Fait Acompli

July 30th, 2011

I can hardly believe it, but I have finally finished my broderie anglaise petticoat frill. It’s taken the better part of a year, but it’s really done. Scallops and all. When you add in the months I spent tucking and embroidering the petticoat to which this frill will soon be attached, I’ve spent almost exactly a year and a half on a single petticoat. To be fair, I worked in fits and starts, sometimes ignoring it entirely for 6 weeks. If I was to work steadily, and with the proper materials, I’m sure I would have taken only a fraction of the time.

Broderie Anglaise

There’s a great deal wrong with it, but it’s all little technical stuff. Overall, the effect is really rather wonderful (at least to my easily pleased eye) and I can’t wait to see it all put together!

What’s wrong, you ask? Perhaps to avoid pitfalls with your own frills, or maybe you just like to gloat? Well, I’ll tell you. First of all, I wasn’t nearly regular enough in transferring my design. I should have pounced it, or at least taken a bit more care when drawing it on. I also made the circles too small. Then, I used a single thread of standard embroidery floss — made even thinner because it was an off-brand. I should have used real coton a broder, probably in two different sizes for padding and stitching, or at the very least, two strands of the embroidery floss. I might then have made the border round each circle properly thick and glossy.

I’m fairly happy with the scalloped edge though — I used a double strand of floss and it turned out quite nicely. Of course I should have done the bottom row of circles differently, so that they would be more united with the scallops instead of seeming to clash with them. Ah well. There’s always next time.

For now, I have only to put a tiny hem into the top of the frill and sew it under the bottom-most tuck of my petticoat. I haven’t attached the petticoat skirt to a waistband yet. I plan to cartridge pleat it of course, and find some pretty little milk glass buttons for the band. I know tapes would be better, but somehow I just can’t bear the idea of sloppy tapes (tapes are invariably sloppy, no matter how neatly they are arranged) marring my beautiful petticoat.

But before I can fit the skirt for length and balance it, I need my new cage! Yes, at long last I have ordered a cage crinoline kit from Wooded Hamlet. It’s amazing how close they’ve come to matching materials used in actual cage crinolines of the 1850s. But that’s another post entirely…

Also coming up soon — a preview of my someday-to-be-given tell-all lecture on broderie anglaise and its social implications in mid-19th century England & America.

  • Zoh says:

    Yahooooo! I feel like this definitely requires celebratory drinks… perhaps celebratory tea. :)

    I too am vaguely upset by sloppy tapes. I have an original petticoat from the 1860s (somewhere in that decade) that definitely has buttons on it… you should go for it!

    We should make cages together. Not that I need another project. But the wedding hoop is definitely getting tired and should be replaced with something nicer.

    • eva says:

      Yes, we’ve got lots to celebrate all around! And please do order a hoop kit. I could use a partner for assembly ;-) . Then we can swing and sway our way down the street together…what size are you going to get? I went for the 95 inch. C. bought the next one up, and said it was much too large — and she is a bit taller than I am.

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