The K Gown

If you saw the photos from the last entry, you’ve probably already seen my first finished 18th century costume.  The photos are at the bottom of this entry.

Why the “K Gown?”

I named it the K Gown after Kaycee since she had given me some of the fabrics I used (striped under petticoat, green petticoat, and the striped jacket fabric).  I actually had not planned on making this style jacket until I saw the fabric and was inspired.  It also works great with the green petticoat fabric.

It was a huge help, and I don’t think I would have finished in time without her help.  I still have plenty of fabric left for other garments as well!

The Jacket

The jacket is the main part of this outfit.  I intend to use the green petticoat for another jacket down the line.  This will help me have a few outfits a little quicker than starting from scratch each time.

I used the jacket in the Janet Arnold book Patterns of Fashion 1: 1660-1860 (page 26 , view C).  I decided to put the stripes on the sleeves running up and down since it seemed like the original jacket in the drawing had them that way.

I still need to work out some kinks with the pattern I made.

What bothers me

I thought I had fixed the top opening part of the front, but it’s still pulling apart too much and showing the hooks and eyes closing the front edges.

The cuffs hang a little too low, but it was difficult to know what I would be more comfortable with.  I’m sure as I make more jackets with sleeves like this, I can vary the length to get them to hang just right.  I don’t see myself bothering to fix that part right now as I don’t personally feel it would be worth my time.

I think I also need to consider adding a little more room to the sleeve head as it might be pulling the shoulder straps off my shoulders a little too much.  The shift was showing on the side edges, but I also think part of that was an issue with the shift itself.  What’s interesting, is that the jacket’s shoulder area sits better on me when I’m wearing a different shirt that isn’t shaped like the shift.  Perhaps the shift is pulling the sleeves off the shoulder more than they should be?

I made a last minute decision to tie the shift’s drawstrings a little too tight, and I think it may have thrown things off in the neckline more than I expected.

Also, I had not tried on the jacket with the shift before, and found out it’s an annoying process trying to put on the jacket and keep the neckerchief staying flat on my shoulders/neckline.  The shift has elbow-length, fuller sleeves, so they cause a bit of bunching up in the armhole and sleeve area.  I thought I had pulled and smoothed things enough, but that might have also added to the neckline issues somehow.

It definitely made for a neckerchief that wasn’t lying how I wanted it to be.  It was sticking up too much and was a little too puffy for my tastes.

Finally, it was hot.  I know most of that is because I’m not wearing the best kinds of fabrics for layers like this, but it surprised me that my legs were the hottest.  My mid-section wasn’t too bad, even with my fully boned stays that have thick cable ties and canvas layers!

Next time, I hope to press the back skirt of the jacket better.  I originally had it pressed, but thought it might look nicer without sharp pressing and ironed it smoother.  With all of the getting in and out of the car, the jacket’s skirt was wrinkled and didn’t fold correctly.

I’m still pleased

It sounds like I’m picking the outfit apart a lot, but it’s a good thing to see what can be improved for future outfits, or even making them easier to put on and wear.

Still, for my first outing, it wasn’t too bad for a long car ride and wearing everything for just over six hours!

Page added to costume gallery

I’ve added a page for the K Gown to the costume gallery.

18th century costume

My first 18th century costume.

18th century costume

18th century costume

This outfit will work fine for a while. I just need to get used to wearing it and make adjustments while I'm putting it on.


About Cynthia Griffith

I have way too many interests and hobbies, and continually cycle through them -- paying attention to some, while others wait for when I can get around to them again. My main interests are sewing and costuming (I enjoy historical clothing, such as 18th and 19th century, as well as fantasy costumes like elves and hopefully someday even dwarves), as well as getting back to art by drawing fan art of Thorin Oakenshield and Company. My husband Christopher and I spend a lot of time together, enjoying the outdoors and shared hobbies such as juggling. This blog and website is my way to share what I'm up to with friends and family.
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11 Responses to The K Gown

  1. Ali says:

    wow. That is fantastic! I am so impressed, you did that all by hand sewing! You look great, it makes me want to make one.

  2. Thanks Ali! It isn’t all hand sewn, though. Although there is a lot of hand sewing here and there (some things fully hand sewn, others not), I did use a machine on some of it to speed it up.

