And It Was All Yellow…

You’re going to think I’m all-over-the-place right now, and you would be right. Projects here, projects there, moving house, moving business, omg! It’s been stressy, for sure, but this is also the typical lead up to Costume College…SEW ALL THE THINGS!

This year I feel extra on the back foot with getting stuff done for Costume College. I have SIX classes to teach, three of them 18th century focused, and on top of that the decisions on what to wear for evening events, most notably the Gala.

At this point it’s mostly a “what do I have that’s closest to completion and Gala-appropriate?” That would be the yellow English gown I’ve been working on for way-the-heck-too-long, so that’s what I’m going with. That’s what I need to finish!

Latest progress (from April) – one sleeve basted on, but needs adjustment to the armscye. The robings here are just pinned on to see how it would look. Need to get the other sleeve assembled and on as well.

I *have* been working on it, I swear. There’s one sleeve basted on; the other is ready to go on. I need to work out the robings, especially since the gown is, um, a bit too small for me now. Then it’s petticoat, stomacher, and accessories. That doesn’t seem like that much left to do…right?

I ran into a little conundrum, though.

Of course.

I wanted to do winged cuffs for this gown. I’ve always loved them and jumped at the chance to add them to this earlier style. In my research, though, I found that winged cuffs, found primarily in the 1740s and 50s, accompanied untrimmed gowns. The “fluff” was in the accessories – neckerchiefs, chemises, aprons, caps – but not on the gowns themselves.

Girl with a Tray, Philip Mercier, 1750
Girl with a Tray, 1750, by Philip Mercier – Typical gown of this period – the decoration is in the fabric, not added trimmings. I saw a lot of the bands or ties across the stomacher, sometimes with neckerchief tucked in, or sometimes the stomacher has a gathered lineny look, like here.
Portrait of a Lady – no date, but my estimate is 1740s – by George Beare, who died in 1749, so at least it’s sometime before that. English Hertiage, Marble Hill House, Art UK (click through). This shows the bands across the stomacher – not entirely sure how these work, though – how and where are they attached? How do they open/close?
Portrait of Sir Edward Walpole’s Children, 1747, by Stephen Slaughter. Minneapolis Institute of Arts. The girl in the pink dress has an untrimmed gown in a beautiful silk, again with the ties across the stomacher. The stomacher looks very stiff and is ivory, not the same fabric as the gown. It possibly has that gauzy appearance, too.
Portrait of Lucy Ebberton, 1745-50, by George Knapton. This is what I’m going for (except that my gown is a solid silk, not a broace). An untrimmed gown is a tie across the stomacher. Wonderfully fluffy accessories, including huge chemise flounces, a lacy neckerchief, sheer apron, and bergere hat. It looks like her petticoat is a coral pink rather than matching the gown. Stunning!

Fast forward to the 1760s, and we get English gowns with trimmed robings, fluffy stomachers, and decorated petticoats, but most commonly flounces on the sleeves. (also plain, untrimmed gowns with flounces) I found one example of winged cuffs being worn with a trimmed stomacher, from c. 1760. This cheerful lady:

Mrs James Otis, c. 1760, by John Singleton Copley – Wichita Art Museum. This gown has winged cuffs and untrimmed robings, but the stomacher, which is very wide and round at the bottom is trimmed in self fabric.


So I’ve had to juggle my plan a bit, but because I like things to be as versatile as possible, I’ve decided to make a Double Period Dress (to use a term coined by Your Wardrobe Unlock’d).

My new plan:

  • 1 Gown – untrimmed, with winged cuffs
  • 1 1740s Stomacher – ivory taffeta with bands across to tuck the neckerchief into;
  • 1 1760s Stomacher – wider, rounder, and with lots of self trim
  • 1 Plain Petticoat – entirely of yellow taffeta (can be used for other outfits too, yay!)
  • 1 Trimmed Petticoat – the front of the petticoat in silk, the back in a cheaper fabric, probably cotton.

And for the Gala? I will wear the 1760s version, with the fluff……..BUT…..I can ALSO wear the 1740s version for the 18th Century Accessories class. Yay, double duty!

Just have to…y’know…finish it. 😉


  • AuntieNan

    June 14, 2016 at 12:21 AM

    Gorgeous ideas! Practical and beautiful! My fave… Is it possible that the crossed ties are attached to the robings? It looks like there is something pulling on them in the Mercier painting?
    Always loved the winged cuffs and the sheer ruffled or flouncy sleeves!

    • Lauren Stowell

      June 14, 2016 at 6:09 PM

      It sure looks like it. Maybe I could just tack them on? I suppose I could sew them under the fold-back of the robing so I could still pin both sides…gah, I don't know, I'll have to experiment!

    • Kim

      June 15, 2016 at 7:32 AM

      I wondered whether the bands were tacked to the stomacher and the robe pinned to the stomacher. Or for the bands without centers, if one side one was stitched on and the other side pinned. 18th century is the time period for straight pins, right?

    • Lauren Stowell

      June 14, 2016 at 6:11 PM

      Thank you! I need to clean up my new sewing room and set everything up to make it easy to do a little here and a little there on this gown. That's how it'll get done, I reckon, lol.

  • Mylene Richard

    June 15, 2016 at 2:41 AM

    So… if you don't have time to finish both petticoats, can you just wear the trimmed petticoat backward, assuming you made both side with the same fabric? ^_~

  • Unknown

    June 20, 2016 at 2:24 PM

    You are going to Costume College? OH, me too! And between you and the Dreamstress I'm am going to be a very tongue tied "fan girl". If someone walks up to you in Victorian garb and says "Ahhhh blub blub", that will be me.

  • Jeni B

    June 30, 2016 at 6:32 PM

    I did a front closing robe once where I added a row of lacing holes behind the front opening, laced it across leaving a stomacher sized gap, then pinned the stomacher over it to cover the gap. You could do that and lace it closed with a ribbon or something, then miss out the stomacher and use the neckerchief in its place, threading it behind some of your lacing and in front of the rest. creating that horizontal tie look. Then you can have the stomacher for occasions when you don't want to use the neckerchief.
    I look forward to seeing the finished dress!

    • Lauren Stowell

      June 30, 2016 at 8:22 PM

      Hi Jeni – Yup, I have the under-lacing bit as well (kindof hard to see on my top photo, over the stay lacing). It's a huge help with keeping the gown secure, and pinning the stomacher over it. I will always wear a stomacher over that lacing, but I have seen examples of stomachers that have strips across them, I guess you could call them, that the neckerchief is tucked into, so that's what I'm going for.

  • Unknown

    June 28, 2017 at 8:51 AM

    Hello! I love your site! I am a historical costumer, but with the SCA, so I have made Tudor and Elizabethan gowns. I've decided that for my wedding I'd like to do something I don't normally have a chance to do! My bridesmaids are going to be in a gown like you are wearing on this page, and I'm going to be wearing a sacque back gown over a grande pannier. I was wondering if you would mind telling how much yardage you put into your robe a l'anglaise, and how much yardage of fabric went into your sacque back? I'm just trying to get a general idea before I start this journey! Thanks so much for all of your tutorials! Oh, and your shoes their a dream and I'm getting some pompadours for the wedding:)))

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