Thursday, September 16, 2010

1850's Plaid Gown, Sleeves, Collar and Skirt

Some of you may remember the royal blue satin-and-velvet ballgown I made earlier this year for my friend Nona. Nona is just the loveliest person to work with in costuming. She is thorough in her planning, she knows exactly what she wants and she doesn't complain about being fitted. :)

After her ball gown was finished Nona brought me the Simplicity 3727 pattern along with a beautiful blue and green cotton plaid. She loved the style and the fabric was exactly what she had in mind. She told me to take my time and not rush with this dress since she did not need it right away.

Finally - after five months! - I am starting on this dress. I hope to have it done so Nona can use it next weekend at our next Civil War event. I am rather glad I did not make it earlier this year since it is working up to be quite visually heavy - more appropriate for cooler weather than warm.

Simplicity 3727 is a pattern based on an original dress from the Wisconsin Historical Society. It is more of an 1850's style than a true Civil War (1861-1865) style, but even so, this style is really far more appropraite than most gowns seen at events around here. ;) And Nona is a bit older, so perhaps this may have been a style she would have liked and would have continued using in the period. I have made 2 other dresses from this pattern for other people, but this is the first one I am making in a natural fiber! *bliss* Synthetics just do NOT work well for mid-19th century sewing!

The fabric is a 100% cotton plaid in dark royal blue and emerald green. Nona looks very nice in these rich, clear, dark colors. The trimming is black cotton fringe and black velvet ribbon. The ribbon is made from bias strips of velvet yardage, which was a lot more economical than purchasing ready-to-use velvet ribbon. I just "eyeballed" the strips but tried to keep them at about 3/4" wide. The sleeves are partially open, and instead of the fringe trimming the edges of this opening, Nona opted for black cord frogs to close this opening decoratively. Matchings frogs will be used as decoration on the bodice. The lower sleeve is lined with black cotton sateen and the upper sleeve with plain white cotton.

The sleeves are really very rich and heavy looking. I love the contrast of texture and mood between the sleeves and the undersleeves. The undersleeves are quite light and dainty and have a very feminine pointed cuff, which I love, and are trimmed with very dainty lace. They close at the wrist with a buttohole and shell button.

The collar is also of light white cotton and trimmed with the same lace. Here you can see how large the collar is. This definitely dates the dress to the 50's. By the 60's, the collars were much more narrow. I still have to slip stitch the bias band to cover the seam allowance on this collar, then it will be ready to baste into the neckline of the basque once that is finished.

No pics of the skirt - but its just a plain old rectangular paneled skirt with the typical hem facing and waistband. :) This weekend Nona will be coming over to get fitted for the basque. Hopefully we won't run into any snags and I can get some pictures of Nona wearing this gown next weekend!



  1. Lovely! My Mom always loved plaids in those colors, so it feels "homey" to me.

  2. Beautiful work as always Sarah!

    I am sure your friend Nona, will be delighted with the outcome. And yes, do share pictures...they are very inspiring :)



  3. Beautiful colors and decorations...I would love to see the gown on Nona.

  4. You do such lovely work Sarah, for yourself and everyone that I've ever seen you sew for (including myself and children!). I wish we lived closer, I'd love to have a sewing friend to get together with.
    Mrs. G

  5. This is beautiful! The fabrics, the trim, everything works together so well. I can't wait to see Nona in it!

    I wanted to tell you, Sarah - I'm going to be starting my first Civil War gown this fall - a semi-historically-accurate version of Simplicity 2881 (with modifications to the trim) for a friend of mine; her boyfriend is a reenactor and he's taking her to the Christmas Ball this December, so she asked me to make her a gown. We picked a dark green fabric - it's polyester, but it has the look and feel of a lightweight taffeta - it's lovely! - and cream lace. I've followed along on your blog as you've made so many gowns and feel so much more confident about this period because of your expertise! I'm excited to work with her on this :-)

  6. Very pretty! I love the lace :-)

  7. I think it's really cool how you raise your kids.I'm a poet myself and an inspiring author.The things you make are amazing.

  8. That's so pretty, and the colours look perfect for fall. I love the contrast of the white and lace against the plaid.

  9. Wow! I love it, and I'm certain Nona will too :). Have a wonderful event this weekend!

  10. Oh, love the plaid!
    Another Nona who reenacts; wow! Tell her that the other Nona says hi and that I like her dress. =]


  11. The dress is beautiful...and I'm always amazed at your attention to detail :) :) The sleeves are especially lovely. I love the velvet trim and the black ruffle trim with the white peeking out from the bottom of the sleeve. You don't leave anything out :) :) :) Have a great weekend. Love and hugs from Oregon, Heather :)

  12. It really is beautiful - the combination of colours and materials!
    I hope you finished it in time.

  13. Nona, I will let her know! :) I thought it was cool when I met Nona and her name was also Nona - like yours - it is not a very common name, although a beautiful one.

    I am not sure now if I will get this done for next weekend or not. Right now we are all sick here, and Nona's husband is sick so we are postponing the fitting til we get better. That may or may not be before we need to leave Friday for our event. I hope it gets done, but if not, I will certainly get pics whenever we do finish it.


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!