Some years ago, I sewed an 1850s morning dress. The dress is completely sewn by hand! 😀 It’s my first entirely hand-sewn dress!
It took me 53 hours and 45 minutes to sew the dress with all those ruffles! I measured the time! 😉
In the Victorian era, morning dresses or day dresses were worn at home to do the housework. A Victorian woman could receive visitors in her morning dress but she usually changed before going out. For shopping and visiting, she wore a plain walking dress, an elaborate visiting dress, or a carriage dress if she was wealthy.
For my dress, I used a sturdy cotton fabric with woven stripes in taupe and white. The small, white stripes are woven with a thicker yarn, so the fabric has a ribbed surface. For the whole dress, I needed about 6 meter fabric and about 100 meter cotton and linen sewing thread. Yes, I measured that too! 😀
1850s dresses often had pagoda sleeves. Pagoda sleeves can be worn with or without engageantes (false undersleeves). Here I’m wearing the dress without undersleeves because it was a hot summer day.
Victorian dresses usually had a boned bodice. But because it’s a morning dress, I left the bodice unboned.
The bodice is pointed in front. Dresses with a pointed bodice were fashionable in the 1840s and 1850s.
The dress is closed in front with hook and eyes.
The bodice and the skirt of my dress are separate. Mid-Victorian dresses usually consisted of a bodice and separate skirt.
The dress has princess seams at the back, and sloped shoulder seams which are characteristic for Victorian dresses.
Underneath the bodice I’m wearing the bodice of my 1850s white muslin and Valenciennes lace summer dress.
The skirt has three ruffles.
The foundation skirt, where the flounces are attached, is made of the same striped cotton fabric; the skirt is slightly longer at the back than in the front. The width of the three flounces are: 4,5m (the top flounce), 4,8m (the middle flounce) and 5,2m (the bottom flounce).
Victorian cotton morning dresses were usually plain, without ruffles or embroidery, so they could be easily washed and ironed. But my dress was the muslin for a mid-Victorian white silk ballgown – because it took so long to sew this dress by hand, I haven’t made the ballgown yet. Maybe one shouldn’t sew a muslin by hand?! 😉
But some Victorian cotton morning dresses had ruffles.
My inspiration for the dress: pretty ca. 1848 sand-colored pinstriped cotton dress with ruffles and tiered sleeves, early Victorian cotton print dress with flounced skirt, 1850s beige and brown striped cotton dress with flounced skirt and tiered sleeves, pretty 1860s beige printed cotton dress with flounces and pagoda sleeves and a ca. 1855 printed blue cotton dress with ruffled sleeves and skirt.
Extant mid-Victorian striped day dresses: ca. 1855 white and beige horizontal striped cotton dress with tiered skirt, ca. 1862 brown and white striped linsey-woolsey day dress and another 1860s striped maternity dress.