Abby’s Jane Austen Fest Dinner Dress – a Lesson in Plan B…or…C?

Hey Lovelies —

So the last time I blogged about my Jane Austen Fest Dinner Dress I was totally jiving on this idea of making a tunic and turbany/chiffonettey thing to wear on my head. It was going to be awesome. And Fabulous. And Awesome. Right? Right.


Between a mix of procrastination, other work responsibilities, and a fabric debacle, here I sit the day before we fly out to Louisville, Kentucky (sooo excited!) with no tunic & no matching turban…this is a bit of a bummer, but luckily I am very happy with how things have turned out for the gown so far. I’m going to be doing a quick dress rehearsal of all my things to make sure it does all actually look good before I pack everything up in a suitcase, and pray that my design choices will work for the late 1790s.

My materials: Black/Green Silk Sash, Block Printed Indian Cotton Gown, and Vintage Gold Trim for my neckline and sleeves (I think I have enough trim for all of that…eek!) 

What does make me happy about this outfit is that is has become a purely stash-busting ensemble. All of the fabric and trim I have had for several years now, and so I am very excited to be putting them all to good use! 
The gown came together very quickly and easily (for once…ha!) and I was able to put it mostly together over the past few days. Here’s a shot of the back after getting the sleeves and shoulder straps set & sewn in (my least favorite thing….sewing shoulder straps drives me bananas!)
I’m really happy with how the fit of this gown came out, and that the pattern layout is pretty symmetrical on both sides!
Here’s a shot of the interior back of the gown. I left a lot of edges raw, based off of originals I’ve studied. There are some stringy bits here and there, but it does seem like everything is going to hold up very well! 

Now that the construction of the gown is finished, I’ve been working on the green sash and trying to figure out how to attach the trim around the neckline of my gown. You see, being vintage gold foil trim, it doesn’t want to gather up in any way & I know it will be very scratchy around my neckline. So this means that I need to figure out how to keep the trim off my body as much as possible on top of having a smooth connection between the front of my bodice and the shoulder straps/back. I think I’ve figured it out, but I wont know for certain until it’s all put on and I get dressed in everything for a final check this afternoon!

So far it looks like whipping the trim (edge to edge) to the under-bodice and smoothing it out is going to work…but I’m still a little nervous that it’s going to give me fits! 
As for the sash, the green silk (got it from Burnley and Trowbridge a few years ago) is nice and thin, so I was able to hem the yards and yards using very fine running stitches. It made for a much quicker process than my normal hem stitching.
Please excuse my chipped nail polish! 😀

So, that’s where I am right now…almost finished and hoping that everything will work out to create the best possible outcome for my Saturday outfit! I’m beyond excited to attend Jane Austen Fest in costume this year and see all of my favorite people, too.

Finally – One of the other things I’m very excited about with this outfit is the fact that is is also based off of the bodice pattern and instructions that we used in our book The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking. It proved to me our theory that you can take the basic bodice shape and create a completely different looking gown just by a few tweaks here and there! If you haven’t done so already – you can pre-order our book via Amazon (or Barnes & Noble or your favorite online book retailer) today.
Click here to Pre-Order the book now!! Hooray!
<3 <3 


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