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Miss Nancy Dawson, aquatint print. Victoria and Albert Museum. E.4968-1968

Hat tip to Mr B for pointing out the resemblance; I know the print and never connected it to this fabric.

It’s been almost a year in the making, this bright yellow billboard of a gown. I’m not sure why I dawdled over the making; usually I’m pretty quick with a needle, but perhaps it was in part because the goal kept changing: first December, and then, it seemed, never, would I have an occasion to wear this. Federal exploits intervened, work intensified, things changed. But late April presented itself as an opportunity, so finally I had a goal, a deadline.

It was hot. And humid. That’s only water.

And I met it, with Drunk Tailor’s help (setting hems by yourself is a pain).

This is a fairly straightforward affair. I did use the Larkin and Smith “fashionable gown” pattern because I know how it fits me, but the front is modified to a simple closing and the skirts aren’t meant to be drawn up. This gown aspires to pretensions– though you can tell I’m fairly prosperous by the number of different prints I’m wearing.

The petticoat did require piecing– at my height, 44 inch wide fabric often needs to be pieced to achieve the lengths or width I need in historical skirts.

Happily, the piecing matches and doesn’t match, in a fairly satisfactory way. When this fabric arrived on my doorstep, I determined that it needed to be used in the most obnoxious manner possible– and since I’m not a small woman, a gown and matching petticoat seemed the best possible use. (I have other obnoxious fabrics for later time periods).

I did take care as I made it up, though, stitching with white thread and trying to make the pleats small and correct to the fashion and fabric. Any failures or flaws make it, to my eye, better as an article of aspiration to a rank and style I really can’t pull off.

One thing I forgot to pack was a bum roll– though wearing that on the drive to Fort Frederick would have been extra interesting– which was unfortunate, as it is truly required. These new (they’re a year old, and I expect to call them “new” for a long time to come) stays make a different shape in the back than the old stays, and now my own padding no longer negates the need for a bum roll. Still, I’m pleased with the result, even if it still wants cuffs. Not bad for eleven months of work.