Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Plaid Ballgown from 1859

A friend is going to her first ball, and she asked whether she could wear a plaid ballgown. The simple answer is yes. Here is a gown from the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The complicated answer is yes, if she can find a pretty plaid in a silk or silk-like fabric and if her husband can sew it in time. (Three cheers for husbands who sew!)

Please notice an interesting detail about working with plaid. The skirt is very slightly longer in the back than in the front, but the hem follows the plaid perfectly. If you are making a plaid (or any other pattern) skirt for the mid-nineteenth century, you should cut the hem straight across, and shape the top of the skirt. Once the fabric is gathered into the top, the differences in pattern will be much less noticeable than they would be at the bottom.

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