Making an 18th Century Dressing Gown | Pattern Drafting
I created this dressing gown to wear after the birth of my newest baby, in those early postpartum days when simply getting dressed takes a monumental effort. I thought it would be lovely to have a garment which is comfortable “pajama-wear” while still looking attractive.
Earlier this year, my husband and I blazed through all five seasons of Poldark, a historical drama, and one of the characters on the show, which is set in the 18th century, wears a beautiful dressing gown in one of the scenes. This was my main inspiration for this garment. I also browsed Pinterest, where I found a gorgeous 18th century dressing gown on which I modelled most of the details of my version.
At the time of this writing, I am in fact holding my precious two-week old in my arms, so I will keep this article brief and to the point. 😊
Most of this pattern was drafted from Janet Arnold Patterns of Fashion Volume 1, and the bodice was no exception. In fact, the bodice pattern was taken straight from a jacket bodice, the same one I used for my “Modern 18th Century Jacket.” I go over everything in that article, so I won’t rehash it here, other than to say that I chose this particular bodice for its deep V neck opening, which was exactly what I wanted for my dressing gown. On the other hand, for my 18th Century Jacket, I changed the neckline to have a straight centre-front closure.
I drafted the sleeve pattern from another Janet Arnold pattern for an actual dressing gown. The sleeves are elbow length, fairly wide, and have a decorative pleat and a cuff. The only change I made was to widen the sleeve to fit into the armsyce of the bodice, which I had enlarged to fit me.
The skirt was not drafted, as I simply used all the material I had left after cutting out the bodice and sleeves to make a huge rectangle which would be pleated down for a very full skirt. The skirt is open to about hip-level, then has a centre-front seam below that.
For the collar, I simply measured how far around my neck I wanted it to sit, and how high I wanted it, and drew a rectangle based on those two measurements.
Fitting the Mock-Up
After sewing a mock-up of the bodice and sleeves, there were several adjustments that needed to be made. These were:
adding a significant amount of extra width to the back bodice piece, as I couldn’t even get the mock-up on.
Adding more width at the centre-front waist, to get the dressing gown closer to being able to close when tied.
Lowering the armsyces.
Adding a dart to either side of the collar to enable it to sit closely against my neck.
Stay tuned for Part 2, where I will go over the entire sewing process of this dressing gown!
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