Le Sac Cami

1 le sac cami1 robe a la francaisI 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.

1 back of le sac

The Back of Le Sac

1 le sac rolled hemSewing 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 

1 le sacThe 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.

18 thoughts on “Le Sac Cami

  1. Yes. As if making summer outfits will mean that we will get a chance to actually go out in the said item. Even when it is nice you never know, do you? I am becoming more convinced that in the UK we need a year round wardrobe with a few really summery things for our holidays in Spain or Croatia. Even in summer we need layers and today I am wearing tights, lace ups, a woolen skirt and a cardi. On the way home it was sunny and I was a bit warm, but not excessively so. Right now I am making an autumnal grey skirt….

    The pleated silk top is beautiful, as is your workmanship. Very subtle and nice. I think it would work as a dress too – full length – with a nice belt at the waist.

    • Thank you, for the compliments and the dress-making suggestions and food for thought 🙂
      This has been a cruel summer for us makers of summer dresses (unlike two years ago for example, or even last year). I think while we’re beginners, it’s important and easy to make wearable summer clothes in relatively inexpensive fabrics like cotton but as we gather skills we should try push ourselves into making winter outfits that will look interesting but also keep us warm. Wool is an obvious choice but I don’t know what other options there are. Fabrics that are also comfortable. Maybe layering is the answer.

  2. Hi,

    That is lovely.It suits you because you are slim.

    Do you live near Danson House ? I do and I didn’t realise that there was an exhibition there.

    • Hi Valerie, not quite, but I lived all over the (Royal!) borough of Greenwich for 20 years so know Danson Park well.
      You must go to the exhibition. It’s very small but interesting and I think you’ll get a discount if you have a Bexley resident card.

  3. I love this top. It’s so elegant. I do sewing in denial. I’m currently making a corset. I don’t have anything to wear with it, so I’m going to have to make a skirt too. I’ll probably only wear it once..

    • A corset!! But that’s wonderfully adventurous. And it is Halloween in a couple of months, and next year too, so one way or another plenty of chances to wear one (I’m thinking of Rocky Horror or Morticia or something)

      I’d love to make a corset one day but maybe I need to be ‘challenged’ to actually get round to it.

  4. You drafted this?! It’s gorgeous and so clever. I love the unusual front and your construction looks perfect. I’ll look forward to reading about how you made it. I’m still using up winter fabrics to make things, even though spring starts next week and it was 24C yesterday!

  5. I love this. It’s so delicate and feminine. I want one!

    I have the opposite problem to this. It has been twenty-five degrees for the last month but conditioning by long winters has me thinking about autumn wools from about August 1.

  6. Opposite issue for us down under. I long to wear jackets all through the non winter then wee hee – 3 months of cold then back to heat.
    Speaking of heat – you look so HOT Marianna. As fundamentally opposed to tanning as an ex dermatological nurse can be – the tan suits you!!

  7. From this post I realise that I am in a constant state of denial. All my makes throughout the year tend to be non-winter type garments. My wardrobe in the winter tends to be much more RTW.
    Clever job on the design of your strappy top.

  8. Hi,

    Lovely top.

    I have been searching high and low for exactly this design. I’d like to incorporate it in a jewel neckline top. When will you show how it is done – soon I hope.



    • Argh, I meant to do it while the weather is warm, and now other projects have got in the way. Please remind me towards the end of October (sorry if it’s the wrong time of year…)

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