The "State of the Book" Address - Updates and Progress

Jan 3, 2017 12 comments
Well it's been a couple months now since we announced the writing of our 18th century sewing book, which now has an official title: "The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking: How to Hand Sew Georgian Gowns and Wear Them With Style."

In the past two months we have been sewing *like mad.* We weren't given very much time to write this thing, to be honest - about four months once the table of contents was approved. The scope is....big, to say the least. We're doing four different gowns in four chapters, and also accompanying those gowns are accurate accessories to make up a complete outfit.

So far we've made two of our four ensembles - the 1740s English Gown and the 1790s Round Gown. It's been quite the adventure, cracking the construction of original garments and photographing every step and stitch along the way as we construct the dresses using all original methods. "Just doing it" is one thing, but having to photograph and explain it in a way that makes sense has been challenging.

Yes, we're teasing you....
As we turn the page on 2017, we're right back at it on the most complex and time-intensive of the chapters: the 1760s Sacque. Luckily, though, there's now three of us on the project - Maggie from Undressing the Historical Lady is arriving this week to double our stitch-speed.

So while we can't show you official-ness from the book yet, we wanted to give you an update and let you know how excited we are, despite the short time frame. In the words of Simon Sinek, "working hard for something we don't care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion."


  1. Congrats and best of luck with the project. It will be worth it. I can't wait until it's out.

  2. This sounds like a great project!

    Although right now there are zero activities I typically do that call for 18th century attire, I would really love to have your book! Do you know what the retail price of it is likely to be? (Okay, I'm jumping the gun by...a lot... but I'm only saying what your hard-core fans are thinking, honest!)

  3. I am so excited for your book and know that it will be absolutely wonderful! (*squeal!!*) I have an unrelated question but I've been dying to know the answer: how do you clean petticoats and stays? My petticoats are hand-sewn and extremely fragile. I've worn them one too many times and they are covered in filth. How can I clean them? Also, how can I clean my stays which are boned with reed (I don't won't the wood inside to rot) Do you have any advice or personal experiences that may help me?

    Thanks so much and good luck with your book!:)

    1. Hey!

      So, it's kind of hard to answer the petticoat question because I don't know why they're fragile or what they're made out of. If they're silk, you could try taking them to the dry cleaners, though I can't promise they would make them look new again. If they're wool, cotton, or linen, you can always just soak them in the bathtub with some well mixed in oxiclean, and then lay them flat to try. With that being said, depending on how dirty they are, you might just need to assign them to the rag pile. :/

      As for stays, you shouldn't need to wash them - ever. If the lining is gross (or if you've never lined them) change it out for fresh new lining. I've had my stays for 3 years and I wore them 5 days a week 8-12 hours a day for 2.5. They needed to be mended, but they don't need to be washed...and I didn't even put a lining in. (This is because I'm lazy, and honestly my linen shift took care of all of my grossness) If they smell "human-y" you can always spray them with vodka or Everclear. If the front of them is dirty, again that's an issue of textile as to what's best to clean them. If you wear them exposed and their dirty from that, I would recommend making a bibb'd apron that will protect the front of your stays while you're working. :)

  4. I must admitt that the 18th century was never my favourite, but following your blog has changed that, and I am actually a bit excited about this book now.

  5. Best Wishes on a speedy production and successful publication! I can't wait to get a copy!
    I used to volunteer at a federal era mansion and wore whatever bedgowns and petticoats they had around. Now that the kids are older, I'd love to go back and have my own clothing. A 1790's round gown would be great.

  6. Sew, ladies, sew!! You can do it! I've no doubt the labor pains will be great but I think we're all anxious to see your new "baby."

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  8. I just discovered your blog yesterday and am now addicted. Where was I all this time? I LOVE the 18thc. My sister just asked me to demo chores to her girl scout troop next Thursday and to come in costume. She knew full well I would have a butter churn, spinning wheel and wool cards to hand. And a costume. For no apparent reason. But - I feel like I need a new jacket for this project. LOL!! I can't WAIT to get my hands on your book!

  9. So looking forward to your published book!! That gown is totally tantalizing... and the idea of seeing how it is was originally constructed in such detail makes me feel like skipping! Good luck with the stitching, ladies!


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