Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas Dress - 1840's?

Thanks for the overwhelming encouragement you all sent me after my last post - wow. I feel somewhat silly for venting like that, but on the other hand, I don't think I need to be ashamed of my feelings either, since feelings are real and true. Like one of you so truly said, you can change your mind, but you can't change your feelings.

Anyway, I appreciate it. You are all awesome.

So, since Thanksgiving is officially over and there is less than four weeks until Christmas, I am starting to think about my Christmas dress. Last year I made a late 1850's basque bodice to go with my silk skirt, but this year I think I am going to go for something totally different. At least, different for me. Taking a hint from Lauren at The Lady of Portland House, I'm going to try out a dress from a decade I've never done before, the 1840's.

Reason? I love, love, love Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol  and we just finished watching, our annual after-Thanksgiving tradition, the movie version with Patrick Stewart (I love him) and so. I am inspired.
The engagingly begrudgeful Mr. Scrooge

The 1840's fascinate me as the start of the Victorian era. I like the silhouette from this decade very much and the bonnets and hair are just gorgeous.

David also loves the men's clothing from this era. He told me he is looking forward to being old enough to portray a Mexican War veteran at Civil War reenactments and he wishes that there was some group around here that did 1840's. He loves the military uniforms, the civilian clothes and the facial hair of these interesting years. He loves the history. He was very happy when I told him I was thinking of making an 1840's dress sometime soon. He told me he thinks I should go for something from 1846 but I think I will go just a wee bit earlier.
I just love this dress. Maybe not the large collar, but I like the clean simple lines of the skirt and bodice. 

The pattern for a basic bodice from the 40's looks simple enough and not that different from 1860's styles. I plan to modify my basic 1860's bodice pattern  by making it back closing, with a pointed front and a wide neckline, with the front bodice cut in two pieces and fitted with one or two darts on each side. In fact, I think my basic ballgown pattern would work as a starting point for an 1840's dress bodice. It already has all the features except the front is fitted with princess seams instead of darts.

dresses 1840-1845
I'm heavily inspired by these two dresses from Patterns of Fashion 1 and Costume in Detail. I plan on using undergarments I already have. My petticoats I use for 60's stuff will work just fine, as will my chemises and drawers, stockings and shoes, and I'm using my long stays for the corset since it gives a similar look to 40's corsets with a rigid front busk and gusseted cups.

The fabric I am using has been sitting on my shelf for a few years. I don't know if it is totally period correct but since I'm not wearing it to any living history event I don't really care if it is 100% correct or not. I got this fabric initially to make an 1860's wrapper from but then I found out that stripes that have printed designs ON the stripes are not appropriate for the 60's. Disappointment. But I think it will look nice made into a 40's style. I love striped prints for styles that can be cut on the bias. Bias cut stripes are just amazing things, I think. :) Yummmmm. Bias bits on the dress. A bias bodice. If I can squeeze it out of the 6 yards I have to work with, a bias flounce on the skirt. Bias piping for ALL the bodice seams. I think I am going to be in love!

Don't you just love holiday dresses? :) Do any of you have any special frocks  you are working on for the Christmas season?



  1. I love it!!! Its so christmas and so fun! I can't wait to see the results. Wish I had some christmas fabric laying around to do make a christmas dress. Oh well at least I have a modern plaid skirt from a friend for christmas. Can't wait to see your dress!

    In Christ,

  2. I absolutely love the fabric! I can't wait to see what it's going to look like when it is done! Everything you make is so beautiful!

  3. Yay, I LOVE the 1840's, it's one of my all-time favourite eras. The fabric looks like it'll be a lovely Christmas dress, and fitting for the style (not that I'm a fabric expert). Really looking forward to seeing it!

  4. Oh my goodness, this fabric is dreamy! I love 1840s and can't wait to see what you make :)

  5. That is going to be gorgeous! I love the early 1840s styles :) I haven't thought about a specific Christmas dress - I'm going to be traveling on Christmas Day, so I don't know that I'd get a chance to wear it. Maybe something for the Christmas Eve services at church, though?

  6. I'm so glad you're going to do this, it's such a lovely era for the clothing...my favorite, really. Can't wait to see it all finished!

  7. That fabric looks lovely, I can't wait to see it made up for a Christmas Dress! I'm debating about whether or not I'll be able to get a Christmas Dress for me done with everything else. Because of your inspiration, I just finished my 9 patch quilt top and I'm going to my MIL's house tomorrow to find a backing for it! :D Thanks!

    Oh, I watched The Young Victoria last night, and I could totally see you as Victoria. Your posting that you're going to do an 1840's dress today made me laugh after last night!

  8. Your dress project sounds really lovely :) :) I can't to see it all put together :) :)

    You are more than welcome to vent your feelings. I just cried with you on that last post, because I remember people treating me with that same mean attitude..but you are better than that, for sure :) :)

    Back to the dress, I think that's an interesting era to design from :) :) You'll do really well with it :) Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather :)

  9. I think you'll make a great young victoria and prince albert.


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!