Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Completed Chemise a la Reine

Well, it might have been 4 am the day of the event, but I did manage to finish this project! My living room still looks like a sewing disaster area, but here is the final product (okay, okay, no project is ever final...I'd like to go back and lengthen the hem and permanently sew on the arm ribbons):I think I might be wearing my rump a little bit too low, and I was disturbed to see that this style wasn't particularly flattering on my body-type. I don't know why I'm surprised - it's essentially a 4 yard tube gathered around me with draw-strings. It was bound to add some unwanted bulk. I was, however, very pleased with the sash, the hat (isn't it at a nice jaunty upturned angle?), and my wig.The pattern left a few things to be desired (though it did get the job done). First of all, the pattern called for 60 inch wide fabric. I looked everywhere, but could only find 45 inch wide fabric, so I had to piece together my gown. While I was cutting it out, I happened to measure the width of the pattern piece that required the afore mentioned 60 inch wide fabric - it was 72 inches wide!!! I can't imagine how frustrated I would have been had I purchased 60 inch fabric, only to find out that it wouldn't work or that I hadn't purchased enough fabric.

The next problem came when I realized that there were no instructions on how to finish the upper back edge of the gown. The lady from reconstructing history was very kind and wrote me back with instructions on how to finish them, but I was in such a time crunch that I had forged ahead making it up on my own. My top closure drawstring runs all the way around the top edge of the gown - the front, the shoulder straps, and the back. Apparently I should have created separate casings for the front and the back, and finished the shoulder straps by simply roll hemming them. I may still go back and fix this.

The pattern also called for me to sew the gathering casings as one of the first steps (just after cutting out and assembling the dress pieces). The result was my underbust and waist casings were not at the right spot. In my opinion, the better construction technique would have been to start by gathering the top edge casings, sew on the shoulder straps, and then try on the dress with the undergarments in order to mark the correct placement for the waist and underbust casings. Again, I am definitely considering unpicking my stitches and fixing this.

My final gripe on the pattern - no illustrations whatsoever. For a $30 pattern, that's a lot of problems...and I think my points are pretty valid. Unfortunately, it's currently the only pattern available for the Chemise a la Reine, and in the end I was able to make-do. Here's a final shot of me in period surroundings:


Susie Gordon said...

The wig turned out great! Great job on everything- I especially admire your plugging on despite the less-than-perfect pattern instructions. Caly looked like she had a blast!

Katherine C-G said...

Hello, I'm here from LJ :)

Your dress is quite pretty, and to let you know, the things that you would've done differently are all things I did on my dress. On mine, the back is gathered and bound, straps hemmed and I waited till the end to do the casings (though I didn't do the underbust casing). I'm all for doing lots of things on the almost finished dress--it's much easier!

And great hat too :)

Inoui said...

Katherine (or Koshka!) - thank you for your comment. I just spotted it going back through my old Posts. I've been a long time admirer of your site - I love your sheer civil war gown. Now that I'm back in the US, perhaps we'll run into each other eventually (I'm on the East coast, but maybe I'll see you at Costume Con 2009).

Glad to know you're on livejournal. I'll log on and add you to my friends list. I should probably switch over to LJ (I just keep an LJ account so I can view others), but I adore my blog format...

Danae said...

Hi, I did a chemise a la reine search and found your page. I'm thinking of doing a chemise a la reine and i was wondering how you went about doing your sash? I haven't been able to find ribbon wider than 3"...I'd like a nice wide (like 8" or so?) sash...did you buy a small amount of silk and sew widths together and hope the seams didn't show too bad? or did you buy gobs of silk and just had tons left over?

anyway, your sash looks lovely and if you have time I'd love any advice! thanks!

Anonymous said...

I started making a Chemise a la Reine just recently, and I used your photos and such for some research. I'm using the Rocking Horse Farm pattern, which everyone I've talked to hates, but I actually kind of like it. I don't see anything wrong with it that a very few minor alterations wouldn't fix. Have you ever used it?

Dave said...


I bought a small amount of silk (mainly for the hat), and purposefully bought extra. Probably a yard or yard 1/2 at most. So the answer is the sash is pieced together. It's a silk taffeta.

Jennifer - I'm not familiar with the Rocking Horse pattern, but best of luck with it and I hope it turns out nicely.

-CostumeDiva (on hubby's account)