1825s Purple Evening gown

When talking about attending the spring ball this year (and deciding to make a whole new outfit (inside out) for my sister) I promised myself I would not make anything for myself (yeah right…).
Since I already have so many dresses that almost never get worn, I convinced myself that I would use one of them, exactly which one would be a problem for later. Some of the dresses I had to choose from in my closet.
(You can find them all in my portfolio)

But as my sisters dress neared completion, and there still was 3 weeks to the ball, my determination started to falter.

I made a quick sum-up in my head and (on paper) to see what, if anything, would be manageable, if, I decided to make some small thing anyway. Could/should/would I make something like one of these?

The following days I did a quick survey among my friends to find out what they intended to wear for the occasion. It turned out they all was to wear their regency style, mostly due to lack of space for big skirts on the dance floor (ops, maybe I should have known that before starting on my sisters 1860s dress…).
Sadly I didn’t felt at all like wearing regency.
And all my old dresses seemed so dull and un-flattering, or overused.

You all know this anguish.

So what to do?

Without any particular plan in mind, I started rumoring around in my stash, hunting for inspiration.
And there I found a sett of purple/white printed bedsheets I got on sale a few months back, thinking I’ll turn them into a 1850s evening gown.  Pretty purple cotton satin
Sadly I realized to late the duvets was white on the backside, and not purple all around like I thought. And therefore not enough fabric for big 1850s skirts.Bummers…
The purple fabric would however, be enough for a small/medium sized dress if carefully cut and using the pillowcase for the bodice.

That’s when inspiration struck.

I would make a late regency/early Biedermeier dress.

Or more precise, the 1825s dress from “Pattern of fashion”, combined with this fashion plate from 1820s

It would be something like this  a quick drawing of my intended design

Time to get to work while inspiration was high. So I drafted a pattern using my regular templates, and since I’d recently run out of drafting paper and of course forgotten to get more, using baking paper for the bodice.Oh, come on, you’d all done it…?

I made a quick mock-up and after some help pinning myself into it, did a fitting.

Adding darts in the front, lowering the neckline a tad, and taking the whole thing in at center back a few cm, was all that was needed.
Then it was time to cut the fabric.

I interlined the bodice (and the sleeves), pinned and stitched the pieces together and added the darts at the front.

Then I stitched rows of gathering stitches on the sleeves and carefully gathered them to the right size.
Huge sleeves – here is one done and the other one awaiting gathering.

I pinned one sleeve and a piece of contrast piping to the neckline for the fitting, to get a better idea of how it would look.

The only thing needed changing was to take the darts in a tad,

resting over night on my dressform

Once I was convinced the dress would fit right, I got started on the piping.
Using bias cut strips of the white/purple fabric combined with pieces of a cotton cord from my stash I soon had the 3 m or so I needed for the neckline (and belt). 

I stitched the piping to the bodice, and the pre-made skirt to the bodice, added lining, folded under the edges for closure and hemmed the skirt. 

With a fully functional dress, is was now time to get starting on the decoration.

Since both Waugh’s pattern and several other sources I accounted called for a padded hem, I decided to give it a try.
Cutting strips of corresponding fabric and basting it to cotton bathing, after which I tured the edges under and whip-stitched the ribbons to the bottom of the skirt. Basted strips waiting to be attached.

And lastly I used upp the final scraps of fabric to make a belt, backed with heavy interfacing and edged with contrasting piping.Working on the belt.

And that was that.

The Finished dress:

The Facts:

What: A 1825s Evening gown

Pattern: I drafted my own, using Waugh’s “Cut of women’s clothes” as a guide.

Fabric & notions: 1/2 of a purple cotton beed-sheets and 1 pillowcase (approx. total 2,5 m fabric), 0,5 m cotton for lining and interlining, 14 pair of hooks and eyes for closure, 1 m stiff interfacing for the belt, 0,3 m of white/patterned cotton and cotton wadding for decoration, 4 m cotton string for piping.

How historical accurate: So so, the material and silhuett are good, but the print and construction are all modern.

Time: It was pretty quick so maybe 10-15 hours, over a timespan of 2 weeks.

Cost: Everything came from stash but bought anew maybe 200 Sek (20 Usd)

Final thoughts: This is one of my favorite dresses of all time. It is so fun and beautiful in a crazy way. The color is really pretty and it’s so comfortable and easy to wear. I felt so pretty dancing around in it and got lots of compliments on it.
I will most definitely re-visit this decade sometime soon.


8 thoughts on “1825s Purple Evening gown

  1. I love all the work you have done this spring. How you do it with a baby and a job and a life I do not know! Congratulations. Your haircut is adorable, too!

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