Thursday, October 28, 2010

Making my first period gown

My house is starting to look like a house museum.

It is my first attempt at period costume, a dress with the look of around the 1840's to 60's. It is aimed at primary school children and is not an overly accurate reproduction. The fabric is synthetic, and the sewing done by machine. The petticoat was donated to me, and has a broiderie anglais border, with horizontal knife pleats, that stiffen and help hold its shape.

The bodice is made from a pattern in The Elms textile collection. Oops sorry, you can't see the bodice, its got a camisole, or corset cover over it.

There you are.
The pattern was included in a magazine as a supplement, from around the 1850,s, and if you want to know more. I have blogged about it, the blog is called, A Pattern Supplement to The English Woman's Domestic Magazine. Have a look and find out how difficult it used to be to get a pattern. Dressmakers often draped muslin over their clients and cut the pattern from this, and home sewers would cut up old dresses and use them as patterns for new ones. You may remember if you read the instructions from the supplement printed in the blog, that the pattern for the body, was from the House of Gagelin. Gagelin was a fabric store in Paris, where Charles Frederick Worth worked, from 1845, through to 1858. Worth set up a small dressmaking department in the Gagelin store, that as the magazine supplement states was, one of the first couture houses. In 1858 Worth left the House of Gagelin to open his own house, the House of Worth, and went on to become the Father of Couture.

The bodice from the back.
The buttons are recycled shell buttons, known as mother of pearl. I am not happy with them and want to replace them with buttons covered with the same fabric as the bodice. What do you think?
The skirt lies almost finished, beside just bleached lace curtains, beautiful cotton lace, difficult to find quality like that today. See the pattern, little pictures in lace. I was given these as a free extra with some buttons I bought off Trade Me. They were rust stained and dirty, and looked like rubbish, now I love them, the gorgeous things.


  1. gawsh you better be careful someone might whip you up for period costume design in cinema :P

  2. Oops I meant to say yes please.