Historical Sew Fortnightly: Challenge #12: Pretty, Pretty Princess: Jane's White, Georgian Era Gown - and - A Picnic at Waveland

Another Historical Sew Fortnightly event, hosted by The Dreamstress... this time, it's Challenge #12, Pretty, Pretty, Princess.  I am far from the Princess type of girl(although I wouldn't turn down the wealth of a princess), so I let me daughter rescue me from this one.  My pretty princess Jane outgrew the previous Georgian/Regency era dress I made her about a year and a half ago.  She was begging for another one. 

Portrait of Caroline Lalive de la Briche, by Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun, 1786

The portrait above was the original inspiration for Jane's gown.  There are several gowns out there in the portrait world that would have worked equally as well for Jane's inspiration gown.  Of course, white gowns were all the rage for little girls (and some adults) for at least 40 years, spanning from about 1780-1820.

The Woolsey Family, by William Berczy, 1809

  For the first 30 years, little girls dresses changed very minimally.  As you can see from the portrait above, the little girl on the right is wearing a gown that could pass almost exactly for the one in the Vigee-Lebrun portrait.  The only difference, the sleeve are a little shorter, and the sash is worn higher.  But look at the dates...They are 23 years apart.

Front View. 

This gown, although not white, is a good example of how I constructed Jane's dress.  

 Back View.

I put a drawstring along the neck line, and in the back along the waste, but not in the front waste area.

Here's a slightly later example that shows the same front construction.  Its made of one long piece of fabric, gathered only at the top.  The wide teal ribbon/sash around Jane's waste is what pulls in the dress.

Now, about princesses sporting a similar style as Jane...

 Portrait de la princessse Sophia, agée de 5 ans, by Thomas Gainsborough, 1782.

To be honest, it wasn't hard to find young princesses in white gowns.  They were everywhere.  So, here are a few that really captured my attention. I adore little princess Sophia!  She's my favorite.

Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales as a young girl, by Marie Anne Bourlier, published by Edward Harding, after Sir Thomas Lawrence
stipple engraving,
published 19 May 1806

Here's a young Charlotte wearing a white, gathered gown.

Yet another painting of Princess Charlotte Augusta, by Maxim Gauci, 1810.

And a slightly older (and more revealing) Charlotte, still sporting a white gown.

 Prinzessin Maria Elisabeth Wilhemine von Baden, by Unknown, c. 1800.

And finally, a young Princess Maria looks pure and simply beautiful in her shear, white, gathered frock.

There you have it...princess in white gowns.

Jane's gown is completely hand sewn, using period techniques. Looking at this picture though, I probably should have used a wider front panel of fabric, to give the gown more of a gathered look.

Jane is certainly not a demure princess.  I have a feeling this white gown won't be white for very long.

Her gown takes on a slightly pinkish hue because of the Turkish-red petticoat underneath.  I worked in a couple of tucks at the bottom of the gown to give her room to grow.

Just the Facts

The Challenge: Pretty, Pretty Princess: Jane's white, Georgian/Regency era gown.

Fabric:  White cotton voille.

Pattern: None, drafted myself.

Year: Anywhere between 1780-1820

Notions: Thread, 1/4 inch twill tape.

How historically accurate is it?  I would say 100%.  Handsewn, appropriate materials and construction.

Hours to complete:  This is the part that always gets me...I never remember.  A guess...7 or 8.

First worn:  Last weekend for a picnic.

Total cost:  Free, sort of...I got the fabric from remnants in my stash...but I'm sure I paid for it somewhere down the line.

And now for the Picnic.

The pretty, pretty princess recently had the chance to show off her new gown as we picnicked with a few friends at the Waveland Historical Estate.  As picnics go it was a peaceful one, with weather that was quite mild for June. Even though the Waveland home was built a little post Federal period, it still retains neo-classical architectural features.

We didn't get the chance to tour the inside of the home, so I am sorry to say I have only exterior photos for your viewing pleasure.  But, there are a few interior pictures on the Waveland website that I linked to in the above paragraph.  This house was made for all types of weather.  There is another two story porch just like this one on the opposite side of the house.

These were the slave quarters, and the kitchen.

One of the gorgeous little gardens.  I would love to model my own garden after this one.

Three of my companions of the day admiring the flora.

Jane found a home just her size.

Complete with it's own mini- fireplace.

Of course, a picnic wouldn't be a picnic, without good food and drink (scrumptious tea!)

I made another Onion Pye.  Someone made a very yummy Chicken Pudding.  Another person brought fresh strawberries and cherries.

Natalie made a DELICIOUS Salmagundy.  I'm not sure where she got her recipe (I would love to have it, by the way Natalie), but there is one found here that makes it with fish, instead of chicken.

To finish it off, one person brought a to-die-for Lavender Cheese Cake!  And Natalie made a heavenly Syllabub (similar to this one.)

Even the little princess found it hard to put her fork down.


ZipZip said…
Dear Jenni,
Miss Autumn was a picture, and I am glad she loved her dress! It was a super picnic, wasn't it?

Anyone reading this, do try the Onion Pie: it has potatoes and apples, too, and is yummy.

Glad we made it work. Sure, I'll share all recipes in the next post: have been backed up because I've been pretending to be a Roman for Vacation Bible School, and am cleaning fleece and spinning it with the children...


Indeed! What a pretty pretty princess! The dress turned out so beautifully and it looks like you've snatched it from a museum's display :) Perfectly done!
And that picknick! What a lovely setting with such wonderful sunny weather.
It looks like a perfect day :)
Thank you so much for sharing!

Sarah Jane said…
Oh how lovely! Jane looks beautiful in her new gown and the picnic photos are wonderful! What fun!

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