Tutorial on the En Forreau Dress Pattern (Pleats)…by Thimbles and Acorns

One of my dear subscribers, Linda, asked me a question the other night about a dress she was trying to make for Felicity. She was making her version of a new Christmas gown in a brown satin fabric and was using the Thimbles and Acorns Pattern, by Shari Fuller, called “En Forreau.” The pleats in the back were giving her a bit of a struggle and I told her I would help her through this section and decided I needed to do it with pictures, hence a new blog post was created!

[I’m thinking about every once in a while answering a question from you all. I could call it “Just Ask Jeanne” but I’ll wait and see.]

The pattern we are talking about today is called En Forreau. It’s a pretty Colonial dress with a pull up bustle if you wish.

[If you click on any picture, it will enlarge.]



I happened to have made one for a customer a few years ago and took pictures of it, so we are good to go!



The pleats in the back are going to be the focus today.


Okay, so just so you know where we are going… this is an illustration of what I will be referring to.


Make sure you cut your back piece on the fold…


The markings have to be exact for your lines to look nice, so take a piece of tracing paper and slide it between the fabric…it should be touching the wrong side of your fabric and the colored paper should be facing out. Take your marking tool and mark your dots…exactly..


When you open it up, it should look like this…


Step 15 says to open up your fabric so you have the right sides touching each other. You will be stitching on the wrong side…right on the dotted lines…this is the seam down the middle of the back.


Step 16: Then move to the next set of dotted lines and make a 1/4″ seam…stitching on those dotted lines.








Step 17: Pin the side back pieces to the piece you just made the pleats in, and stitch it using a 1/4″ seam.


Step 18:



Now flip it to the backside and stitch on that last row of dots…it should be 1/4″ wide. It’s pretty much just stitching next to the seam you just stitched, only about 1/4″ over.


When you have it all pressed, you can topstitch if you like. Go down one side, pivot, make 1 or 2 stitches, pivot, and then stitch up the other side. Try to keep your stitches straight..


This is what it looks like when it is all finished… I wasn’t watching a movie when I top stitched this one… :o)


I hope this helps you Linda… and anyone else giving this pattern a try.

See you tomorrow,
Blessings, Jeanne


  1. Linda Doyle says:

    Oh my goodness, Jeanne! You devoted a whole blog to my question? You are nicer than nice!! I’m sure this will help me tremendously, and I can’t wait to try again when I open my sewing machine up! I have quite a few things going this week, so we’ll see.

    I do notice that you have used tracing paper, which I don’t have! I believe I used to use it, but just that one thing would really help with this slippery satin I have. I have just been sticking pins (and my fingers) in the fabric for markings, and eyeballing it a bit, but I see that won’t do. I’m wasting more time just trying to get the pins straight!!

    Now I see that on Step 15, where I just got completely lost, you explain that you sew the 5/8 inch pleat together! That pretty much solves what I was stuck on. I couldn’t figure out how you got a center seam in there! Your pictures did wonders for that!

    Thanks you so, so much! I guess I had better get some tracing paper if I want to do this right! I’m sure a lot of your readers are rolling their eyes at my lack of sewing skills!

    I think an “Ask Jeanne” would be a wonderful idea, plus we could ALL learn from the questions, and would give you blog ideas too!!!

    • Hi Linda,
      Well, I thought a tutorial would help you the most. I hope it does.
      Yes, I think you’re going to have to get some tracing paper… get the kind that is sort of waxy like for your satin… maybe in the white. You’ll want it to show up.

      I hope you get moving right along with Felicity’s dress after you get the pleats done. I hope so…it’s going to be Christmas pretty quickly!
      Blessings, Jeanne

  2. Amazing! Yes, I vote for a How To Page. The one you just did may prove to be the most complicated one you will ever do (hopefully). You may be answering questions that the average seamstress doesn’t even know to ask. What a wonderful teacher you are! Thanks again for your amazing blog.

