I based the design of this top on the pleated ‘Le Sac’ or ‘Watteau gown’ popularised by the artist who painted the well-dressed ladies of 18th century France. I discovered Le Sac at the Danson House Vivienne Westwood exhibition but the feature of large pleats hanging from the back neckline lives on in wedding dress design as the beginning of a gown’s long train.
As you may notice, my top has pleats at the front. The back is plain. Sorry it’s so sombre! I made it to go with a particular very cheerful A-line skirt, only of course it doesn’t: it goes with tight skirts and jeans. The fabric is silk: some kind of robust yet drapey weave with horizontal lines just visible. I cut the fabric on the crossgrain, using the weaved lines to help form the pleats.
Sewing Le Sac top was not without a lesson or two. I think I did a decent job of the hem, mostly by foregoing my rolled hem foot. And I believe I’m now able to make rouleau strips without losing my temper. I recommend a combination of the Material Lady’s method coupled with (if you don’t have a loop turner) the trick of sewing in a cord as described here by ByHandLondon. The Back of Le Sac
The biggest challenge in terms of making it look professional came during the joining of bodice, straps and facing, where it’s key to make the straps emerge precisely at the apex of the neckline on both the front and back. On the front, it shouldn’t be too difficult if you line up the rouleau strip with the box pleat edge before sewing yet it still took more than a go or two to get right.
I’ll be making this again soon and showing the drafting. Next time it’ll be for a friend who is petite and I hope this will flatter her. It’s not an ideal top if you’re busty: there’s a danger that the pleats will open like the wings of a ladybird!
At the end of every summer as it turns increasingly cold and damp and the heating is put on in the evening sometimes, I engage in a manic flurry of activity during which I make summery dresses and skimpy tops. Do you do this too? This phenomenon is called Denial.