This time on Costume Analytics we’re going to look at a very late 18th century gown from a lovely little online collection called Tidens Toj (translated to “Future Clothes.”). I want to take a close look at this gown because it is the inspiration for a dress I’d like to make for the Jane Austen Festival in July of this year. While this gown is noted as being a wedding dress, we know that white and light colored frocks were all the rage at the turn of the 19th century, so I can see this style, in white, being worn for both day and evening, and without the presence of a groom.
The lovely thing about this dress is that it appears to be wrap front, literally the simplest form of modern dress in existence (or so I believe). We still have wrap-front dresses today, and they are reportedly the easiest to wear and the most flattering. Compared to the other options of closure from this time period, the wrap-front is positively a revelation, for one could dress herself, and not have to bother with under-bodices, back-buttons, pins, bibs, any of that.
In back we see the bodice curve upwards to a subtle point at the center back. This is typical of 1790s gowns and sometimes quite pronounced. What is not so typical is that this dress features an extra piece that fills in the back neckline, creating sortof a collar.
Let’s get more specific though, for this gown only appears simple. A look at the pattern awesomely provided in PDF format, shows us more of the understructure of this dress. There is a fitted lining with lacing at the front, just like a gaulle, over which the gathered outer pieces tie. What looks like quite a lot of seaming at the back of the bodice is actually decorative tucks – the lining only has the typical center back and side back seams.
Fabric & Trims
One of the things I love about 1790s transitional gowns is that they are often very simple. This gown is made of cambric, a finely woven white linen. It features whitework embroidery of leaves and vines, with centers cut from some, but not all, the leaves.
And that’s it.
At the end of the 18th century, it is reported that some women stopped wearing stays altogether, but this was not the norm. This gown would have been worn with short, transitional stays, as well as a petticoat.
And that’s it.
|These three fashion plates are from Dames a la Mode website|
Other accessories probably included a pashmina shawl, a bonnet, hat, or hair decoration, a reticule, and cute little shoes with ballerina-like ribbons lacing up the ankles.
Tips on Making This Costume
- Download the PDF pattern from Tidens Toj and have at it! Here is it! (click)
- If you don’t want to draft the original pattern, you’re best off getting a Regency pattern and taking it back in time a bit. If you’re up to altering the patterns, it’s fairly easy to cut the front bodice in half and extend the edges to overlap. You could also try combining a modern cross-front pattern with your Regency dress pattern (this worked for me).
- Or try these Regency gown patterns: 1790 -1810 Regency Evening Dress Pattern, 1795 – 1825 Gown Pattern, 1804 – 1812 Regency Gown Pattern, Simplicity Sewing Pattern 4055 Historical Costume / Regency Gown for Misses, 1790 -1810 Regency Morning Dress Pattern
- Can’t find cambric cloth? Go for voile, batiste, or lawn, in white or something very pale. If you don’t fancy embroidering, you can look for a fabric with an existing embroidered edge, or try appliques, although this gown will look smashing without the embroidery too. Try Dharma Trading Company for sheer whites, and Farmhouse Fabrics for heirloom sheers with embroidery too.