I will be visiting New Orleans on Bastille Day, so I decided to dress in Marie Antoinette style clothing for their festivities. After a fruitless search for costumes that were relevant and not slutty, I remembered the chemise a la reine. I checked out images on google and several dress diaries (see below) and made my decision to make a chemise a la reine for myself and my friend Nicole.
First, I threw together an under chemise using cotton muslin and Drea Leed’s smock pattern generator. I simply ignored the sleeves and created a sleeveless chemise.
For the chemise a la reine, I purchased some 60″ white polyester batiste from Joann’s, which feels texturally more like a natural fiber and not so slippery and shiny. I promptly sewed three panels together into a large tube using a french seam to completely encase the edges. I hemmed the bottom edge, rather poorly (I then bought a rolled hem foot for my machine), and sewed a drawstring channel in the top edge to gather the neckline. I bound the top edge with white double fold bias tape.
I then sewed two tubes of cotton muslin for straps and attached them to the neckline, and tada, a basic dress. I had some trouble trying to make the straps out of the batiste and knew the upcoming ruffle would cover the muslin.
I added a ruffle to the neckline out of scrap material and cut out sleeves roughly according to the Nora Waugh pattern linked above. Some single fold bias binding around the sleeves created a ruffle and two poufs. I found a lovely butter yellow satin that I made a sash out of and a matching pale yellow cord for the sleeve ties.
All in all, my methods did the job, but I will do many things differently as I start on Nicole’s dress next. Firstly, I would use 4 panels of 60″ fabric. Secondly, the french seam was too thick for the rolled hem. I would hem each piece first and then stitch them together. As Nicole’s will not have a ruffle at the neckline, I want to make the bias binding smoother. To do that, I will use the gathering foot on my machine about a half inch from the top edge, instead of the drawstring method. I also want to flare the shoulder straps slightly to give a rounded neckline instead of my squarish one. Lastly, the sleeves are not poofy enough for my tastes. I used a 24″ wide sleeve, next time I will use a 30″ wide sleeve.