Of flounces and dance cards: Part I

PART I: Of flounces…

Flounced 1860s dresses seem to be pure confections: cupcakes iced with lace and frothy ruffles. That is the vision in my mind while I was looking for inspiration for my latest crinoline dress.

Fashion Plate from Godey's Lady's Book September 1859 "Dressed for a Party." (The dress on the right is the inspiration for my latest gown)

I already made one 1860s dress for myself. Named Belle, it is a dark blue satin and velvet gown with a three tiered skirt. It’s very heavy and a dark color: neither of those two features seemed fitting for a summer ball in temperatures around 80 degrees! And so I decided to create an all new gown… in my head this one is named “Annabelle.” (I hope you are also amused by the name!)

"Annabelle" my new 1860s ball gown

As you can see, there is one crucial element missing… the pink flowers! My goal is to make the flowers by hand from silk organza and to be perfectly honest, I ran out of time. I just decided to wear the dress as-is and finish the flowers later. I also ran out of time to bone the front, as you can see by the wrinkles along my tummy. No worries though, as I’m sure I’ll be able to wear this gown again.

"May I have this dance?" Side view of Annabelle.

In order to be to light and breathable, Annabelle is constructed entirely of cotton. The skirt has a medium weight cotton foundation to which cotton voile flounces are attached. The bodice is three layers of cotton for the sake of being opaque: two of medium weight cotton and one layer of voile. The layers are flatlined together and treated as one piece. The flounces on the skirt and bodice are cotton voile edged in narrow white lace.

This gown was flat patterned using research from books by Janet Arnold, Norah Waugh, and Kristina Harris.  View this post about patterning from my Project Journal: Women’s Tailoring to see which titles I used and get a smidgeon of bibliographic information. The skirt pattern is fairly simple: a big tube cartridge pleated at the waist. The bodice has narrow v-shape seams front and back with puffed sleeves and a flounced bertha. It is worn over a chemise, corset, double thickness bum pad, hoops, and petticoat.

While this dress is eventually intended to be a reconstruction of the dress in the 1859 fashion plate above, I was also inspired by these other, similar fashion plates for further information. Enjoy!

Fashion Plate from Godey's Lady's Book October 1859 "The Soiree"

Fashion Plate from Godey's Lady's Book August 1859 "Godey's Fashions for August"

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About quinnmburgess

Quinn M. Burgess creates reproduction and costume historic clothing. Her inspiration has a strong foundation in history: historic dress, social history, and material history. With the addition of clothing construction knowledge, her passions converge in an imaginative world of creative history that she loves to share with others.
This entry was posted in 1850s, 1860s, 19th Century, Costume Construction, Fashion Plates, Godey's Lady's Book, Hoops and Bustles, Inspirational Clothing, Patterning, Victorian Clothing, Vintage Dancing: 19th Century, Wearing Reproduction Clothing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Of flounces and dance cards: Part I

  1. This is so beautiful. You did a wonderful job. How many yards of material does it take to make a dress like this? I am looking for a spanish historical woman’s outfit with bolero pants.

    If we all dressed like this I would think people would be more polite and modest.

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