Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Simplicity 8578 the American Duchess Sacque Back Gown pattern

It was a success! I have been wanting to make a sacque back gown since watching Dangerous Liaisons when it first hit the theaters wayyyyyy back in my youth. I tried unsuccessfully to make one almost 3 years ago and I screwed it up amazingly. I used the JP Ryan pattern (I love JP Ryan patterns!) but this style did not work for me. On her pattern the front of the gown is essentially draped and I could not get it to work at all. About a year after that I was reading Period Costume for Stage and Screen. The author mentioned the easiest style sacque to make was one with a separate front bodice piece. There is an older Simplicity pattern that is a sacque of this style and the stomacher closes up the middle with hooks and eyes. It's out of print but can be bought on the secondary market. However along came the AD Simplicity 8578 sacque and I rejoiced! It has the separate front bodice piece I was looking for. Yay!

Pattern info:

Pattern is for the gown and petticoat. You will need panniers, stays, 1 under petticoat to add fluff. The gown is a fabric hog and the yardage requested is fairly accurate.

If you want to cut down on yardage you could just make your petticoat out of two 54 inch widths of fabric cut to the length you need. You can find directions on line to make a basic petticoat. The petticoat in the Simplicity 8578 pattern has a center piece and two side pieces for front and back. Hence the (6ish) yardage requirement. Several of my fancy gowns just have a basic two panel front and back petticoat. My panniers are average size. At my height (5ft 4ish) I can usually get away with 2.5 yards of 54 wide fabric for one petticoat.


I used silk taffeta from Silk Baron. Gorgon for the gown and Regatta for the petticoat. As far as trim I decided to keep the petticoat solid Regatta blue so I can wear it with another gown if I want to. Of course that would require me to make another gown......

Size and alterations:

I made size 20, bust 42. I didn't do a lot of alterations. This style gown is somewhat adjustable in size because of the ties on the inside back and the stomacher. I also knew this would be my first go around with this pattern so I would only do basic fitting tweaks. I had to shorten the bodice about 1/2 an inch because it was a bit too long and looking pretty janky over my panniers. The sleeves are a bit roomy so I did a 1/2 inch thin arm adjustment (I do not have thin arms. Mine are average don't ever work out middle-aged lady arms.) That's about it.

Side note:

Something to check next time. In the pictures on the Simplicity web site the front of the gown is longer than the petticoat. Mine is just the opposite. The petticoat runs a bit long and I did take a pretty deep hem on it. I like the length but apparently it should be shorter than I have made it. Eh.....no biggie.

Putting it together:

No issues. It is a lot of fabric to move around and it gets cumbersome. The instructions are clear and concise. The back neckline gown to lining RST seam is fussy as hell and mine looked not too good when I was finished. Lol. It's the reason mine has trim going all the way around the back of the neck. For my stomacher I basted one side to the gown and sewed hooks and bars on the other side. It's very easy to put on.

Final notes:

I love my gown. It's not perfect but I am so pleased to have finally made my dream dress! I felt so elegant when I was wearing it! I highly recommend this pattern and I will make another at some point.

I made this gown because I was invited to an 18th century party at the end of September. The Countess was also in attendance as well as some of my other homegirls. It was a magical day & evening!

 The lovely Countess wore her beautiful new gown!

 Ready to greet the guests!

 A fabulous group photo before supper was served. 

After supper photo by In the Long Run Designs. They were so nice to work with!

 Playing cards and winning! 

During the picnic both The Countess and I had scheduled a photo session with In the Long Run Designs. I decided to wear my trusty JP Ryan green silk gown. The Countess also wore green so we were like twins!! Lol, it wasn't planned but we had fun with it anyways. Here are some of the pictures  from the picnic.

 The green chicas

Contemplating nefarious shenanigans.... 

 A stroll in the garden.

Defending my virtue! 

The Countess looking pretty saucy!

This event was one of the highlights of my year! I have made some wonderful friends in the last few years and I am truly grateful for the good times we have together.

Thanks for stopping by and sorry I have been SO VERY neglectful of my little blog.

Monday, June 10, 2019

18th century sewing Tailor's Guide pattern revisited and other activities!

Oooooooooo I have been SO LAZY regarding this blog. However, I'm here now so I may as well post something. :-)

I'm not really in a rut but I have been on a slight break with my costume sewing. I also sew modern clothing and my summer wardrobe was looking pretty sad. So I set aside some time to make new tops. I still have some additional items to make but I started to get bored with modern clothing, as you do. It's always a challenge keeping myself focused on current projects. My mind starts to wander. Lately it's been wandering to the 18th century.

Tailor's Guide gown, again:

I have attended Vampire's Masquerade Ball for the last several years. It's in Portland, Oregon. This year they had a new venue! The Portland Art Museum. I decided to make a new 18th century gown because I totally need another......;-)

 I dug out my Tailor's Guide 1750-1785 gown & short gown pattern. I have already reviewed this pattern in 2016. I have no clue about historical accuracy but it does make a lovely gown. Also I finally learned to make pretty and very silly five loop bows thanks to the American Duchess 18th century sewing book. So I took advantage of my new skill and put 5 of those puppies on my new creation.

