Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Putting the a la polonaise together

As mentioned in my first 18th century a la polonaise post I am using Jennie's Portrait Gown pattern from Sense and Sensibility. Her patterns work well with my body and this one is no exception. This was my 12 days of Christmas project during my summer holidays 2011/12.

The young women in the Portrait Gown image on the left is far less busty than me, yet the same pattern fits my curvaceous body very well indeed and I like that in a pattern.

My fabric for this gown is a lovely blue and white toile pattern, very reminiscent of the 18th century, though not hand blocked of course.

Its a quilting cotton (muslin), bought on sale for the unbelievable price of $A2 per metre! I snapped up the whole roll which was 10 metres and lucky I did because I needed every last metre of it due to the need for fussy cutting as I wanted to ensure that the bodice front and back patterns matched and showed off the pretty cupids, lady on a swing, etc.

It was a hard task to match the fabric pattern as it wasn't printed as a mirror image, and as the picture to the right shows, lots of fabric was 'wasted'.

So what's 'fussy cutting' I hear you ask? Well its aligning your pattern and seam allowances to ensure the fabric design is positioned in the way you want it on your pattern piece. For instance I wanted the swinging girl right in the centre of my bodice, in the centre of my sleeve and the cherubs placed on the back panels. Here they are before being stitched up.

Front bodice
Back bodice
... and here they are stitched together ... I interlined the cotton with a white cotton sheet that I had in my stash. It's worked very well, giving better body to the very light fashion fabric.

See how the toile pattern is set central to the bodice
Back, not the best view, but you can see my intentions I think

Putting the bodice together was a delight, the sleeves went in without a hitch

Setting in sleeve
Attaching the lining
Sleeve at back when sewn in

Front of sleeve

Then I added the skirt onto the bodice and that went on smoothly as well. The pleating is a bit difficult around the back bodice 'v', it takes a bit of fiddling to get it right, well to my satisfaction at least!

Bodice 'v' attached to polonaise skirt, you can also see my boning channels
Same shot but from the right side, pleats are OK, could be better

The only issues I have had with this project is my own silly lack of attention mistakes and they were minimal. Its been a great summer holiday project between Christmas and 12th Night (5th January).

Over the last weeks I have made my petticoats, one in white and one in the fashion fabric and I used Kosha the Cat's online tutorial, though Jennie gives you an excellent how to in her pattern notes.

Metres of fabric for the fashion petticoat, lucky I bought 10 metres!
The project's not complete, I still have to add trims to the bodice neckline, boning to the bodice, lace to the sleeves, hooks and eyes for bodice closure, buttons and polonaise ribbon and make a smaller bum pad. My 'tuder-bethan' one is way too big and ruins the line of the gown. Oh and a new chemise, I have lost my beautiful silk/cotton one, most annoying!

As you can see in the piccies below, I tried the bodice pining method, but my curves just pop them right out, opps, perhaps too much Christmas cake, pudding, custard and chocolate me thinks over the 12 days of Christmas!

My hair is a very quick attempt at Georgian 'big hair' for the piccy, not really successful. Also, sorry for the blurred images, I'll put up better ones in my next post.


  1. I love it!

    The fabric is lovely and you did an amazing job fussing with your fabric to have the toile pictures just so!

    I made Jennie's girls portrait gown for my girls for Christmas one in a blue and white floral. Jennie's patterns are delightful...


    1. Thanks so much Deanna!

      I have the portrait girls pattern as well and will be making it with my girls sewing class this year, they want to make a 'history' dress.

    2. Well done Lorna, it's looking good. Can't wait to see photos of you in your finished gown!

      I was looking at that pattern, and might buy it later for the later style that is included.

    3. Thanks Sandi :)

      The a la Reine gown Sandi? If yes, I'm making one of those as well from the pattern. Happy to chat with you about the pattern on FB.


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