2019 Finish-A-Long Q4 Nomination

Well, after having failed miserably on my Q3 project (I still haven’t finished the FMQ) my only hope of achieving anything in Q4 is to choose a small project. I’m branching out from quilting and trying my hand at doll dressmaking. I’ve already done one Regency-style dress from a Carpatina pattern (more on that in another post) so now I’m being a little more adventurous and I’m nominating this 1770s sacque gown from Thimbles and Acorns (disregard the mistake on the cover – it’s actually “pet en l’air”):

Doll sacque pattern
Doll sacque pattern

I’ve always loved the look of the sacque-back gown (and its jacket equivalent, the caraco) but I could never work out how to put it together. Luckily this pattern is fairly detailed.

Simplicity 8578 - Sacque gown pattern
Simplicity 8578 – Sacque gown pattern

Even better, after buying the doll pattern I found that American Duchess has a a sacque pattern available through Simplicity (8758 for the dress and 8759 for the relevant corset and panniers) which also has very clear instructions. After having read both patterns carefully I’m now much more confident in how to achieve the final dress.

On the downside, I am constitutionally incapable of following any pattern to the letter, whether it be quilting or dressmaking. I don’t know why, but I have to alter something — the colour scheme or the size or the setting or the fabrics or the trimmings, or some other small detail. Usually it works out all right but there have been one or two mishaps along the way.

In this case, I’m ditching the fabric ruffles — I know they were wildly popular at the time, but I’ve never been a fan of this particular detail and there are several examples (in both paintings and surviving costumes) where the dress is decorated by lace or embroidery instead. I’ll use lace this time and see how it turns out. I may try machine embroidery (or even hand embroidery) in the future. I’m also thinking about the sleeves and cuffs — the pattern wants me to line the sleeves and use doubled-over fabric for the cuff which will be very stiff so I may cut that back to single layers.

The pattern really needs silk but for this first effort I’m going to use cotton. It won’t look as authentic, perhaps, but it will still look better than these horrific examples (which I’m sure have only survived because no one on Earth has the complexion to wear them successfully):

Brown sacque from the Musée des Tissus de Lyon, photo by Pierre Verrier
Brown sacque from the Musée des Tissus de Lyon, photo by Pierre Verrier
Mustard sacque from the Fashion Museum, Bath, photo by Ludi Ling
Mustard sacque from the Fashion Museum, Bath, photo by Ludi Ling

When selecting the cotton for this gown, I first thought of using this very pretty small-scale chintz:

Pastel chintz
Pastel chintz

But then I realised that it’s too nice to be used as a first run, given the likelihood of mistakes. My next though was one of these two:

Brown cotton floral
Brown cotton floral
Mustard cotton floral
Mustard cotton floral

But that would be hypocritical given my comments on the two museum gowns I showed above *snort*.

Pale green cotton
Pale green cotton

Eventually I chose this one — there is a design there but it’s subtle enough that it won’t interfere with the shape of the gown, and it was a cheap purchase from Spotlight a couple of years ago (I think it was $6/m) so I won’t cry if I have to scrap the gown and start again. (And yes, I know I could use muslin or a solid, but where’s the fun in that?)

Oh, and as usual I’m linking up through Sandra of Sew Of Course.