New Gowns

  New Gowns are newly made, styled after 1860s fashions, though not strictly period correct unless labeled as such.  This allows me to offer beautiful gowns at varied prices.  Most gowns will have some period-correct features, with details provided in the description.  Over years of experience with many customers, I have found myself most often making new, period-style gowns with some period-correct features and other compromises – in fabric composition, machine stitching, and pattern alterations.  For those who do not require a strictly period-correct gown, this produces a beautiful dress or ensemble suitable for many historically themed events. I stock period correct silks and cottons, because these fabrics were typically used during the Civil War, but I also carry a beautiful assortment of polyester taffetas.  Synthetic polymers were developed in 1850 and synthetic dyes in 1856; the shades for polyester fabrics tend to be brighter, result in a stunning gown, and the drape of the fabric very similar to silk. The price is also considerably less than the cost of the silk, allowing me to offer affordably priced gowns. I have used a variety of back closures on my gowns.  I often use machine made buttonholes, which are long enough and strong enough to accommodate a half-inch wide, yard-long fabric tie made from the same fabric as the dress.  When it is laced up the back of the bodice the effect is quite magical.

 

New Gowns are newly made, styled after 1860s fashions, though not strictly period correct unless labeled as such.  This allows me to offer beautiful gowns at varied prices.  Most gowns will have some period-correct features, with details provided in the description. 

Over years of experience with many customers, I have found myself most often making new, period-style gowns with some period-correct features and other compromises – in fabric composition, machine stitching, and pattern alterations.  For those who do not require a strictly period-correct gown, this produces a beautiful dress or ensemble suitable for many historically themed events.

I stock period correct silks and cottons, because these fabrics were typically used during the Civil War, but I also carry a beautiful assortment of polyester taffetas.  Synthetic polymers were developed in 1850 and synthetic dyes in 1856; the shades for polyester fabrics tend to be brighter, result in a stunning gown, and the drape of the fabric very similar to silk. The price is also considerably less than the cost of the silk, allowing me to offer affordably priced gowns.

I have used a variety of back closures on my gowns.  I often use machine made buttonholes, which are long enough and strong enough to accommodate a half-inch wide, yard-long fabric tie made from the same fabric as the dress.  When it is laced up the back of the bodice the effect is quite magical.

  Another area I have researched quite extensively is elastic. I found that it did, indeed, exist during the Civil War. So I occasionally use it in certain patterns to give a secure fit across the shoulders. When it comes to boning, plastic stays are the most commonly available on the market. Being sewn inside the gown, they are never seen and the plastic makes them unlikely to break or, worse, puncture a corset-less torso. As for seam construction, I serge most of my internal seams, because it makes for a much nicer gown. I like a gown to be as lovely on the inside as it is on the outside. I also usually use a polyester/cotton thread, because it is less likely to break. Where buttons are concerned, I often use metal and occasionally I use wood. And, by the era of the Civil War, lacquered buttons had become quite popular. They were made from a metal base which was repeatedly dipped in a lacquer to which dye had been added. Such buttons are impossible to find today, but many modern buttons look virtually identical from the front to these lacquered buttons of old. Civil War Reenactors often have different and very specific needs. They usually require gowns that are period correct in every respect down to the smallest detail - a dress like one that Elizabeth Keckley, the seamstress who dressed Mary Todd Lincoln, would have produced around 1864. Such a dress would have been sewn with period correct fabrics, such as cotton, silk, wool, and linen. It would have had grommets, metal hooks and eyes, or hand-sewn buttonholes for back closures, and all hems would have been done by hand. The buttons would have been metal, wood, or bone. In sum, I always do my best to deliver a gown that is stunning and memorable and also affordable. If I am creating a custom gown, I work with the customer to achieve whatever level of period-correct accuracy they need.                                                                                                                                                           

 

Another area I have researched quite extensively is elastic. I found that it did, indeed, exist during the Civil War. So I occasionally use it in certain patterns to give a secure fit across the shoulders.

When it comes to boning, plastic stays are the most commonly available on the market. Being sewn inside the gown, they are never seen and the plastic makes them unlikely to break or, worse, puncture a corset-less torso.

As for seam construction, I serge most of my internal seams, because it makes for a much nicer gown. I like a gown to be as lovely on the inside as it is on the outside. I also usually use a polyester/cotton thread, because it is less likely to break.

Where buttons are concerned, I often use metal and occasionally I use wood. And, by the era of the Civil War, lacquered buttons had become quite popular. They were made from a metal base which was repeatedly dipped in a lacquer to which dye had been added. Such buttons are impossible to find today, but many modern buttons look virtually identical from the front to these lacquered buttons of old.

Civil War Reenactors often have different and very specific needs. They usually require gowns that are period correct in every respect down to the smallest detail - a dress like one that Elizabeth Keckley, the seamstress who dressed Mary Todd Lincoln, would have produced around 1864. Such a dress would have been sewn with period correct fabrics, such as cotton, silk, wool, and linen. It would have had grommets, metal hooks and eyes, or hand-sewn buttonholes for back closures, and all hems would have been done by hand. The buttons would have been metal, wood, or bone.

In sum, I always do my best to deliver a gown that is stunning and memorable and also affordable. If I am creating a custom gown, I work with the customer to achieve whatever level of period-correct accuracy they need.                                                                                                                                                           

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