There are five big checkboxes on my related-to-the-trip sewing to-do list before my trip involving Versailles in May:
- Robe a la francaise (with a subset of trimming)
This week, I checked the first item off the list!
I think part of the reason I feel so triumphant is that I really had to wrangle these to make them bend to my will. I started back in 2013 or 2014 when I decided to join the 18th Century Court Gown Sew Along. At that point, I made the decision to use the Simplicity pattern (#3635) and $1/yard lightweight and tightly woven mystery fabric from my stash.
At first, everything seemed to behave: I cut out the pieces and started sewing. Then I realized I didn’t have time for the project and so I let the panniers languish until earlier this year when I pulled them out again to finish them so I could use them as a base for my Versailles Sacque. Perhaps it was the languishing that caused Mr. Panniers to take on a personality and want to thwart me when I got back to him this year…
It started with perfectly amiable sewing. The waist casing and drawstring were without event. And then, boning! There was twisting, and warping, and curving inwards, and all sorts of bad. The lower three bone channels eventually cooperated, but those angled top bones? Nope! No cooperation from them! (Yes, check my picture, there are no angled top bones. No, I’m not trying to trick you.)
The bones curved in on my bum and front side so badly that it made the panniers look like a jelly bean! Not what I was aiming for. My solution was to unpick the channels across the front and back (not the sides) and make one continuous horizontal bone channel like those below it. (That’s why you can’t see angled bone channels in the picture.) But the fabric is a very tight weave and does not easily forgive pin or needle holes, so you can still see the angle I originally stitched as directed by the pattern if you look closely.
Mr. Panniers was much more cooperative with the new horizontal channel across the top. Whew! And ok, I have to take some responsibility for the problems because I’m confident that some of the struggle was due to my choice of boning–1/2″ wide zip ties about 18″ long that I masking taped together to get the lengths I needed. I have to pack this guy, and having bones that don’t weigh a lot (like metal) and won’t break (like cane or reed) was high on the list. The bones are simply overlapped in the channels, each of which has an opening, so the plan is to remove them (and label them) for packing, then reinsert them once I’m unpacking the whole ensemble in France. Anyway, the zip ties were coiled in the packaging and didn’t want to change their shape, which is why the angled bones were curving in towards my body and why the whole thing is so bent on warping if not carefully and delicately handled.
Here’s a look at Mr. Panniers interior. The white ribbons are suggested in the pattern to help keep the shape. They’ve all been adjusted to my body shape (tedious, but worth it–sewing these on and fixing that angled bone channel problem were the things that kept this from being finished a month ago!).
As you can see, in terms of materials and construction, Mr. Panniers aims for the right shape as the goal. To that end, I appreciate that with my overlapping bones I can easily adjust the size at any point by overlapping the bones more. I find that this pattern is a bit too trapezoidal for my taste, so I’ve overlapped the bottom bone a little extra to make the skirt hang more vertically from about the knee down.
Needless to say, the bones are staying in and Mr. Pannier will be resting flat and collapsed until I need to pack him, so that for any fittings, etc. no more wrangling will be necessary.
(Side question: Does anyone know when it would be appropriate to use singular ‘pannier’? Would that be appropriate for referring to one of a set of two pocket hoops, for example?)
Side note: this is officially the last post that will be tagged 1770 court gown, since that project has now morphed into the saga of the Versailles Sacque and accessories.