The Green Blob, a 1790s Round Gown : First Fitting and Sleeves

In my last post, I talked about the construction of the Green Blob.. This post will address the first fitting and the construction of the sleeves of this green 1790s round gown.

First Fitting:

When I drafted the bodice of this 1790s round gown, I wasn’t entirely sure where I wanted the neckline to sit. Accordingly, I cut a very shallow neckline, and once the gown body was assembled, ran a rudimentary drawstring across the top of the neck, gathered up the bulk, and shoved wads of fabric down the front of my stays until I had a level that I liked.

Tabubilgirl smiles at the camera, wearing a green length of fabric belted around the waist and falling down over her bodice.

The next step in the fitting of this round gown was the hem – I still didn’t have an assistant, so I begged 15 minutes from my very busy neighbor and ran across the street in my bustled petticoat and gown to have her put in some pins at the level where she reckoned the gown ought to stop. In her full length mirror, the result was, well –

Tabubilgirl wears a bulky green belted round gown. Her hands are crossed across her chest.

The gown had a LOT less flow than I had been expecting. 

side view of a 1790s round gown mockup

This right here is a perfect example of the effects of underpinnings on a gown.  This particular under-petticoat was originally built for a later mid-regency silhouette. I’d tacked on a little bustle pad at the level of the 1790s back waist seam and expected all would be good – but over the relatively stiff fabric of the petticoat, the yards of gathered 1790s voile looked less like a classical goddess and more like a bale of bedsheets. There was no DRAPE!

Rear view of a 1790s round gown mockup

Making a mental addendum to ditch the under-petticoat, it was time to take care of the sleeves.

The sleeves:

This 1790s round gown is a mashup between the American Duchess book and the American Duchess Simplicity pattern. I worked from the AD book to draft the bodice, but by myself without a mannequin, draping sleeves were NOT possible.

I had initially hoped to take the sleeves and shoulder head directly from the AD Simplicity pattern, but that was a disaster.

I don’t believe I was misreading the marks and notches, but i ended up having to rotate the sleeve seam almost 3 inches up the bodice to get it to fit the armscye, and attempts to formally redraft the rotation went absolutely pear-shaped, and no matter what I did, I never could get the sleeve to a point where I could lift my arms more than about an inch.

Fortunately, by the time i actually needed to attach sleeves to the body of the gown, I had an assistant again, and I took a very simple and direct approach:  i cut a very loose sleeve with an overly large shoulder head and sewed it to the gown, then had my assistant progressively pin out the fullness, making sure that I could still move my arms at every step.

When i liked the look, i stopped and transferred the markings to my pattern, and voila – I had a sleeve.

A muslin sleeve shape is laid out on a piece of green fabric.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *