All posts tagged: chintz pet en l’aire

Thoughts on late 18th century pet-en-l’aire trimmings

In preparation for the upcoming High Tea charity fundraiser for Ronald McDonald House I’m trimming my Indienne chintz pet-en-l’aire. I’ve dyed pretty new rayon and cotton ribbons (the closest I could get to silk) to replace the nasty synthetic ones on the front, and am figuring out how to do the ruffled trim. Earlier mid-18th century pet-en-l’aires, like this yellow example, have pinked ruffle trim: But later 18th century examples, the era I am aiming for, have flatter trim that is finished or turned on the edges: I’m trying to figure out exactly how the ruffles are made.  I have 3.5 options to make the ruffles shown in the examples above: Option 1:  The ruffles are cut in strips more than 2x the width of the ruffles, the sides are folded back and overlapped in the middle, and then the ruffles are sewn down, with the raw edges hidden on the middle underside of the ruffles. Option 2: The ruffles are cut in strips the width of the ruffles, plus turning allowance, and then the …

The compere front of the pet

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 …

18th century Orientalism and Theresa

It was interesting dressing Theresa in the pet-en-l’aire. I always visualize pet-en-l’aires on rounded, full-busted figures, with dimpled arms and round faces: the sort of figures shown in French fashion plates of the era.  Theresa is tall and slim.  The pet fit her perfectly, but the change in proportions completely changed my perception of the pet-en-l’aire aesthetic.  The pet suddenly looked elegant and exotic, rather than sweet and coquettish.  Theresa in the pet looks like a Gainsborough rather than a fashion plate. To play up the exotic aspect of the pet-en-l’aire, made as it is out of an Indienne chintz, and to worked with Theresa’s features, we focused on the orientalism so fashionable in the 18th century for the styling.  Theresa’s hair is not hedgehog-friendly, so we did a turbaned headdress, and skipped the full ‘poof’ of petticoats and bumroll. I wish I’d been able to find my proper ostrich feathers, not the skimpy ones I did find, and I still need to trim the pet and find proper silk (or at least rayon) ribbons for the …