18th Century Bedgown up a Tree

It’s just a photograph of a well-dressed woman in her 18th Century bedgown, hanging out at the top of a mangrove tree. As you do.

A woman leans nonchalantly on a branch - and she is standing half-way up a tree. She is wearing an 18th Century bedgown, petticoat and apron. She is smiling.

Well, wouldn’t you?

This 18th Century bedgown was made from the Burnley & Trowbridge bedgown pattern during a stay-at-home order in Minnesota. It was finished in a quarantine hotel in Perth. By the time I got to Brisbane, I was ready to be VERY out of doors for a while. But a bedgown alone does not an out-of-doors excursion make. (Not in the 18th Century, anyway.) To take my 18th Century bedgown out for a spin, I was going to have to sew MORE.

There’s a fabric store in Fortitude Valley (It’s even called The Fabric Store, which is an SEO search engine optimization win if I ever heard one) that has lots of lovely linen fabrics for sale.

I made a petticoat out of a very pretty sky-blue linen, and I made an apron out of a cotton/linen blend so crisp AND so drape-able that it sort of immediately became my favorite fabric for aprons, shifts and caps forever. (If you think this is hyperbole, order a yard or two and try it out for yourself. Then we’ll talk.)

The apron was particularly enjoyable to make, as I got to do lots of stroked gathering on the waistband. I like stroked gathers. They are pleasingly precise without being obstreperously finicky, and the process of making them feels a little bit alchemy and a little bit like magic.

Construction Note: this is not a sleeve! this is an apron, with its stroked gathers all tightly pulled up and waiting for a jet of steam to set them!

 this bundle of white fabric is an apron, with its stroked gathers all tightly pulled up and waiting for a jet of steam to set them!

Also a construction note: Working stroked gathers on a fabric this crisp and pleat-able makes me feel all warm and satisfied inside.

A White linen apron is tightly pleated along the top edge with three rows of gathering stitches

I even had a cap! I’d stitched up the Kannik’s Korner Round Eared Cap while I was in Minnesota. Digging it out of my suitcase, I pressed it and trimmed it with a scrap of blue silk ribbon, and reckoned I was sorted from the neck up, anyway!

A few later I asked the incomparably colorful EarandThere to come over and take a few outdoor shots of my new bedgown.

At first she was uncertain – she didn’t reckon she’d taken very many photos of people in 18th century costumes before.

A woman leans against the trunk of a  mangrove tree, holding onto the trunk with her left hand. She is wearing an 18th Century bedgown, petticoat and apron. She is smiling.

“Honestly,” I said, “for six months, I’ve been alone in a shelter-at-home situation, twisting myself into a pretzel to take selfies in a hotel bathroom mirror with a cell phone camera. That’s the bar we’re trying to clear here.”

“Oh.” She said. “I think I can do THAT.”

A woman wearing an 18th Century bedgown, apron and petticoat strides down the beach of the Brisbane River. The water makes small waves on the sand and her skirts and cap billow like flags in the wind

And she did – with elegance, style, and the sort of verve that finds you half-way up a mangrove tree shouting back at her – “so is THIS the good light?!”

A woman is hiking up her blue skirts and climbing a mangrove tree. We are looking at the back of her - she is wearing a striped linen bedgown, a blue linen petticoat and a small white cap.
The camera looks down on a Earandthere, a woman in a white maxi dress splashed with pastel paint strokes. She is looking back at the viewer through a cell phone camera

What do you guys reckon?

A smiling woman hangs off of a big branch of a mangrove tree. There is water beside her but under the tree the light is dappled and soft. She is wearing an 18th Century bedgown, petticoat and apron. She is smiling.

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