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How I Sewed an 18th Century Dressing Gown

Updated: Nov 2, 2021

Part 1 of this series is about how I drafted the pattern.

I have now been wearing this dressing gown for almost two months and I love it. I made it especially for postpartum wear, and it helps me feel attractive and put together while remaining comfortable and in ‘lazy’ mode.

18th century dressing gown pattern
Some of the fabric pattern pieces

Cutting Out and Sewing Preliminary Seams

I cut out the fabric pieces for this project in advance, as I was batch-cutting for several projects at once. I cut two of each bodice piece in the pink linen for lining, and cut the lining for the sleeves out of muslin. I also cut interfacing out of muslin. The neckline was interfaced, as well as the waist ties. I used all the fabric that was left to cut an enormous rectangle for the very full skirt. The fabric that was left was not perfectly even, so I opted to have a skirt with an uneven hem: higher in the front and longer in the back. I sewed the two bodices together, and decided to add a strip of twill tape down the centre-back seam for reinforcement. The original jacket pattern which I’d borrowed this bodice from had boning at the centre-back, so the twill tape was better than nothing.

Sewing the Waist Ties

18th century dressing gown sewing
Sewing the waist tie, right sides together

I made the waist ties out of two long rectangles of pink linen, folded in half lengthwise. There was also a strip of muslin on the inside for interfacing. I sewed the ties with right sides together, leaving one short end open, and used my tube-turning tool ( I can’t remember the official name) to turn it right side out before pressing it.

The Sleeves : Cartridge Pleating

how to sew cartridge pleats
Adding cartridge pleats to the sleeve

The outer sleeves were made of two pieces: a sleeve and a cuff. The inner lining was a single piece of muslin which the book instructed to mount onto the sleeve after the cuff was attached. Then a decorative pleat was sewn into the sleeve, mostly parallel to the cuff line.

I opted to attach the sleeve to the lining by sewing the sleeve side seams separately, then attaching them with wrong sides together and stitching in the ditch by hand.

I then cartridge pleated the sleeve by adding two rows of hand gathering stitches to the sleeve head, and hand stitching the pleats to the outer layer of the bodice, with one stitch through each pleat. Later, I turned under the seam allowance of the bodice lining at the armsyce and hand stitched it down.

How the Dressing Gown was Lined

The bodice was lined by sewing two separate bodices, both out of the pink linen, Then sewing them together along the neckline with right sides together, with the collar inserted into that seam as well.

Cartridge Pleating the Skirt

The skirt had a centre front seam and was left open to about ten inches down from the waist line. The top line of the skirt was slightly angled, to match the V shape of the bodice waist. I cartridge pleated this in the same way as the sleeves: two rows of hand gathering stitches, with the stitches in line with each other, then gathering the skirt into small cartridge pleats. The skirt was then attached to the bodice by hand, with one stitch through each pleat. In this way, the pleats don’t get flattened as they would if sewn by machine.

After hemming the skirt, the dressing gown was finished! After trying it on, I realized the bodice should have been longer so that the waist could sit at my natural waistline. But other than that, I am pleased with how it came out!

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