Empire Dress… with a modern twist

Since I wrote in the beginning of this blog, that I sew also historical clothes, I thought I might catch up with that part a bit. At least those few that I have (good) pictures of.

A friend of mine loves Jane Austen and the Empire-era. Well, so do I, but that’s another story. One day she asked me to make her an empire dress, which I was more than happy about. Also, since I had the opportunity to study the details of an empire dress in a deposit of a museum while writing an analysis of this era for university, I was glad I could apply my new-gained expertise on them.

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One new-gained and applied knowledge I used right away in the design of the dress, was that the actual historical versions of the dresses had often one skirt and more than one top you could attach to it. This way they wouldn’t have to have a thousand different dresses (you have probably no idea how much fabric would go into one such… and also where would one store so many big dresses), but they also had more variety in what they wore. Smart, I’d say.

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So, in my design for my friend, I made her a dress with 3 different tops, that she could attach to the skirt, depending on what she wanted at the moment. One was a sleevles top with buttons in the front. The second was with short sleeves with hidden closing in the back. The third one was a greek-style top out of a different -green- fabric with 3/4 sleeves and a V-neck.

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It was her wish to make the dress short. And to make it wearable in our modern world. So I did. I hope.

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The dress was out of this beautiful flower-y cotton with lining inside the tops and the green top was out of a very nice and soft viscose, if I remember correctly.

The pattern was inspired by real empire dresses, out of Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion 1, Englishwomen’s dresses and their construction c 1660-1860. But I had to modify them to my friend’s size and to our design.

To the first and second top you could attach a thin white chiffon into the neckline.

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