Larkin & Smith's English Gown

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

18th Century Robe a l'Anglaise, made from Larkin & Smith's English Gown.

Pre-blog project. This was my second Larkin & Smith pattern, after my front lacing stays. I went with this goldenrod linen from William Booth and Draper, and a handkerchief linen for a neckerchief and cap.

The dress is completely hand-sewn. Well, not completely. I did machine sew the petticoat onto my waistband ties only because I have a memory of someone stepping on my dress at prom and dozen of cartridge pleats ripped off the waistband as I walked away. I spent the rest of the night held together with safety pins. I machine sew all of my long skirts and gowns, no exceptions. 

Now, handsewing a whole gown seems intimidating and time consuming, but Hallie Larkin makes it so easy and fast. I was honestly really surprised how quickly this all came together in a week or two. Of course, machine sewing my waistband cut some time, but everything else from the armsyces to the petticoat seams are handsewn. I felt very accomplished afterwards, and brag to anyone who will listen about it. 

I'm wearing a big croissant-shaped bumroll in the back, but since I've taken these pictures, I've added a small second one. It's a little bustle pad, but it substitutes what lack in that area and supports the bumroll. 

Measure twice, cut once. I think I ordered seven yards of linen for my size I had only a very small panel left, which wasn't enough to redo the robings I cut too short and narrow on one side. I've made a note of that for the next time I make this. 

A friend advised I needed a higher hem after catching me wrangle my hem out of my shoe buckles. It's almost ankle-length now, and it's less of a hassle during events and demos with guests. 

Sigh. Uneven robings. Oh well. You can hardly tell when I stand in a certain way!

Self drafted mop cap with lots of mistakes, but I'm glad I spent the time on it. I've fallen in love with caps and period hats. I don't have to waste time struggling with fake switches and buckets of pins the morning before an event. Just grab a cap and go! 

Stockings are souvenirs from my trip to Colonial Williamsburg, and shoes and buckles from American Duchess. 

Tip: This might only work on tiny figures, but if you don't have garters, buy a pair of scrunchies from the drugstore. They work just as well, the elastic length is comfortable, and the cotton fabric keeps them from sliding down. Before I was using cotton ribbon and I was constantly finding dark corners in the room to adjust without attracting attention. No more with my scrunchies, and I'm not upset if I lose one before an event. Just grab another from my bathroom drawer.

Final Verdict: Highly Recommend. It's a lovely pattern, and just what you need in your wardrobe if you're starting out in 18th century reenacting. It has everything you need to know, and you end up with a beautiful gown in the end. I did have to make a small adjustment to the mockup, but I usually have to do some type of SBA when it comes to scoop necklines. I kept the mockup in the pattern envelope for later. I think the best part about this type of gown is the flexibility it provides. I've lost quite a lot of weight since these pictures, through no effort or desire of my own, and the dress still fits. 

I was able to snag a pattern that included heavy duty pins to secure your gown. I use an old mint container to keep my pins together and I haven't lost a single far!

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