Abby’s Austen Fest Dinner Dress

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 one…it 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! 


  • Anonymous

    May 20, 2017 at 8:40 PM

    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.

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