Saturday, December 9, 2023

Frantically Trimming The Strawberry Sacque (La Fraise Robe a la Francaise)

 Make the gown, trim it with ruffles and puffs of silk organza edged with fake fly-ish trim, and top the whole confection off with silk strawberries. That was the plan, and less than a week before the ball, I was ready to begin the organza floof  and something-resembling-fly-trim stage of the process.

My plan was to roll hem all my organza puffs and ruffles, then whip stitch on the trim, and finally sew everything to the gown. When it was done it was supposed to resemble this:

Queen Charlotte
Thomas Gainsborough, circa 1781

So I began by roll hemming the ruffles for my petticoat. 

As I hemmed, I roughly calculated how much trim I was going to need to edge all the ruffles with in my head. And I ran into my first problem. I was not going to have enough trim.

I found this "sage, gold, and pink loop trim" at Hobby Lobby a few years back when I first started planning this gown. I thought it complimented the colors in my silk and the different fabrics I was planning on trimming the gown with quite well. If you squinted and looked at the trim from the right angle it somewhat resembled 18th century trim. It obviously wasn't perfect, but as I was on  budget and didn't plan on weaving my own trim as other costumers have done, I thought it would work. I started picking up a couple rolls of the stuff whenever I happened to be at Hobby Lobby and they had their trim on sale 50% off.

At some point I guess I lost interest or something since I stopped buying the trim. When I finally started making the gown this summer I pulled out the trim and discovered I only had 9 rolls of the stuff - approximately 27 yards total. Judging by estimates I found online, that might not be enough trim. Hobby Lobby had discontinued this particular colorway of the trim, so I couldn't get anymore and was going to have to carefully plan how to use the trim I did have. Right away I decided to skip the trim on the sleeve ruffles and slightly change the trim design on my stomacher and robings to conserve my trim and make it stretch as far as possible.

The second issue I ran into was time. The week of the ball I realized there was no way I'd manage to roll hem all the organza in the time that I had. A short cut would have to be figured out.

For the long ruffles down the front opening of the skirt I realized I could press under the hem, then sew on the trim - hemming the organza and attaching the trim all at once. This cut my hand sewing time on this trim in half!

Once both front edge ruffles were prepared, I laid them out on the gown, matching half and quarter points.

Rather than run a gathering stitch down the middle of the ruffle as planned, I just eyeballed things and made little pleats until I was satisfied with the "rufflyness" of both ruffles.

After using up just about all my pins. . .

I was satisfied and hand sewed both ruffles in place down the middle with a prick stitch.

Next up were the wavy puffs bordering the outside edge of the ruffles.

I made these by pressing under the edges of long strips of organza, then gathering the organza up every few inches. (I think I divided the strips each into 16ths, but it's been a couple months and I can't remember for sure now.)

Once the puffed strips were prepared, I pinned them onto the skirt.

I fell in love with the was those puffs looked, so I scraped my previous plan and decided to do puffs on the robings as well, rather than the ruffles I'd intended.

Once all the puffs was pinned in place, I sewed on the robing puffs first, edging them with trim as I went along. I'd been careful to save every scrap of trim and it appeared I'd have enough for the gown, I'd just have to use less on the petticoat than I'd intended.
I sewed the puffs to the robings two days before the ball.

I sewed one strip of skirt puffs on (again, trimming as I went to cut my hand sewing time in half) the night before the ball, and the other strip on the morning of the ball. Each strip took about 3 hours to sew in place. (Yes, including the robings, that 9 hours just to attach and trim all the puffs, not counting the time it took to make the puffs and pin them in place in the correct wavy design.)

I adore the way the puffs turned out - but if I'd realized how much time they would take, I probably would have skipped them. They certainly contributed to me being an hour late to set-up the day of the ball!
Anyway, back to trim:

Due to the placement of Queen Charlottes hands in my inspiration portrait I couldn't quite tell what her stomacher trim looked like, but I thought it was similar to the skirt ruffles - a strip of fabric, edged in trim, then gathered and attached down the middle. To conserve my limited trim, I did mine a bit differently.

I gathered up both edges of my strips of organza, sans trim.

And pinned the gathered organza in place down either side of the buttons and across the top of the stomacher.

I sewed down the edges by sewing trim over the top of them.

And two days before the ball the stomacher was done! Well, mostly.

The morning of the ball (after I finished up with the puffs) I tacked some lace across the top of the stomacher and added a big floofy pink bow center front.

With that done, my gown was more or less done and ready to be worn to the ball! 
But my petticoat???

That was a whole different story! It was still in about 4 pieces, maybe more. . . and I had to leave home in just over an hour. . .

I'll tell you how that turned out next time. . .

1 comment:

  1. Wow, sounds like a nightmare situation! But it looks so nice when done!!