With the back of the pet draped, I tackled the false compere front.
I mentioned previously that I wasn’t sure that sewing on the compere front as a false front, sewed on to a solid bodice piece, was accurate. I’m afraid I confused some of you, as you thought I wasn’t sure a compere front is accurate. I know the aesthetic is right, I’m just not sure my way of doing it (creating a solid bodice foundation, and just tacking on the fashion fabric piece as a false front) is historically accurate.
Janet Arnold’s pattern for a compere front gown, based on this gown, has the dress and compere front made up completely separately, with the compere front sewn in last (almost as if if was a stomacher that was sewn in), and all the other examples of compere front garments where I can determine the construction seem to have been assembled this way.
So, sigh. Mine may not be accurate. C’est la vie. I’ll get it right next time.
I didn’t take pictures the of the pet front as I was constructing it, but here are a bunch of detail shots which should give you a reasonable idea of how I put it together.
Another bit of the pet where I am not at all sure of the historical accuracy is my fastening method. My inspiration pet fastens up the front with ribbon ties. I’m pretty sure the ribbons on the original are simply sewn into each side of the pet, and then knot/bow in front. However, for both strength and practicality I thought it would work a lot better if I sewed loops into each side of my pet so that a single length of ribbon could thread through the loops from the back and then tie in a bow in front. This seems a lot stronger, will really hide the stays under the pet, and will allow me to replace the ribbon when I find something better than the super bright and shiny synthetic satin (and I think I have and I’m so excited about it!).
So, a compromise. But the pet, while I took a lot of effort, is a very elaborate, loved, working toile. So I’m OK with a few compromises while I figure out how to make one perfect.
Not all compromises are historically inaccurate though. I had to piece the top of one bodice piece, and I think that just adds to the historicism.
Another imperfection that I like is that the sewing is a bit wobbly and erratic.
The irregularity in stitching is partly because the silk is very tightly woven, meaning that it was a real pain to sew through. It’s also because I kept setting the pet aside and then picking it up again – never great for a cohesive whole. Finally, it’s because a great deal of the handsewing on this pet was done by the wonderful Madame O, who came and sat on my couch and hand sewed for hours in the frantic days before the Tea Talk, ensuring that the pet was actually done. (not to imply that Madame O has erratic hand-stitching, on the contrary hers is much better than mine, which is why mine sticks out!). Finally, the sleeves were sewn on by models as we got dressed to head to Premier House – not the best environment to ensure tiny even stitches!
There are some imperfections I am fixing. For the first wearing of the pet en l’aire, at the Tea talk at Premier House, I hadn’t set a bone down the CF of the pet. Naturally it ruched up dreadfully and just looked terrible. I set bones in for the photoshoot with Theresa, and you can really see the difference it makes: