05 July 2014

c.1808 Girl's Frock

My sweet pea is quite fond of the little "history dress" she modeled in my last post--as am I since I'm finally making progress with her a little wardrobe. Given the busy summer ahead, I didn't want to fuss with pattern drafting and fitting since she grows like a dandelion, so I used the Kannik's Corner Girl's Frock pattern.

The construction is super simple. It's based on directions from the 1808 The Lady's Economical Assistant or The art of cutting out and making the most useful articles of wearing apparel without waste explained by the clearest directions, and numerous engravings, of appropriate and tasteful patterns. I used the pattern as a guide for cutting, but I didn't closely follow the directions during the construction process because I find directions hard to follow. Here's how this gown came together...

I choose a printed cotton from my stash that I think has a nice early 19th century look... 
...and reminds me of a swatch from Old Sturbridge Village.

I followed the pattern for cutting... 

... but I found that the gown's shape seemed too big and boxy 
so I chopped off several inches from the back.

Since the gown is essentially a rectangle, the sideseam under the arm has a little box pleat which adds shape.
As you can kind of see above, the pleat is stitched in place with prick stitches, 
much like the pleating on an 18th century English gown.
There were two options for the little sleeves: making them with a drawstring, as the original directions call for, or making a puffy sleeve.

 Because I didn't want to fuss with retying a little drawstrings that I think would become easily untied, I opted for poofy sleeves which I modeled after the sleeves on my 1812 ballgown.

 Like many 19th century gowns, the drawstring is unavoidable. There's a drawstring around the waist...
...which I made with self fabric.
And two drawstrings around the neckline. They're anchored at the top of shoulder: one ties in the center front and the other ties in back. Though this created an extra step I thought it would make adjusting the gown on a wiggly body a little easier.
 A view of the inside bodice, which is unlined.

The waist is set pretty high, but this seems in keeping with portraits from that era like like example below.

A c.1810 English portrait miniature of a young child, probably by James Leakey (1775-1865). Earle Vandekar of Knightsbridge

 The gown has two growth pleats along the skirt's hem...

 ...but the gown seems too short for this era. I need to let them out and add another panel to maintain the look. 

 Overall it's a good start to building a little wardrobe. To see a similar frock with stunning stitching, check out One Stitch Wonder from the blog Two Threads Back.


  1. It's so beautiful and isn't she just a camera ham in the best way! I nearly spat cofee out reading the name of the book btw. They really hadn't got the idea of short and pithy titles had they?! hehehe

    1. Thanks Mrs. C...yes, the title is so long it's funny!

  2. This is adorable! And the fabric is perfect.
    :) Melissa

  3. I love the fabric! The little frock is so sweet.


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