Empire Dress

I can’t believe my last post was two weeks ago!  My time is definitely not my own some months, never mind that I’ve been in technology Neverland for a while. So now to do catch-up posts.hannah historica costume

In my last post I talked about my DD1’s Historica project for school and the costume we slapped together for her friend.  But DD1 wanted to model an empire gown from the Napoleonic era.  The range of the project was enormous – Canadian women’s fashion from the 18th century to the present.  They did a large backdrop highlighting a few eras, a couple of Barbie models, and the girls themselves each modelling an outfit from other eras.

For DD1, I chose Butterick 6630 for the starting point for this costume.  It had all the different pieces that I needed without actually having to think about this too much.  Again, I was rather pressed for time, so I wanted something that would do all the “thinking” for me and be easy to put together.

DD1 wanted an everyday sort of look – nothing special.  I didn’t want to go to any huge expense, so I bought old sheets at my local thrift shop:  one ivory one – since clothing was preferably light-coloured – with embroidery and lace along one edge, which I used for the hem; and a green gingham one. empire skirt hem

The Butterick pattern is very shaped – something that is not accurate from an historical point of view – especially the skirt.  I just cut straight rectangles for the skirt pieces instead of using the pattern pieces.  The result was a little more fabric to gather into the bodice, but I thought it looked better without the extreme shaping of the side seams. Because the fabric was light in colour, I lined the skirt. The bodice is both lined and interfaced. I sewed in an extra layer of broadcloth for the interfacing. IMG_0141The back is laced. I was going to hand-embroider the eyelets, but ran out of time. Instead of cording, I made one very long bias tube. DD1 added the brown ribbon for a more “authentic” look.  The sleeves consist of two layers:  a sleeve stay and the very “puffed” sleeve proper.  There are two huge pleats in the sleeve stay, which made it easier to set and and fit.  The dress is slightly bigger than it ought to be on my daughter, but she’ll be wearing it again in May for the city-wide Historica Fair.IMG_0137

I chose to make a short jacket instead of the long formal one in the pattern.  I piped all the edges on the bias, and cut the bottom of the sleeves on the bias as well.  The entire bodice of the jacket is interfaced and lined, but, again, I simply used another layer of polycotton broadcloth.B6630 jacket backIt has the same two-piece sleeves as the dress and a hook-and-eye closure, which I obviously didn’t bother measuring properly!IMG_0148 And, for the fun of it, here’s the Barbie’s: one in a hoop skirt, the other in a hobble skirt. B6630 jacket front barbie hobble skirt


7 thoughts on “Empire Dress

  1. The costume looks great! I have this pattern, but never thought of using the jacket pattern without the skirt part! Great idea.

  2. The costumes are wonderful!! Your daughter looks great in her costume and she also looks authentic. I once made a Renaissance gown in college for a history class-such fun!

  3. You are such a good mom! That was a lot of work! Your daughter looks lovely, and I am sure she had a great time doing the project, too. I hope you guys all got an A+!
    It’s nice that she gets to wear the dress again in May, it makes you feel like the work was worth it.


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