Mid-1790s Beribboned Soft-Crown Hat

This is a short and sweet post on the hat I made at the last minute to go with my recent striped silk mid-1790s open robe.

The main inspiration for the hat was this Gallery of Fashion plate from 1795, specifically Fig 74.

Gallery of Fashion, November 1795

However, since I was super tight for time I didn’t want to go through building a whole proper rigid crown of buckram and wire so did that only for the brim and made it a soft-crowned hat rather like the upper lady’s in the fashion plate below:

Bonnets 1795, Journal des Luxus und der Moden

Because of the time crunch I also didn’t take any in-progress photos so I’ll do my best to explain how I made this with photos of the finished hat.

I started off with the brim, which is a circle of buckram with opening for the head positioned a little off-centre so that the brim edge of the front would be a little bigger/longer than that of the back – the effect of which you can see in the profile shot above.

To cover the brim I cut 2 rectangles of fabric whose length corresponded with the brim circumference. I covered the underside of the brim first, basting the fabric around the edge of the brim and then gathering it up around the head opening.

I did basically the same thing to cover the top of the brim, except that I stitched it around the brim edge right sides together with the underside fabric, then folded it over onto the top to create a sort of self-bound edge – a super easy and quick way to cleanly finish the brim edge of a hat, I love this technique!

The crown is a circle of fabric cut to about the same size as the brim. I underlined it with some heavy-ish cotton organdy, gathered the circumference to fit the head opening treating both layers as one, and stitched it around said head opening.

I had hoped to be able to just fold under the inner edge of the under brim covering to create a clean finish inside the head opening but when cutting that fabric I forgot that the brim was not a consistent size all around and was left with a gap between the edge of the fabric and the crown at the front of the hat. So I hastily made a bias binding to cover everything up!

Then it was on to trimming!

I used a really neat changeable taffeta ribbon I got from my friend Taylor (Dames a la Mode) and this is where I relied heavily upon the first fashion plate above for inspiration.

I cut a whole pile of fairly shot lengths of ribbon to make the loops and tails, just pinned most of them to the hat (I was in such a rush!) then covered it with a length all round the base of the crown.

I made the front and back bows with more of these short-ish lengths and just stacked and stitched them together – these are actually sewn to the hat, lol.

The feather is not quite as secure as I would like – it swings about if there’s any wind – but I didn’t have a lot to attach it to. It’s sewn up along the back of the brim and also to the base of the crown through both layers. But at least it won’t actually come off!

And there you have it!

So how many of you have hats or whatever still with pins holding trims or such onto them? ;o)


c. 1794 Striped Silk Open Robe (aka: more autumn colours!)

In early November I got to attend a lovely annual event here in the DC area: The Pumpkin Tea and Candlelight Dinner hosted by the ever-gracious Lady Detalle.

This post is about the outfit I put together for the afternoon tea.

The group shots and photos of me in my outfit were graciously taken by Gloria of In the Long Run Designs.

Everyone looked SO GOOD!

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1875 Autumn Plaid Dress – Construction

If you’re just joining, this is my follow-up post to last week’s that was full of pretty photoshoot pictures of my recent 1875 bustle gown, made for my Big Ass Birthday Bash. This post focuses on construction and the insides of the ensemble. And thank you to everyone who responded to the last post with questions about the making of this outfit, I’ll do my best in answering them!

The foundations for this dress are my trusty pink Victorian corset along with the Laughing Moon bustle/crinoline I made earlier in the summer…..

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1875 Autumn Plaid Bustle Dress

Well, I did it! I’ve now made everything that was on my historical sewing list for 2017 – and I still have a couple months to cram in a few more makes, ha! This dress was the last on the list and was made for my recent Big Bustle Birthday Bash. And last week I was able to do a dedicated photoshoot of it courtesy of Taylor of Dames a la Mode.


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Late 1780s Cutaway Front Anglaise + Hat of Unusual Size (H.O.U.S)

This dress is the first off the list of 2017 historical sewing projects. Hooray for crossing items off lists, I love that feeling! (if you’d like to, you can check out the full-ish list here)

This is something I had planned/wanted to make for some time – basically ever since I bought the fabric a few years ago. It’s a scrummy silk taffeta in irregular micro-stripes of light robins egg blue and ivory and I the moment I saw I had late 18th century visions. In fact, I loved it so much that after first buying 6m of it I went back to the store (it was on sale at Fabricland) and bought the rest of the bolt for a total of about 12m!

After making my quarter-back Italian gown in the fall I really wanted to make an Anglaise with an en fourreau back. Initially I thought I would do the regular kind, just with the late 18th century quite narrow en fourreau. But then I saw this and I was instantly won over:

Robe à la Polonaise Date: ca. 1775 Culture: British Medium: silk, cotton:

I had actually seen one (or two) other such dresses in-person in the UK as part of my research so I knew it wasn’t a complete one-off-outlier and I think it’s just such a neat twist on the en fourreau style I had to have it!

I was also keen to try a cutaway front bodice (often referred to as a “Zone front” but as that’s a modern term I try to stay away from using it) and so put all of these elements together in one dress.

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Natural Form in Plum and Chartreuse

My latest – very frantic – make, is an 1876/77 Natural Form day or reception dress in striped silk taffeta and plum cotton sateen.

It was made to wear at a Victorian Christmas tea I hosted at our house last Saturday. A big part of the reason for the tea’s Victorian theme is that I’d started missing Victorian sewing over the past few months, nearly all the historical events and activities around here have been either 18th century or regency. I know, I know, life is so rough, huh? I swear I’m not complaining but I have wanted a little change of pace. I’m also still deeply into a Natural Form phase and had started planning out this dress at least two years ago so I was delighted to have a reason and opportunity to finally make it a reality!

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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)


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 – The Petticoat

The style of the petticoat is based off the original one that goes with my primary dress inspiration/pattern in Patterns of Fashion:

p59 JA 40. Petticoat - 4.5 widths. Flat pleated towards sides. Top edge bound linen tape, ties both sides. Deep self flounce all round hem:  petti-pattern

Although to make it I simply cut 2 panels of my fabric, with the back slightly longer than the front to help accommodate the false rump that’s going under there. I also pleated mine differently from the original since it appears to have been done according to an older style where the pleats all face towards the side/pocket openings – another clue that the ensemble *may* have been an earlier one altered in the late 1770s/early 1780s. During the later period petticoat pleats tend to all face towards the centre back similarly to dress skirts, although the pleats themselves tend to be larger than on dress skirts.

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