Friday, 17 April 2015

1795 Open Robe & Gown - Construction pt.I

I spend today working on the under dress for the 1795 Open Robe. I decided to go ahead and make it just an under dress with no sleeves so that it can have a wider range of use later (as a ball gown under dress or as a full petticoat, etc.).

As stated in the Preliminary post, this dress was taken from the 1795 pattern featured in The Evolution of Fashion: Pattern & Cut from 1066 to 1930. I have always liked the silhouette of the very early Regency. The skirts are much fuller and the puff sleeves had not yet become the norm (honestly, I don't think those little puff sleeves look good on anyone!)

The underdress pattern is incredibly simple with only three parts: bodice front, bodice back, and skirt.

The pattern for the women's dress and open robe are on the right hand side. As you can see, it is VERY simplistic. The skirt is shown in 1/16 scale, but it's very easy to make since it's essentially a very large rectangle. It's all just math =) 
You can really see the fullness in the skirt here. The pattern comes out to have an undress with 4 yards of material for the skirt alone! 

There aren't really any construction guides here (the patterns are for experienced sewists). The information on wear, fabric, and details is quite helpful, though. 

Now for the dress itself. I chose plain white cotton broadcloth. It isn't the most accurate of fabrics, I know. These full underdresses would have been made from fabrics much finer and delicate, like muslin, batiste, or even voile. Broadcloth is rather thicker and stiffer, but I had it on hand and I think it really works in created that full shape.

This shows the inside of the dress before I stitched down the bias strips that make up the gather channels. Just to give you an idea of how simple this all is. =) 

I didn't want the gathering channel on the top of the bodice to include the shoulder strap area. I have always found that look a bit messy. Since this pattern does not include a separate piece for the shoulder straps, I just ended the channel at the shoulder strap turn point, whip-stitching the cord inside so that any gathering would not continue up through the sounder strap area. 


  1. Interesting. On a couple of dresses I've made, the back piece always seemed too short and I thought it was my body. But apparently it's the nature of the beast, or how it's supposed to be. :D

    1. I know what you mean, Val. I have actually always liked the dresses of this era that have the higher back. It's kind of a graceful scoop down to the bust when you see it from the side =) The only downside is that the skirts are almost always straight rectangles, so they end up longer in the front than the back and you have to correct it at the hem. =/