Curtains, and Patterning Update

Posted by muhammad nasrudin

I'm strongly considering joining the curtain-along.  I want to make a demi-polonaise, because it fascinates me!  (There are a few more examples of them in the coming plates.)  It will give me a chance to try out the polonaise skirt shape and some trim types before I make an actual polonaise with my Williamsburg fabric.  Also, I'm not quite happy with the shape of my stays, and I'm a bit nervous that if I make something with a bodice it won't fit when I get around to making better ca. 1785 stays.

Detail of the Cherry Hill gown back
Last Friday I visited Historic Cherry Hill to pattern a ca. 1780 closed-front gown with sleeves en pagode and a matching petticoat; Monday, I went to the Albany Institute and had a marathon all-day session patterning two rather similar gowns (not as pointed in the front, though), one of which has a matching but waistbandless petticoat with self-fabric trim, the other with loops inside to pull up the skirt, as well as a jacket, a stomacher, and a pair of early 18th century sleeves. Interestingly enough, the skirts of the Cherry Hill gown and the AIHA gown with the petticoat were both cut in curves on the front corners and had similar trim down the fronts and around the curves.  I can't wait to get a bit further on in the fashion plates to see when this started, or if it was never a high-fashion thing, maybe just a local style.

Detail of sleeve trim on AIHA gown with petticoat

I have something to add to my usual caveats about trusting museum-given dates. The petticoated gown was en fourreauand in a striped floral fabric: it was marked "1760-1770, remade 1780" because the fabric is early-looking and the general thought is that fourreau gowns are earlier, and so if you have that plus closed front it must have been remade. But there's no indication that any seams have been changed at all. It's patched, but under the arms, where it was worn. So what I'm saying is, don't assume remodeling when a museum's database/catalogue says so and back pleats go later than most people think.

Detail of pleating on AIHA gown with rétroussée loops
Another interesting thing I've learned is that it seems kind of common for sleeves and their linings to be seamed together, the front or back folded under in both layers and lapped around the other, then sewn all the way through - which hides all the seam allowances.

Detail of front of jacket
I'm very, very happy to say that pretty much everything I've worked on for the whole project so far has at least one attribute that makes it worth inclusion. Most have two.  And I have a couple more leads for finding more articles to pattern.

Detail of stomacher