The dress went together without any problems. Sometimes it's nice to use a familiar pattern. I also didn't need to make a new petticoat. I used the same one I made for my first Tailor's Guide dress. Score! The candy cane striped silk has been in my stash for a couple years. I was down to scraps when I finished. It is so satisfying to use stash fabric and to be happy with the result.

 I'm in love with my Dames a la Mode necklace and earrings! I decided on clear stones with a gold setting. That way I can wear other color earrings with the necklace. I am having an ongoing love affair with her Girandole earrings. They look so decadent. I felt "extra" fancy at VMB.

 Me and Ms. T. 

 In the dark ballroom at VMB

 I had my youngest take some decent photos of the new gown once I had finished it. I also did a dry run with my hair and feathers.

Feeling very queenly and super fancy!

I also purchased a "piety" brooch to wear from Queen and Cavendish on Etsy. It's quite lovely! I have a pair of earrings from her shop as well that I wore to the Outlander Ball in April. 

A bit more 18th century:
JP Ryan English Nightgown redux.

I went back and re-trimmed my first 18th century silk gown I had made for Venice is Sinking back in 2016. I wanted something less flashy that could be worn during the day or evening. I LOVE the fabric I used for this dress. Chartreuse green! One of my favorite colors. It had a lot of gold metallic trim and sequins on it plus the skirt decorations were meh... I had only worn it the one time to VIS and it has been languishing in my closet ever since.

I pulled off all the gold trim, sequins and sad little skirt bows. I had a silk rem that was pink floral striped so I pinked narrow strips and stitched them on top of the existing pink silk trim. I also replaced the sleeve ruffles and added a bow to the bodice. I love the new look! Now I just need an excuse to wear it!

 This would be for evening but I can easily add a fichu and cap for a more formal daywear look.

2016 on the left and 2019 on the right.

And last but not least it's time for a proud mama post!

I am pleased to announce that my youngest is going to be participating in the Northwest Colonial Festival! He will be part of the Redcoat unit fighting against the Patriots during the battles of Lexington and Concord. The festival is August 8-11th at the George Washington Inn in Port Angeles, Washington.

There was a meet up last month in Port Gamble and my boy was happily accepted into the British army. At 14 he is old enough to discharge a weapon so of course he is thrilled!

 Serious picture time.

 Trying to pass muster.

 Learning to properly discharge a weapon.

 Proud mom!

Heading off to battle!

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Simplicity 8411 Claire's Outlander Red (not red) Dress

So there is an Outlander ball next month that several of us are planning on attending. Of course I wanted to make a new gown!

If you are interested in the ball go here Outlander Fanatics of Washington State You will need to join the group and then you can get all the ball info and how to get tickets. :-)

Based on the 18th century Robe de Cour. Dress laces up the back, 3/4 sleeves and separate skirt which is cartridge pleated to a waistband and hooked to the bodice. The bodice is fully boned and acts like a a pair of stays. The pattern also comes with panniers that are the perfect size for the skirt.

Vespers silk taffeta from Silk Baron (yummy!!!) Embroidered net lace. Pink tulle strips and silver gimp braid for bodice trim. Misc lace for sleeves and lace tucker inside neckline. I underlined the bodice with down proof ticking and it is lined with cotton sateen. Boning is all plastic.

Size and alterations:
I checked the finished bodice measurements before I decided on size. I was a bit apprehensive because when I costume I normally have stays or corset so my measurements are static. With this pattern there is no need for stays so I used my standard measurements which can fluctuate a bit from day to day. :-/

Looking at the finished size measurements I knew I would want to size down at least one size range. Simplicity notes that ease above body measurement is 1/2 an inch for this gown. Hmmmmmmm..... However if I am treating it like stays then I want a bit of negative ease so I have some support. The big 4 patterns seem to think we need ease in corsets and stays. That would be a giant NO. My aim was for a 1 inch back lacing gap.

Going by bust size I fall between 20 and 22. I decided on size 20 based on the finished garment measurements. Because I'm short between my apex and shoulder I cut size 16 for the neckline, shoulders and arm openings. Size 20 was for all the other seams. If I had cut size 20 for everything the neckline, shoulders and arm openings would have been way too large. I also used size 16 for sleeves.

The only alteration I made was taking the V cut out of the bodice neckline.

Easy to make. I did use plastic coated hoop boning for mine instead of the featherweight boning requested on the pattern envelope. I wanted them to be able to support the weight of the skirt plus two under petticoats. The skirt really looks better with a couple of petticoats underneath so the hoop bones don't show.

I used size 22 for the skirt/petticoat. You are using hooks and bars so you will want some tension in your waistband (NO ease!!) I notice the big 4 patterns also like to put ease in waistbands too.

