Saturday, January 22, 2011

1840s Sheer Dress

In the depths of winter people either start one of two projects: a wool garment or a summer dress.  The first tries to address the issue of cold of events here and now, while the other vainly tries to usher in spring just a little earlier than it can ever possibly begin.  I am definitely in the later category.  

Before my wedding in Summer 2008 I wanted to work on another mid-19th century dress to get into the groove of things and not mess up horribly on my Duchess silk satin.  I saw the image  below and fell in love with it. Sheers were all the rage on The Sewing Academy forum, though I'm not one for jumping on the ol' bandwagon, but who doesn't love a new summer dress?!

English daguerreotype from eBay, note the half lining
I used the Truly Victorian 454 pattern but drafted my own modified-bell sleeves.  The bodice is lined with white polished cotton and cotton lacing at the top edge of the half-lining around my shoulders and just covers my chemise underneath.  I picked up the sheer cotton plaid at my local Jo-Anns on clearance for $1.50 a yard.  In total I think the whole dress cost less than $10 to make.

Note the longer waistline than 1860s fashions
Detail view of gathered fan front, the lining is boned

You can see the half-lining better in this photo

When I wear this dress I have accessorize it with a pair of sheer cotton undersleeves, a ladies pink silk cravat, paste brooch, seed-pearl Georgian style earrings and a white silk bonnet.  I feel like Easter on parade but it is lovely to wear in the heat of the summer!


  1. My next project (after I finish a few others ...) will be a sheer dress, and my fabric is very similar to yours, a sheer cotton voile in a windowpane check/large plaid, but in shades of medium blue. It's for a picnic in August with my costume guild, at a local Gold Rush-era house museum. Actually, if you're located in California, you may have heard of it -- the Fallon House in San Jose.

    I also lean towards the 1840s, especially 1848-ish, for my favorite costumes, so it's nice to see your blog; there are so many ideas! I don't know why people think 1840s style is boring and severe; I think the lines are elegant, and much more flattering on me than the later styles.

    1. He de reconocer que no tengo ningún vestido de la década de 1840, si de décadas anteriores y posteriores. Así que tendré que ponerme a ello. La forma de la parte delantera me gusta mucho. Ahora debo buscar un buen patrón...., la tela ya la tengo.
      Le ha quedado muy bonito,


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