Historically In-accurate 18th Century Girl’s Gown

This weekend was busy with celebration and excitement because it was my birthday (I’m now 31!), and more importantly – we went to Colonial Williamsburg with the big girls dressed in their latest finery! The dresses and kerchiefs were made by me, but their caps were purchased at the Mary Dickinson Shop in Colonial Williamsburg. I also made red wool cloaks for them, but I will write a separate post about those and provide the link here once finished. Detailed descriptions, product links, and photos are below!

Visiting the home of a dear historical friend, Mary Geddy (she was a real girl!).

Pattern: The kerchiefs had no pattern, they were large squares, on which I sewed a narrow hem all around. The “Princess Costume” pattern is M5731, and is from McCall’s, and I used View D. The pattern retails for $15.95, but the manufacturer has very frequent sales, and this pattern can often be purchased for around $4.

FabricThe majority of the dress is the dark blue floral stretch cotton sateen from Mood Fabrics. This print is also available with a white background. Product #119758, it is 55 inches wide, and $13.99 a yard. The description from their website is as follows: “A sense of imagination and whimsy went into the design featured throughout this Dark Blue Floral Stretch Cotton Sateen. Its smooth face presents a Jacobean pattern that grows wildly throughout the slightly luminous woven. Add the thin, medium weight woven to your spring and summer wardrobe in the form of trousers, sheath dresses and pencil skirts. A stretch through the weft provides the perfect fit in sleek silhouettes. Opaque, a lining is optional.” I don’t know if I would call this fabric “thin” though. It is quite crisp and dense, and just GORGEOUS. It was a delight to work with, and I want to buy more! The white kerchief and undersleeves are made from the optic white mercerized cotton shirting (product #107431) also available from Mood. I originally purchased this to make a shirt for myself but… #momlife happened and I used it for them instead. It is lovely, shockingly soft and silky, and a bit translucent. I plan on repurchasing this to someday make the shirt for myself that I’d originally planned. The white shirting is 56 inches wide and $15.99 a yard. The description from the website is as follows, “Do you remember that time you had that one specific shirt on in which never wanted to take off? Well, this mercerized cotton shirting is here to recreate that one of a kind feeling for you all over again. Mercerized cotton fabrics are far from your basic shirting as it goes through a process that increases the luster leaving you with a luxurious finish. This classic cotton woven will be a perfect addition to your basics and essentials. Extremely soft and smooth with a width of 56″ to 58″, construct this fabric into blouses, dresses, and of course your classic uniformed shirting. Note: This fabric can be machine washed as long as the water does not surpass 40 degrees Celsius and ironed at temperatures below 150 degrees Celsius. Do not tumble dry or bleach this material. This fabric can be dry cleaned with any solvent except tetrachlorethylene.” The lining for the bodices is some mystery fabric I pulled from the fabric stash given to me by my grandmother. It is some sort of thick, crisp, simple woven, presumably cotton.

Notions: Thread is all “polyester sew-all” from Gütermann, purchased at a Joann brick-and-mortar location. Colors 266, and 20. Invisible zipper purchased in a mulitcolor bulk bargain bag from Amazon (40 zippers for $9.99).

Notes: As you can see, I opted to use the the same fabric for almost the entire gown, instead of the suggested contrast down the center. I didn’t use any lace or ruffles, and used white shirting for the undersleeves. I feel these patterns run quite large, and even though I did want “room to grow,” I still feel I could have gone down at least one size, as the costumes are lumped into only a few general sizing categories. My oldest is almost seven years old slightly large for her age, and is wearing a size 7/8 gown that had three inches taken in at the back and is still gaping open. Second-born is five and a half, average for her age, and wearing a 5/6 with the same problem. The front of the bodice is designed to be very low cut, which is period appropriate, however without a historically accurate chemise (or t-shirt and kerchief, in our case), combined with the fact I made them too large in the first place, would result in a lot of over-exposure. This is the reason why I added the kerchiefs to their costumes, as an easy hack to cover their chests until they grown into the gowns better. Despite this, I fully plan on using this pattern again, but going a full size down for each of them!

Just young Colonial ladies, loyal to His Majesty the King, out for a stroll.
First-Born getting a good twirl out of her luscious skirt!
Taking a rest before shopping for day caps.


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