After many, many bouts of unpicking and re-sewing the 1760s Frou Frou Francaise is almost there.
I’ve unpicked nearly every seam in the dress and re-sewn it at least three times, and I still can’t get it to a place where I’m really happy about it. So I don’t know when I can stop and call it done, because the more work I invest in it, the more I feel I need to get it right, and right now…it isn’t quite there.
The last time you saw it it was worn by a model at Ramsay to Renoir in Nelson. I also blogged about making the sleeves, and how their fit wasn’t quite right.
When I looked at the photos from Ramsay to Renoir the Francaise was pretty, but something about it wasn’t quite right to me.
I looked at it, and looked at it, and couldn’t figure it out. Then I posted this francaise for Rate the Dress, and my mind went ‘ah hah!’
What my Francaise was missing was the floating pleats. It was just too stiff and severe with the pleats tacked down so far.
I went and did a (fairly rough) general survey of sacque gowns for the 1760s, and my hunch was right – assuming that the museums were reasonably accurate with their dating, floating pleats do seem to be much more common than very tacked-down pleats in 1760s francaise. And the look certainly fits my lush, frou-frou theme more than the severity and control of tacked down pleats.
So, I unpicked my sleeves, unpicked my back facing, and unpicked my pleats.
While I was doing my survey I also decided that the width of the pleats was too wide compared to the proportions of my shoulders, so, as long as I had everything undone, I re-did the pleating width.
In other words, I basically went back to the very beginnings of the garment construction, and started again. Eeergh
But, I am definitely happier with the result:
While I was doing this, I also re-did the sleeves. And re-did the sleeves again. And re-did the sleeves again. And unpicked and re-set the bloody things a fourth time.
But… I just can’t get them to where I’m happy with it.
I’m usually really good at sleeves, but there are exceptions to everything, because these ones refuse to sit on me without wrinkling and pulling.
It’s possible that the fabric is just so stiff and unyeilding it will never sit without wrinkling.
It’s like the dress that never ends. Not even the trial photoshoot went right.
I got it all sewed together, and wanted to try it on and do a photoshoot before trimming, so I could really assess the fit before I committed to the last 20 hours of frilling. As I don’t usually have another person with significant fit experience on hand to help with fitting, I find fully putting on something, and taking lots of photos that I can look at, the best way to assess fit.
Well, three images into the trial shoot Mr D managed to switch a setting on the camera, and everything was so under-exposed they were so unusable.
So I got completely dressed up again (and naturally my hair refused to cooperate like it did the first time, and the pearl trim I borrow from a painting just looks dorky in real life. And it was much hotter. And the light wasn’t nearly as good…), and these are the resulting images.
After the first photoshoot I decided the petticoat ruffle was too long, so I unpicked and re-attached it, and I over-compensated, and now it’s too short. Gah!
Other stuff I’m not happy with & need to re-do:
- The wrinkling on my bodice. Possibly better stays (I wore my lighter pair due to the heat, but that may have been a poor choice) or better pinning would help. Pinning this fabric is even less fun than sewing it.
- The sleeve ruffles. I don’t care for the shape, or my punching pattern. If I have enough leftover fabric at the end I’ll re-do them. Heck, maybe I should try to re-do the entire sleeves. :-/
Things I am happy with:
- My lace engageantes. The lace is from silkworld.com.au (they have just started selling retail (and they sell silk tulle!!!!!!)) and it’s SO pretty, and I figured out a really elegant solution to making lace engageantes (which I will be posting about)
- My tucker. Lace from my stash, and also so pretty.
So at this point, the Francaise is sort-of back in the naughty pile, because I’m just fed up with it.
I think I’m going to fix the petticoat ruffle (because that definitely needs fixing), and wait for cooler weather, and do another photoshoot, and see how I feel about it then. Maybe if I’m happier with my hair and everything else I’ll like it more…
I’m more than a little annoyed about this, because the Francaise has been going on for so long, and was one of my big sewing goals for 2018, and its…not done.
Once I can get the fit right, I can trim, and it will finally, finally, be finished!
Now that I’ve sewn every seam in it four times by hand…
So there you go. No matter how much you think you know, and even when you’ve done things before and had them be a smashing success (my other francaise fits like a glove!), you can still get stuck on things, and have them not work.
And if you think I’m exaggerating and being over-dramatic about the fitssues, remember that you’re still only showing the photos I could bring myself to post publicly (though I’m far more willing to show less-than-stellar fit than I am derpy expressions!)