Saturday, January 25, 2014

One Gown: Many Impressions

Larkin & Smith - English Gown Pattern

One of the questions we have been getting about our English Gown Pattern is, "The original is a silk gown, I portray a Rev War camp follower, will this pattern work for me?  The answer is "absolutely" and here's why...

Eighteenth century dress makers were very creative when it came making beautiful gowns. They had fabulous fabrics to work with, ones specifically woven for making gowns, as well as lovely trims and laces designed for adorning these wearable confections.  One the other hand, when it came to the actual "form" of the English Gown, the basic parts and construction were pretty much the same, whether you are making a fancy silk gown or a simple linsey-woolsy one.  Think about a gown as a line drawing - it can be simple and unadorned or you can add color, designs, and decorations.

(These three gowns were made with the same pattern but with different trimmings and fabrics)

If you are portraying a Revolutionary War camp follower, you are reenacting the years from 1775-1783, and will need a gown that works well for that time period.  The stomacher front/en fourreau back gown, not only fits well into that date range, it will also have you covered your for pre-War events like the Boston Tea Party and Battle Road.

Gown with optional cuffs

We have included a few variations in the pattern to help you adapt the gown for your impression.  The original gown is a silk tobine self trimmed with ruching and sleeve flounces.  However, if you are making a gown for a camp follower, you should opt for a simpler and more appropriate sleeve treatment and skip the trimming.  Included in the pattern is a longer sleeve for wearing without sleeve flounces and an optional cuff pattern piece, which you can use for your worsted or linen camp follower gown. However, the most important part, is to select a fabric that is appropriate for your impression and documentable to the period. Do your research, it will pay off in accuracy and confidence in your impression.

Next: The Documentation Card

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