Seduction of Cécile Volanges



Marianne Beaumont Dean


(click images to to enlarge)

Outline the story …

"Dangerous Liasons" by Pierre Ambroise Laclos. Cécile Volanges begins the novel as newly-emerged from a convent, from whence she is brought to marry the Comte de Gercourt. A woman who dislikes Gercourt (the Marquise de Merteuil) hatches a plot to embarrass him and cause scandal by arranging for Cécile to fall prey to seduction by the Vicomte de Valmont, her former lover. Cécile is a pawn in the games of people who are more worldly-wise than she. When Valmont reads a letter from Cécile’s mother that disparages him, he takes to the seduction of Cécile with a new-found zeal and lust for revenge. By day, she falls in love with her music teacher (Danceny) and by night, Valmont ‘teaches’ her of the body and sex. When Danceny hears of how Valmont has ruined Cécile, he demands satisfaction and kills Valmont in a duel. Cécile doesn’t have a happy ending; When she is discarded by the Comte de Gercourt she returns to the convent to become a nun.

A significant part of Cécile’s story takes place in a state of undress, which is why I see her best depicted as such. I wanted to make a banyan to complete Cécile’s look, but ran out of time. I have included the fabric for the banyan in one of the photos. The stays are simple and 'functional', which I deemed appropriate to a girl from a convent.

Outline the construction…

Everything in the photos is handsewn, including the boning channels. I made the shift out of blue cotton as I had just decided to learn to sew and it was all I had - I would have otherwise put Cécile in a white shift. I saw a picture of the simple pattern pieces (rectangles and triangles) during a google search and backstitched all the seams together, felling the seam allowances. I didn't have the right colour thread but it definitely helped by contrasting against the fabric whilst learning to sew.

The green petticoat closes at one side and is the same blue cotton, dyed green. For this, I followed instructions in the American Duchess book for an underpetticoat. My pleats are a bit uneven. I used my first ever pattern when I bought the American Duchess 8579 pattern. (In hindsight, yes, I see how silly it is to make stays as my first pattern). I added an inch to the centre front, eliminated the CF seam and changed the boning layout slightly to add channels, as I used smaller boning. I didn’t follow the pattern instructions exactly as I tried to use historically accurate methods.

I am visually impaired and, unfortunately, sew at a glacial pace due to magnification and feeling my way through things etc. Obviously, I came across many issues relating to that, but I’m not going to go into that here.




  1. Avatar Laura Boyles on March 11, 2021 at 11:46 pm

    Beautiful work. Corsets as a first item is just blowing my mind. And it looks so good. Best of luck x

  2. Avatar Mathilde on March 12, 2021 at 2:28 pm

    You did not chose an easy project to start with. I’m really impressed with the result. You did great!

  3. Avatar Andrea Olinte on March 12, 2021 at 3:28 pm

    All those boning channels handsewn as a first project? And you finished it, that is so impressive.

  4. Avatar Carolien van Alphen on March 12, 2021 at 7:06 pm

    That is a beautiful pair of stays and petticoat. Well done!

  5. Avatar Valerie on March 17, 2021 at 2:01 am

    Everything is impeccable, and my goodness, those stays! Very impressive undertaking.

  6. Avatar Fanny Baird on March 22, 2021 at 4:09 pm

    Et beh, balèze! Everything looks neat : your pair of stays, shift and the plits of your skirt. Bravo!

  7. Avatar AnnaCatherine Sendgikoski on March 23, 2021 at 12:51 am

    Wow, so nice! I love the stays. The construction is well done! Thank you!

  8. Avatar Elowen Blackthorn on March 25, 2021 at 1:54 am

    This is incredibly well done! Those stitches are so tiny, those eyelets! Well done indeed!

  9. Avatar Lizzie Blake on April 1, 2021 at 8:13 pm

    Your stitching looks so perfect! Amazing job 🙂

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