Friday, July 10, 2015

J.P. Ryan Robe a l' Anglaise or English Nightgown

So the first thing I had to learn about the 18th century is when they refer to a petticoat they mean a skirt. Then you have "under" petticoats. The extras that add fluff under your petticoat "skirt". Yeah, I know...

This is the J.P. Ryan Robe a l' Anglaise or English Nightgown. There are two views, one is a la polonaise and the other is a round gown (skirt is closed in front) with an apron front. Also you have the choice of making the easy one (the back of the bodice is not pleated) or the labor of love one (all the pleats on the back bodice are hand sewn). You can guess which one I chose.

Easy! So I chose the size 42 and started on a muslin. I knew there would be some alterations but surprisingly not many. The only thing I needed to do was shorten the shoulder/upper chest area. The designer provides extra room along the front seams to make final adjustments before adding the boning and sewing on the hooks and eyes.

Once I had my adjustments done I was able to cut out my fashion fabric and bodice lining. The bodice is fully lined, including the sleeves. It closes at the center front with hooks and eyes. In all honesty I think it would be easier to skip that and just pin it closed like they did in the 18th century. I am always worried my hooks and eyes are gonna pop open at a bad time. You also need to put boning along both front seams. I again chose German plastic boning for convenience. I managed to get the whole bodice sewn together and the sleeves set in a short amount of time. The sleeves run a bit tight, so check for fit with a muslin.

The skirt is open in the front and closed in the back. The envelope shows it pulled up in the back a la' polonaise. On my version I chose not to pull it up. The linen was single sided and the wrong side showed when I put it up. The skirt is pleated to the bodice starting at the back and ending about 2 inches from the front. The pleating is free form so you just pleat until it all fits. Which sometimes means you pleat and have to start over because there is too much fabric left at the end... The left side was finished quickly but the right side had to be redone several times to get all the fabric squeezed in there. Now, in a perfect world all fabric would be 58/60 inches wide. Mine was 54 so my skirt is not as full, but it is really not something you would notice. You use the WOF as your skirt width and the yardage as your length. That way when you sew up the side seams your selvedges are your finished edges. It works really well.

Once I had the skirt attached I just needed to try it on and see where the front folds would be. Then sew on the hook and eye tape and insert the boning. The hook and eye tape was tedious because it had to be sewn on by hand. But less tedious than sewing on individual hooks and eyes.

Final fit. I was pleased with the end result. There is a bit more room in the upper bust area, but that can be filled in with my fichu. The fit across the back it great. This dress is meant to be worn over false hips. I made a pair of stuffed hips to go under it. I also made the petticoat and an under petticoat.  I still felt like I could see the outline of the hip pads so I made the mythical costume unicorn called the "ugly puffer" Completely non historical, but it does the job. The ugly puffer is an under petticoat made of pre quilted fabric. I bought some 100% cotton pre quilted fabric and pleated it to a waistband. I then added a ruffle of white cotton organdy. Hey, it's ugly but it does the job.

 ^The ugly puffer. No pattern in existence, just pure magic.
False hips Pattern by Wingeo
Chemise pattern by the Mantua Maker
Stays and cap, purchased on Etsy
Sexy stockings OTK stripe by Sock it to Me
Shoes by Fugawee

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