Saturday, November 26, 2011

1790's round gown and open robe


Last weekend, I attended the 3rd Annual Georgian Picnic hosted by the DFWCG.  This event is one the highlights of my year, and was so thrilled to finally be able to make a style that I have lusted after for years now - a 1790's open robe.  I started by assembling a collection of open robe images in Pinterest to help me get a better feel for the variety of open robe styles out there.  Although I knew that I could fake a lot of things with this style and still get a really nice look, I wanted to take the time to try out some new period construction skills and pattern diagrams.  I ended up doing more hand-sewing and draping on this outfit than on anything that I've ever made before, and I really loved the process, which is a bit surprising to me since I usually don't enjoy hand-sewing all that much.

bodiceThe white round-gown worn under the open robe is a copy of this 1797 gown from Tidens Tøj. (the link is sadly broken now, but Aylwen has a screenshot of the pattern and her own beautiful photos of the dress on her blog.  Thanks, Aylwen!) Although I was a bit intimidated by the pattern diagram at first, I was offered some help from dear friends translating the text, and it ended up going together beautifully. The sides and back of the bodice were covered with hand-sewn tucks that were mounted onto a linen foundation, and then the outer fabric was cut down to size.  This was actually a really easy way to work, and I enjoyed having some mindless handy-work to keep me occupied during my lunch breaks.  At times it seemed a bit silly to spend so much effort decorating a part of the dress that wouldn't even be seen, but hopefully, I'll find another occasion to wear the round gown on its own someday.  The round gown is made up from some really lovely heirloom batiste that I got from Fabrique thanks to the gift card that I received from their remnant challenge last spring.  Thanks again, Fabrique!


DSC07017The open robe is made from some ikat cotton that I bought fromHeritage Trading Company, which has GORGEOUS block-printed and ikat fabrics that are perfect for dresses from this period.  I used the open robe pattern in Patterns of Fashion for the construction, and although it looked like it would be easy to put together, it actually turned out to be pretty difficult.  My main problem is that I don't have a dress form that is my size, and this type of gown is draped to the body.  I ended up using a dress form that was close, but not a true match, so I had to get dressed up over and over again so I could try it on and make modifications... which was tiresome.  But I finally got it to work, and the way that the pleats are top-stitched to the lining means that it almost holds the shape of the body even when it isn't being worn, which is pretty cool.  The only real modification that I made to the pattern is making the sleeves full length instead of 3/4, and I added some tri-color death's head buttons to the front cross-over as a bit of embellishment.

For the finishing touches, I decorated a pair of cheap Target flats with a white paint pen so they would have a pattern similar to these 1790's slippers. The vamp is a little low on these shoes compared to period examples, so I had planned on making some rosettes to cover that part up some more.  Unfortunately, that was one of the only things that I didn't have time to get done, but I think they still work pretty good either way.


For the headwear, I wore a turban that was made from a silk curtain panel that was cut in half lengthwise.  I just wrapped it around my head and pinned it in a few spots, so it was about as low-tech as you get.   Instead of using feathers to decorate it, I used a spray of wheat, which is a tip that I learned from Lynn McMasters' article about Geogian turbans and the charming illustration seen here.  I tried quite a few colors of fabric before ultimately deciding on red, but I really liked the rich, jewel-like colors, and red/white/blue was a popular color combo in the 1790's thanks to the French Revolution.


Here are a few more of my favorite pictures of my dress from the picnic, and you can see the full set on flickr. I'll be back to tell you about some of the cool 18th c. toys that we played with in my next post.







Lauren R said...

You look SO perfect!! Wow, I mean WOW. Then again, that is what we've come to expect of you, right? :-) You are such an inspiration!

And not that I want to shoot myself in the foot with my Pemberlies, but your Target-flats-turned-1790s look just perfect :-) About the vamp - I found that the higher vamps on the leather shoes tend to cut the foot in a horrible way. All-fabric doesn't have the problem, but if there's any stiffeners in there, like modern shoes all have, it will cause discomfort. I went with the lower vamp on the Pemberlies too, for that reason.

Cynthia Griffith said...

You looked *fabulous* in person! I especially loved seeing you running and flying the kite -- the whole outfit was perfect for the day and you were absolutely lovely in it!

Great job! :D

Hallie Larkin said...

Great job on the shoes! love the turban and choice of colors! Super job all around.

Hana - Marmota said...

What a wonderful ensemble! Perfect is really the only word that covers it.

Lindsey said...

Those slippers are awesome! I never would have guessed that you had just painted on a pair of Target shoes! Great idea. I love your whole costume, you look beautiful!

eva´s kleidertruhe said...

You look perfect! I love it!!! said...

Lovely....You looked amazing. Love the colors too.

Augustintytär said...

Every piece of this outfit is perfect!

The round gown is gorgeous without the open robe too.

Green Martha said...

Your look absolutely amazing ! Whoaaaaah... And the fabrics where you bought your ikat... OMG, just fabulous !!!

Rhia said...

Wow! That dress is stunning. I especially love the turban you made, it only proofs that you don't always have to have the most posh items at hand but little bit of creativity and something you can find from your own stash.

Rhia from

Unknown said...

This could very well be a *duh* question, but I'm curious; what underpinnings are you wearing? (I'm very inexperienced in this era, and I've be slowly talking myself into a similarly cut gown)

Jo said...


Jen Thompson said...

I had to cheat a bit on the foundation garments since I was running short on time. I'm actually wearing the Past Patterns corded long stays, which date from a bit later in the Regency period. But they give a similar shape as cupped short stays, which would be more correct for the transitional period in the 1790's. Past Patterns sells a nice pattern for transitional short stays too.

Carly said...

Just absolutely gorgeous as always! I love every single thing! The shoes are especially perfect. Did they come blue with the white trim? Were they a recent purchase? So well done, thanks for sharing and being such an inspiration to us all!

AdamHead said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lucy said...

It looks very great (:

Kelsey said...

I love the turban!

Unknown said...
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Rosefolly said...

5 year later and I still love this costume. One of my all time favorites. It is one of three inspirations for a costume I am planning to make later this year, another being Ackerman's October 1810 'Devotions' fashion plate, and the third being a lifelong love of stripes. I plan to work stripes in somehow.

Hana - Marmota said...

By the way, good news is the pattern is still up online - now in the Danish National Museum's new timeline of fashion, here:
(Plus all the other patterns once on The Tidens Tøj site elsewhere in the timeline.)

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