So over the summer I binge watched the most recent season of Poldark. Although the costumes aren’t super historically accurate (I really enjoyed reading Frock Flicks articles on Poldark – and the rest to be honest – although I enjoyed the show!), I was really inspired by the simple look of the linen and cotton gowns worn by the lower classes. I was pretty unhappy with the fit of my previous Anglaise (no written posts, just a photo post here). It was my first 18th century dress, my first historical dress, so it was littered with mistakes and faults.
I wanted to re-do this style, since I think it’s my favourite 18th century style. I went shopping for linen way back in the summer, and I included the fabric I got for this in my last haul post . I got it at Goldhawk Road for £5 p/m, and I bought five meters. I thought it was a really good deal! It’s a really nice cream linen, but it has a plaid pattern on it and different patches with a whiter weave.
My starting point was the pattern I used for my previous Anglaise. I dug it out and cut it out of a mock up. I remembered the bodice fitted weirdly by a combination of issues with the grainline and it being too big. This first mock up fit very poorly. I struggled with the grainlines (since I put none of the original pattern which was drafted with Friendship’s Creating Historical Clothes – there was also no mention of grainlines in the drafting section) and the fit was atrocious. I fiddled with the fit and cut out a second mock up – the front piece was just not working at all, though the back fit really nicely!
So instead I cut the back away from the mock up and pinned it on my dressform. Then I decided to drape the front part of the dress. This wasn’t ideal – especially because I was still being really lazy with draping and used random scraps of fabric and pieced it. But in the end that’s what happened. I transferred the drape to paper and then cut a second mock up. This fit a lot better.
However I still wasn’t 100% happy with it, and I was awaiting the delivery of my American Duchess’ Guide to 18th Century Sewing, so I thought I would wait the couple of weeks there was for it to be delivered. (Quick rant: Amazon originally had the same delivery date as America, but then when I checked closer to the date, the UK release date was pushed back to December, then in December it said my order had gone out of stock and they didn’t have a new delivery day – I ended up cancelling the pre-order I’d done in JULY and bought it from Book Depository, which arrived within four days. For once Amazon sucked.) Point of this was I ended up delaying the Anglaise until the end of December, at which point I was making my Edwardian ensemble.
I started working on this again in January and since a month had elapsed, I cut out a new mock up out of calico instead of flimsy cotton and was much happier with the result. I just had to tweak the centre front (really weirdly I couldn’t have a straight centre front, it had to nip in at the top more than anywhere else – so weird!) and a couple of other small things like raising the neckline and it was good to go.
I was really careful with fitting and trying this on, so I cut it out of the interlining layer of cotton twill first, and assembled that to try on (even though I would have to unpick it later). I tried on the interlining layer and it fit alright so I moved forwards.
To cut it out of the linen, I cut each piece individually so I could work on lining up the pattern. I made sure that each piece was a mirror of the other.
I unpicked the seams that I had sewn to try on the interlining layer. Then I pinned all the corresponding pieces together and basted them.
Then I pinned the seams and basted them, trying to line up the pattern where I could, mostly the CB and CF seams. Then I sewed them. I started from the centre back outwards.
I did the shoulder seam last. Once all the seams were sewn, it looked like this:
At this point I tried it on, as I was worried about the wonky centre front. AND I WAS RIGHT TO WORRY.
I honestly have no idea why it’s so wonky. The pattern looks right – maybe the grainlines? Or is it just meant to be like that? Either way, I could force it closed, so I went with it. I was already worried as the centre front wasn’t completely straight, because of my weird proportions.
I finished the top edge by rolling the seam inwards twice and then stitching that down by hand.
The next step was to sew down the seam allowances so that they became boning channels.
I used synthetic whalebone, which has become my favourite for boning everything since last May. I simply cut the length needed (minus half an inch at the top and bottom) and file the edges down with a nail file. Then they are inserted into every channel. Now that the boning was in, I could finish the bottom edge. I did the same thing as on the top edge, by rolling the raw edge inwards twice and sewing down by hand.
For the bodice closure, I handsewed eyes and hooks to two lengths of twill tape. Then I sewed the tape to the centre front of the bodice. I thought this would be easier, as when I sewed hooks and eyes to my first Anglaise, it was very time consuming and fiddly. I think it worked out well in the end. The bodice fit isn’t perfect in any way – it still really bothers me that at times it seems too big.
For sleeves, I started out with the same pattern from my first Anglaise. It was a fitted elbow sleeve, drafted with Friendship’s Creating Historical Clothes. The most important bits are the elbow darts. There are two: one on the bottom edge of the sleeve, and one horizontally on the sleeve.
I cut the pattern out of the linen and out of simple white cotton to line the sleeves with.
I sewed the darts first, on each piece individually.
Then I matched the edges and basted them together.
I finished the side seam with a french seam, then pinned the sleeves to the bodice. I sewed them together by machine. However at this point, when I tried on the bodice, my arm’s movement was very restricted and I felt like the sleeves were tight. So I undid the french seam and inserted a gusset under the arm. A gusset is a triangle of fabric, larger on the arm scythe and thinning out towards the elbow. I sewed it on by hand.
I used the lining to cover the new seams. It worked in the end, and the sleeves were a lot more comfortable after.
I finished the bottom edge by turning the lining and the outer fabric inwards, and sewing them down together, finishing them in one go. And that was it for the bodice! (except some small sleeve flounces I added later). Next up, the skirt, fichu and flounces!