Fabulous Frocks

If you are looking for cushions please scroll down….

These two outfits have formed a major part of my life over the last 6 months or so.


They were commissions for two friends for their Civil Partnership ceremony and the making of them was a mixture of delight and hate. Some of the pleating in the blue one drove me insane with frustration as I tried to match up the original 18th century patterns (from Patterns of Fashion) to a modern-sized person! It is based on a 1780s riding jacket and has a matching long skirt, also in silk dupion. Its lined in a pink peacock feather print from Liberty.


The buttons on this jacket were embroidered with amazing real silver sequins that my friend Gina gave me. They are made from tiny rings of silver wire hammered flat and are C-shaped so you can see where the ends of the wire ring meets. Its hard to describe and impossible to photograph! Just trust me that they are a million times nicer than modern plastic sequins.
The pink outfit is based on a caraco jacket like this among others, and on open gowns of the period. These are mid-18th century style. The pleating on the back is more like a gown, with the pointed back bodice and gathered skirt.



The trim is box pleats which is common on 18th century gowns and is a technique I have used a lot in my contemporary work here and here and I love it. I’ve also used it on bags and for curtains and lampshades. I’ll have it everywhere eventually!
The cuffs are one of my favourite parts of this jacket. Very very smart I think, and surprisingly easy to make (and to wear, they don’t dangle in your dinner!)
There are more pictures on Flickr.
What a huge sense of satisfaction and indeed pride to see these finished. I also made myself a 1790s over-dress to wear, but no decent pics of that yet – its pretty difficult to photograph yourself!

4 thoughts on “Fabulous Frocks

  1. Hi! I came across your blog through Google. I’d like to say how much i admire your work. I’ve been thinking of trying my hand at sewing a pattern similar to that of your blue outfit and feel very inspired after seeing yours. Thankyou.

  2. You have done very well to get them to FIT! I am firmly of the belief that vintage people were much the same shape as us, but the clothes just didn’t fit too well. Yes I know that we have lost waists along with the corsets, but I have got stacks of Victorian photos of family members, and the dresses and men’s suits just don’t fit right- creases and dragging all over the bodices and sleeves, and these would be clothes supposedly made to measure.

  3. The thing is that because clothes were expensive and made by hand, they got handed down and sold second hand. Very few people really could afford really made to measure!I often make the point to my students that ready-made clothes now don’t fit properly, but we just accept it. There is nothing like clothes that really fit and its always an amazing shock when someone tries their first made-to-measure garment, especially when someone has a irregularity in their shape and nothing has ever fit properly. Its a challenge, but a good one.

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