Civil War Gown Inspiration and Plannings

Oct 1, 2014 9 comments
...oh yes, *plannings* !

I have terrible Costume A-D-D at the moment. Terrible. One of the many things I want to make *right now* is a new Civil War gown.

I can't even remember the last time I made anything Civil War! I actually have plenty of occasions to wear such a gown, here in Nevada, so I think it's time to work up a new one, with both a day and evening bodice.

To the Inspo!:

Day Dress, 1860s, from the Centre de Documentacio i Museu Textil de Terrassa, but the link is broken, so here it is on Fripperies & Fobs.
Carte de Visite, c. 1863 - via
Clara Barton, c. 1866 - more on her on Wikipedia
Kyoto Costume Institute - c. 1865 - via
From eBay, but no longer available
For loads more of my inspiration images, check out my Pinterest board for this project.

The fabric is decided already - a gorgeous aubergine silk I got in China - trimmed in black velvet, and paired with crisp white collar and cuffs. I have 7 yards, 60" wide, so I should have enough to do the two bodices and a full skirt, if I cut carefully.

The purple silk - it has some very minor slubbing, so I'll call it Dupioni.
For the day bodice, I have this pattern:
Truly Victorian TV443 - 1863 day bodice.
Originally I wanted to use this Simplicity one, but in doing a bit more research, the style seemed more late 1850s:
Simplicity 3727 - out of print, but you can get it on Amazon, Etsy, eBay, even from Simplicity's website. 
And here are my sketches for bodice ideas:

Of course, I have to *not* work on this until I'm done with the Red Russian Doll project (which is still interesting to me, at least!). So I shall just pet the purple silk, and admire it, and dream, until the time comes to start working on this. :-)


  1. The first one <3 and the fourth one from Kyoto - too dreamy. Can't wait to see you in a Civil War gown, it's been a while since the last time!

  2. I know what you mean! I have two vintage UFOs in the pile plus a heap of in progress Renaissance projects but I'm dying to make a 1490s dress right now! Ahh! Must finish some things before I start a new project! Or just hunt around for pretty silks. ;)

    1. I'm not good at keeping one motivated to stay on-project. I'm terrible at it myself!

  3. They are all exquisite, but I think you should save on fabric by making the slimmer sleeve and trimming it with the military cuffs! And do the skirt that has more fullness to the back. Yum!

  4. The Simplicity pattern looks great with a two piece coat sleeve. I've made it that way a few times, it's a slimmer line and pushes it into the 1860's

  5. Those military styles are such fun. I *love* that Truly Victorian pattern, I was so happy with the fit and how flattering it was.

  6. I LOVE old hoop skirt dresses soooooooooo much i´ve allready made two


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