Thursday, August 1, 2013

HSF Challenge #1 - Finally Complete!

Way back in January when I first planned out my year of costuming goals, I decided to make an 1813-era apron-front gown for the first challenge of the Historical Sew Fortnightly.  I got it halfway done!  Then it lay abandoned for nearly five months...

I finally finished it in time for the Victory Ball on June 22.
The main thing I needed to do was sew tucks into the skirt to make it the right length, and then finish the construction of the bodice.  I consulted The Hungarican's excellent bib-front gown notes for reference, though my dress became a bit more complicated because it was fully lined.  It took me a while to figure out how to construct it and then how to wear it, since the front skirt lining had to remain separate from the skirt front, while still being attached to the back lining.  It's hard to explain, so I put it back on the dress form last night to take some (very wrinkled) pics to show what I ended up doing.

The bodice laces together in front after the front skirt lining ties around the waist.  I plan to change this so that the skirt lining buttons to the lower edge of the inner bodice, instead.  (I used safety pins when I wore it as a temporary measure.)

Here's just the front skirt lining tied on:

Next the skirt front/bib front are brought up and the ties drawn around the back through the little belt loops:

And tightened:

These ties are brought back around front and tied securely under the bust:

Mine are off-center because I cut the first tie too short.  :p  
 Lastly the bib is flipped up and pinned into place to hide all the ties:

I used large plastic-headed pins so you can see them easily, but for wearing I use tiny metal pins.  
And it fits like a dream!

Unless you know how it all fits together, the closure is really well-concealed.

To save myself from having to re-thread these very tight belt loops every time, I knotted the ends of the ties to keep them from coming back out.

For the ball I wore it with my sheer striped overdress, but I wore it alone the next day for the 1813 church service.  I got some good photos out in the churchyard afterwards.

I say "alone," but obviously with accessories!  

These tucks gave me quite a bit of trouble!  But I'm happy with how they turned out.  :)

This project started out as my HSF Challenge #1, but by the time I got it finished it was closer to the Color Challenge White deadline, so I'm posting the facts for it as that.

The Challenge:  #15 - White
Fabric:  3-4 yards white cotton muslin
Pattern:  Simplicity 4055 , heavily modified 
Year:  roughly 1810-1820
Notions:  white bias tape, twill tape
How historically accurate is it?  I adapted the pattern to make it work for the apron-front construction, and originially I set out to sew all visible seams by hand.  The first two tucks are hand-sewn!  Then I ran out of time and finished the last one by machine.  :p  I'll give this a 7 out of 10.  
Hours to complete:  100 or so
First worn:  June 22 for a Regency Ball
Total cost:  Everything came from my stash, so not a dime!  


  1. So lovely, and the bonnet's color is a perfect complement!

    1. Thank you! I'm finding the bonnet to be more versatile than I originally envisioned it. :)

  2. How adorable! I like your tucks especially. :)


    1. Aww, thanks! The tucks were a nightmare - I mean, fun! :p

  3. Every time I see you in Regency, I want to attempt another dress. The tucks are great! And I see that your skirt is hanging as it should. My bib-front gown skirt hangs a bit wonky if I don't pin it jusssst right. The ties are probably the key. Well done!

    1. *blushes* You're so sweet! I've found that the apron-front style takes quite a bit of fiddling to get it perfect - and of course my dress form is not exactly the same measurements as my body (shocking, I know!) so adjustments are still necessary. I do want to make another one, though!