All posts for the month November, 2015

Marie Antoinette Was Finished In Time!

Published November 2, 2015 by mindfulofchatter

Never let it be said that I am a quitter when it comes to sewing. I may get angry. I may even crumple up a garment and make it have a time out in the corner until it decides to cooperate. But I do not quit.

This ‘Simplicity’ pattern was not simple to figure out. It was not that the actual sewing was difficult, it was the directions and mis-marked unmarked pattern pieces that gave me fits. The lack of explanation for certain directions was also annoying. Well, maybe a tad more than just annoying.

I am famous for ‘having ideas’ as I make things. Sure, the pattern says you are done at point A, but who wants to leave it at point A? Point A for this dress was this:

Marie Point A

Sure it looked okay. But not really what I had in mind. Panniers would help and were needed, so I made the panniers. The panniers part of the pattern was better. It also included the once mysterious slits, but now I knew what the were for and wasn’t sitting there wondering WTH? the entire time I was sewing them.


No matter how I try not to see it, they look like half buckets tied to a waist. I feel as though they ought to be filled with milk or cheese or something.

The pattern called for one piece of rigilene in each of the pannier ribs. I didn’t use rigilene. I used the same thing I use when I make bustles – heavy-duty cable ties. In this case, there is way too much gravity for one piece of rigilene to hold those skirts up. The same held true for the cable tie. They were just too squishy. So I inserted a second piece in the top two ribs and everything was fine. I had hips!

Now my dress will look different. It will have closer to the proper form. But I wasn’t still good with Point A. The pattern calls for bows down the front. I love the bows down the front! But my lets-make-as-difficult-as-we-can pattern wanted me to make bows that required cutting and stitching and turning and stitching some more. Ugh. I went online and looked at museum dresses and their trim.

Look at that. Pinking. They loved to pink the edges of darn near everything.

18th century pinking was done by hand with a shaped tool and a mallet. The fabric was folded, the tool placed on the fabric, the tool then was smacked with the mallet.

hand pinker

I’m quite sure it took forever to pink anything longer than a yard. That was then, this is now. I used my trusty roller pinker to make scalloped edges to form my bows. Now I had bows for the front and the sleeves.

Marie Point B

Much better! But I am me, and me has to keep on having ideas. I needed pretty shoes that matched. But one simply will not find damask print shoes on the shelf of the local store. So I covered a pair of cheap thrift store pumps to match my dress. Come on, you gotta match! Don’t you?

Marie Shoes

While they are nothing like 18th century shoes in their style, they did match my dress. I was really happy with the way they looked. Especially since I was running out of time and couldn’t build them correctly. I just glued the fabric to the shoes. I’m contemplating making a mother pair that are closer to the century in style and doing them more correct in terms of build. While my shoes made through the day, they did not make any further. The soles were very soft and crumbled from walking across the parking lot twice.

I did have another ‘idea’ for the dress after looking at more museum dresses. I pinked more fabric strips, gathered them and set them in kind of a wave down the front over skirt. That did the trick.

Here I am in all dressed up:

Marie 2015

I even had my fan to flirt with:

Marie with fan

Not too bad. I learned a lot what to do and what not to do. It isn’t as full on fancy as a real 18th century dress, but it is fun to wear. If I decide to make another one, it will be more period correct and lace up the back (for better fit) and have one of those trusty hidden pockets. I may even make 18th century stays to wear under it.

Yup, I may be a little insane.