Aqua Francaise

A 1770s robe a la francaise, hand sewn from aqua silk taffeta.


Inspiration & Resources

Useful Books & Links Arnold, Janet. Patterns of Fashion: English Women's Dresses and Their Construction, c.1660-1860. New York: Drama Book, 1984.

Baumgarten, Linda. Costume Close-Up: Clothing Construction and Pattern 1750-1790. Williamsburg, Va.: Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 1999.

Hart, Avril, et al. Fashion in Detail: From the 17th and 18th Centuries. New York: Rizzoli, 2000.

Demode Tutorial:

How to Make a Contouche:

Construction Details


This was my first attempt at a robe a la Francaise, or saque. The dress is hand sewn from silk tafetta, with the exception of the petticoat side seams. The robings and skirt are trimmed with pleated and puffed self-fabric, in a waving pattern that is frequently seen in this era. I also accented this trim with matching blue-green sequins. The sleeve ruffles and petticoat ruffles are scalloped and also accentuated with sequins.


I made two stomachers for this dress. The first is decorated with two layers of scalloped pleated self-fabric trim, one 2 inches wide and the other 1 inch wide. I topped the pleats with some silver braid trim from JoAnns of all places, matching blue-green sequins, and real silver spangles.  I wore this stomacher to Costume Con 2009, Costume College 2010, a dinner at Colonial Williamsburg in 2011, and Costume Con 2011.

For Under the Redcoat 2011 in Colonial Williamsburg, I rewore the dress but made a new stomacher trimmed with large pink silk ribbon bows. I also made matching bows for the sleeve ruffles and tacked them in place.

A few construction pictures:

The back pleats -


The lining with lacing -


The skirt front pieces and bodice front pieces cut out and ready to be attached -


The bodice and back before the front skirts were attached -


Related Blog Posts

Aqua Francaise Portfolio Page Finished

Aqua Francaise Portfolio Page Finished

I'm happy to say I finished another portfolio page. Check out my aqua francaise: