Sunday, January 26, 2014

HSF #24: Re-Do: A pink robe a la anglaise en forreau

The theme of the 24th challenge of the Historical Sew Fortnightly was "Re-do" - re-do a previous theme. I chose to repeat a VERY recent one (of the ones I've completed so far, anyway), mostly because I absolutely could not have done this without the internet holding my hand through it.

I chose to "re-do" the Gratitude challenge.

When I decided to commit to a Georgian, I had intended to use a length of lovely green linen to make a robe a la anglaise with an en forreau back. When I finally dug it out of a box (ahhh moving), there wasn't nearly as much of it as I remembered. I had made a little note with the measurements but it got lost in the move. Not that it mattered - there simply wasn't enough. I recall it being an odd width, but even if it was 60" wide, it's only 2.5m long. Not enough for a full gown. Nuts! I'd so had my heart set on it.

Just prior to finding this out, I'd gone to the annual New Year's Day sale at Fabricland where I scored 6m of pink linen/cotton blend for around $4.50/m (regular $14). I was quite pleased! I know it's not strictly period, but I had intended to make undergarments with it - pocket hoops and a petticoat at the very least. But after I rediscovered that the green linen was insufficient, my plans changed.

So now I'd decided on making a pink linen/cotton robe a la anglaise en forreau - phew, what a mouthful. I was utterly terrified to start. What if I made a mistake somewhere? What if I ruined my gown and/or fabric? Aiiieee!!

Take a deep breath, self. You can do this. While I still have a hundred and one things to learn, I'm moving up towards "advanced" seamstressing. I can do this.

But I really could not have done it without Katherine's wonderful and extremely detailed tutorial. I started with a pattern (Reconstructing History #822) to give me basic shapes to start with and made a muslin first. I had to grade the seams out a bit to accommodate my shape and trim away a lot of the neckline and shorten it a bit at the waist, but despite that, I really only had to make minor changes. I transferred my changes to the paper, accounted for seams, and moved onto a lining. A bit more fitting to fiddle with (mostly opening the neckline more, front and back). Finally, I was satisfied with the fit and it was time to move onto the fabric.


I did make one mistake in cutting the back, which was easily fixed and I amazingly did not full-on panic about considering how scared I was to start. You can see the fix I made in these progress pics on my LiveJournal. I also ended up with the neckline a bit too wide, but as I won't be wearing this without some sort of neckline filler and I'm planning on trimming it anyway, it should be OK.

The Challenge: #24: Re-do. I redid #23 Gratitude, with huge huge thanks to Katherine's tutorials on anglaise, sleeves and francaise (binding).
Fabric: 55% Linen/45% cotton, white linen/cotton for the bodice lining and what I believe is cotton for sleeve lining.
Pattern: RH #822 with modifications, sleeve drafted from Costume Close-up.
Year: 1775-ish
Notions: cotton thread, poly twill tape for petticoat ties.
How historically accurate is it? Pretty darn close; perhaps around 80%. I ended up handsewing nearly the entire thing except for skirt and bodice lining seams. Everything else (hems, any visible stitching, and the sleeves) are hand-done.
Hours to complete: around 15-20 hours, I think, not including mock-up time. I wasn't keeping super-close track.
First worn: Just for pictures.
Total cost: $30 for pink fabric, linings were leftovers from other projects, thread randomly appeared in my stash, tape was perhaps $2. Max $40.

Sleeves set in by hand even though the strap is cut as one with the bodice.

The left back shoulder ended up being a little too short so I patched it. Probably could have covered it with the facing, but oh well.

My "oops" with the skirt is nearly completely hidden :)


  1. Your hand-sewing skills are quite impressive. And loved how you dealt with the little skirt slip-up. ;) I can only learn from you.:)

    1. Aw thanks :) I've always admired people who hand-sew their garments and while I didn't set out to do it that way, I found the process rather relaxing and more than a little satisfying!

  2. You're welcome. I've hand-sewn my last three dresses and the chemise I'm making for HSF #4. It takes a while but is very satisfying in the end, like you said. In about 2 weeks I can finally post a pic of it. But yours is still prettier. :)

  3. You know, I have been reenacting 1770s for several years now, and I've been terrified of making stays and a gown (even though I know it's the best look). You are an inspiration for me to blow the dust of my fabric and patterns and hop to it!

    thank you!

    1. You're welcome! If you need someone to cheer you on, let me know! You can do it :)


Road to Costume College 2018

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