The robe a l’Anglaise strikes again. One of my housemates loves costume parties, and decided to have a 1980s movie themed birthday party. I was feeling lazy and didn’t want to make a whole new costume, so I decided it was a good opportunity to fix up the robe a l’Anglaise (shh. Amadeus was made in the 1980s. Terrible, terrible costumes. But shh. This totally counts). I was never really happy with the skirt the first time, and it needed a bit of trim, which I’d mostly done earlier, but needed an excuse to finish.
The trim was just strips cut out with pinking shears and then pleated prickstitched to the sleeves and neckline. I only had one cuff left to do, so that was easy. It was pretty crumpled from being in the bottom of the sewing chest for so long though, so I steamed it as well, using a pair of chopsticks to zhoosh it out while I was steaming. Don’t hurt yourself with steam, kids.
I was kind of dreading re-doing the skirt in a faint pit-of-the-stomach, this-should-be-easy-but-god-I-hate-it way that’s normally reserved for filing my tax return. The original problems were that it wasn’t long enough at the back, and the pleating was meh.
You can see a good 6 inches of petticoat at the back in that picture.
Weirdly enough, the solution wasn’t that hard. The skirt had been made of two rectangles sewn together selvage to selvage originally, but I HAD left them longer at the back… I’d just been a dill and sewn the wrong selvages together. The short ones. The ones that were meant to go at the front edges. So I took it off the bodice, unpicked the CB seam and re-did it on the right edges. Problem solved.
I then decided that seeing I’d been such a grownup and done my tax properly the last couple of years, how hard could re-attaching the skirt properly be? I just needed to approach it with a strategy for a change.
The strategy, for all ye who struggle attaching skirts to quarterback-style Anglaises is that I measured how far around the bodice I wanted it to go, then measured that length on the ironing board, putting pins at the ends and at the half and quarter-way marks. Then I divided the skirt in halves and quarters and pinned it to the ironing board where the marker pins were. Then I knife-pleated it until it fit and basted the pleats in place. Then I just backstitched it to the bottom edge of the bodice. The back point isn’t as pointy as last time, but the whole thing just sits better.
Who’s your favourite 18th century babe?
Also, behold my mad hedgehog skillz! It partially works because my hair is very layered at the moment, but also because period curling techniques work really really well. And all you need is some tissue paper and a hair straightener. I didn’t even use curling product this time and it still worked. Then brush it out with a bristle brush, tease the crapola out of all of it except the long curls at the bottom, hairspray till you can’t breathe, and boom, you have a hedgehog.
I don’t think I’ll be wearing this dress again though, unless I let it out a bit. I’ve gained some muscle in my new job. Not much, but enough that I should be wearing the stays looser, but the l’Anglaise doesn’t close unless they’re done up all the way. So it wasn’t very comfy, and on top of the fact that I was super tired already and loathe late nights, I spent half the party napping on a chair in the corner.
Who’s the life of the party? Not me.