So with the internet in hand, it was time to start draping.
First off, the fabric. It’s a lovely blue and black shot silk shantung from Gray Line Linens. I had been looking for a silk taffeta, but was hoping to spend less than $20 per yard given that this was my first ever francaise gown, and I needed something like 14 yards (since I plan on making 2 petticoats – one historical and one for cosplay). Since I happened to be in New York buying fabric in person, I was able to avoid paying shipping for the fabric, and also get the $15 per yard wholesale price even though I was buying less than 15 yards. Not bad for me, since I detest haggling!
It is remarkably non-slubby for a shantung, and fairly light and crisp. Honestly, I’m not sure I would know it wasn’t a taffeta if I didn’t know better. Highly recommended, especially for the price.
The back length of fabric is my height – 60 inches (to anyone eying me and saying I’m only 4’11” AHEM no one likes a pedant). This gives a good amount for the back plus a small train.
Here’s my first attempt at the back:
There really wasn’t enough fabric in that outside pleat. You can see it immediately disappears into a single pleat, when you should be able to see two continuing down the dress, as in this example from Lacma:
It took me something like 3 tries to get it to the point where I was ok with how much fabric was in my outer pleats, and even now I’m not 100% thrilled, but it is good enough.
If you look at extant dresses, there is definitely variation on how much the bottom pleats show out from underneath the top pleats. I made mine barely showing, but an inch or so was definitely common. I thought about redoing mine, but after messing with the pleats 4+ times I was sick of it.
This was not actually that difficult to drape, so maybe the rest will play nicely too?