Abby's Austen Fest Dinner Dress

May 15, 2017 2 comments
Hey All!

Abby here! As some of you know, Lauren & I will be attending Jane Austen Festival in Louisville, KY this July (soo excited to go home for business! woo!). As a part of the festivities, Lauren and I are going to be guests at a dinner hosted by the HMS Acastas group, and while we're super excited to be participating in this fun bit of living history....I need a dinner dress to wear.

Ugh. Ok. More sewing for me!

Luckily, I really am in love with the late 1790s, and all of the different influences that can be found in just a few years of fashion. While I have my "book" dress for one day, being that it's just a spotted linen (from Britex Fabrics, San Francisco) it's not really the best for a more formal dinner. So I have been doing research to come up with a fun late 1790s game plan for dinner, and I think I've come up with a plan!

Full Dress, May 1799, Claremont Colleges Digital Library
This print is my main inspiration. While I don't want to wear an entirely silk gown in the middle of July in Louisville (I know better...) I did want some silk to help make my appearance seem a bit more "formal" for dinner. This print dates from 1799 which is also the year I am aiming for, and is considered "full dress"! While my gown will be out of a light weight block printed cotton, my plan is that the blue tunic in the print will probably be in (hopefully!) an emerald green and I will make a turban to match. I'm still trying to figure out my jewelry options though. Currently, I'm lusting after some coral....

After I decided on this print, I wanted to see what else was out there in the internet to see if this little silk tunic thing was just a one off or was it actually trendy at the turn of the century. As it turns out, this look was definitely "in" c. 1799-1800. Hooray! Here are some other fashion prints I found while trolling the internet....

Costume de Bal, Year 8 (1799), Here
I really love the asymmetrical cut and the tassels on this leaves me strongly tempted to kind of blend the two prints together to create my look. I love me some tassels....

Full Dress, December 1798, Here
While the purple is really cool, I wasn't terribly fond of the more shapeless tunic in pink...

The Fatima Robe and 3 Bonnets, October 1798, Here
This "Fatima Robe" is different from the others I found, but I fell in love with the sleeve details...

Costume Parisien, 1799, Pinterest 
So... this is a lot of look... but again, asymmetrical & tassels! 

Costume de Bal, Costume Parisien, 1799, Pinterest

I love, love, love the ribbon detailing on this outfit. I would love to see this gown made up in person...I bet the colors would just pop! (Also - tassel.)

All of these prints are just fabulous in so many ways, but it has left me with quite a bit of sewing to do! I've already started on the gown (pictures to come later!), and now I just need to source the right color & weight of silk, and figure out the jewelry for the look. 

Only a couple of months left! 


  1. Thses are all fabulous ideas! I can't wait to see what you come up with. I did a similar type of sleeve to those on the fatima robe recently for a revamp of one of my older gowns. I love the effect! All the creative statuary-influenced draperies of this period are so lovely and elegant. Perfect for dressing up a cotton gown for an evening.

  2. I've always loved the tunic styles of the late 1790's, just never had the oportunity to make one. I'm looking forward to seeing your finished dress.


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