Revolution Dress – Baby Got Back

Just a quick update on this gown I’ve been procrastinating on.

I cut it out, there’s a start, and pinned up the en fourreau back pleating, using pgs 49 – 50 in Costume in Detail: Women’s Dress 1730-1930 as a guide.

Image from Costume in Detail, page 49

Image from Costume in Detail, page 50

The next step is to hand stitch all of this down to its cotton lining, using a running top stitch.  Whether it’s 9 stitches per inch, or more of the tacking stitch you often see with en fourreau backs, I have no decided yet.

I also tried the front and side back pieces combined, with no extra side seam.  With this method, you smooth the piece around to the back, turn under the raw edge, and top stitch it along the curved side back seam with a back stitch (by hand, of course).  I’m nervous about losing the control in fitting a side seam gives, but I want to at least try to try to historical methods, and the Williamsburg polonaise seen in Costume Close Up: Clothing Construction and Pattern, 1750-1790 uses this method.

Lots of pins, to see how things will lay and look.  Next is to sew all this stuff  for real-real.
Front looks nice and smooth, just pinned into position.  The strap will be handy in adjusting to length of waist, too.

Again, all pinned so it looks rumpled, but off to hand sew for the evening I go!


  • Anonymous

    May 25, 2011 at 3:39 PM

    You may be doing this, but I can't really tell…
    If you use the Colonial Williamsburg milliner's technique of applying your fastenings to the front (hooks and thread eyes or pins) before sewing the side seams, you should get the right fit as you smooth the back side seams into place. The front stays where it should and the side seams end up where they need to be.

  • E. Waterman

    May 25, 2011 at 3:46 PM

    you are by far braver than I, but I am beginning to love the pleats in the back. I need to use these for my dress for Loudon..btu im skeerd. Do give me an update on how easy or difficult they are!

  • Costume Diva

    May 26, 2011 at 2:56 AM

    Wow!! I love this. I think your undergarments help give it the perfect volume in the back…I'm going to have to use your recommended layers as a model. Love the pleats and the colors!

  • Lauren R

    May 26, 2011 at 7:02 AM

    Hey ladies. Thanks so much! I've actually done the back pleating wrong šŸ™ The pleats should be facing outwards, and the center back seamed. I've done it more like a sacque back. It's all sewn down now – caught the mistake after I sewed it all in place by hand, of course, lol – but I will know better for next time.

    Marcine – yep, that's how I'm doing it, with the button closure all ready to go on the front. Smoothing the fabric around the side to the side back is much harder with the interlining and lining, though, so I may end up doing a side seam regardless. I want to avoid wrinkles as best as I can (don't we all)

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