The “Petit Trianon” Dress

Ma-promo-mena 

image from s.ecrater.com The Facts

Fabric: Cotton Shirting from Fabric.com $7.47 for 3 yards, Cotton voile for ruffle
Patterns: McCall's #2329 – ~$1.00
Year: c. 1959
Notions: Vintage zipper- $.05
Time to complete: 5 hours
First worn: February 2011
Wear again? Yes, when it warms up and with some modern accessories

Total Cost: ~$8.50

The moment that I saw Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette on the list of Best Costume Design winners, I knew that I had my inspiration. While I didn't remember the film being particularly engaging, I did remember it being the most delectable eye candy and well-deserving of its Academy Award for costume design. 

image from www.costumersguide.com

Now as much fun as it would have been to create a period-accurate gown, I wanted to create something that I would actually be able to wear out in public without too many stares. 

image from farm6.static.flickr.com Because I wanted to make separates, my first attempt at a Marie Antoinette-inspired outfit led to the creation of this shirt/jacket from a 1970s Betsey Johnson Butterick Pattern

After I altered the neckline, the front part of the jacket was reinforced with some heavy interfacing in order to give it the look of a corset. Additionally, I quilted the front of the bodice. While this jacket was a noble effort, the stiffness of the front and the peplum just screamed "costume." And, as much as I tried to dress it down with jeans or contemporary skirts, it just didn't look right. 

So the jacket was abandoned and I moved onto a pattern that I never thought I'd use but kept around "just in case":  McCall's 2329, the pattern to use for "centennials and/or square dances". You know, the sort of events that are always filling up my calendar. The dress had the elements I was looking for: a paneled bodice, squared (well, squareish) neckline, 3/4 length sleeves and a full skirt. 

Thankfully, the dress was easy to make. Other than the neckline frill made from some voile that I cut along the selvedge (so I wouldn't have to hem it) and gathered and the lace-trimmed sleeves, the dress is pretty plain and basic. I like to think of it as a dress that the hippy Marie Antoinette wears at the Petit Trianon.

Thanks to my dear friend, Krissy, for humoring me and taking my photos in one of the French period rooms at The Legion of Honor. Yes, I actually went out looking this way.

Ma-mena-6

A closer look at the dress bodice.

image from farm6.static.flickr.com

I like this photo because it has a deranged Vivienne Westwood vibe to it.

image from farm6.static.flickr.com

Author

Mena Trott

Mena Trott started The Sew Weekly to document her attempt to sew all of her own clothes in 2010. Since then, she's made over 125 outfits and has way more clothes than she needs.

53 Comments

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  1. Wow, what a great photo shoot! I went to the Legion of Honor, but didn’t go inside – I missed out! When I saw your first photo I thought it was Valmont :) Love this theme, when I got the email I had so much fun thinking of ideas. Very cute dress!

  2. Cute dress. I love the blue top you showed too. Fun theme I can’t wait to see all the post for this week.

  3. Oh, I love it! Cute shoes too. :-)

  4. Thanks, Amanda! The Legion of Honor is wonderful! It feels like a truly magical place. Can’t wait to see what you decide to do.

  5. Thanks, Sue! Yeah, I’m really looking forward to seeing them as well (they usually come in on Monday).

  6. Thanks, Erin! I had to get the shoes when I saw them at Nordstrom Rack for $25. The only downside is that they’re half a size too big so they fall off when I walk. :)

  7. So prim and proper behind the piano, and yet so wearable – a great re-imagining. Cheers

  8. These are definitely my favorite photos to date! Fabulous setting, great hair, wonderful dress! YAY!

  9. Love it! That first photo in particular is fabulous – it captures the Marie Antoinette vibe so well.

  10. margueritedesigns

    I thought when I saw the first photo that it was going to be a full-length dress and straightforward copy. The short skirt looks great and, I think, makes it very wearable!

  11. Wow, the first photo looks right out of a movie set! Love it! The dress is sweet and so wearable!

  12. Mena – I don’t know how you do it week after week! Another fantastic creation – I love your interpretation, and the photos are beautiful.

  13. I love it – this was a lovely looking film, I thought of it for the challenge but had no idea what to do, you are soooo clever.
    Bravo ma belle, quelle jolie robe, felicitations, encore une semaine fantastique x

  14. you look amazing, this is a great looking film, I thought of it for the challenge but had no idea what to do, clever you!
    quelle jolie robe, encore une semaine fantastique, bravo ma belle x

  15. Oh wow–I am so in awe that you took inspiration from the 18th century and did make it wearable! It’s so easy to stray into the costume territory with designs from earlier eras (which is fine… but not so great for everyday wear ;), but this is a dress that I could see wearing for all sorts of occasions. Beautiful!
    ♥ Casey

  16. Thanks, Jen! It was fun being in character.

  17. Thanks, Debi! Thanks for the encouragement to wear that hair out in public!

  18. Thanks, Diane! I’ll be sure to take a picture when I wear it again and style it a bit more modern. But yeah, the length puts in at least the 20th century. :)

  19. Thanks, Kat! That’s my favorite picture but I knew I should probably show more of the dress and less of the setting.

  20. Thanks, Adey! I just saw your dress — I think that one is my favorite so far!

  21. Thanks, Debbie! It’s actually a lot easier than last year since the themes really help direct me. And, because I want to take decent pictures, I force myself to have the dresses done by the weekend. It’s been really fun this year!

