Monday, March 2, 2015

Child's Gown: Part One, Research

Admittedly, this project is a giant cheat for me in the research department, because I'm using the already meticulously researched Larkin and Smith gown pattern:

That said, I've loved this pretty brown wool child's gown for years, and am happy to have a shortcut to creating a similar piece:

Wool and silk, British, dated to c.1740 by the Costume Institute of the Met Museum

A few points I find interesting about the gown:

1) The placket covering the lacing.  I don't know why, but this seems at once completely frivolous (why bother covering the lacing?  Kid can't reach that) and totally necessary (clean lines! Pretty!).

2) The pieced skirt.  I always get curious about piecing--was this a necessity to make the panel the right length, or a later alteration?  I'm guessing, from how the fabric didn't wear differently , that it wasn't a later alteration, but the "hmm, wonder what happened here" question is always an interesting one.

3) Related, just how little fabric it takes to make a dress like this.  I cut out mine from a scrap of linen I had left over from one of my projects.  The piecing theory makes even more sense--leftover fabric could certainly be used for this project then as now.

4) This bodice front is almost certainly stiffened with something, even just a stiff lining fabric.  Look at how the front panel hangs! The Larkin and Smith pattern is a little different in the front bodice, lacking the shaped (and, here, stiff) front panel, which I'm pleased with--after all, a small, active person will be wearing this.

5) The leading strings with the wide, shaped bottoms!  Interesting feature.  I'm not sure my scrap will  yield enough extra to make leading strings like these, though narrow ones like this will certainly be possible: 

and if you've never had a small child in a historical setting, rest assured--they're very, very helpful.

Onward--lining to be cut and sewing to begin this week!


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