The sleeves were the most interesting part when sewing the dress, cut on the bias, gathered at the hem and forming a cuff with that gathering. By the way, I love over-sleeves! Of course, the sleeves are not easy to sew, only hand stitching will do the job. It took me two tries to get a nice result.
First, mark the rows for the piped gathering and fold the sleeve along the first row. Insert a cord and sew with a running stitch, after securing the cord with the thread at the start, leave loos at the ends. Repeat with the other rows.
The bodice (except the sleeves) is finished, so it´s time to sew the skirt. Maybe this step seems a bit complicated to you, as it did to me when sewing my replica.
At the back portion of the skirt a wide seam is turned in and this double layer is gathered into cartridge pleats, while the front portion is sewn on plain to the front from the fashion fabric, with a turn point at mark (2). Another pitfall are the seam allowances at the front portion, wide on the skirt, narrower on the front piece. I hope the pictures are supplementing the sewing instructions.
If you´re interested in sewing the dress you can purchase the sewing pattern via my Etsy shop. At the moment just a digital pattern version is available, the printed version is coming soon.
The first thing you should do is a mock-up of the lining layer. As you can see, mine got too short at the waist, had to add some centimeters. The armhole was pretty narrow as well, even with the seam allowances clipped. This picture was taken, when I was starting to take the pattern from the extant dress and adjust the pattern for my size. The original dress size is about EU 36, I need a size EU 42.
This is the back lining, with the back and side back from the fashion fabric lined up and basted in place. I tried to imitate the fine and regular back stitch from the extant dress, but I failed. Thank God, the print is hiding my stitching!
Some weeks ago, I got this beautiful extant dress from the 1840s as a loan from a friend and – what a surprise – she asked me to make a sewing pattern out of it.
It is made from a fine block printed muslin and seems to be a very simple dress at first glance. At second glance, it offers many details, like the finest hand stitching I´ve ever seen, silk cord for piping and drawstrings and a very interesting sleeve cuff. To save as much fabric as possible, all bodice pieces are pieced, sometimes several times.
This kind of dress would have been worn in the morning, on hot summer days, or as a maternity dress, and is called a wrapper. Made from printed calico fabric, this style was worn by women of the working class during the pre-civil war era.
The original dress is completely hand-stitched. The fashion fabric is mounted on a tight-fitting, boned lining bodice and closes at the center front, the fullness of the front panel is gathered with drawstrings to fit the waist and kept closed with pins.
It´s time to get finished! Just the sleeves and some details are missing. I decided to take the smaller lining sleeves, still enough pouf for my purposes. This is the canvas for the sleeve hem, cut on the bias and shaped into a slightly curve with the iron.
After sewing the back sleeve seam, line up the canvas with the hemline and baste in place, catch stich to the seam allowances. Sew the front sleeve seam while folding the canvas to the side. Press open the seam allowances and smooth out the canvas over the seam, catch stich in place. Turn in the hem allowance and catch stitch to the canvas.