V&A Open Robe: Muslin Stage

I had the opportunity to work today on my V&A Open Robe from Pattern's of Fashion by Janet Arnold.

The focus today was on my mock-up.  There isn't any chance I'm cutting into my gorgeous silk until I've made a muslin first.  I studied the graphed pattern in Pattern's of Fashion, but I'm not the best at scaling up graphed patterns.  I guess I should say, I can do it, but I don't like to.  Too much math for my me. 
So, once again, I pulled out the trusty Swedish Tracing Paper...I'm in love with the stuff. I placed existing patterns that I own, like the back bodice pattern from my recently made 1798 gown, and the front lining pattern from my Sense and Sensibility Crossover Gown, underneath the tracing paper, looked again at the graphed pattern, and eye-balled it. I thank God every day for my artistic abilities...I would be lost without them!
(*On a side note, I did use my tape measure...so a LITTLE bit of math was done, but only the very minimal amount possible.*)

I then cut out all of my hand made patterns and pinned them to my manikin.  (Since I'm wearing the open robe over my Regency Gown, I first 'dressed-up' my manikin, so that it was padded with the correct amount of under layers.)  You can see my slightly insane process in the above pictures.  I scribble ALL OVER the pattern pieces, marking where seam allowances are needed, where I need to cut out pieces, where I need to add more fabric, etc, etc.

Then, I remove the paper from my manikin and transfer all of my graffiti into a working muslin mock-up.  This is, by the way, my muslin for the lining only...I'll get to the outer part of the robe in a second.

You can see here how the pattern pieces match up for the lining.  This robe is an interesting one to me, because there isn't a side seam.

Here's the lining pinned onto my manikin.

I really like the tailored look of this design.

The side-back seams are just SLIGHTLY curved.

Since I'm making a mock-up first, I'm using spare scraps of fabric, which means the front and back parts of the gown are in different colors. 

This is the 'flap' part of the front bodice of the gown. 

Here's the second part of the front bodice.  These pleats are a bit tricky, because they aren't straight.  They curve with the arm scythe.  They will eventually be sewn down to the lining underneath.

Here's a side view of the pleats.  Again, there isn't a side seam....I'm a bit perplexed by this.  I THINK it gets stitched down to the lining underneath the arm.  The original graphed pattern doesn't show any side pleat, or side seam, but the drawing looks like it might have another pleat there.  If it does, I think that would solve the loose, wrinkly look.  As it is, I'm not liking that look...it seams like it should be more of a tailored fit along the side.  I've looked at several images of this gown reproduced by different people, and they all look very similar to mine at the side...so maybe there ISN'T a seam or pleat.  I don't know...I'm confused.  Anyone out there who has made this before?  Any tips?
(By the way, the real robe will be floor length...I'm saving fabric by not making my mock-up floor length too.)

I'm really diggin' this olive green.  Maybe a future project in this color?  What do you think?

Sorry about the mottled look of the back.  Like I said, I'm using up scraps.  The back pieces go all the way from neck to floor, with extremely deep pleats from the waist down.  I'm a little perplexed on how to construct the seams at the waist point.  No instructions to go by, of course.  I know from reading up on others who have done this project, that the outer fabric is stitched down to the lining.  I guess I will just have to play around with it a bit.  I'm sure I'll be able to figure it out.


Sarah Jane said…
Looking fabulous!! Have you looked at Laurens open robe from The Lady of Portland house blog? She did a great job on hers and I bet she would be happy to answer any questions you have. . .she's on facebook too if you want to look her up there. :) That is, if you haven't already done so!

I REALLY like the olive green! It looks so nice with the white. One of my favorite colors!
Jenni said…
Hi Sarah! Thank you so much for your compliments. Lauren's robe was actually one of them that I checked out. Her's 'wrinkled' a bit too at the side, but I think by moving the pleats a bit, I might be able to manipulate the fabric, and release some of the tension.
ZipZip said…
Dear Jenni,

Good morning! Looking really good, and like Sarah, I like the olive green a lot, too. Great for a spencer with peplum, perhaps? Most open robes were event or evening wear so unless the fabric were silk...

Anyhow, about the wrinkles: earlier gowns were pleated directly to the wearer, and pleats varied as needed to produce a good line. Looking at prints from the period, the line did not include wrinkles, so I'd pleat away as needed!

And for sewing pleats down, what I see in my V&A details book, prick stitch to the lining: small stitches appear on top, somewhat spaced apart, in matching thread. Sandwich any seam allowances inwards to produce a clean finish...like you did with Laura's gown last year.

For attaching the skirts to the bodice, again, looking at garments of the day, you can overcast them. Lay the pieces right sides together and overcast, making sure to take tiny nips into each side, through both exterior and lining, so it won't show much on the outside. My V&A book shows this and you can see a sample of an extant garment on my blog at http://zipzipinkspot.blogspot.com/2009/10/regency-hand-sewn-drawstring-dress-tour_14.html. Look for the red dress example :}

Very best,
Jenni said…
Natalie, Your stitching/seam tips are always so helpful. Thank you. Some people on the S&S forum said the same thing about fitting the pleats to myself. So, that's the route I'm going. As for the skirt...this particular robe doesn't have a separate skirt that's attached to the bodice. The back pieces, and side-front pieces are made in one length of fabric from neck to floor. Check out your Pattern's of Fashion 1 book and look at the V&A open robe...you will see what I mean. But, I'll file your skirt attaching advice away, and use it for another gown!
Nabila Grace said…
I love the process! Thanks for all the pictures of the steps! I'm such a visual person it sure helps me understand! :o) I love the olive green! I think you should make something with it! ;o) It's a great color to throw in a wardrobe. :o)

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