Late 1820s Day Dress

So although my mind is still spinning with thoughts and memories of revwar reenacting and 1770s dressmaking, I particularly like the Day 5 CoBloWriMo prompt (write about a favorite project you’ve done in the past) and it brings to mind a very plain day dress I reproduced a few years ago.

osv 1820s

Posing (and even smiling) in the Towne House Garden Arbor at Old Sturbridge Village. And yes, I have fixed the hem since this picture was taken!

The blue-grey cotton dress in the photo is loosely copied from one in the collection of the Andover Historical Society.

front detail sm

Detail of the original silk dress with interesting pleating at waist and sleeves.

The original dress dates to right about 1830, maybe a tad earlier, and is made of lightweight brown silk taffeta. My favorite construction detail is the skirt pleating with the stacked box pleats.

From a fashion history standpoint it straddles the 1820s & 1830s by being able to hang relatively straight rather than being gathered all around the waist. The skirts of both the original and the reproduction do form a slight bell shape if enough petticoats are worn or displayed underneath to give it a more 1830s feel.

The detail at the top of the sleeves is more typical of the 1830s with rows of parallel knife pleats to control the fullness before being released into full gigot sleeves.

For my repro, I was a bit limited on fabric and was also trying to create an 1825 appropriate look for a particular event I was attending. I reduced the fullness of the gigot sleeve and skipped the pleating at the top of the shoulder but I did retain the false cuff detail. My false cuff falls straight across the sleeve rather than at an angle like the original, but I still like the overall effect.

sleeve detail

Sleeve detail

Only the bodice of the original dress is lined and it’s a lightweight unbleached linen or cotton that acts as support for the fan pleating/gathering at the waist and neckline. The neckline on the original is piped as are the back bodice seams. It closes with hooks and eyes at the center back with only the lining being fully closed. The silk fabric is gathered in such a way that it meets when the lining is hooked shut.

I did the same (lining, piping & back closure) on my cotton version. The fabric I used has much greater drape than the original and may in fact have some rayon or even silk blended in. I don’t recall purchasing it with that knowledge but after years of wearing it, I’m not convinced it’s 100% cotton. In any case, it’s been one of my go-to dresses for working in an 1820’s historic house, attending events at Old Sturbridge Village, or going to other big-sleeved costume outings!

osv chickens

Sometimes I even get to hang out with chickens while wearing it! And for the record, this is probably the best detail shot of that bonnet that I have ;o)

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5 thoughts on “Late 1820s Day Dress

    • Thanks Jeannine! I haven’t done any detailed info on the back closure but can certainly add that to a future post. Thanks so much for the suggestion!

    • Thanks! I loved that detail too – I should really go back and get some better pics of the original – it really is a beautiful dress!

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