Progress on Le Polonaise AKA The Creature

Trimming the bodice – the left side was done with the roll hem foot and it really “ate” the fabric – the right with a different method. I will need to remove the left side and re-do it.

Slowly but surely (she keeps saying), I’ve been trimming Le Polonaise, now semi-affectionately dubbed The Creature.

The Creature requires much time, much fiddling, much hand work. I’ve finally worked out a good way to hem the organza on the machine, but it’s still hours of tearing, trimming, folding, stitching, pleating, pinning, tacking, and pressing.

Thankfully it’s also rewarding!

Knife pleats on the skirt. These are tighter than I ended up doing overall.

I’m really pleased with how Le Polonaise is turning out. It’s been a journey, one that would have gone much more quickly had I more time to devote. It’s really my own fault that my trip to Colonial Williamsburg is now two weeks away and I only have one new gown only partially complete.

But what a gown it will be!

As you can see, compared to the last post, both sleeves are on, and I’ve added an extension with more organza to one so far. The petticoat has been pleated and trimmed, but I have yet to do the waistband and ties. Then it was on to the trim – many strips of organza hemmed on both sides, then knife pleated and loosely stitched to the bodice and skirt.

American Duchess 18th century 1770s Polonaise skirt effect
Polonaise effect – Left is down; middle is drawn up with interior tapes; right is drawn up with exterior tapes, and is the method I will be using.

Once the trim went on, it’s been quite fiddly to get the poofs right. There are two ways to pull up the skirts – interior tapes looped through a ribbon tie or button on the inside, pulling the skirt up from within; or exterior cords which loop from the interior waist down and up on the *outside* of the skirts, hooking to buttons on the outer waist, usually at the side back seams. These two methods produce very different effects.

I usually prefer the interior tapes, to create the “butterfly” effect, but to achieve that 1770s Polonaise poofery I admire on fashion plates of the era, I have to use the exterior tapes. I better go find some pretty cord. 🙂

Skirts drawn up with exterior tapes – this creates the distinct three sections the style was named for, plus that quite large poof extending out the back. The interior tapes create a totally different silhouette.

Now back to work!!


  • MrsC (Maryanne)

    May 20, 2015 at 8:58 PM

    Goodness now it is like a bowl of plums and icecream! With cream, so the plum juice and the cream make that glorious pink. I just find this dress makes me think of deserts every time 🙂

  • Elizabeth

    May 21, 2015 at 1:30 AM

    I love the color of the dress – it's so lush. I cannot imagine the level of patience the organza is requiring but the final effect is so lovely.

    • Lauren Stowell

      May 21, 2015 at 10:00 PM

      The organza isn't so bad, it's just so much of it. I'm glad I made the decision to not roll hem it all by hand. I would never finish

  • Aurora

    May 21, 2015 at 1:29 PM

    Ooh dear, it's simply wonderful. I'd love to do something similar to my pink polonaise, but I guess I should try to avoid the temptation of imitating someone else… 😉

    • Lauren Stowell

      May 21, 2015 at 10:00 PM

      Hey, I'm just imitating several fashion plates and paintings, so if you want to make something like this, please do!

  • AuntieNan

    May 21, 2015 at 8:02 PM

    Ok my hem method for organza and other sheers will NOT be loved by all, as it involves visible machine work. But I do a line of close machine stitching, trim right down close to it, then either roll it in my fingers and hand stitch, or if it's extra hard to work with, zigzag it tightly over the cut edge in the machine. This latter method is just fine for theatrical wear and gives a nice solid looking edge.
    Best of luck on this beautiful creation!
    Nancy N

    • Lauren Stowell

      May 21, 2015 at 10:03 PM

      I'm doing mine a little differently – a double turn under the presser foot with a very narrow zig zag stitch. Yup, visible machine stitching, but in this case I'm willing defending my decision to anyone who may naysay it – my hand hurt like the dickens after hand-rolling the first sabot cuff, which in total took, like, 3 hours to complete. I have even more reverence for the milliners at Williamsburg who do it all by hand!

    • bauhausfrau

      May 22, 2015 at 11:45 PM

      If your machine has one a narrow hem foot can be a lifesaver in situations like this. Mine has been worth every penny!


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