Friday, July 19, 2013

A 1770's Gown for Caroline

With RevWar getting ready to start full swing here in the next month or so, I figured I'd better start on some clothes for my little sister Caroline.  And what better place to start than a linen gown? :)

I'm not sure, but I think this may have been one of the most fun projects yet.  I never knew how easy draping was!  Or how fun!  I was going to take pictures of how I draped this gown, but then I thought I'd wait for the next dress so I could make sure it turned out alright.  It did :D  Several months ago I had been looking through a photo album on the Margret Hunter Shop facebook page, where they showed a few images of draping a gown.  I was in awe and thought draping was like the height of being a seamstress...that like nothing could be harder than that!  But when I actually started pinning and cutting I found out it wasn't half as difficult as I imagined.  All I did was hold up the fabric to her body in stays, use a pencil to make some lines (top of stays, side of body, where shoulder line should be, armhole, center front of stays, waistline) and then cut it out.  I actually cut part of the dress out while the fabric was still draped on her! (mock up obviously).  Then I sewed up a mock up of the bodice and tried it on her.  I tweaked the armhole but other than that it was done.  Not only was draping fun, but it saved the $20 I would have had to spend on a pattern.  I can't wait to drape a gown for Bascha!

I had seen that 3 seams on the back of gowns during this period were a vast majority.  And what I really thought was cool was that on some of these dresses, the pleats at the center back that attached a bodice to the skirt.  So I thought I'd try that.  To make the pleats in the gown back I laid my mock up back on the linen I was to use for the dress.  I then traced that shape onto the linen.  After that I took the mock up and slashed it in the center, and also two diagonal lines toward the waist.  I laid these now 4 pieces of the gown back onto my linen, inside the traced lines.  Then pulling them apart I left 1" in between the far side back and center back on both sides and 2 inches between center backs. This was to allow for the pleats.  I then marked the edges of the 4 back pieces so I would know where to pleat on the gown.  I cut this out, and the skirt out, making sure I left a 2 inch "channel" in between the bodice and skirt to keep them attached.  Here are some pictures showing the 3 seams/pleats that I was going by.

red floral print anglaise, 1770-1780
these pictures were taken off google images...a couple from pinterest,
and a couple from Fashionable Frolick
Forreau.jpg (27150 bytes)Blue striped linen gown, 1770-1780
The entire bodice is lined, but the lining of the bodice back is smooth because I did not have enough linen left to pleat that, much less line the skirt.  (The bodice lining is from a large linen dress bought at the thrift store.)  Oh, and I did not drape the sleeves, I just used the pattern for those that I used for our jackets.  I put 3 pleats on the back of the sleeve.

I hand-sewed this dress and I'm glad that I did.  I love the softness hand-sewing gives a garment, and of course the more accurateness of it :).

Here are some pictures of the finished dress!  I know it looks a wee bit odd without a stomacher or petticoat- I'm still in the midst of making some to match :P

please forgive the's been really rainy here so really humid,
and the camera is getting fogged up again. :(

I'm a little sad that the pleats didn't do what I had hoped in the back...
I guess I need to mess around some more to make them hang right.  They are
attached to the gown bodice, but it looks like they aren't. Bummer.  

the white at the top is her shift.

I put 3 pleats at the back of the sleeve.

the sleeve.

the lining on the inside
Total cost was...I think $2? So yay! Another project done...coming up will be her "nice" CW dress, a shirt for Stephen, my CW homespun and my CW bonnet! :) (civil war is the next event coming up)


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