01 May 2011

New English Gown

This past weekend I completed a new open front English gown. (Well almost, it needs a stomacher.) Made from worsted wool, and entirely sewn by hand, this is my first open front gown--and my first fight with robings. 

I'm afraid the gown doesn't fit me right so I'm not sure how much I will wear it this season, but each completed gown teaches lessons about 18th century construction techniques and helps me improve my skills. Here are some lessons from this project...
When I started this gown, I rushed when cutting the fabric's center back panel. In  not being careful to make sure I was working on the grain I cut the length several inches too short and had to trim some fabric from the top of the back. This made the center back skirt panel (since the back center panel is one continuous piece) much shorter than my side skirt panels (which attached separately to the bodice). Oops! In trying to correct this, I followed 18th century tradition by piecing a scrap to make up for my mistake--but I'm not entirely satisfied with how this turned out.  (As you can see, the petticoat peeks from beneath the gown, which I should shorten to better match the gown's length...another rushing error on my part when measuring.)
I originally wanted this to be a mid-century gown so it's not Rev War specific. I made the pleats wide, but they're probably a little too wide. I did learn that the pleats should be slightly curved and not as sharp as a V, which was how I was previously pleating.
On a gown I created last spring, I made the mistake of entirely backstitching the sleeves to the bodice / shoulder strap. This time I whip stitched the top of the sleeve to the fashion fabric and only backstitched the underarm. I'm not sure if the use of the whip stitch is exactly correct, but I know it's closer to 18th century technique. 

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