Wednesday, January 22, 2014

For Sale! An English Gown Pattern

Here it is! 

Buy it here! 

(Note: Use your bust measure in stays when ordering)

The duo of Larkin & Smith has been teaching 18thc gown workshops for over 12 years. Lots of them. First the closed front gown, then as we did more research into what was actually in style in 1774-1778 we began making the English Gown in our workshops.

 What is an English Gown?  This style of 18th century gown has a pleated back, often referred to as "en fourreau", it is also known as a "night gown" even as late as 1774, but most often just "gown" in English publications.

The Genteel Undress 1774

"A night gown, round cuffs, to come over the elbow, robins tucked in"

From the Print "Fashionable Dress in Weymouth 1774"
For almost 50 years of the 18thc this style of gown did not change drastically until the late 1770s and then it changes a great deal in the 1780s.   There is a reason!  The open front style adapts to weight change, more easily than any other style of 18th century gown.  It will accept a 20 pound weight gain or loss with few problems of fit.  The back is in one piece, allowing for ease of remodeling. A factor which is extremely important during this pre-industrial revolution time period when materials were so expensive, making clothing precious, well cared for, patched, altered, passed down, and remodeled.

So with urging from our students, the decision to go forward was made.  We wanted to offer an accurately constructed open front English Gown.  The goal was to make real 18th century gown construction available to seamstresses around the country, there are so many who would like to attend workshops but just can't due to the expense of travel, time constraints etc.

Right away it was decided that the instructions would follow what we do in our workshops, with hand sewing a primary focus, so as to avoid the crazy machine workarounds so many historical patterns incorporate.

We demystify the pleated gown back of the 18th century gown.  A pleating template is included with the pattern for the pleated back, no more mystery!  We show you how to do it step by step. With the template even the novice seamstress will have success right out of the envelope.

In order to do this, we had to bump up the instructions, big time, from any other pattern.  There are 34 pages of step by step instructions, with 20 pages of color photographs, spiral bound.  As you can imagine this bumped up our printing costs quite a bit.  So our pattern has to be more expensive than other patterns, but we think you will find the instructions worth the extra cost.   Even a beginner can make this gown, experience is not a requirement.  There are two sizes per pattern envelope.

The pattern has been professionally graded, so that also added to the expense.  The pieces match up, we have made a sample of each size.  We have given every hint, sewing technique and diagram we could fit into the instructions and will be offering more tips and techniques on our website and blog in the coming weeks.

We also include with the pattern, a card, documenting the gown the pattern is based upon.  Keep the card in your pocket, it is a great talking point with the public and other reenactors as well.   The pattern was taken directly from an original garment in my collection.

As a kick off to the pattern launch we are also including 10 gown pins with every pattern.  Such a deal!


  1. Dear Hallie,
    Oh happy, happy day. I am one of those travel-impaired persons whose ability to take classes is about non-existent. It was with great excitement that I read last year about your pattern plans. It's hard to realize the release day has come at last and I am so very happy and grateful for a true make-it-like-they-really-were-made pattern.
    Off to order this instant.
    Very best indeed,

  2. I can't sew---at least to the degree of creating a gown, but your pattern certainly looks marvelous and I am sure will be a big hit.

  3. The dress is awesome it LOOKS great, just what I was hoping for my wedding. The construction to shape the bodice is really great for support. Can't wait to wear it.
    Coach Tote Bags

  4. I ´m really thrilled by your pattern and booklet , I ´m a totally beginner with this but I can handsew and machine sew . What `s the difference to the later 1770 -1780 pattern you ´re just devellopping ? Which one would be easier to start with ? I have to try this later in summer !

  5. The next gown will be a sacque from the 1770s. The pleats are smaller and this gown uses much less fabric, so will be more economical to make than many of the earlier sacques.

  6. Dear Hallie,
    It's done, it's done! The pattern worked really well and compared to other projects, was pretty stress-free. Since I've lost more than 10 pounds since cutting it out, it already needs adjustment, but feeling confident. Your pattern might be subtitled "Hallie and Steph's Guide to Sensible Sewing".
    Very best,
    Natalie in KY