Friday, January 25, 2013

An 1813 Apron-Front Gown

I am woefully behind on the first project in the Historical Sew Fortnightly challenge, but I can at least post pictures of my progress so far.  The challenge was to make something that would have been worn  during a year ending in 13.  I chose 1813, since I already had plans to make a Felicity-inspired muslin dress with a high waist and three rows of tucks around the bottom of the skirt:

Felicity is an American Girl colonial doll.  

When I learned about the challenge, it was easy to adapt my plans to a Regency-era gown with the same features that I admired in the original inspiration.  I did some research to determine the historical accuracy of what I had in mind, and came across this blog post about apron-front gowns.  This was the first I had heard the term, so I quickly familiarized myself with the concept and found some useful sources to help me figure out how to realize the complicated construction.  I used Simplicity 4055 as my base pattern, with several modifications.

For one thing, I omitted the button back closure, simply cutting the center back pieces on the fold with no seam allowance.  I also cut the bodice front in three pieces instead of two:

The first two I cut out normally, then sliced down the fold line.  For the apron front I cut on the fold with the pattern folded over as shown.  
As for construction, I pretty much made it up as I went along.  So far I have the sleeves set in and the bodice lining sewn to the bodice at the armhole, so the seam allowances are all hidden between the layers.  The skirt lining is sewn to the back of the bodice, and everything else is currently pinned in place on my dress form:

Front apron open
I still need to add the ties and bind the neckline edges with bias tape.  The sleeves are the only thing that's completely done.  I used bias tape for the sleeve binding.  

Front apron closed
Gown back
I have sewn most of the dress by machine, but I plan to hand-sew any stitching that will show on the completed gown.  This includes the hem and the three rows of tucks I have planned for the bottom of the skirt.

This will be a nice versatile day dress when completed.  I plan to dress it up with ribbon sashes, spencer jackets, shawls, turbans, and perhaps a pelisse or two.  Then all I'll need is a reason to wear it!  :p  

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