Until recently I’d never much cared for the 1830s in terms of fashion– the giant sleeves were off-puttingly wide (unlike 1890s sleeves, which somehow seemed more normal, perhaps because they were higher on the shoulder?) the ankle-length skirts looked awkward, and the giant bonnets were insane. No, I thought, the doll-like silhouette was not for me. But while at Costume College last summer I attended a really fun class on crazy 1830s hair, and then I saw a bunch of attendees walking around in smashing 1830s day dresses, and before I knew it I was hooked!
I picked up Truly Victorian 455, the Romantic Era dress pattern, and started browsing through Pinterest for fabric ideas.
I thought I’d make my first dress out of cotton, since it’s low-stakes both in terms of cost and in terms of ease of sewing/ripping out/cleaning. Besides, I need something casual to wear to this year’s Historical Picnic. I envisioned a striped fabric, something light and summery like this, but in yellow:
For some reason, though, nice floral stripes are difficult to find, and yellow does not appear to be a particularly popular color– so when I came across this lovely buttery yellow striped cotton in one of my Facebook selling groups I snapped it up! It’s a little more geometric than I’d pictured, but I’m okay with that.
I also knew I wanted a pelerine for daywear– a pelerine is basically a separate collar that’s kind of like a fichu or cape, and it fills in an otherwise low neckline to make it more suitable for informal events:
Mindful of my success with making embroidered collar pieces out of antique placemats, I did some searching on Ebay and found a beautiful pair of embroidered cotton pillow covers– each one is just under 32″ square, so there’s plenty to work with.
The embroidery looks like tambour work, and the cotton is nice and sheer. I’m hoping I can futz about with one of them and take advantage of the embroidered edges to make a nice pelerine.
So here’s what I’m going for:
My husband already thinks it’ll look crazy, but I think it’ll be a blast to wear!