Friday, May 19, 2017

A Blue Wool 1860s Dress


One of the first books I bought after starting costuming was From Queen to Empress from the Met Museum about fashions during Queen Victoria's reign. I fell in love with this blue moire dress. Many years later when planning my Gettysburg wardrobe, I realized the blue wool from my cotehardie would be perfect for a version of it. I had a few yards leftover and thankfully William Booth Draper had just enough left in stock.

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Construction is mostly detailed in this post.(My plaid dress is the model for most of the post, but construction is the same.) The dress is lined with polished cotton from Needle and Thread. I'm wearing it over their 95" hoop. My corset is the 1863 Mina Sebille corset which I've had for ages. I like this style so much that I made another version of it in a slightly more practical white.


The skirt is looped up using sets of rings at about knee length and about the top of the facing. If you follow the link the the dress I copied, one of the pictures shows this arrangement. My apologies for not having pictures of it done on my dress. The rings are then tied together to loop up the skirt. I'm wearing it over the black silk skirt of another 1860s dress.


The dress is trimmed with black lace backed with white silk ribbon from MJ Trim. Each section of trim is finished with black glass teardrop beads I bought in the Los Angeles Garment District ages ago. It closes with hooks and thread eyes and is decorated with buttons covered in silk.


Wearing this to Gettysburg in November gave a wonderful opportunity for outerwear--and knitting. Although, it was unseasonably warm! I'm wearing it with the 1859 talma wrap, 1860s mariposa hood, and a Princess Royal scarf. Unfortunately I didn't notice that the collar was flipped up in these pictures until I got home!

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And two more views of the talma. It really was quite a bit of knitting!


  1. Beautiful gown! And that talma is absolutely stunning!

  2. ABSOLUTELY LOVELY! All the details come together, it is interesting to look at and so well made!

  3. That knitting, wow! Always love your work!

  4. I'm absolutely fascinated by the knitted talma and now I want one, haha. I'm a fairly beginning knitter, though, so I'm curious - do you really cast on *650* stitches at once? Did I read that right? (I followed your link to the Peterson's pattern and couldn't quite believe that part.) Do you hold them all on a single set of needles? I have a hard time with 100 and can't even fathom 650!

    1. You did! Well, almost. I rewrote the pattern a bit to make the numbers work better so I cast on 579. I used a very long circular needle. 45 inches or so? I don't think they make straight needles long enough. In period, they'd have used multiple, long double pointed needles. That would make me very nervous!

  5. I love that talma so much! Please make a tutorial if you can! Beautifully work as always!