The 1790s Dress, Part One


This is a new project I’m starting, based off a 1790s dress. I originally saw this dress from the MET Museum fashion collection, and decided I had to make something from this time period. This dress involved a lot of detail work and I managed to photograph it fairly well, so it’ll probably take a few posts to get through. This one will cover making the bodice.

I mocked this dress up on my form first and turned these into pattern pieces.


I cut this out and turned it into a mock up, which looked like this.


Unfortunately, it was a lot too big, and I ended up going back to the pattern and shaving about 6 inches off it (I’m still not sure how I managed to add that much extra space in), to create a tight fitting bodice. I changed the opening seam from the back to the front to be more accurate.


(Please ignore my dorky lazy pants). I couldn’t find many resources on the 1790s and whether garments were structured with boning or not. However, since it was a transitional era, moving between the big gowns of the 1760’s to 80’s, and the Jane Austen chemises of the early 1800s, I decided I had a little more control over the design (since a lot of different styles and preferences were present). So, I added in some boning channels for structure and shape.


I sewed in all the boning channels – one down the back, one under each armpit, and six on the front. I didn’t put the boning in though, and instead sewed the lining to the top fabric, understitching it so that the lining wouldn’t show through.


This left me with a nicely finished neckline, and I handstitched on hooks and eyes to close the front while watching Downton Abbey.


It was done! This was pre-pressed, so the front was gaping just a little, but this will be fixed once I iron and steam it. My next post will probably be on the skirt and sleeves. I will be doing the underdress last, even though it’s the bottom layer (besides petticoats and corsets).


Thanks for reading!



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