Tuesday, December 31, 2013

1790s Open Robe

I know I promised you updates weeks ago, but my life got a little crazy. My husband and I rather abruptly decided to move out of the apartment we've been in for the past few years and into a lovely and much larger house. The good news is I now have a much nicer sewing space; the bad news is my free time in the last few weeks has been taken up by all the fuss of packing, moving, unpacking and settling into our new home. No time for blogging!

As 2013 draws to a close, I want to catch up on all the sewing I've done since the summer so I can start fresh with regular blogging in the new year. My last proper post was just before Costume College, so let's start there!

Since I made the decision to attend Costume College rather late in the year, I didn't have much time to make clothes specifically for it. Luckily, I had made several new dresses earlier in the year that would work well for some of the events. My Gibson girl ball gown would be perfect for the Gala, my striped bustle day dress would be lovely for the Sunday Tea, and my red barmaid dress would be fun to wear during the day. The one event that I felt unprepared for was the Ice Cream Social. I wanted something somewhat formal, without being a ball gown. The only thing I had that was even close was my white muslin dress, but it wasn't quite right either. It was pretty, but a little bland. To dress it up a bit, I decided to make a sort of open robe to wear with it.

The vision in my head was for something along the lines of the following fashion plates:



I can't find a date for this one, but probably 1797-1800. 


As you might recall from the post about my turban, I was lucky to find a great fabric for my robe at Discount Fabrics. 

Here's the fabric with my shoe again.

While researching the common shapes and construction of this style of garment, I came across an extant robe made from a textile that clearly evoked my chosen fabric:

Royal Ontario Museum, 1801
(I can't link directly to the item page. If you go to their image database page and search for accession #2004.33.1 you can view more images.)

Back detail

I modeled the cut and styling of my robe on this one, using the pattern from my muslin dress as a base. I lined the bodice and sleeves in a tan cotton/linen blend, but left the skirt/train unlined. I ended up cutting my train much shorter than the original garment, as I didn't want to be tripping on it all night. I also made wider straps for the front closure. 

Without further ado, here is the finished product:

This is also the first proper picture I have of the white dress with its long sleeves. My accessories include a draped turban, an embroidered reticule, and my turquoise Pemberley shoes. I'm rather pleased with the overall look, but there are a few details I would like to change if I decide to wear it again. The front straps need to be angled differently; they rode up as the night wore on and didn't sit smoothly. Also, the sleeves should be an inch or two shorter to make the proportions work. But for something I threw together in a week or so, I feel pretty good about it!

At the Ice Cream Social, I posed with a couple of other lovely ladies who showed up in similar styles: 

With Aubry and Jen

Jen and I even had matching shoes!

Costume College was a wonderful time. I can't wait for next year! But when I came back, I hit the ground running with several more costumes. Stick around to see what else I've been up to...


  1. It was very nice to meet you and chat at Costume College. Your outfits were all so lovely in person!