  22. Thanks, Charlotte! I knew I had to do this, though I was tempted to try West Side Story. It was a very fun semaine!

  23. Thanks, Casey! I had to hold back with the bows and trims and tell myself THIS IS NOT A COSTUME. But, I could imagine how fun I would have if I was doing an outright Antoinette costume.

  24. wow. it all looks like such fun !

  25. WOW! Mena – you really brought it this week – between the amazing dress, hair and backdrop! Love this look – and the pink shoes :O)

  26. This is cute! I have this exact pattern.It’s great to see it made up. I thought I would never make it but after seeing your photos I think I will.

  27. Ooh it’s beautiful – great hairstyle too! I’ve been thinking about this style while reading The Party Dress Book, now I really want to have a go :)

  28. I love how you even did the makeup period-correct, with the lipstick mainly in the center of the lips and the corners powdered. Great job on that and the dress!

  29. Good golly, what fantastic photos! The dress is beautiful – well done!

  30. Thanks, Sarah! The shoes were a last minute addition but they actually work really well. I wish I had a closeup shot, but they do have an 18th Century vibe to them (minus the pointy fronts).

  31. Thanks, Gina! Yeah, if I use this pattern again I think I’ll make the waist just a tad bit lower. Other than that, it’s a good pattern to work with.

  32. Thanks! I’m glad you noticed the lipstick detail. It looked better before I reapplied for the photos but, yes, that’s what I was going for.

  33. Thanks, Sarah! I had a good setting to work with.

  34. Yeah, each week is an adventure finding a new setting!

  35. Babes, that last shot is just so great, I agree totally a VW tribute! Really an interesting take on the film, and I love that fabric!
    This is so fun!

  36. I agree too, the period correct detail is great! It’s really sweet! I have such tiny lips though, that look would just be WEIRD on me! Maybe you should bring it back!

  37. I am an attender or square dances, and that dress would be perfect! Alas I am a gangly, green haired giant and thus the search continues…

  38. Scrolling through the pictures I was shocked to see that your dress was a short one! And why not?! So clever.
    Side note: I’ve given you a blog award, despite the fact that this is now so much more than a blog. Thanks for the inspiration and the smiles!
    http://theconsummateamateur.blogspot.com/2011/02/stylish-moi.html

  39. This is truly awesome. I am in awe.

  40. Thanks, Amy! The hairdo was pretty easy to do. If people are interested, I could write it up.

  41. Thanks, Erin! I’m glad you’re enjoying the site and thanks for the award and the nice things you said about The Sew Weekly! It’s so nice to get mentioned like that!

  42. There are a number of square dance patterns floating around the web so you should definitely keep an eye out.

  43. Who knew the 18th century Austria & France + mid 20th century squaredancing = such a pretty wearable dress for 2011! I can see it styled so many different ways. Well done!

  44. Mena, that is just tooo cute.. Love the pictures..
    also, I LOVE the jacket [your first attempt], I just know
    we will see it again with something else.. tooo pretty to discard..
    thanks for the wonderful challenge.I am enjoying it.[sit out of this weeks.. had to make my daughter a dress for her birthday and a dress for a “make a wish” child who is going to Disney this next week.. but I will be ready to roll next week..
    Happy sewing,Judy

  45. Mena, I love this dress! So Cute! I have been stalking your and other sewing blogs for a while now, and making lots of curtains, and I think it might be time to dive in and try my hand at making some clothes. I have a question for you about pattern buying on etsy and ebay: my bust is 32″. How much wiggle room is there when buying a pattern? Can I get away with the 34″ size and adjust it? Do they have multiple sizes in the pattern? I am really cluleess and I don’t want to buy a bunch of patterns that won’t work for me. Thanks! You are, as ever, an inspiration!

  46. WOW! You look so amazing and kept the photos, you really seem to be “escaped ” from a movie.

  47. Thanks, Casey! Yes, this is certainly a mutt of a dress. :)

  48. Thanks, Judy! What a wonderful thing to do (the make a wish dress)! Sitting out of challenges is highly encouraged — no need to burn out!

  49. Thanks, Elise! I’m glad you’re finally ready to take the plunge! As far as sizing goes, it really depends on the pattern and the era. I sew a range of sizes — between 31″ bust to 34.” But my measurements are greater than that, probably more like a 36″ bust. If you’re a 32″ bust, I would probably suggest you sew a 30″ to 32″. But really, like I said, it depends on the pattern and the general shape of the garment.

  50. Thanks, Rosy! It was a lot of fun getting in character.

  51. This is so fun! I love the style, especially the neckline.

  52. I SO would love you to explain how you styled your hair. I could and would wear the exact same style if I knew how to do it!!!