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.
SeidenweberinMarch 2, 2011 at 11:54 PM
As I am going to make me a new 1796 dress, I was considering working along this pattern. I think it'd be huge fun to see all the different gowns resulting from the same base 🙂
Lauren StowellMarch 2, 2011 at 11:57 PM
oooh yes! I agree! Mine will be more of a wrap front without the underbodice, but the rest I am going to try to do just like this one. Pics when done, pls, send me a link!
AnonymousMarch 3, 2011 at 5:16 AM
I am new to this blog, having just clicked on the link from another, but I felt I had to comment on the white wedding dress thing. It wasn't really tradition to wear a white dress til Queen Victoria married Prince Albert in 1840.
Lauren StowellMarch 3, 2011 at 5:23 AM
Foxy, normally I would agree with you if not for the literature on this dress, from the Tidens Toj website:
it specifically states that this particular gown was a wedding gown, but that not all wedding dresses were white, and more more commonly they were any other color, even black. I think what may have happened here is that the color en vogue of this time period, and the very early Regency, for any dress – day dresses, evening gowns, etc – was white, and so this lady's wedding gown was white by default, not white because that explicitly represented brides, as we begin to see later in the 19th c. with Victoria.
J.A. GoughMarch 4, 2011 at 10:36 PM
This is just so lovely. Want. So. Bad.
Thank you for sharing! I really enjoy your Costume Analytics; they're so inspiring!
MrsC (Maryanne)March 5, 2011 at 3:17 AM
And me, want want want. Want to make, want to do that embroidery. Want more time in my life to do these things!!!
Lauren StowellMarch 5, 2011 at 7:31 AM
J.A., thank you for reading! I am glad you like these posts and that they are useful, even though sometimes I think I'm just preaching to the choir, lol.
MrsC, yes, more time, sew faster! I know the feeling. Have I started on either of the two gowns for Jane Austen Fest in July? no. nothing. fail. lol
IsisMarch 5, 2011 at 9:26 AM
A better tranlsation would be "Fashions of the time". 🙂
I stated out to make that dress, but found out that I didn't have enough pattern for the front, but I followed the back as closely as I could. There are pictures here:
It was a very easy gown to make.
Lauren StowellMarch 5, 2011 at 6:47 PM
Isis, your dress is so gorgeous! I don't think mine will be spot-on either, more "inspired by". Hope it comes out as well as yours did 🙂
IsisMarch 5, 2011 at 11:09 PM
Thank you, Lauren! And your will be gorgous!
The DreamstressMarch 7, 2011 at 9:09 PM
Ooooh…I didn't realise that they had PDF's of their garments patterns! So exciting! Thank you!
Lauren StowellMarch 7, 2011 at 9:20 PM
I seem to remember that some have patterns and some don't, and also that some of the images are broken, but generally speaking it's quite an awesome resource. You may need to bust out the Google Translate to do the directions and notes, though 🙂
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