Monday, January 30, 2012

Updating the Silk Sacque

To avoid the extra cost of creating a new gown from scratch, many gowns in the 18th were restyled to suit the latest fashions. (Hallie has a great series of posts about that on her blog, Sign of the Golden Scissors.) When creating my silk sacque I wanted a gown that dated to about 1750. The gown was made with large wing cuffs, a matching silk petticoat, and no trim. I have worn the gown a few times now and while I still like the simplistic look of the 1750s, I would really like to update the gown. 
I plan to remove the cuffs and replace them with sleeve flounces. So far I have only succeeded in finishing the new stomacher. Eventually I will add matching trim the gown skirts and petticoat. The inspiration for my stomacher came from this example at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. As there are no events coming up anytime soon when I might be able to wear my updated gown, I've not been in any hurry to finish it. It's nice to have deadlines to finish a project but at the same time I enjoy not being rushed. 

The overall look that I hope to achieve is seen in the images below. I love the serpentine trims of the 1760s. I will probably only have one tier on my petticoat instead of the 3 seen in the yellow gown from the MET. 
MET 17.120.210

MET 1996.374a–c

Here you can see the trim for the new stomacher pinned in place. I found that extra long quilters pins were helpful in holding the trim in place. I used pinking shears to cut fabric strips about 1 1/2 “ wide then ran a long gathering stitch down the middle. I played with the fabric for a while to get the look I wanted. 

To make the circular trim I used the same technique but placed my gathering stitches along the edge of the fabric strips. I gently pulled the thread gathering the fabric to create each circle. The short ends of the fabric were then sewn together and the circles tacked to the stomacher. To create the different sized circles I varied the width of the fabric. Below you and see the finished stomacher. Also my new stays! (well new as of about 2 years ago anyway. ;) )


  1. I love your first version, and will love your second, too. The stomacher looks fantastic!

  2. Great job! I too have a silk sacque with ruched serpentine trim and one deep flounce on the petticoat. My sleeve ruffles are scalloped. It is one of 2 gown a la francais I am lucky enough to have and I feel like a princess every time I wear them. The stomacher looks great---
    Will love seeing your finished gown~


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