HSF #1: 1813 Evening Gown

1813 Evening Gown

Historical Sew Fortnightly (HSF) Challenge #1 complete! It was actually completed a few days ago, which I am super pleased about. Even better is that it is for a Regency ball in February, and it is entirely complete a full month ahead of time! All the trim, all the closures, everything! All I have to do on the day of the ball is put it on. Wow! Usually when I wear a new dress to a ball I’m furiously sewing right up until the end and often all the trim doesn’t make it on (that’s what happened with my 1820s green dress back in December, remember?).

The facts:

Fabric: 4 yds red and black shot polyester

Pattern: The bodice front was draped, the back was adapted from my 1812 square neck Ikea gown, and the skirt is the same as the 1812 square neck Ikea gown, with the pattern originally from Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion

Year: 1813

Notions: 3 yds metallic gold bobbin lace, hooks, and little brooch bits

How historically accurate?: The silhouette, cut, and style are accurate, as is the interior finishing (all flat felled and bound edges… it’s quite pretty!). The fabric is obviously not accurate and neither is the lace fiber content, though the style of it is. The closure is accurate. The little brooch bits are accurate in style, though not in materials.

Hours to complete: I’m so bad at estimating this. Let’s say 48 hours.

First worn: Hasn’t been worn yet! Its first wear will be in February 2013.

Total cost: Approximately $26

Now for other details!

Well, first, here’s a closeup of the bodice, so you can actually see the details and the little brooch bits. I’m super pleased with them, because I think they really finish off the bodice and add a little extra touch. I got them from New York and Company, actually. They were part of triple drop earrings, which I took apart. I kept the bottom drop and put them on clip backs (so now I have matching earrings for the dress!) which you can see in the picture below. And the best part is that one of the sections had a missing gem, so the cost of the earrings was refunded by NY&Co and so the total cost of the earrings is $0! Awesome! (It worked out perfectly, because I only used 5 sections of the triple drop earrings, so the damaged one wasn’t a problem.) Of course, the materials used in the earrings are not at all historically accurate, but I’m ok with that, for the cost (yay!) and the fact that they do have the right look.

Little brooch bits!
Single drop! Clips! Perfect!

And here’s the back. As you can see, it doesn’t quite fit Squishy in the back, but it shouldn’t have trouble fitting me. I love the drape of the fabric! Now that all the raw edges are enclosed and the polyester can’t fray everywhere, I am totally happy with the fabric choice (bargain!). The photos don’t really do justice to the fabulous gold lace at the hem.

Aren’t those gathers and folds lovely?!?

The dress is entirely hand finished and mostly hand sewn. Originally, I was going to make it all by machine, but then I had sewing parties and things that required hand sewing, and I just didn’t feel like lugging out the machine, so I wound up hand sewing a lot of it, which was quite satisfying. There’s one side back seam sewn my machine, I think the long skirt seams are sewn by machine (though I can’t remember, because I started this dress back in October or November), and the waistband was sewn by machine. Actually, it was so much easier to keep the width consistent using the machine than when sewing it by hand.

The only other information to share is my inspiration for the dress.

For her neckline and sleeves: Comtesse de Tournon by Ingres, 1812.
Another neckline inspiration: L’Art de vivre au temps de Josephine.
For the overall silhouette and the trim style: 1810.
One more neckline inspiration and another similar dress built by Natalie Garbett. Here is her post about her 1812 gown with a v neck.

Clearly, I need a Kashmir shawl to complete the ensemble… I have a pashmina that sort of looks the part, so I’ll have to try that out at the ball. Stay tuned for more pictures of this dress in about a month!

18 thoughts on “HSF #1: 1813 Evening Gown

  1. Dear Quinn,
    can’t wait to see the pictures of the ball and you wearing the dress! And it’s lovely to hear that the Historical Sewing Fortnightly is working so well for you 🙂
    I very much love the front of the dress! It would be wonderful if you’d share some pictures of the lining – I love to look “inside” a garment.
    Oh and that Ingres painting of the velvet gown is incredible, I’ve just watched a documentary about the painter today. His ability to “paint” fabrics is amazing!


    1. Sure, I can do a post about the inside of the dress. 🙂 I just stashed it in my closet to wait for the ball, so when I next go digging into that back part of my closet I’ll pull it out and take pictures. It will probably be a few weeks.

      Ingres certainly does capture the fabric very well! I’m sure you learned a lot of neat things about him. Isn’t it funny how things in life link up in that way? You’ve just watched a documentary and then you see his painting while reading this post…

  2. Lovely! I’ve always adored that color of rust red, but I don’t think I would have guessed it wasn’t silk unless you had mentioned it! I’ve been doing a lot of hand sewing on a silk regency ball gown myself, as I’ve just discovered that I am going to the Jane Austen Festival in Bath this year. Since I live way over on the West Coast of America, that will be quite an excursion!

    Thank you for sharing your elegant pictures!

    Happy sewing,


    1. Ooo! I’m jealous that you will get to be in Bath for that! What fun! I hadn’t come across your blog before, but now that I have I will be sure to follow it! I hope you share pictures of the gowns you’re making as well as the events when that time of year rolls around.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      1. Why thank you, Quinn! I have been reading your blog for a while, and I think your projects are all gorgeous! Yes, I will most certainly be posting lots of pictures of the Jane Austen Festival, and I will try to blog each day that I’m there. Tonight I finished up the puffed and shirred silk sleeves of the first gown I’m working on, and it looks quite antique. : )

        Have a wonderful week, and happy sewing!


  3. It’s pretty. The earrings were certainly a lucky purchase! It gives that little final touch… and the resulting earrings look good, too. 🙂 Oh, and then the lace. I love bobbin lace…

    1. Thanks! I am in total agreement that the earring bits add a finished feel to the gown. I’ll have to get better pictures of the lace so we can all appreciate it, since it’s so hard to see the detail in the current pictures. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  4. Dear Quinn!

    I found it and ohmygosh is it stunning!! I think that I love everything about it!!! You did such a smashing job making this beauty look like you walked out the era!! Squee!!!!



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