The more elaborate embellishment was ruffles for my pet-en-l’aire. Now, this sound pretty easy – just pleat up the fabric and sew it on, right?
Except that first I had to cut the last teeny tiny pieces of my silk that were left over from making the pet into strips, and sew them together, and then I had to hand-hem all the edges of that silk with teeny-tiny rolled hems (yes, thanks to the extensive discussion we had on pet trim, I know a full rolled hem isn’t historical, but it was a necessity with this fabric). And remember how tricky that fabric was to work with in the first place? Yeah, it hasn’t gotten any easier with time.
Plus, it takes a lot of metreage to pleat up into a fairly small amount of ruffle.
How much? Well, I did 8.8 metres of hand hemming on the ruffles that go around the neckline, and another 3.2 on the ruffles to go around the cuffs, for a total of 12 metres of hemming.
And even once that was done, I had to figure out my pleating layout. First I tried a fairly open, spaced layout, with the idea that it could go all the way around the hem:
However, it didn’t look right to me, so I ran it by the followers on facebook, and the concensus was that it was indeed too spaced. So I unpinned an hours worth of work, and re-pinned a new tighter, more closely spaced pleat:
In amongst all this I spent a great deal of time squinting at images of extent trimmed pets and other garments of the period, trying to figure out exactly how the trim was arranged and if the flatness was original, or a product of time and squashing. In the end, I balanced period examples with what looked right on my fabric, and my pet, when I sewed it together.
I ended up with slightly fuller gathered and ruffled pleats. They are the same pleating as in the photo two up, just pinched in the middle, and released on the edges. I think the dimensionality works well with the fabric, and with a bit of pressing, or sewing later on, I could achieve a flatter look more like the extent examples.
Now that I had placed my pleats much closer together I no longer had enough trim to go all the way around the hem of my pet, which I wasn’t actually sad about as I wasn’t sure I’d like the effect, and thought it might interfere with the pleats at side and back. Instead, I curved the pleats up into a circle or rosette at the hem, inspired by the MCG example with its curved trim.
It took a lot of pins, and involved a fair amount of pin-pricks:
But it looks pretty awesome done:
With the front ruffles sewed on, I just had to figure out the sleeve ruffles. First I went with something inspired by the MCG jacket, with a line of pleating places an inch or so up from the edge of the sleeve:
I pinned it on, sewed most of it on, and tried it on.
The top edge still needs to be sewn down flat, but still…
It looks dreadful. Ridiculous. Sure it isn’t sewn all the way, but the placement is still wrong.
Soooooo….what to do. At this point I think I have three options:
- Take the ruffle off and leave the sleeve completely un-trimmed
- Move the ruffle down right to the edge of the sleeve, and possibly leave the bottom edge un-sewn down, so it opens away from the sleeve (yes, not necessarily period, but possibly pretty)
- Make white silk sleeve cuffs, as per these examples from the Met.
I’m frustrated that it still isn’t done, but pleased that there has been some progress, and that it is more embellished than it used to be.