Saturday, May 15, 2010

Anglaise Inside and Out

I recently made two Robe A l'Anglaise (English back) gowns. Here are the inside and out pictures of them both:

The first is made from camlet, a mixture of silk, wool, and linen. The skirt is polonaised by ribbons and thread rings on the inside. Front is closed and secured with straight pins. I added a box-pleat trim to the edges.
The back has two pleats which are stitched down. I used two full widths for the back and skirt, seaming together at CB. The fronts lap over the back and are stitched down.
Closer view of the spaced back-stitch used and the pleating. I used 1/4" pleats, but 1/2" are common as well. Notice that the pleats change directions at the pocket slit. You rarely see that on modern reproductions, but it was the most common way to do it historically. There are examples that have them facing one direction as well, but you may find that this way helps with the center back pleats (instead of creating a box pleat on either side of the long back pleats).
The trimming was folded under at the edges and tacked down in four spots on each pleat.
I chose to keep the lining loose at bottom and use it to cover the pleats. You can finish the bodice off entirely and whip the top of the pleated skirt to the bodice as well. That option allows for easier adjustment of size later, but doesn't work as well for a easily fraying fabric. The armscye seams are left raw and open. I've only seen them entirely finished on one women's garment, and we're pretty sure it was made by a male tailor with some odd ideas. Some do have the top half of the sleeve inserted into the bodice, but the lower half then comes out raw. You can whip the edges, but I've found that they tend not to fray too much. Maybe if the garment will be washed?
The second gown is linen. It was made off of the same "shape" as the above gown, but has a few changes in style. I adjust the bottom front to be a narrower tab at the bottom and left off any trimming. The sleeves simply have three tucks in front to shape them.
The back pleats are inverted. There are not many examples of this, but they do exist. You can also choose to do more than just two pleats like my examples. I made a high, narrow neck-line, something increasing after 1775. Eventually gowns will have an almost diamond shaped back piece at the end of the century (most quartered-back as well)
I chose not to put in pocket slits on this skirt since it starts far enough back (and it was one less thing to do on a quick project). Therefore all of the pleats face CB. You can see the box pleats made to accommodate that. There are also a few double pleats at the back to take in some extra fabric.
I finished off the top of the back like all other edges, but you can place a cover piece over those raw edges instead. My pleats hit the corner, but many end mid-way on the shoulder seam. The cover would match those points and follow the shoulder seam up, fold over the edges, and be tacked down as a box shape on the inside.
Same construction on the inside as the first gown.

I know that there are some confusing aspects to building this type of gown, so I'll hopefully get instructions put up soon. Check out the back on this gown.


Time Traveling in Costume said...

I'm just about ready to fit my muslin on me using JP Ryan's caraco pattern, and it's nice to see such good photos of the interior construction of these gowns. I've decided to shorten the skirt portion, and do one large pleat on each side, so it sorta looks like a riding jacket. Just to be different, you know.
Beautiful job!

Lindsey said...

They're both beautiful! I love all the detailed pictures and descriptions!

Angela said...

I love them. I have yet to make the anglaise with the pleated and stitched center back. Is that difficult? I am looking out for silk/wool blends that are not heavy and yet have a dress weight. Any suggestions?

ColeV said...

I don't think it's difficult. Step by step, it's really easy. The transition into the skirt can be a little fidgety, but lots of pins can hold that.. I'd recommend Burnley & Trowbridge's Camlet, that's what my cinnamon gown is made from. It also comes in blue, and they might still have beige. I've bought all three colors for different projects it's so nice to work with.

3 am poems said...

These gowns both look so nice!!! I can't believe you sewed them all compleeeeetttly by hand!!! can you reccomend a good pattern for a robe a l'anglais or even maybe a quarter-back gown? I've done all my petticoats now and just have my gown left to do ;)

ColeV said...

JP Ryan tends to be one of the accepted re-enactor patterns. But, don't take it as a pattern, use it as a shape. If you save those side seams for last you can have someone help you pin them and it will fit far better than assuming the pattern is right. I build most of my gowns off of a "pattern" draped on me at a workshop, but they all end up very different depending on the fabric.

Rebecca said...

Gorgeous work, and the details are so impressive! I'm curious, looking at yours, were linen gowns typically sewn with white or natural thread, rather than with thread of a coordinating color? And may I ask how you attach the skirts? Is it with a whip-stitch, or a backstitch from the right side? And how many stitches do you tend to use per pleat to hold it? I'm working on my first hand-sewn gown now and I'm keen to get it right the first time!

And thanks so much for sharing your work and such detailed instructions. I so enjoy reading your entries!

ColeV said...

Quite often all gowns were sewn with a neutral color, excepting any trimmings where it would be obvious. It's not cost effective to try and match every color. I've done it a couple times and either ran out during or didn't have enough to do later repairs. I do match on silk though, silk thread colors are easier to find.
I attached the skirt with a spaced back-stitch from the out side. The lining is then whipped over it all. If you keep the skirt top out inside, you whip over that, attaching it to the bodice lining.
The general rule for most stitching is 8-10 per inch (silk often 12-14).

Kathy Storm said...

Beautiful work! I really appreciate the detail photos, especially the inside.

Ruth said...

Thank you for writing your blog, I'm a student really interested in costume history, and I find it very useful to read about how you do everything.

Anna said...

That's so pretty! never seen someone make such perfect costumes.. o: wauw! hihi

Clara said...

Oh, the pleats make me happy. I'm making a robe a l'ainglaise right now out of blue linen. if only my hand-stiches were as good as yours! so pretty!! and you call them 'quick projects' dear me, I hope I can say one of these gowns is a quick proect for me one day!

Anonymous said...

i am making this same style gown but its going to have a stomacher... is it accurate to have pocket hoops with this style?

ColeV said...

Certainly! Pocket hoops are used in either more formal situations or by higher class women (it's not easy to work in them!). The style of front on a gown (stomacher or closed) depends more on the preference of style- stomachers were common earlier in the century up until the 1780s, closed fronts became common in the 1770s.