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I started on the HSF#15 Color Challlenge: White, but haven’t finished the white petticoat yet. It’s a bit short, and pieced in the back, but having seen Sew18thCentury’s  curtain along petticoat online, I wanted a bordered petticoat. (There are extant examples in museum collections, and one in Fitting and Proper, if you’re keeping score.) Now that I’ve seen the petticoat in person, I will definitely stick it out for a border….all in good time.

Native Meltons: she's out there in plain and colored lithographs

Native Meltons: she’s out there in plain and colored lithographs

I did originally think that I might get this gown completed for HSF # 15, but I did not. I came close, became disheartened, and stopped work on it for a time. Not only did I think I could not adequately document the fabric, I worried about style, fit, and fabrication. At some point, though, I rallied, and finished the gown. Yes, it looks a lot like Emily’s, because it is based on the same print.

I know, you’re here for The Facts.

The Challenge:  HSF #17: Robes & Robings

Finished! Another garment in the “Am I Blue” Ocean State Line

Indigo Cross Bar Light-Weight Check Irish Linen from Burnley & Trowbridge.
I collected images of checks and “plaids” on a Pinterest board. Remember that plaid doesn’t mean the same thing in the 18th century, but I used the term to help people know what the board included.

My own, based on a fitted lining and draped to the dummy, tried on and tweaked. You can see some construction progress here. Yes, that’s a center-finding ruler. Yes, it has extra pleats. Call it bling for the linen-wearing.

Matching crossbars is crazy, but fun.

Let’s call it 1760. It’s an open robe with robings and cuffs suitable for 1765, but I’m old enough to keep wearing that style. Actually, the double-lapped robings (which I really like the look of) are earlier– see this Pinterest board–but I like the way the fold creates a decorative element in linen and wool. The probable 1750s date for the double lapped robing caused another round of heartache in the documentation land. Oh, well. Carrying on wearing the older style…

Does thread count? That’s all this takes.


Newport Mercury, 7/11/1774


Boston Post Boy, 3/11/1771

How historically accurate is it?
Well…In the right circles, one could argue that for some time. Is that not the circle one wishes to be in? Consider this, then: The gown is hand-sewn using period techniques as much as I can muster. It is based on pictorial examples from the 1750s through the 1760s. I have found newspaper advertisements for “CHECKS” in Newport (Newport Mercury, July 11, 1774) and “checks of all wedths” in Boston (Boston post Boy, March 11, 1771). Wedths means of fabric in all likelihood, not widths of the checks, so while one can find evidence of people wearing what we’d call plaid, mostly silk but the oyster seller is likely linen or cotton…we don’t know exactly what  every “checks of all wedths” fabric looked like.  I’ll go with 75% accurate and 25% conjecture and choose my wearing venue with care. Yes, I can over-think and rationalize anything.

Hours to complete:

I did this many, many times. It’s like being a carpenter with fabric and pins.

Actual sewing? 16 to 18 hours, I think; it’s a lot of hemming. The body of the gown, the draping and the lining were constructed in about a day while the guys were out doing musket-related things. The agonizing and over-thinking consumed more time. Documentation took, on the whole, perhaps 2 or 3 hours of museum collections and newspaper searching.

First worn: 
Not yet! I’m not sure when I will, now that the weather has turned. I meant to have this done for Sturbridge but despaired of the design and fabric. It’ll be wool for Saratoga, so who knows? I’d like a photo, though.

Total cost: 
Mental agony? Priceless.
Fabric? $60.