Friday, June 26, 2020

The $7-a-yard Sacque

Last year, I was not in love with this fabric when I first saw it online. An Etsy seller with remnants from a decor business had taffetas in very natural, earthy colors at a bargain-basement price of only $7-8.50 a yard, and being that I had never yet worked with real silk up to this point, and also not being confident in my skills whatsoever, I bought it just because of the price. It's easier for me to not worry about diving into a project if the fabric isn't hideously expensive. The fabric picture was a very dull, clay-like color, looked very flat, and my expectations were pretty low as I was not even sure it was real silk.

Then it arrived -- most definitely silk! And a really lovely orangey-bronze color!







I was so excited I instantly bought several other earth-colors from the seller, and now have a rich chocolate brown in the stash for a 1790s drawstring gown some day (probably trimmed with gold sequins and embroidery) and a medium brown shot with black for a 'best middlin' 1750s gown eventually as well.


To date, I would say the "Bronze Sacque" is the most time-consuming thing I've made, because of the tiny fly-like trim I added to the edges of the self-fabric trim.

At first I just sewed the absolute bare minimum for a basic sacque from the excellent J.P. Ryan pattern, because I was under a time crunch to get things done to attend Costume College this past summer. As the Gala theme was "Streets of Venice" or some such, I knew I wanted to do an 18th century masquerade painting, so I chose "The Fair Nun Unmask'd" by Henry Robert Morland, which is one of my favorites. So  mysterious!

There were a lot of details I knew I wouldn't have time to replicate before Costume College, so I just went with the most identifiable bits, especially the mask:

The shape of the inexpensive plastic mask wasn't the best, but I really enjoyed painting it! Lo and behold, several people at Costume College knew exactly who I was supposed to be!



After the fun and exhaustion of Costume College, I looked at the gown again and had to decide how to finish the whole thing up. Having gotten quite a bit of yardage for "oops" purposes, I figured self-trim would be the way to go. I had extremely small trim to go along the edges of everything, a twisted silky twine with tiny fringe bits spaced out every so often, and it looked enough like fly trim that why the heck not. It doesn't show up well in photographs but I think it's a lovely little textural detail in person. No regrets.


 Oh, the drama. 


Here you can just see the little bits of silky fringed trim on the edge of everything. 


This gown is now an easy go-to for 18th century formal events, and I think turned out really beautifully. Time well-spent! On to the next gown!

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