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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Making 18th Century Lace Sleeve Ruffles or Engageantes

In the 18th century doing a load of laundry required a cauldron of boiling water, lye soap, a clothes line, and a dry environment. No wonder the process took all day. For this reason items of clothing and other fabric items were not often laundered. The fashion of the day for ladies was to have elaborately long sleeve ruffles (known as Engageantes in French). The ruffles, due to their extreme fullness and length, became soiled quite easily from food and other things.

1760's The Kyoto Costume Institute

The solution was to make easily removable sleeve ruffles that could then be hand washed.

18th Century Ensemble Decor To Adore 195-001

Most sleeve ruffles were made from very fine muslin, linen or lace. The material used was an indicator of your financial status. Handmade silk lace was generally the most expensive material and worn by the nobles and gentry. 

I know, it’s hard to see past the gorgeous fan, the broach and those BRACELETS to focus on the sleeves. :)

The shape was generally shorter in front. Here is a pattern laid out.

You can then see how the finished sleeve looks.

Generally the sleeve ruffles would attach to buttons sewn on the inner sleeve of the gown. You can see the buttonholes on these 18th century examples. 

In trying to stick to a very strict budget I opted to use some antique embroidered cotton eyelet, a mother of pearl button and cotton twill tape I had on hand.

You will  sew your strip of fabric or lace into a circle. As the seam will show I opted to do a French seam.

18th Century Ensemble Decor To Adore 056-001

Next, sew a large hand or machine stitch on the edge of the fabric. Pull the threads to gather the fabric to your desired fullness. 

Engageantes, late 18th C.  LACMA

I then sewed on the bias tape to finish the edge. My plans were to just wear the sleeves high up on my arm just under my elbow so I added a button and buttonhole closure.

18th century clothing decor to adore 002-001

The finished product worked out quite well. I had no problem with the sleeves slipping.

18th Century Ensemble Decor To Adore 178-001

I can imagine that a shorter, lacier version would be quite pretty under a blazer or sweater.



Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions said...

Very pretty, Laura! I am loving your dress, too. I always take notice of the dresses in shows or movies about this period in time. You've really put a lot of work into both your costumes. I'm just putting together a gypsy costume, but nothing on your scale. I found a great skirt at a thrift shop and I already had a top. I'm trying to be a bit creative in putting it together so it doesn't cost a lot. I hope if there is a prize you win!

Jen said...

So pretty! I love fashions of generations past and you do a beautiful job of modeling them! You have created a gorgeous costume that I'm sure will be a hit!

Debra Oliver said...

You look right at home in that amazing dress, Marie!

Karena Albert said...

Gorgeous Laura, You could have easily lived in that era. Not only do you look the part, you know all of the tricks as well.

I cannot even imagine trying to keep clean, body or clothing!

New_2013 Designer Series

Mari said...

I love it, just gorgeous ;)
Like I said you will be the belle of the ball...


marty (A Stroll Thru Life) said...

This is so pretty and you are an amazing seamstress. Hugs, Marty

The Quintessential Magpie said...

You look gorgeous, and this is fascinating. I love escaping to another century with you.



openid said...

I am in awe of your talent, your creativity and the time you took to research and share all the details that went into this project.
Your Friend,

black sabeth said...

c'est vrai!

Jill Flory of Sew a Fine Seam said...

Laura you rock as an 18th century lady!

Auntie Em said...

So pretty! Not only would these make less laundry but it would also make wearing the gowns less bulky and cooler.
Thank you for the lessons in period costumes. :)

Butterfly 8)(8 Bungalow said...

That came out beautiful.

Julie Tucker-Wolek said...

Looks amazing ... you are amazing!!!

Kelley said...

Wow, Laura. How dreamy. WHAT FUN to wear! Looking forward to your sewing adventure.


daysease said...

i didn't know about removable sleeve cuffs... neat bit of educational info. thanks! fun tidbits!