Today's post is about the Purple Francaise! I completely forgot about this dress until I was going through my Flickr albums, which is ridiculous since it was in my Facebook profile picture for a good six months.
I originally conceived of this dress for Williamsburg, but ran out of time. Luckily, in February 2014, the fates aligned and I was able to attend the annual Francaise Dinner in Pennsylvania. I didn't want to wear my "this old thing" Peacock again, so I decided it would be super smart to hand sew this previously abandoned francaise with no sewing room and limited time. The event was fun, but it definitely would have been more enjoyable if I wasn't finishing the dress five minutes before wearing it down to dinner. Ah well, lesson learned...
Anyway, the dress! The fabric is a dark purple silk taffeta with a very subtle woven gold stripe, which is lovely but will never photograph accurately.
I spent a long time fitting and re-fitting the bodice lining. My Peacock was a disaster fit-wise (you may recall that Sarah and Katherine had to save it at Costume College 2009) and I didn't want a repeat of that. I also had to limit my machine sewing since I couldn't hole up in my basement anymore. The resulting lining was made of a nice lightweight linen and was hand sewn.
I then draped the pleats onto my dress form, using the stripes in the fabric as a guide.
Since both my previous francaise projects were dubiously constructed at best, I relied heavily on Katherine's invaluable francaise tutorials. I still had some troubles fitting the front, but since those were mostly user error, I could handle them. I then sat down to hand sew everything together using my favorite 18th century stitch.
As my deadline loomed, I broke out the machine sewing - the petticoat doesn't have a waistband and is completely machine sewn, except for the hem because I am a hem snob. There are no further pictures because I was too close to the dinner to stop.
So here you have it - a mostly hand sewn francaise that I made in two weeks! It's not perfect (I desperately need to re-do the hem and waistband and stomacher and etc.), but it's lovely and fits nicely. With a little re-working, it will be the perfect 18th century wardrobe staple.
Photos courtesy of Aubry at A Fractured Fairytale