Pacific Northwestern 1790s Style

When it comes to the month of January, there is one very important difference between Northern America and Northern Chile: precipitation. The Atacama Desert gets about 0.03 inches of rain a year. On average. While on average, the Pacific Northwest is WET. This holiday season, I needed a whole new look. Specifically, I needed some Pacific Northwestern 1790s style.

This particular January is extremely cold and wet indeed.

A snow covered creek runs between overarching rows of bare winter trees

Right now we’ve got atmospheric rivers and arctic outflows and while I do enjoy the rain, a wistful part of me is also thinking quite a lot about this same time last year, when I was dressing up in a 1750s English nightgown and wilting in a tropical summer sun and wishing for snow.

A snowy path with a branch bent low

At a year’s remove, the oven-like heat of the Atacama Desert summer doesn’t seem nearly as oppressive as the blistering reality. The sun remains, but the sweat has passed out of all memory!

Tabubilgirl is seated on a rock in Northern Chile. she is wearing a striped 1750s New Year ensemble - an english nightgown, a blue cotton petticoat and a straw bergere hat trimmed with pink ribbons

Nightgowns may suit the desert, but summer linen just isn’t right for a temperate rainforest in mid-winter, with conifers and heavy snowfall just up the street. If one wants to feel festive, one wants something more evocative of red robins and evergreens – echoes of bleak midwinter but with tinsel sort of thing, and lots of colors that shout.

Currently I’m in the middle of relocating from South to North America, and most of my costumes are in a ship somewhere between Chile and Canada. I do, however, have a dress in a suitcase that would suit – the Green Blob, my 1790s round gown. The Green Blob has done summer duty in Malta for a Merveilleuse, served up restrained autumnal elegance in Nevada, and now it will serve me for a midwinter festival. ‘Tis the season, then, for lots of new winter accessories!!!

Item 1. A ruffled Chemisette:

I had heaps of dotted Swiss cotton left over from my Scarlet Pimpernel fichu and somehow it had ended up in a suitcase as well. Ergo, for Pacific Northwestern 1790s style, snow-dotted chemisette was definitely the place to start! Using the pattern for the Ruffled Chemisette from the American Duchess Dressmaking Book, I lengthened the body by an inch, (which I probably didn’t actually need to do), spent a few evenings rolling hems, and this ruffly winter flourish came together very smoothly.



A white chemisette for a 1790s ensemble lies on a blue carpet

(Ok, technically it’s a chemisette, but can you blame me?)

Item 2: A new Red Sash:

Half a yard of Cardinal red silk from Silk Baron became into a 4.5 yard long sash. I sewed a gold tassel at each end, and the bling-iest part of the ensemble was done.

A red silk sash with gold tassels for a 1790s ensemble

Item 3: A Cardinal Cloak:

The most Pacific Northwestern part took the longest to put together. I may have mentioned up above that Vancouver winters are SODDEN, and I wanted a long cloak that would keep me warm and protect my historical clothes. I sewed this one from red wool melton from Atex Fabrics in Vancouver, basing it on the cardinal cloak in the Costume Close-up book.

I put the last stitch in the hem two days before Christmas.

(OK, technically I was in Reno for Christmas, and TECHNICALLY, Reno is just a little bit South of the North-West, but it was still VERY cold and there was precipitation. A little bit. Let’s not be TOO pedantic here.) and my Mother-in-law and I headed up Mount Rose toward the pass to Lake Tahoe to take photographs of some Pacific Northwestern 1790s style in actual North American snow!

Taubilgirl stands on a snowy hillside holding a lantern and wearing Pacific Northwestern 1790s style ensemble of a green round gown with a red cloak

One thought on “Pacific Northwestern 1790s Style

  1. Neat! What lovely photos of frozen vistas to start off the post. And finishing with fun clothing is great fun to read about, as well.


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