V191: Matchy – Or Not – Striped 18th Century Gowns

Sometimes it really helps, when you’re in the midst of working on a project, to go back and look at reference images, to see how the seamstresses back in the day did things.

I’ve started over on my wide-striped Robe a l’Anglaise, and it is fitting muuuuch better now, but I still have the *joy* of the stripes in front not matching up just so, when the CF is overlapped.  I am planning to apply trim over the CF, but I would still like it come out nice and symmetrical!

So how was it done back in the day?

via – well in this case, the CF is mismatched!
LACMA via – this one meets perfectly
V&A 1775 – the stripes on the front are more vertical, rather than in a chevron pattern.
The Met – Robe a la Francaise, 1750-75; not quite the same, but this does have a comperes front matching.
V&A 1775-80.  Not quite perfectly matched in front, but symmetrical still.

If there is an overlap, it must have been accommodated for when cutting the left and right front pieces.  Tricky!  It also seems like the best way to fit the damn thing is pin up the front, then fit through the back seams, but even then…what happens if you lose/gain weight, or lace more tightly or more loosely from day-to-day?

Verdict – stripes are lovely and evil, both.  And so are overlapped, pinned fronts.


  • Anonymous

    July 10, 2012 at 3:31 AM

    You are a diplomat. I do believe you politely informed someone that many 18th century sewists didn't know how to sew 18th century clothing…especially stripes! Hee hee. I'm still annoyed with your troll. I see this current post of yours as poetic and classy. I hope I can be classy when I get my first troll!

    • Lauren Stowell

      July 10, 2012 at 9:30 PM

      Oh, it wasn't meant to be in regards to the troll – seems like most of the time trolls care more for "drive by shootings" rather than coming back to see what havoc they've wreaked.

  • The Dreamstress

    July 10, 2012 at 3:36 AM

    Fascinating look at the matching. I suspect it would really have depended on how much fabric the seamstress at the time had – if you had enough to make a dress, you were going to make it, whether the stripes matched or not! And of course I imagine whether these extent examples would match or not depends on how the museums pin them.

  • Lauren

    July 10, 2012 at 3:39 AM

    Very nice! In the 18th century people weren't as concerned about pattern matching as they are today, at least from what I've read/ found. It seems that using the fabric efficiently was number one.

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