My Blog » 1790s Aqua Striped Dress

1790s Aqua Striped Dress

My obsession with the 1790s and transitional drawstring dresses continues! It’s my go-to style when I need something comfortable, quick to make, and easy to wear, so of course it’s what I made this summer for the Louisville Jane Austen Festival. I shared photos of the finished dress in my early post on the 2017 Jane Austen Festival, but I wanted to talk more about the actual construction process.
The dress is made from a lightweight aqua cotton with subtle leno weave stripe, lined in linen. The pattern is based on my existing drawstring dress patterns and my 1790s base patterns, but I used the “Taffeta Round Gown, 1795-1800” pattern on page 172 of An Agreeable Tyrant as a a major reference. It is sewn with a combination of machine and hand stitching.

To begin, the linen lining was assembled by machine, and then the cotton mounted on top, the seam allowances turned under and the seam topstitched with a spaced back stitch. The front lining flaps are cut in one with the shoulder strap, and the outer fabric is mounted on like the back, leaving the front third just linen. This is then shaped with darts and pins closed at the center front. The seam allowances at the neckline and bottom edge of the bodice were turned in and finished with the Le Point a Rabattre Sous La Main stitch, illustrated in Costume Close-Up, page 8.


The front bib is a long strip of fabric with a slightly curved top edge and a straight bottom. The front skirt is attached to the front panel with a seam under the bust, It has a drawstring at the bust and in the waist seam, and opens at the center front to just past the waist. Once this piece was assembled, the sides were hemmed and topstitched to the bodice side, just past the bust.

The back skirt is one rectangular width of fabric in the center, flanked by two shaped pieces like the dress in An Agreeable Tyrant. I made sure to leave a couple of inches of extra fabric on the front side pieces to join the skirts together. The skirt was then pleated and mounted to the bodice about an inch and a half above the bottom edge. It’s a technique I’ve seen a lot on extant dresses, and it helps to cover the raw edge, as well as help the skirt stand away from the body better.

A quick note on pleating. Every drawstring dress I’ve made has had a different combination of pleating at the back, not just because I like variety, but also because I can’t seem to successfully replicate a pleating pattern in different fabrics. Since each fabric seems to have a mind of its own, I experiment with different pleats on the form until I have something that has a nice drape. Its far from scientific but it works for me.

Posted: 9/11/2017 9:47:37 AM by Aubry | with comments
Filed under: 1790s
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Project Details

Aqua Striped Dress