexible with my work and unfortunately everyone (including CCFred) decided this was the week to schedule things. Most times an hour away no less. I had no back-up plan so I had to finish everything this week. I have such a love/hate relationship with deadlines!

I'm quite pleased with my outfit though. Little things bug (the waist bunches as I didn't fit it with the false rump, silly me) but the overall effect was what I was going for. The pleats in back need more fullness to hang correctly. Still not bad considering my fabric restraints and my first attempt at the française style. I need a totally different cap but it's on the list already. I wanted a shorter petticoat but it came out a shorter that I intended. I think it shrunk when I dyed it. It looks cute though, very Galerie des Modes, so I may just leave it as is.


Stealth shots B took as I was getting undressed in the mess that was my room. Well actually still is the mess that is my room, I haven't picked up yet. :P Both B and I had to sew ourselves into our bodices, having run out of time to sew on the hooks and eyes. Also a glimpse of my outfit sans bows. It's the bows that really make it I think, certainly the bit that makes it go with the necklace. Found the ribbon at Jo-Anns of all places, on Friday night. I really was shocked - it was perfect!

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