To walk abroad is, not with eyes,
But thoughts, the fields to see and prize;
Else may the silent feet,
Like logs of wood,
Move up and down, and see no good
Nor joy nor glory meet.
- "Walking" by Thomas Traherne
One of my favorite makes of 2019 was a little, striped, Regency Era half robe or short gown. It was a seemingly simple project with straightforward construction, yet oh so comfortable and convenient to wear. I like to think of the early-19th century "short gown" as comparable to today's t-shirt -- a throw-on-and-go staple in a living historian's working class wardrobe. Plus, the opportunities to pattern mix-n-match and accessorize can't be beat!
In this blog post, I'll be sharing both the details of the garment's construction, as well as the completed project photographs that my sister graciously took last July - thank you, Maria! So, without further ado, let's get started...
The story begins two years ago when I found the perfect, reproduction print fabric at Regency Revisited during GCV's 1812 weekend. Readers, believe me when I say it was love at first site - my friends and co-workers can attest to this haha! Unfortunately, there was only about two yards left, but I couldn't resist the indigo stripes and so it came home with me:
|The fabric - a historical reproduction printed cotton.|
Fast forward to July of 2019, I finally had a project in mind for the fabric! I wanted a new half robe or short gown, something with maximum arm-movement (i.e. being able to raise my arms above my head, which those who wear mid-19th century clothing with those low-dropped armscyes can relate to
), especially necessary while I was weaving. After a quick mock-up (though the sleeves took two tries), I was ready to cut - and Jack, my best friend's mischievous, one-eyed cat was equally ready to assist:
|Jack, always ready to assist!|
goes to Judy, not only for hosting the sewing day (and for her resident helper), but for the continued encouragement. Had she not been asking for daily updates, the project might still
be languishing in a u.f.o. (unfinished object) bin somewhere...sewing friends to keep you accountable make all the difference!
As for putting it all together, I think it took three or four days of working on and off to finish. I assembled the fronts, 4-piece back (including the skirt), and lining separately, then seamed them at the shoulders and sides. I stitched the long seams (and set the sleeves in) by machine to save time, but anything visible from the outside was done by hand. I did also top stitch the shoulders down by hand though as it's a pretty and period appropriate detail.
Only the fronts have turned down edges along the top and narrow pieces of bias tape at the underbust for drawstring casings, while the back is fitted with curved seams and pleats for the skirting. Both the set-in, elbow length sleeves and skirt were finished with bias cut facings, and I turned under or overcast any exposed seam allowances to prevent future unraveling.
Here's a picture of the interior, which hopefully helps to illustrate the process better:
Please excuse all of the wrinkles.
And here's the finished short gown:
|Full front view.|
|Other side view -|
I might try to reduce the height at the cap
for a smoother sleeve set-in next time...
|Back view -|
featuring directional knife pleats at the side
with an inverted box pleat at the center.
Completed Project Shots
Once again, the beautiful gardens at the George Eastman Museum
and historic mansion were chosen for the location of our summer photo shoot. Maria, my sister and photographer, did her usual, outstanding job of documenting my latest sewing project - and I'm so grateful for her time and talents!
In the following pictures, the short gown is worn with period stockings and pointed tie-shoes, a shift, long stays, strapped cotton petticoat, and linen petticoat. A beribboned cap and hand-rolled checked kerchief complete the quick and comfy look.
*All photographs courtesy of Maria M.*
To walk is by a thought to go;
To move in spirit to and fro;
To mind the good we see;
To taste the sweet;
Observing all the things we meet
How choice and rich they be.
A little child these well perceives,
Who, tumbling in green grass and leaves,
May rich as kings be thought,
But there’s a sight
Which perfect manhood may delight,
To which we shall be brought.
While in those pleasant paths we talk,
’Tis that tow’rds which at last we walk;
For we may by degrees
Pleasures of love and praise to heed,
From viewing herbs and trees.
Poem is "Walking
" by Thomas Traherne - stanzas 1, 4, 8, and 9. Follow the link to find the full poem. Thanks for stopping by!