Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Engageantes for the mid nineteenth century dress

False sleeves, like the one below were worn in the nineteenth century, and were either pinned or sewn into the sleeves of bodices, so that they could be removed from the dress and washed, to protect the bodice or gown, which was more difficult to launder. Known as engageantes, they were the height of fashion in the mid 19th century.

Here is a false sleeve from the textile collection of The Elms Mission House and Library. It is made from a fine cotton lawn, and is completely hand sewn.

The pleats of the pleated frill of the sleeve have been basted to hold them in place.

This sleeve is also from the collection at The Elms. It has been edged with a delicate lace.

Here is the dress I am making for a display in the washroom of the servant's building at The Elms. I wanted to make false sleeves and a chemisette, so that visitors could see how these were worn and how they detached from the garment. Here is an image of the sleeve pinned in place.

What do you think?

I found a tiny little button from my collection for the cuff. I haven't quite finished them yet, but when I have, I will do a post about the making of these sleeves, I have patterns if anyone is interested.


  1. Very, very cool, and yes, I would love more posts (and soon-ish I hope to see the real thing!)

  2. The first too are the real thing, from the collection at The Elms Mission House. I could post more original costume, but didn't seem to get much interest in the posts on examples of historical costume. Did you see the little children's shirts from the 1700's? If I get a few more comments on the posts on actual examples of historic costume, I will go through the process and ask the Board if I can post on the collection.

  3. I have been desperately searching for a pattern! I will look around your blog a bit to see if you ever posted the pattern.

    Thank you so very much!