The outer petticoat (AKA skirt) is made similarly to an 18th century skirt/petticoat. It has a front and back waistband that close together (overlap) on each side with hooks and bars. It is open from the waistband down about 9 inches on each side so you can wear a pocket in the 18th century style. The skirt front and back are cartridge pleated to the waistband. It is not difficult to do but it's very time consuming because it is done by hand. If you need a good tutorial on this go here-- Historical Sewing

The instructions are good for the making of the pleats but lack on the attaching them to the waistbands. The instructions don't show sewing it to the waistband RST and then hingeing it up like I have done in the past. Use the Historical Sewing tutorial instead for that step. It will look much better.

The downside of multi sized patterns is apparent in the skirt. The skirt pattern pieces are the same measurement for every size. The larger you are the less pleat density you will have. Using a thin fabric makes them even more sparse for us plumper ladies. I did use some interfacing to thicken up my fabric up to the fold line on the top of the skirt. I'm glad I did but I still feel that my pleats are thin. It's not a deal breaker but if you are in the larger size range you could probably skip the cartridge pleats and just do traditional knife pleats, skip the fold over and attach it to a waistband in the traditional manner. This would in turn give you more skirt length since you aren't using the fold over at the top.

The skirt runs short if you are taller than 5ft 4ish. I am wearing a 1.5 inch heel and the skirt doesn't touch the ground. I'm not quite 5ft 4 inches tall without shoes on. You will want more yardage if you are taller.

Bodice construction:
I made one muslin. I stitched up the back and left the center front seam open to check fit.

Time consuming. Lots of boning channels to sew and boning to cut. I used mostly plastic except for the back lacing bones where I used flat steel instead. It gives more support to the lacing grommets. If you are putting tension on your lacing you don't want flimsy bones that will buckle. Slimmer ladies may not have that issue.

Inserting sage advice here:
Set in the grommets asap once you have the bodice put together and the back boning channels done. That way you can try it on and make sure you want to keep going.

If I make this again I will not insert the boning until I have the sleeves put in. The instructions have you put in all the boning, bind the bottom and then put in the sleeves. That was a HUGE pain in the ass. All that boning flopping around while maneuvering sleeve sewing thru my machine.

More sage:
I used the rabbit ears method for my lacing while making the gown. I was able to easily loosen and tighten my laces so I could just pull it on over my head and tighten away. No lacing help needed.

Bodice construction continued:
The bodice went together fine until I got to the sleeves. The sleeves are very generous in size. Even the size 16 I used are roomy. If you have very full upper arms you may not need to adjust them.

The only way I was able to get the sleeves set in so the dot matched up to the shoulder seam was pleating them towards the front, not the back. Even the line art in the instructions show the pleats folded to the front in the first drawing and then to the back in the second drawing.

On outside of sleeve pleats are going to the front.

Next step the pleats are folded in the opposite direction. You can only see the inside of the pleats here but if the inside folds are pointing to the front then the outside folds will be pointed to the back. When I had them pleated to the back as shown that dot was nowhere near the set back shoulder seam. 

I first basted my sleeves in with my pleats to the back. I really didn't like how they looked. I have the same feelings when I look at the Simplicity website pictures.  I went back and refolded the pleats to the front (hey that dot finally matched up to the shoulder seam!!!!) and set them in. I don't know that they look any better but that damn dot was matching up so now I can at least sleep at night.  I decided to just leave them like that and let it go. Pleats to the front or pleats to the back....well it's only a costume anyway and I tend to do my own thing so...

A bit more sage:
If I ever made this again I would grab a different 18th century sleeve pattern and go that route. I don't like the sleeves on this.

More on the bodice:
The bodice is quite short. I'm short waisted and this fits me perfectly. If you have a longer waist you will definitely want to make adjustments. I visited the American Duchess blog here American Duchess Simplicity 8411
to get some guidance on this style of gown and decorating the bodice. It was very helpful!

Final notes:
I do recommend this pattern. I would say not for a beginner. Intermediate and up. The sleeves are meh. On the other hand, slap enough lace and bows on them to draw the eye away from the sleeve cap. ;-)

The costumes from Outlander have gotten a bit of hate but the red dress was a particular target. I don't watch the show and haven't read the books in years. I have seen enough still shots to understand the controversy. Whatever..... I didn't choose this dress for historical accuracy. I wanted a big 18th century-ish gown with a really full skirt. I'm happy with the end result in spite of the sleeves. It's a labor intensive project overall and even more so if you are decorating the bodice. Yay pictures!!

Here are some pictures from the Outlander Ball!

 Hitting on the cardboard Jamie.

Silly 18th Century shot!

 Claire needs to STEP OFF!

 The Countess was also taking advantage of cardboard Jamie

 Selfie time with Lady Champagne!

 The always lovely Countess!

 Myself, Lady Rebecca, Lady Champagne and the Countess.

 Always fun selfies with the Countess!

 Lady Cynthia writing letters!

Mirror selfie!