March 15, 2016

Gallerie des Modes Inspired 1784 Gown!

I made something and I LOVE IT.  That hasn't happened to me in ages and it is blissful!

This weekend was the 5th Annual Francaise Dinner which for the last two years has been held in Alexandria, VA, and the beautiful Gadsby's Tavern.  As you can tell by the name, the idea is to wear a Francaise gown, but it's also a good excuse to wear something frivolous and ridiculous.

 I've been sitting on 10 yards of silk taffeta for a while that was set aside for a very specific Francaise gown, but the reality is I HATE making them.  I think they are a pain and I really don't like the style all that much, so eventually I threw up my hands and said "I'm gonna make this instead"

Gallerie des Modes, 1784
I really adore this dress.  It is so impractical with the giant skirts and so weird with the narrow ribbon banding and the yellow sleeve blocks.  I happened to be conveniently hoarding a whole lot of purple silk taffeta, and while it wasn't the lovely lilac of this gown, it was a gorgeous plumb color.

This dress was supposed to be one of those easy ones, but with one of the worst cases of sleevils I've ever dealt with, it ended up like all the others:  the desperate panic of two-hours-before-the-event sewing.  A group of us got ready at a hotel in the hours before the party, so while I managed to have the gown itself done before I left my house, I walked into the hotel room with a spool of thread and a piece of yellow silk and proceeded to make it right there on the floor of the hotel room (I'm embarrassed to say I'm famous for doing crap like this...when will I ever learn?!).  BUT! Thanks to the lovely Carolyn, who hemmed the petticoat for me, I ended up with a totally wearable gown. There wasn't even a single safety pin in it anywhere, y'all!

Obviously the biggest feature of this gown is the giant puff of skirt and even though I cut them impractically long they STILL weren't long enough!  I upped the puff factor by using three widths of fabric in the skirts instead of the usual two.  It's wide fabric, too- 58"!   There is a hell of a lot of silk pleated into that waist!  But the result was perfect.  I'm only wearing a small bum pad and my marsailles cloth underpetticoat for bulk, but that is about 85% skirt you see there.  It was so light and fluffy!

There really isn't much rhyme or reason to the puffing- about an hour before I put it on I took 5 big tucks in the upper part of the skirt and tacked them down.  I didn't even measure or anything.  Having this much fabric was very forgiving!

Laced my stays too tightly, haha!  Nice to know I can breathe a little deeper next time I wear this!

It still need a little more work to be perfect- the petticoat needs a band of ribbon and I need to move the location of the sleeve bows so they face outward more- but overall I'm just thrilled with this gown.  It was so fun to wear and easy to move in, since I wasn't burdened by heavy or awkward skirt supports!

ALSO: Best hair I've ever managed by myself, hands down!  I was really excited by how good it turned out!  


  1. Oh my goodness! This is so fabulous! Beautiful job!

  2. Excellent job! Those colors are so striking.