When I first started this blog, I was an unemployed costumer attempting to create period gowns and costumes with very limited means. Although now employed, I still try to be as thrifty as possible. I am still "The Broke Costumer"!

In addition to posts about the outfits I make on a budget, this blog includes short research articles on fashion, history, accessories, styles, or whatever interests me at the moment.

I hope you enjoy my journey into the land of inexpensive costuming and short articles.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

My First 1830s Dress

Several of my friends have lovely 1830s dresses.  I have always resisted making one for a few reasons.  First, most of them have slightly off the shoulder bodices, which I cannot wear because of my scoliosis.  Second, I am not much of a fan of the style in general.  I saw a friend who had made an 1830s dress and it was real cute on her, and had a high neck!   It was Past Patterns 1830s Full High Gown.
I will say that this is a very easy pattern! It seems to run a bit large, so I would make at least a mock up of the bodice.  There is a fitted under bodice, and a larger over bodice that I actually pleated down front and back so it wasn't so blousy.

I went shopping in Val's fabric stash and purchased 4 yards of cute cream, rust and green mini floral.  It was perfect for a day dress.

The first thing I made was a quilted petticoat.   I used maybe 2 yards of quilted fabric that I got at Joanns on sale.   I made a waist band and pleated it on to the waistband. I cut several inches off the bottom after the dress was done.  Because the fabric is so thick, you have to put a cotton petticoat over the quilted one or your dress will get stuck in the pleats of the quilted fabric.  Here it is before I cut off the bottom.

For accessories, I got a belt buckle at the antique show that Val found in a pile, and it was only $2.  The bonnet was from Austentation.com - a plain green felt bonnet for $18.   My thought was it would bring the green out of the print in the dress, but when it arrived it was a lot brighter green than I thought it would be.  More of a kelly green. I had bought a pelerine from Etsy, and then received an email from the seller saying there was a death in the family, and she wasn't able to mail out timely, so she refunded my money. Imagine my surprise when a month later I received a shipping notice that it was on the way!  I emailed her back and said I needed to pay for it.   She said it was a gift because she made me wait :) 
Once I had the dress together, I had scraps of green and rust/pumpkin taffeta to make a belt.   The green was in no way close to the bonnet color, so I chose the rust.   I had a rust and cream color plume for the hat.  Well, the hat was still too green, so I decided to cover it in the same taffeta as the belt.  Here it is in the process of being covered.  I  pleated white cotton to line the inside as well.  Swapped out the green ribbon for brown.

Once the bonnet was finished, I put the whole outfit on for a test run.  I played around with putting tulle in the balloon sleeves, but I didn't like puffs that were as big as my head......   out came the tulle!

My basic day dress was done.  I had planned on wearing it in the Dickens festival fashion show.   I wasn't real thrilled with the final look, but I tried :)  I will make myself another bustle gown and feel better about the outcome.

Val was sweet and made me a cute matching reticule. 

 Above, Cat wears her gorgeous late1820s transition gown.  Val is wearing a lovely jewel tone 1830s ensemble.  The fashion show theme was Villains.  I was Sarah Dazley, who poisoned two husbands with arsenic.  Here I am demonstrating how I did the dastardly deed!

Below are photos taken on stage, including one where I show my quilted petticoat with the cotton one on top.

Cost Breakdown

$16.00     Fabric
$18.00     Hat
$2.00       Buckle
$9.00      Quilted fabric

Total    $45.00


  1. I know it's an acquired taste and you still may not like it, just like I don't like Natural Form. But I still say you looked gorgeous in it.

  2. I absolutely love your dress! That fabric is so pretty. Why can't I ever find fabric like that anywhere! I don't care for 1830s fashion but I would wear your dress in a heartbeat!!

  3. Thanks! It is cute fabric. The pattern is easy too. Give it a try!

  4. I love it! The 1830s are a tough silhouette to pull off because everything is so puffy and wide, but I do love some gigantic sleeves! You look so cute. Also, I just bought a sheet with a similar pattern with the plan to make an 1830s gown! We could be twinsies! :D

  5. It is so cute! I resisted the 1830s for a while too, but it definitely grew on me once I took the plunge!

  6. Thanks ladies! I think that because I have a small bust and thick waist I did not get the sihouette I wanted and that bugged me too!

  7. OH how wonderful! I am so loving your 1830s dress and bonnet! The pattern on the fabric is so sweet and totally 1830s!!! Yay for your first ever Romanitc era dress!

  8. Gina one reason why I decided to make it was because of your beautiful dress! You had the pattern with the high neck which is what I was more comfortable with. You gave me the green light to run with it! Xoxo