Late 18th Century Round Gown: Pink Thing Planning

Since this year’s goal is to shrink the UFO (UnFinished Outfit) pile, I thought I needed to do something with the pink damask.  I bought it on Ebay years ago and began to cut it out into a robe a la francaise.  Problem #1: I was thin back then.  I tried to alter it – not!  It was so small it wouldn’t even fit across the back!  Time to re-cut this into something else.  There is not enough fabric for a robe and petticoat, as I discovered back then.  Why not make a round gown!  Round gowns were made with a continuous skirt with an apron front instead of the robe and petticoat worn throughout most of the 18th century.  On my Pinterest board I’d saved two damask round gowns from various museum collections.  This green one is my favorite, but unfortunately I have not been able to find any silk damask in this color:

Green Round Gown from Met Museum

Green Round Gown from Met Museum

There is also a pink one from Museum at FIT, which is a good choice given I have pink damask piled on the cutting board:

Pink Round Gown Front

Pink Round Gown Back

And here is another one that once belonged to Martha Washington.  It is part of the First Ladies display at the Smithsonian.  I have seen this display in person twice and it is wonderful:

Martha Washington's Pink Damask Gown Circa 1780

Martha Washington’s Pink Damask Gown Circa 1780

The pink FIT is the primary design, although I am not crazy about those white undersleeves.  I prefer Martha Washington’s, so I will use those as a guide for the sleeve trim and fichu.

Once I got cutting I found I had plenty of fabric to recut as a round gown.  I used the JP Ryan robe a l’anglaise pattern.  Fitting it was much harder than I remember, but after a couple nights of swearing and re-cutting I had it fitted, and copied the mockup onto Pattern Ease for future use.

Looking at this fabric again I am glad I am not using it with a design that is earlier in the 18th century, as is the case with the JP Ryan Pet-en-l’air pattern I started back in my skinny days.  This fabric is very neoclassical and much better suited to late 18th century.

Pink Damask fabric with neoclassical motifs

Pink Damask fabric with neoclassical motifs

Since I bought it so long ago and it is was old then, I don’t know the exact fiber content.  I did a burn test on it and there are no synthetics.  I suspect it is a blend of linen and silk, with a small chance of rayon so this will definitely need dress shields (old rayon reacts in very bad ways with sweat).  I can iron it on the highest setting and it is perfectly happy, although it smells a bit dusty when heated.

Pink Thing is now cut out – will try to get it together to wear to Tavern Night at the Depreciation Lands Museum.

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