Drop-front Dress and Spencer

Last time I presented a number of GOWNS I have been making at work for our staff. I have written about it before, but it is a gift to be able to mix work and pleasure. Costuming is something I normally do for my own amusement, but now I have again moved out from my comfort zone over to the proffessional arena.

While exploring the shift-dress I also started on a couple of other garments. First, a drop-front gown, also known as bib-front, stomacher-front or apron-front, with a short spencer:

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I used every scrap of the same teal and gold sari that became an open robe.

The formidable Janet Arnold provided me with the pattern, the “Salisbury Museum” day dress, ca. 18oo.

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I omitted the double sleeve, but otherwise I used the pattern more or less without alterations. The original dress was constructed in a manner that was was quite common at the time: the lining was assembled first and then the outer fabric was sewn on top of it, neatly sealing all seams between the layers. I decided to use this technique. I machine stitched the lining, but hand-stitched the outer fabric. It was fun and it came together rather quickly.

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The bodice. The green cotton is pinned closed, and covered by the bib. (I am aware of the mis-matching greens, but I found a perfect lenght of the pea-green cotton in our stash. Of course they are never seen together.) The neck is finished with strip of the cotton, cut on the bias.

Pinning sari fabric to the lining . Then it was trimmed, edges folded in and whip-stitched along the edges.

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Inside view of the folded down bib. Nearly finished. The shoulders need to be covered with the sari-fabric and the skirt seams are only pinned. The tucker or fichu is of course optional. A chemisette could be nice too.

The skirt front fastens around the waist with ribbons, then the bib is turned up and pinned in place.

I pleated the fabric on the bib, something I regret, it took ages to keep the vertical stripes aligned…

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The woven pattern works well with the design, giving a rich effect, don´t you think? Caroline Bingley could wear this…

When I got bored with all this gauzy sari-fabric I turned my attention to some tailoring using a rich, dark green broadcloth. There was just enough for a spencer, like the one seen on Elizabeth Bennet:

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Jennifer Ehle as Lizzie Bennet, Pride and Prejudice, 1995.

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Again I used the same bodice pattern, but altered the front and drafted a collar.

Working on the standing collar. Pad-stitching interlining to broadcloth.

Then I folded the seam allowance to the inside, securing it with small but loose stitches. The green linen lining went on top of this.

But first I steamed the collar and allowed it cool on the ironing board.

A peek of the inside: green linen lining. I used yellow glazed cotton to line the sleeves.

On the dress form. I think the spencer was designed for a smaller bust…

I added some fullness to the sleeves. It does not show, but there are a couple of tucks below the bust, and some sturdy interlining along the front edges.

The standing collar.

A view of the back. Now I was reminded of the pins that still keep the skirt in place…

Photo by Regencygentleman

And finally a full shot of the dress and spencer.

 

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