1837 Blue Cotton Print Dress #1

I was on a bit of a 1830s tear back in 2020, when I made my 1834 yellow print dress followed up with a coordinating 1838 yellow print bodice and 1836 chemisette. But in fact there was even more than that, because I also made an 1835-1840 (let’s just call is 1837) blue cotton print dress for friend at the same time!

You can spot this dress in the photos from my 1830s Woods Walk blog post from 2021. The fabric for was a bargain at the the local discount fabric shop–only $3 per yard! It’s not technically a reproduction historical print, but the colors, motifs, and details (such as little dots for texture in the design) have the right look to me.

In terms of a pattern, I used my 1834 yellow print bodice as a starting point for this new blue dress, so the two bodices are very similar aside from size. The skirt of the blue dress is made in exactly the same way as the yellow dress (I blogged about that construction process in detail here).

The big different is the sleeves!

After trying a few silly sleeve shapes, we settled on giant elbow height puffs that are set off at the top and bottom with pleats and feature a bit of embroidery and corded bands to hold the pleats in place.

Here’s a view of the pleats and corded bands at the top of the sleeve. This dress has similar pleats.

And here are the pleats at the sleeve cuffs. These are held in place with a subtle bit of embroidery. This extant dress has a similar treatment, as does this one (and it has a matching pelerine!).

The sleeve puffs are supported by separate interior puffs that tie in. I used the method outlined in my 1830s Sleeve Puff Tutorial to make them.

In addition to the base dress, we decided to go all in on the 1830s aesthetic and create a matching fabric pelerine for this ensemble.

I looked at images of pelerines to determine what the shape and edges should be. We decided on a simple but flattering shape (as much as a matching fabric piece can be!) without extra difficulty in the form of scalloped or dagged edges, ruffles, etc. This is the finished shape we decided on.

Cording helps to define the edge and a similarly colored grey/blue cotton lining finishes off all of the raw edges. This was great, as the pelerine could be almost entirely made by machine!

On our woods walk, my usual photographer friend (who blogs at Plaid Petticoats) enjoyed taking a few photos with her Petzval camera lens, which creates the swirled background in the next two photos (you can read more about the Petzval lens in this Plaid Petticoats blog post). I can’t decide whether I like the color or black and white version better, so I’m including both!

So why is the title of this post include the #1? Well… because I enjoyed the effect of the fabric so much that I purchased additional yardage for myself and started making an additional dress for myself, too! What an excellent excuse to try out further 1830s sleeve variations!

Blue dress #2 has been cut out for quite awhile (a year, I think?). However, I’ve been busy and other things have been a priority, so the dress is 0% done in terms of being assembled. Someday…!


10 thoughts on “1837 Blue Cotton Print Dress #1

  1. Those are some awesome sleeves! I really admire the detail and work that went into them. What a great eye for fabric prints too, you could have convinced me that was a reproduction print.

  2. It’s so beautiful! You must have put in so much hard work on this. I do wish historical quilting fabrics would come back in style to make it easier to find fabrics for historical costuming projects like this.

  3. Dear Quinn,

    What a great print…between the coloring and the pattern it’s cool and elegant. And the sleeves! The elbow sleeve style is my hands-down 1830s favorite and I really like how you handled the details. The result has lots of movement and interest without being visually distracting.

    Have been working on am Edwardian design that uses that decade’s take on elbow sleeves. Hoping it will come to fruition.

    Looking forward to hearing about progress on your own blue dress.

    Very best indeed,
    Natalie in KY

    1. Dear Natalie,

      It is very cool in tone, isn’t it? I hadn’t thought of it that way! You always have such a wonderful way of expressing yourself!

      Thanks for the sleeve thoughts and compliments! It was fun to pick details in the originals to combine and reproduce. I love the various details that are noticeable from different distances away. 🙂

      I love that you’ve been working on an Edwardian dress! I can’t wait to see what your elbow sleeves in that era are! I’ll send happy sewing thoughts your way.

      Thanks for the blue dress #2 encouragement. 😉


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