To Re-do a Green 1840s dress

This december I will attend a 19th century christmas party and since I don’t own anything remotley chrismasy I needed to make myself something to wear. After thinking long and hard, I decided to try my hands at mid century 1840-1860s dressmaking.

I found this image and imediatly fell in love with the simplicity and elegance of the dress. I also liked the fact that is wasn’t a “Pretty Princes dress” but something a lady of my age and income wold have worn back in the days.


I already had the perfect fabric for it.


It is a bedsheet I bougt for 50 Sek (5 Usd) at goodwill a while ago. I’ve picked it up thinking it would be perfect for some les fancy dress. And since the bedsheet was so big, when I ripped the seams open and ironed it out, I got 1,5 x 4m of soft cotton fabric. That means I pay about 12 Sek per metre. Yay!

Then I remembered the 24th HSF Challenge: Re-do. You should Re-do any of the prevous challenge from the HSF 2013. So wich one would suit my dress the best – Green of course!

Then I got to work.

Draping the bodice lining on the dressform. Pinning and cuting away the excess fabric.

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Then I draped the outer fabric of the bodice.

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I cut and made a mock-up, which I then tried on.


It did need some alterations like moving the shoulder seam, and spreeding the front piece to get some more drape.


Then I cut the fashion fabric and got to work interlining and sewing boning chanels to the bodice, basting it togeter to get a idea of how the draping would look.

IMG_3964IMG_3972Draping left side, using 4 rows of gathered thread.

IMG_3977IMG_3978And both sides gathered.

Then I did a second fitting.


The bodice needed some changing in the neck and shoulders. I also needed to shorten the waist a bit in the back.

After making the adjustments I continued the asembeling of the sleeves and bodice. Tucking all the raw edges and sewing on some boning channels.




I decided to make the skirt seperate to make the fitting and closing of the dress esier.

The skirt is made out of two widhts of fabric sewn together and gattered at the waist, closed by a hook and eye at the left side.



I gattered the sleeves into the sleevecap and made 3 decorative rows of gattering on each sleeve.

Then I bought some pearl butttons and worked the button holes by hand, placing them (as on the inspirational dress) only on the white parts of the center front.


I also decided to put on a crocketed lace collar I’ve had in my stash for ages.


I’m so happy with how it turned out, and think I manadged to use the inspiration to its fullest yet put my own touch to it.

Can’t wait until I got to wear it…

The finished dress:









Just the facts:

Challenge: nr 24 Re-do – Challenge 21 Green

What: A green/white checkerd dress

Year: 1840-1850s

Pattern: I draped my own.

Fabric: 1 checkered bed-sheet (1,5 x 4 m) and 0,5 m cotton for interlining.

Notions: Thread, 14 buttons, hooks and eyes and a lace collar.

How Historical Accurate: The dress is mostly done by machine and with modern techniques, but the fabric and the look of it is about right. Maybe 6/10

Time: About 15 hours.

Cost: 200 Sek (22 Usd) (150 for the buttons, ouch!).

First worn: Will be on dec 14th at a 19th century christmas party.


And as it will be worn on the event, with apron, bonnet and shawl.




12 thoughts on “To Re-do a Green 1840s dress

  1. I absolutely love it! I’m making a plaid fan front dress for Dickens fair and I’m impatiently waiting for the fabric to arrive. I wanted something that looked like a person would actually wear it around while shopping. Your dress is inspiring me.

  2. I. Love. This. Dress. You make it sound so quick and simple to make, and the little pearls for buttons are just adorable. Excellent work!

  3. Great job! I like how you used bedding (my favourite source of fabric), and the style you chose. Plus, with the accessories, it looks perfect, like out of a period drama.

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