Sunday, March 27, 2011

A robe

What did I say, they are all finally coming together. And pretty good timing too. JAFA is now only two and a half weeks away. I try not to dwell on that fact, but I am at least getting things done. This time, it is my open robe that has come to completion.

This is to be worn over my long sleeve white regency gown. I had found a fashion plate that I adored, it was pretty sketchy, but in it, the woman is wearing a high-necked white gown (check) with a bright red short sleeved trained open robe and a turban. I just have to hem the edges of my turban fabric at this point, but otherwise we are ready to go. It's made out of linen. Again a 3.95/metre find. There were two options with my fabric choice. A plain cotton homespun in the exact colour that I wanted or the beautiful thin linen in an ugly red. I decided on the ugly red and some fabric dye.

I didn't think about it at the time, but it was most prudent because I ended up fitting the fabric onto the fabric very well because it was a wider fabric. As to the pattern itself, it did take quite a bit of tweaking. I wanted something similar to the open robe found in one of the Janet Arnold patterns of fashion books. Only I wasn't really in the mood to draft that up from the teeny grid and then have to resize to fit me. It just sounded like a hell of a lot of unnecessary work. Instead, I decided to draft it working from my Sense and Sensibility patterns. It only took me a couple drafts to get what I wanted. I was originally going to use the spencer pattern to draft it up, but it was a lot easier to go from the drawstring bodice pattern. 

Essentially, I have extended the pattern pieces to the length I wanted (yes, there is a train). I split the centre back panel down the centre and added in a heap of fabric so that it would have a very deep double pleat to add fullness, however this is only added from the upper back area - the last thing that I wanted was a lot of bulk in the centre back. I also added extra for pleating onto the side back seams of the back panel, to allow for pleating towards the back, again adding more fullness. The side seam was a bit trickier. I didn't want any pleats in place and having a straight seam meant that it was not full enough over the hip area. I ended up angling out the seam, basically adding in a long gore. This really added a good amount of fullness over the hip. Then there was the front. The Janet Arnold pattern has deep pleats from the shoulder - I tried it, but the amount of fabric that it added was negligible - it was a lot of extra work for something that I was not really liking, added bulk to the front and seemed rather pointless to me. So I scrapped that and just went for a very straight front.
I didn't take that long to put together, the main time-consuming pieces were the hem along the front and the bottom hem - and mostly because I had to hand-sew them. I was a little unsure of what I would be doing to close the bodice in front, but in the end, I just went with a couple of buttons. You could quite easily do hooks and eyes or buckles though. All in all though, it has come out rather like I wanted, and should go rather well with my white gown. I think this pattern is a bit of a winner, I may just have to make more of them. After all I know that I have a lovely printed floral in my stash.

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