I’ve got a more elaborate finished UFO to show you for the Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge #8, but I haven’t managed to take photos of it yet, so for now here is a simple, soft entry, or a really elaborate, long-running entry, depending on how I think about it:
I’ve been struggling with engageantes (the false sleeves worn under pagoda sleeves in the 19th century) for the Greek Key tea dress ever since I first made the dress. My problem is that 1) none of the engageantes patterns explain exactly how one gets the engageantes to stay attached and up when wearing them, and 2) none of the engageantes patterns make up into something that looks like fashion plates depicting women wearing engageantes. They just aren’t as full.
The second problem I’m ascribing at least in large part to exaggeration in styles in fashion plates.
The first problem…well, that’s a sticky one.
My most recent trial of engageantes (4 years ago) involved the pattern from Janet Arnold, scaled up slightly on the assumption that I’m built on a grander scale than the original wearer. This is what they looked like as of last week:
I had them all sewn together, and used them on a model for the talk, basted into the sleeves of the Greek Key Dress.
There were two problems with the engageantes as they were: first, they weren’t actually done (too plain), and second, basting into the sleeves was a headache: the engageantes were wider than the top of the sleeves, so we had to roughly pleat them to fit, and it was hard to keep the stitches from showing on the outside, and over time the basting would damage the outside sleeves. So I do not think this is how engageantes were worn historically.
My best guess for historical accuracy at the moment is that they were basted to the chemise sleeves, but that’s not going to work very well for how I use and wear costumes, and at this point I think we can all agree that the Greek Key dress is not historically accurate.
So, in order to finish my engageantes, they needed to be made both beautiful and workable. First I sewed lines of van-dyked lace around the cuffs and the bottom of the engageantes, embellishing them, and adding volume to their poof. Sadly, I only had enough for three layers around the cuffs, and two around the bottom of the sleeve: more would be better, so I’ll have to keep an eye out for more of this lace.
Then I worked out a system for attaching them to the jacket. I sewed eyelet lace around the top of the sleeves, and threaded twill tape through it, so that they could be gathered around my arm.
Here they are ungathered:
Then I sewed loops in to the tops and bottoms of the jacket armscye, and ties on to the top of the engageantes in two places, so that they can tie to the loops on the jacket, but still be adjustable for length.
Here are the loops in the armscye:
And the ties in the engageantes attached to the loops:
And what they look like hanging down into the sleeve:
It worked like a charm. They took mere minutes to attach and adjust, stayed up nicely, and were very comfortable. The next pair I make will be fuller and longer (which will also make them fuller) but otherwise I think I’ve finally got the engageant problem sorted.
For me, there are two ways to look at this project: first, the PHD is the engageantes (and they really were a project half done, because they were sort of done – they just didn’t work!), and I’ve finally finished them – four years later. The other way is to think of the whole Greek Key ensemble as an unfinished project, because it was never wearable without engageantes, and I had never managed to make reasonable, workable, finished engageantes before.
For the purposes of the HSF, I’ll count this PHD as just the engageantes, as it gets too complicated otherwise.
The Challenge: #8 — PHDs & UFOs
How long has this been a PHD? : Since June 2010
Fabric: No new fabric, but less than 1/2 a metre of self-striped cotton lawn originally.
Notions: 3 metres of lace with a vandyke pattern ($2), 1.5 metres of eyelet lace ($2), 3 metres of twill tape (50cents)
How historically accurate is it? Mostly not. It’s machine sewn, which is a stretch for 1860. The fabric is reasonable, the decorating technique and lace not, and my attachment method certainly isn’t. So under 40%, but still worth it, because I learned a lot.
Hours to complete: 2. Really easy except for sewing the lace rows so close to the sleeve gather.
First worn: With the Greek Key dress for a hoopskirt themed photoshoot on Friday the 2nd with the fabulous Theresa, who is in town for a few days and made a photoshoot with me top priority!
Total cost: $4.50 further in materials, and less than $2 original materials (so these would be a great entry in the Under $10 challenge)
And, of course, I’ll be showing you the full view of the photoshoot soon!