Reenacting dress: Part I

I've been through a zillion false starts in my attempts to replace my old reenacting dress.  Here we go again.

I don't actually reenact any more, but I occasionally play music at events that want "pioneer" clothing.  The dress I currently use was made by my mother in--not exaggerating--1991.  I'm sure there were accurate reenacting patterns then but we had no idea where to find them since they didn't have them at the usual shops and we were years away from Internet access.  Mom improvised.

I don't recall the exact pattern she used, but it was similar to McCall's 5294 (1991), only with a high neck and mandarin collar, and long set-in sleeves.  


Luckily, she made it out of dark brown and black plaid brushed cotton, so the details of the dress didn't show and it wasn't so obvious that it had nothing at all to do with nineteenth-century clothing.  With an apron tied around the waist, the overall effect wasn't so bad.  I swear.

I have several accurate historical patterns--Past Patterns 803, for example--and Mom and I made Past Patterns 806: Lowell Mill Girl a few years ago, but I'm time-crunched and I really need a dress I can throw in the washer after a sweaty weekend.  There are lots of sweaty weekends in southeast Texas.  I can't do that with 806 because it's mostly hand-sewn (it's gorgeous, though).

I saw this blue yoked dress on Flickr a few years ago.  It's pretty much what I want--plain, fastens down the front so I can dress myself (806 has hooks and eyes up the back).  803 is close but I know it has a boned bodice lining, which is too much for this go-round. 

So, I'm going to sin, big-time.

Meet Butterick See & Sew B4903 (2006).  Yoke.  Long, gathered, sleeves.  Blousy.  You see where I'm going with this, right?

The plan is to cut it off at the waist, split the front and add a button closure, add a waistband, drop the shoulders a bit (this is a minor thing that really changes the general look of a dress from nightgown to 1860's; we didn't do it with the 1991 dress and should have), and attach a fuller skirt.  With side-seam pockets because, accuracy be damned, I need pockets.  The sleeves will have cuffs.  They'd have cuffs even if I were making it a nightgown because I hate elastic-ruffly wrists as a general principle.

The fabric will be Marcus Brothers Nottingham Village:

I think a homespun would be more accurate but this was on clearance and I like brown.  It should look nice with my pink bonnet, too.

I'm too lazy to even attempt the fabric pattern here:


Tasha said…
Do you Have a general amount of yardage you used? I'm working on finding somehing to modify for a school project and it would be very appreciated. Thanks
I ended up using McCall's M4548, and I think I had . . . I'm going to say six yards. It might have been less but it wasn't more. If you need something strictly costume you could probably get away with less than that; you'd have to choose a pattern and check the yardage recommendations.

The yardage for the nightgown pictured here runs 4 1/4 yards for a size medium (bust 34-36), if you were thinking of using a pattern similar to it and needed a guess based on that. Hope that helps?