SSA Week 4 – Soutache Dress


Soutache/decorative braid was an incredibly popular method of decoration for everyone of the era, and you’re bound to find at least a few examples of it in the trousseau of any French Fashion Doll. Magazines and books overflowed with complicated designs that women spent hours and hours painstakingly hand sewing to… pretty much anything you could sew it onto. This was the Victorian era after all! If a little decoration on a dress is good, a lot of decoration is better – on the skirt, and the bodice, and the sleeves, and the belt, and how about we add some extra pocket flaps and a peplum for more braiding space?

While we’re at it, those pillows and pincushions and my husband’s smoking hat need some too! What else can it go on…hmmm…purses? Yes! Watch holders! Spectacle and “Segar” cases ! Kids, quick, bring me all your shoes and slippers, they need some braid too!

Makes you want to go back in time and buy stock in some braid manufacturer LOL.

So this week we have a very basic short-sleeved 1860s dress for your AG that you can soutache to your heart’s content. No, that’s not an AG in the picture and no, the pattern below won’t fit a slim Götz, but you know how sometimes you get a new doll and you can’t stop sewing for them for even ONE day to finish the Summer Sew-Along? That’s me, and I made a smaller version for her, but don’t have it ready to post yet.

For the soutache pattern, I was randomly doodling the sort of “standard” loop you often see that looks kind of like an elongated cursive capital “L” on the bodice with a marker and thought…hmmm…I kind of like that! So it got digitized for machine embroidery in pes format!

If you don’t have an embroidery machine, I also put it into pdfs here for you to use with actual soutache/fabric markers/hand embroidery. If you don’t have an embroidery machine, please DO NOT download the ones ending in .pes and then email me that you can’t open them. They are embroidery machine files.

Gotz Happy Kidz Laura

No instructions, but it’s super simple. Just make a lined bodice and gather the sleeves into it. It closes flush in back. The skirt is a rectangle about 33″ by desired length+hem. For some reason the sleeve band says to cut a lining…don’t.

Authenticity notes:

It would have been more likely that the skirt was fitted to the waist with little box pleats all the way around. I spent way too long trying to make the math work out and have the pleats fit around the embroidery, but kept ending up with a skirt that wasn’t full enough. My compromise, as you can maybe see in the photo was to baste little box pleats in between the embroidered panels and then just gather the whole thing all the way around.

It’s also highly likely that the dress would have been embroidered all around the skirt, so the embroidery designs are broken up for you in case you’d like to try that.

If you’re making up your own soutache design, keep in mind that when you look at examples of the “real thing,” the braid designs are not perfect, especially at tiny doll scale. The patterns in magazines do not always show perfect symmetry, and when being sewn, each little curve and loop in a design like this would have been wrapped around a pin and stitched down by hand. I tried to reflect that “organic,” handmade sort of feeling in my design, even though with a computer it’s actually easier and faster to make each loop perfect and symmetrical.

Don’t forget to check back to week 1 and make sure your boots match the dress! I bet they would like some braid on them too LOL 🙂

5 responses

  1. This is a lovely dress, Jenny! I don’t have an embroidery machine, but maybe my regular Singer can do something fancy enough to mimic the soutache. Or maybe I have some decorative ribbon that will do the job… In a perfect world, I would embroider by hand, but I know for sure that won’t happen! I love the shape of the dress and your new doll is really lovely! Thank you for the pattern! I’ll make sure my dress will match the boots… but they might look a bit rough (they are brown felt) with such a delicate garment!

  2. I doesn’t look like machine embroidery. Very cute dress. Simple enough to match her personality and just a bit fancy to make it special.

  3. This is so pretty! I can’t wait till you have the Gotz Happy Kidz pieces done. Your Laura looks wonderful in her new dress.

  4. For some reason, last weeks comments have disappeared. Anyway, thank you for the lovely dress pattern. I have no idea how to put the embroidery file on to my machine, so will just make the dress without the soutache. I think it would be helpful to repost the Instagram address somewhere each week so we can see what everyone has completed. Thanks.