‘1 Nightgown new made’: A Practical Investigation of Eighteenth-Century Clothing Alteration PART 3 (of 3)

This is the third and final post in my small series chronicling an “experimental archaeology” project of mine about 18th century alteration practices by first making then altering a 1760s style gown to a 1780s style gown drawing upon research from my PhD thesis on the topic. If you’re just joining and would like to start from the beginning you can click for Part 1 and Part 2.

This reveal has ended up being a tease for some of you since it took some time for me to get pictures that I was really happy with. I hope it won’t be too anti-climactic for you! For the first photoshoot of the 1780s dress I ended up being unhappy with my styling of the gown – hair, ruffles, ribbon colours. It took time to schedule a re-shoot, which Taylor of Dames a la Mode was very gracious to do for me (she took the styled photos of the 1760s gown and the first round of the 1780s dress – she has a lot of patience with me, for which I am very grateful!).

And now, without further ado, I present to you the altered gown:

Phase 3: 1780s dress

Plain Photos

The first set of photos are just the gown mostly alone but with the proper underpinnings for the 1780s, mainly a split false rump in addition to the stays, rather than the pocket hoops worn for the 1760s iteration.

With the skirt left un-tied at the back:

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‘1 Nightgown new made’: A Practical Investigation of Eighteenth-Century Clothing Alteration PART 2 (of 3)

This is the second of three posts on a recent “alteration reproduction” project I completed for exhibition at this year’s CSA Symposium in Williamsburg back in March. If you’re just joining, you can check-out Part 1 here to see what this is all about!

For quick reference, this is the gown I altered:

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How I Made My 1780s Tall Crown Hat

This post focuses on construction of the hat I made to wear with my mint wool 1780s redingote. For the post on construction of the redingote itself, click here.

I should begin by noting that I have no idea how HA or not the construction of my hat is. We apparently do know that wire and buckram were used in hat making at the time but don’t know how much it would have resembled our modern materials or just how they were used. We don’t have any surviving examples of these hats (that we yet know of) to check against. So please do keep this in mind – this is *my* interpretation of how such hats maybe *could* have been made.

Anyway, here is the hat in question:

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1780s Mint Redingote at a Colonial Williamsburg Weekend!

Right at the end of 2017 I had a little dream come true – a costumed weekend at Colonial Williamsburg!

A couple groups of friends decided to get together there to take in the holiday decorations and sport our 18th century winter wear.

*Note*: all watermarked photos are courtesy of In the Long Run Designs – thank you again Gloria & Mike!!

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c. 1780 Italian Gown – Sleeve Cuffs & False Rumps

I’ve finally gotten around to doing a sort-of how-to post on the ruched sleeve cuffs of my rust 1780s Italian Gown. This is very far from an authoritative description or tutorial as it was entirely trial and error, my own cuffs are far from perfect and I didn’t have a full tutorial in mind when doing it. But, hopefully it can somewhat helpful to people and it would be awesome if it was a starting point for someone to come up with a much better and more comprehensive how-to!

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c.1780 Italian Gown – In Action – literally!

Now I can finally show you the whole look of my new 1780s ensemble all put together!

(In case you’re just tuning in and/or would like to revisit the construction posts I wrote about this here are links to the bodice, petticoat, and skirt + finishing)

(and I will still be doing a post about the sleeve cuffs, some of the underpinnings, and the wig, which I will link to here when it’s done and up)

Taylor (aka Dames a la Mode) graciously volunteered to do a photoshoot for me last Friday. The location is St James church + yard just up 8th street from my house here on Capitol Hill that’s done in an atmospheric faux-gothic-Jacobean mash-up style. I kinda love it!

And now on to the show!

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Italian Gown – The Gown Skirt & Putting it All Together!

A quick re-cap of the original dress/pattern in Patterns of Fashion and how I modified it:

the original dress has a box-pleated skirt but I wanted the tight, narrow knife pleats so common for this period.

(Also, here are links to my posts on making the bodice and petticoat)

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So I used the skirt pattern from another dress in Patterns of Fashion as a rough guide.

Although I still did things a little differently from either. I cut my skirt as two full-width panels of my fabric with a little bit of a train at the back but completely straight along the top. Instead of cutting the waist edge with a curve I just sewed it with one – you’ll see what I mean in a moment.

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c.1780 Italian Gown – Intro

A couple of weeks ago I started a new, large-ish historical project: a c. 1780 ‘Italian’ style gown with matching petticoat although. This is very like a robe a l’Anglaise except that it has a completely separately cut bodice and skirt – so no ‘en fourreau.’

The reason for doing one of these now is another Gadsby’s Ball on November 12 that’s 1780s-themed. Hooray for not being Regency! As much as I love it, I’m getting Regency-d out. Most of the balls around here have been for that period over the past year and I recently finished a c.1800 ensemble I still need to post about, so I’m very ready to do something different. I’m pretty excited since I’ve never done 1780s before! Bring on the pouf!

Anyway, my fabric for this is an iridescent rust silk shantung – a very smooth one. I bought it from Fabricmart during one of their silk sales wherein it was described as silk taffeta and looked very smooth in the photos. When it arrived I discovered it was actually shantung – a very smooth one, but nonetheless not taffeta. This had happened once before with a silk purchase from them so I sent them an email to let them know there was an issue. I didn’t ask to return the fabric because it’s gorgeous all the same but wanted them to know it made me wary of ordering from them in future. They sent a kind reply saying they’d gone back and amended all the relevant listings on their site and sent me a $10 gift certificate by way of apology.

So, that’s a long-winded explanation for why I decided to just go ahead and use shantung for this instead of actual taffeta.

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It’s pretty scrummy, shantung-ness notwithstanding.

For this ensemble I’m doing a bit of a Janet Arnold mash-up. Essentially, I’ve combined 3 of her late 18th century patterns:

The main one is this 1775-85 gown in the Snowshill collection (now at Berrington Hall). I’ve done research there, pity this one wasn’t on my radar at the time to check out in-person.

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