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Apr 12, 2011

Baby's First Redingote!

So yesterday I made mincemeat of nearly five yards of black lace.  As you may recall, I'm working on a cocktail dress that will be a cross between this:

And this:

I don't own either pattern, but I do have an image of the back of both pattern envelopes so I can see what the pattern pieces look like.  The lace overlay will be in the form of a redingote, something like a full-length belted coat, with 3/4 kimono sleeves.  That's what I worked on yesterday and I hope to complete it today.


My $2/yd. lace is surprisingly easy to work with and very sturdy.  It doesn't shift (much) or ravel, and a single stitched seam feels very sturdy.  Nevertheless, I've used French seams for the main construction. I picked up a few useful techniques along the way.

I stitched the seams first at 3/8" wrong sides together, then I lay the seam on white tissue paper atop my self-healing mat, so I could see the seam allowance clearly, and trimmed it down to roughly 1/8" with my rotary cutter.

Then I turned the garment inside out and stitched along the enclosed seam at 1/4".  The French seams look like this:

Friends, I so badly wanted these seams to be just 1/8" but I couldn't manage it.  The lace doesn't press and the only way to enclose the seam and trimmed allowance was to feel the bit of bulk with my fingers as I stitched.  It's fine and it's mainly going to be invisible as the underdress is dark taffeta.

The downside of kimono sleeves done in lace is that there's both a visible top and bottom seam (as opposed to a single sleeve seam).  The upside is that there's no shoulder seam.  It's a trade-off.

I will probably trim those vertical back darts, though they're not much thicker than the French seams along the sides.  I trimmed the front darts and they're barely visible.  (Are you following me?)

Here's something else I learned: with transparent lace like this, you can trace the darts atop the pattern piece, which makes things oh, so much easier.  I traced mine in white chalk.

I thought this lace was really going to be a nightmare and it so wasn't.

I also experimented finishing edges with bias strips. This will be the finish along the neckline and the front, which I envision closing with hook and eyes.  (My strips will be made from some black polished cotton I have lying around.  Poly satin is too heavy.)  I may add lace trim if it's not too expensive -- I see a strip of little black lace daisies or the like, don't you? 

Now the question is the underdress:  Simplicity 8270 has a bodice and attached skirt; 8243 has just a slip.

I think I'm going to go the one-piece slip route so I don't have to match the waistlines of two separate garments: the redingote will fit over the slip and be belted.  The slip will be taffeta underlined either with thin cotton or another layer of taffeta (I have 5 yards).  Believe it or not, I'm adapting the slip from this:

It's the only princess-seamed pattern I have and the pieces are nearly identical.  Obviously the bodice will be cut like the top of a slip and I'll add straps.

What do you think?  I didn't want the redingote to have a dirndl-style skirt as the gathers would look thick at the waist.  I think it's full enough -- it will have to be.  Down the line, I may want to experiment with something fuller.

OK, it's time to get to work.  I was delighted to discover yesterday how many of you are lounging around all day in satin smocks and velvet smoking jackets -- actually, just how many of you were lounging at all!

Have a great day, everybody!


  1. I think it's coming along nicely, and the one piece slip is a good idea. You can sometimes get away with trimming your lace seams to 1/8", and then doing a zigzag stitch to enclose the tiny edges. It turns out surprisely nice, especially on dark laces. I love the bias for finishing the edges; it will definitely help give it that vintage look. Can't wait to see the finished project.

  2. This will be so gorgeous! I am impressed. And you are frankenpatterning from a picture, I am even more impressed.

    This is going to be totally beautiful. Cathy will wow everyone who sees her in it.


  3. Zigzagging those 1/8" seam allowances is great idea -- why didn't I think of that? ;)

  4. I actually like the kimono seam in lace. It reminds me of a stocking seam and I think it makes your arms look elegantly long.

    The only thing I dislike about zigagging a lace seam is that it can be itchy compared to the french seams.

  5. Wow, Peter, this is out of the park on the creativity scale! It makes me want to find a way to incorporate lace into menswear. Ideas MPB followers?

  6. The French seams look great. I love doing those on everything I can, it makes it all look so nice in the inside!

  7. Mainely Dad, what about a tone on tone lace overlay on the lapels of your wedding jacket? I don't know how easy it is to find terra cotta lace, but you should be able to dye some to match.

    Or if that's a little too much, what about just using it in the sleeve vents and centre back vent?

  8. Duane, how about a lace peplum?

  9. For fancy menswear I think a cumberbund with a lace overlay would be elegant with a tux.

    And way back when, men used to have lace ruffles at neck and cuffs, so a costume would let you use lace. Of course they also wore patches, high heels (red ones!) and clocks on their socks.

  10. Not that Mainely Dad's project isn't scintillating, but how about my redingote! ;)

  11. LOL. . Yes, back on track all MPB enthusiasts!!!!!

  12. Peter,

    This is going to be stunning. You are basically making two dresses. You can use the underdress with another lace dress on top and/or another color underdress with this one.

    Can't wait to see the result.

    Isabel's Daughter

  13. okay, I just have to say...the look on your face in that first pic is as funny as all get-out.

    oh yeah, and great work, too.

  14. OK I just have to say that I LOVE that 70s vogue pattern. The combination of princess-seams and raglan sleeves is really neat!

  15. I'm so happy I found you I really want to do something like this, in fact I already have the material I have in mind, I love the french seams you did on this, they look fabulous!

    Thank you for sharing!

  16. The redingoat is looking lovely- can't wait to see the colour contrast with the underdress! Can I vote against lace trim (too much of a good thing, and possibly won't show up any way) and for the narrow polished cotton bias strips? Just my personal taste.

  17. The redingcote looks lovely, and I also vote for the cloth trimming rather than the lace. I like the idea of mixing and matching various redingcotes with different slips. You could have your basic black, cream, and white laces (or red for daring Cathy), and a selection of slip colors. Though it might be too boring to make so many of the same thing.

    From the interest, I think you may have found your next Burda topic--how to use silk and lace (and velvet?) in menswear :).

  18. Coming along very nicely. I love french seams too and zigzagging is a good idea. I also really like that Vogue pattern 2781;)
    You said the lace won't press, I used to have this problem, try laying a piece of terry on the ironing board and use a piece of slightly dampened muslin as a pressing cloth and low steam with light pressing pressure.
    Anyways, I know you will wow us with the finished project.

  19. I can't wait to see the finished product. It looks stunning so far.

  20. LOVE LOVE LOVE the jacket!!! I also LOVE LOVE LOVE the blog!!! I'm originally from New York (Brooklyn, NY) and I live now in Berlin, Germany. I'm a designer, who loves vintage patterns and sewing. I always thought I was the only one that loved sewing!! I'm always buying new fabrics and sewing like crazy. All of the stuff I've sewn is on Facebook. Check it out sometime!!

    Eric Farr

  21. This is Stunning , Peter ! The french seams are perfectly done. Tres Chic Pierre


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