  3. Ali says:

    Well, it’s still amazing! Can I ask about the skirt hem? I think it would look better and lay better if it was a deeper hem… just a thought 😉

  4. What I could tell on my brief researches were narrow hems or even using tapes to edge the hem. The reason mine looks bad is I whipped it out quickly with a machine… it would have been smoother if I’d done it by hand 🙂

  5. More than how great it all turned out was the time you put into it.

    I was surprised when I’d come home to see new, completed pieces. I know there were a couple weeks where you didn’t get as much done as you’d have liked, but you still really threw yourself at the costume, and it turned out great!

  6. Thanks Christopher! I really look forward to having a few more completed outfits — for both of us! Lots of fun memories, I’m sure 🙂 Both with making, and wearing!

  7. Ali says:

    I’m sorry Cynthia, I didn’t mean in any way to imply that it looked bad, it really doesn’t. I was more interested in why you chose that depth, whether it was a historical accuracy or a personal choice. Sometimes I type things without thinking them through 🙂 . I’m seriously beyond impressed at the skill and beauty you have put into these garments. I’ve never attempted anything that ambitious! Again, sorry that my curiosity came off rudely.

  8. That’s okay, Ali. I wasn’t upset, if anything, it mainly took me off guard because that was one of the few things I wish I hadn’t done (using the machine, I mean). I’ve always been awful with hems on sewing machines, and since hand sewing have discovered I have a lot more control over them if I skip the machine. Although I was cranking out 3 petticoats that week, I probably should have gone ahead and sewn that outer petti’s hem by hand, but I thought “no one will notice since it’ll be at my feet.” Unfortunately, I didn’t think about the sheen of the fabric and I spotted it in these photos myself.

    No worries! 🙂

    But yes, from what I could tell, I’ve seen a lot of narrow hems on skirt hems like that. Some might have wider hems, and I know some costumers will vary their hems as well, but I went ahead with narrow on mine. If I’d tried wider with a machine, I really think it would have stood out more based on other garments (non-18th century) I’ve made in the past.

    I definitely think I should stick to the rule of “if it’s seen, use hand sewing” — it might take me a little longer, but in the long run I’ll be happier.

  9. Lejardin says:

    Beautiful! What is the trick to keeping that neckerchief in check? Mine always poofs out as I move around.

  10. Annabelle says:

    This is beautiful! I am so impressed. I would never be able to tell that you haven’t been doing 18th century clothing for years! I just made a jacket myself (but it’s lower-class and not as complicated) that I’m hoping to wear to an event tomorrow, and I actually found it trickier than a full anglaise gown. You look wonderful!

  11. @Lejardin: Thank you! I have to admit, I had some help getting into my costume. The way my jacket is so tightly shaped around my shoulders and arms (plus, my shift has a lot of fabric in the arms and armscrye due to being an earlier period puffier-sleeve shift), I have to literally put both arms back and into the sleeves of the jacket at the same time. It really made it difficult to get and keep the neckerchief down. My husband reached up under the jacket and pulled what he could of the back point down (I use a 40inch by 40inch square folded in half diagonally). Unfortunately, he could only grab hold of one of the points, so that is why I had a bit of poof around my neck. The front two corners were easy enough for me to grab and place properly before I closed the jacket. I know in the Janet Arnold book I have, there is at least one garment that shows where hooks and eyes might have been used to help keep the neckerchief in place. I haven’t used that technique yet, but I’ve considered seeing how to figure that out and if it works. Another part of my trouble is the fabric I used. It’s a modern sheer that was slippery and a little stiffer than something more flowy — it wanted to pop up and move around. I wonder if a really nice linen would work better for me, but at the time I couldn’t find that fabric and I was in a hurry. Good luck — I hope you find a way to get the neckerchief to stay put. I have new respect for the people who wore this stuff everyday (and wear it often even now!). All these layers, and they’re so fiddly and hard to get just right and keep them there! 😀

    @Annabelle: Thank you! I really think my dressform has helped tons, as well as the one or two books I have (not to mention what I can find on the Internet from other costumers and researchers). I really look forward to getting even more books, chatting with more people who know about these garments, and getting my hands on better fabrics. I keep wanting to try other methods of sewing (mounting on lining, lapped seams, etc), but along with the cheaper/easier to find fabrics, I am just making do for now to build up a little wardrobe. I have to admit, I’m a little nervous to try garments with watteau backs. It’s mainly because I have a feeling it will mess up the way I’ve been working with creating patterns. A pet en lair (if not a french gown) will probably be one of my next projects *gulp!!* Someday I would love to try an anglaise/en forreau gown too! Happy sewing, and thanks for the replies, everyone!

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