February 5, 2012

Sack back, Sacque, Robe a la Francaise- whatever you want to call it!

Because I am a very lucky girl, I get invited to some pretty amazing parties sometimes!  This one was The Francaise Dinner Party, which I desperately hope becomes an annual event.  Bryan and I drove up to the Philadelphia area for this dinner with about 15 old and new friends, and everyone really pulled out the stops with their outfits!

Personally, I've never like the Sack Back style gown.  I just think it looks a little silly, so I had never made one.  Kat (our hostess) challenged us to make one for this event, and there is nothing like the promise of a good party to convince me to embrace a new costume!  I was lucky enough to find 10 yards of a delicious mint green shot with gold silk taffeta for a shockingly good price right after the party was announced, and who am I to resist fate?

I mostly used the pattern on page 35 of Patterns of Fashion from Janet Arnold, with a tremendous amount of help from Katherine's wonderful tutorial for draping a Francaise, which saved me on numerous occasions.  Thank you, Katherine!

I anticipated that this would be a quick n' dirty gown since I only started it a few months ago, but I ended up sewing everything except for the long seams on the petticoat by hand.  I did run out of time in the end (I did a shocking amount of finishing work in the car on the way up yesterday!), so it isn't trimmed as elaborately as I would like.  That just means the next time I wear it it will look different!

Here's the dress (and I do apologize for the wrinkles and my hair being collapsed.  These photos were taken at the end of the evening, so this is 7+ hours of wear!)

(Oops!  Crooked stomacher!)

The following are a few "how it works" shots.  

It pins closed under the robings- this is the trickiest part and I couldn't have done it without my patient and kind assistant :)

The trick to getting a smooth stomacher! Put tabs in it!  This way you can put the pins in horizontally facing away from the stomacher, which I find to be much easier that putting them in vertically along the edges of the stomacher. 

This is how I gathered the sides in around the petticoat.  As you can see, the hoops on this are pretty small, so the pleating method that others have used just didn't quite work with me.  I was hemming and hawing over it when I saw this picture of an original petticoat (I have no idea where this is from!  Someone please tell me so I can cite the source!:

It worked perfectly over my little hoops and was much easier than trying to pleat!

And just for fun, here is a classic shoe shot!  Mine are the green ones, of course :)


  1. How beautiful! Looks like a lot of fun.

  2. You gown was so lovely in person - the fabric was really to die for! FYI that petticoat is from a c1760-70 gown in the collection of the Met. :>