Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Dove Gray Drawstring Dress

Once again I have a huge backlog of blog posts to get through!  This project goes back to my Regency base, and predates all of my vintage Summer Sewing.

I started this gown back in April, and finished and wore it to an RSV event back in June.  It's my first drawstring Regency dress, and I made it from an old fitted sheet!  I only very loosely used a pattern for it, basing it on the bodice pattern I had drafted for my Blue Velveteen Bodice, which I had since traced onto heavy-duty paper:

Original muslin pattern
Permanent paper pattern
I pinned the front piece to my fabric a good 4" from the fold of my fabric, to give more material to the center front for gathering in with the drawstring.  I cut only along the top and side of the pattern, and traced the lower edge with a fabric marker so I would know where the waist was.  I measured the center front length of the skirt of another one of my gowns, and measured down from the waist line and cut the hem based on this length.  

I cut two pieces of bias tape to the width of half of the skirt front and stitched them along the waist line, leaving a narrow gap in the middle:  

For the bodice back, I used my paper pattern piece, and for the skirt back I measured from the waistline to the hem at the side and cut panels of my fabric to get as much fullness as possible.  I had to be a bit creative with my cutting, because the sheet had a hole I needed to cut around.  I started with two panels, and originally stitched another length of bias tape across the top (just inside the seam allowance).  I threaded a long piece of narrow twill tape through this channel and drew it up as much as possible before sewing it to the bodice back:

I then stitched the two side back seams, keeping the twill tape ties free, then threaded the ends into the front channels.  After attaching the front and back at the shoulder seams, I used more bias tape to create a channel for the drawstring at the neckline.  At this point I tried it on:

My seam gauge is measuring how far down I want to cut the neckline for my next drawstring gown.  This neckline works well for a day dress, so I left it high on this dress.  
I wasn't happy with the fullness (or lack thereof) of the skirt in the back, so I ended up undoing the back waist seam, removing the drawstring channel, and adding in a third panel between the original two.  This was a lot of work, but worth it in the end.  I elected not to put the drawstring channel back in, instead sewing gathering stitches across the skirt panels and pulling them up to match the width of the bodice back.  I cut the original twill tape drawstring in half, leaving it inside the front channels, and tacked the ends securely in the seam allowance before re-stitching the side seams shut at the waist.

I have no pictures of the rest of the construction, so this is only from memory, but I believe I used the long sleeve pattern from my La Mode Bagatelle pattern.  I don't think I made any alterations to it.

I first wore the dress for the RSV Caledon Nature Hike and picnic on June 11.  It was very comfortable, and the long sleeves provided protection from ticks and other insects as we hiked through the woods.  Brian the Engineer was kind enough to take some photos for me before the hike began:

I accessorized with my newly-made straw bonnet, my ruffled chemisette and removable neck ruff (which I'll blog about soon), a silk ribbon sash that I bought at Fort Frederick (which I also need to blog about!), ivory vintage gloves from my collection, and my American Duchess Hartfields.  I made the reticule from a large circle of leftover fabric, gathered with a drawstring.

I had hemmed the back of the skirt slightly longer than the front, so it created a tiny, graceful train when walking downhill:

Brian and me together (RSV photo):

The wind was making my skirt hug my legs because I wasn't wearing a petticoat underneath.  :p
I wore the dress again at the RSV Ladies' Retreat two weeks ago, with a completely different set of accessories:

RSV Photo
RSV Photo
The hat is my brand-new Shocking Bad Hat by the talented Rebecca, made to coordinate with my Blue Wool Spencer.  However, since it was much too hot to wear the spencer at the retreat, I opted for my lovely blue shawl draped fashionably over one shoulder.  I also wore my sheer dotted chemisette and my Hartfields once more.  If you can tell the difference in my posture, it's thanks to my newly-made stays, which debuted at the retreat.  More upcoming blog posts!

Photo by Rebecca
Photo by Rebecca
I loved how the stylish hat instantly elevated this rather simple gown to a much more fashionable level.  I felt very comfortable, yet elegant.  :)

I see many more drawstring dresses in my future!  


  1. This is such a delicious color on you! It reminds me of the general cool tone of your wedding gown, only a bit blue-er. The fit is amazing. Drawstring dresses haven't happened in my world (yet), but I can only hope that I can create something half as solid as this one when the time comes.

    1. Thank you! I made it as a "comfy" dress, but the more I wear it the more I like how it looks!