    • Thank you Susette,
      This was a pretty complicated thing to show, but maybe everyone who has tried this pattern can learn something from it.
      I don’t have all the answers but hopefully I know a few things…
      Blessings, Jeanne

  3. Wow! What a helpful post. Tracing paper is the way to go. I would have opted for pins and probably gotten immensely frustrated with it. To see pictures on actual fabric is so helpful instead of just the black and white drawings of pattern instructions. I think you should have an “Ask Jeanne” question and answer page. I agree with Linda that we would all get help with things we might not have even thought of. That pattern certainly is lovely for Felicity and I love the straw hats that Shari sells.

    • Hi Laura,
      Thanks for the compliments on my post today. It was fairly time consuming so I don’t think I could this often, but maybe occasionally… I do love to sew most of all…
      Yes, this En Forreau pattern is the perfect dress for Felicity…
      Blessings, Jeanne

  4. Forgot to say. I really like the little quilt patterns we all have acquired next to our posts.
    Very cute..

    • Thanks Laura,
      You are the first to comment on them. I was trying to add an avatar for myself and couldn’t figure it out, so I just opted for pretty quilt blocks for everyone…
      Blessings, Jeanne

  5. I have trouble accepting tracing paper won’t leave a permanent mark on the fabric, particularly when ironed and I have had the tiny prongs on an tracing wheel mar the surface of the fabric. I would make sure the markngs were always on the wrong side of the fabric and then baste the lines so they are visible on both sides.

    I would love if you posted on drafting. Not a tutorial but a general idea of the process.

    • HI Jan,
      Yes, the markings from the tracing wheel are always done on the wrong side. I try to match up a color of tracing paper that is least likely to show through the fabric as well. Some fabrics are more delicate than others so you do have to be careful… but it can be done.
      I’ll keep your ideas in mind, Jan.
      Blessings, Jeanne

  6. Marilyn Grotzky says:

    This is impressive. I don’t suppose Felicity would like a dress like this to wear to school? Maybe for dancing lessons? Also, could you show us the full length of the back of Elizabeth’s dress and how it’s drawn up? That outfit is a beauty. I love the close-up of the back and of course you’ve chosen lovely fabrics.
    You have a fair number of tutorials already — you just have to organize them and put them in one accessible place. Surely that’s only a matter of … hours and hours. In a couple of years, you’d have the material for book one of a series: Jeanne Marie Sews for ….

    • HI Marilyn,
      Thanks so much for your comments, Marilyn.
      I don’t have any more pictures of the dress. It was a special order and I only took these pictures to send to the lady before I shipped it off. I did make her a mob cap but I can’t even find a picture of it on her.
      You are too funny Marilyn… a book? I think I better just stick to sewing…that is my passion!
      Blessings, Jeanne

  7. Kathie Welsh says:

    OMGosh! All that work and it is on the BACK of the dress? Amazing! That is a wonderful step by step picture story! Maybe you cold make a similar dress with those wonderful pleats in the front with lace over the neckline… it’s just beautiful.
    Period dresses are so interesting and you do them so well!
    Didn’t get to comment yesterday but that was an awesome post.
    Have a good week!

    • Thank you Kathie,
      I know…the beautiful part is never seen most of the time… If I were Felicity, I’d walk into a room backwards!!! :o)
      Thanks so much for your kind compliments, Kathie. I appreciate them very much!
      blessings, Jeanne

  8. I must be tired today, but I can’t figure out how the poor girl gets the garment on? No opening in the back, so it must be in the front? Hooks & eyes? Snaps? Hidden from view? Presume it goes over the skirt?
    It is a lovely dress and great tutorial.

    • HI Joy,
      Yes, the dress closes in the front with hidden snaps. The top part is like a jacket and the petticoat is like a skirt with a waistband.
      Thank you very much, Joy.
      Blessings, Jeanne

  9. Diana Jenness says:

    This was very interesting. I used to use the tracing paper, but haven’t in years. Now I guess there will be a run on tracing paper at Joann’s. I love to see it when people–seamstresses –give such detailed instructions with pictures.
    I need to get to work on Halloween costumes for my grandkids. This year, they want to be a fox and a turtle.

    • HI Diana,
      It’s not likely that there will be a run on tracing paper at Joann’s because of my post, but it’s a lovely thought! :o)
      A fox and a turtle, hmmmm… someone’s going to be busy!
      Have fun with them…
      Blessings, Jeanne

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