1830s Strawberry Gown

I’ve adored the craziness of 1830s fashion for years: the ridiculous hair, the big sleeves, the delicate ballet slippers. Then last fall I bought a set of fat quarters from Moda’s Little Miss Sunshine line. I fell in love with all the strawberry prints, but the green colorway in particular caught my eye.


It’s not 100% historically correct by any means, but there is something about the olive green and the overall feel of the print that made me think 1830s. Besides, pink and green is one of my favorite combinations, and I have some pink silk in my stash that would work perfectly for any accents or as a sash. In the end, it was a pretty easy decision. Since quilting fabrics can sell out quickly, I went ahead and bought the yardage I I would need for a big, poofy dress.

I haven’t had much time for personal sewing over the last few years, which means no new costumes. And no new costumes means no picnics, no costume outings, and no dressing up at Costume College. So this year I set a goal of making at least one new outfit for Costume College, and I broke up all the steps and put them in my calendar.

My primary inspiration photo is this gown from the Met. It’s pretty, yet simple enough for this first project in a new era. I like the fullness at the top of the sleeve and the gathers at the top of the bodice.

I may add a belt, like on this print gown from the Cincinnati Art Museum.


Or maybe a pink sash or belt, like this fashion plate.

I am making this outfit from the skin out, which means I need a chemise, corded petticoat, stays, sleeve puffs, and probably a ruffled petticoat to give the proper structure. I’m working on the corded petticoat now, with the help of Jennifer’s great workbook.  It feels impossibly slow and boring, so I’ll be working on the chemise and skirt panels at the same time.

I love these pink sleeve puffs! No one will see them, so why not use a fun color?

The stays and dress bodice will be last, so that I can do fittings closer to Costume College. My weight keeps shifting, and I’ve experienced the pain of costumes not fitting when needed too many times in the last few years.

I’m planning to use the Truly Victorian Romantic Era Dress pattern as the base. I have the Past Patterns Corded Stays, and may use that or pattern my own.

I’m still researching the chemise. The 1830’s patterns available have rather high necklines. which won’t work on a more off the shoulder gown like I’m planning. The Past Patterns 1850s Yoked Chemise seems like a better fit for under the neckline, so that is a possibility.

I also plan to do something fun with hairpieces. This will be a day dress, so I probably shouldn’t go as crazy as some of the 1830s evening hairstyles. But I won’t be wearing a bonnet indoors, so I’ll need to figure out what the in-between style should be. Unless I end up wearing this for the gala, in which case I could be tempted to just go for the crazy tall hairdo.

Long-term goals for this outfit will be embroidered accessories such as cuffs and a pelerine. I also want to make a scrumptious pink and green bonnet with faux strawberries.




One Response to “1830s Strawberry Gown

  • That’s such a cute and lovely fabric! I look forward to hearing more about this project! 🙂 I, too, have loved the 1830s for quite a while now but haven’t been able to start making myself anything from that era yet.

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