When The Dress No Longer Fits (1896 Evening Gown)

Way back in 2012, I made a Bronze and Pink 1893 evening gown. The original construction information can be found in the original post. I updated it in 2013 (documented in this past post) and continued to wear it for a number of years. Then my shape changed, and in 2016 I made my 1899 Elusive Blue dress, which was a fun new thing to wear from a similar period.

And so, my 1893 dress languished in the closet. For an event last year, however, I decided to pull it out instead of wearing the Elusive Blue dress. Below, successful re-wearing of my now-eleven-year-old 1893 dress.

After initially trying the dress on, it was clear that my change in shape meant that the original dress would no longer fit, but I decided to persevere and update the dress to make it wearable again. This involved:

  • Adding a panel to the back to extend the circumference of the bodice (saving fabric extras pays off!)
  • Adjusting the circumference of the pink sash to match the new width in the bodice

The skirt closure didn’t need an adjustment, as I had originally made it with two sets of hooks and bars and was able to simply hook the closure on the looser bar for the updated wearing

Below, a photo of the updated dress from the back, where the additional back panel is visible.

While the dress was wearable and I was pleased with my updated accessories, I was not as pleased with the dress as I was when I first made it, nor was I as happy with it as I am with my 1899 dress. I’d like to update it a bit more some day and see if it brings me more joy for a future wearing. Specifically:

  • I’d like to add net and gold sequin trim to the back neckline to help add interest and distract from the added panel (the original in Patterns of Fashion is unadorned and makes an elegant V, as mine originally did, but I like the plain look less with the size adjustment)
  • The tall section of canvas I’d added to them hem of the skirt when I originally made the dress made sense at the time to add stiffness, but over the years I’ve realized that it’s also heavy and actually reduces the size of the silhouette. I think I’d like to remove the canvas (or drastically reduce its height)
  • I’d want to wear my chemise tucked lower! I’m sad that it’s poking out in the photos

Despite some quibbles, I am pleased overall with the fact that I was able to update this dress to make it fit again.


4 thoughts on “When The Dress No Longer Fits (1896 Evening Gown)

  1. You’ve done wonders with adjusting the dress. And I think your chemise is very pretty, I love the burgundy ribbon 🙂

  2. Dear Quinn,
    Have long loved this dress and the entire ensemble. You are regal in it and the color is scrumptious.

    Made over, it still is lovely.

    Ah, the interlining question. I haven’t looked back to 1893 to see how much they were interlining then, and with what, but wonder if tarlatan might work, the heavier kind. It’s definitely lighter than canvas.

    My bad-boy 1895 silk petticoat is still in the closet, unfinished. I hope to find time, but when? This past year has been a bit hard.

    Very best and happy springtime,

    Natalie in chilly KY

    1. Dear Natalie,

      I thought you might have thoughts about this hem stiffening, given your deep research into the topic! That’s a great idea. I’ll put it on the shelf of my brain with the idea to update the hem. 🙂

      Ah! I hope you find time, too! I completely understand not having the time and the year being difficult… I hope things become a bit easier for you.

      I so appreciate your eye for beautiful things. Thank you for the compliments!

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