I decided it was time to make a late 1790's muslin gown so that I could also make some over gowns out of saris. Here are some images of what I had in mind style wise:
As you can see, these gowns all share similar style characteristics: gathered bodice (apron or drawstring), straight elbow length sleeves and a gathered front--all characteristics of 1790's gowns. I purchased some of my favorite voile from Renaissance Fabrics which is gorgeous fabric. It's the sheerest voile I've ever used and it has a lovely sheen, even after washing.
I decided to use my favorite pattern which is the Sense & Sensibility Elegant Ladies Closet drawstring gown pattern. I've adapted this pattern a number of ways to make it more appropriate and I construct it using period techniques. You can see details in how I construct this pattern in this post and in this post. I also had to cut away 2 inches from the lower neckline edge because this gown pattern is cut way too high.
I decided to add 3 tucks to the bottom of each sleeve and to the hem with a small ruffle below the tucks. I cut out my gown, allowing for the tucks and the ruffles. I also cut the lining out of shift weight white linen. The back of the gown is flat lined with felled seams. The front has a separate lining caught at the side and shoulder seams. Because the voile is so sheer, I added a full 14 inches to the front of the gown, placing the pattern fold line 7 inches from the fabric fold. I also decided that I would not use binding to make the neck casing. Rather, I turned in the neck edge 1/4 inch twice and made an eyelet at the center front--much like the casing sewn in the back of an 18th century cap, using narrow cotton tape for the drawstring there.
I constructed the sleeves first, deciding to make the tucks before sewing the sleeve seam. I pressed 3 horizontal lines 1 inch apart on each sleeve then I used a running stitch to make tucks that were 1/8 - 3/16 in wide.
The tucks were pressed down and the sleeve seam was stitched in a small French seam.
I cut ruffle strips about 2 inches wide by twice the sleeve width, sewed the ends together in a small French seam and roll hemmed one long edge.
The strips were gathered to the sleeve and stitched right sides together. The sleeve portion of the seam allowance was folded over to encase the raw edge.
The hem ruffle was prepared the same way using 4 strips of fabric seamed together then hemmed. I marked each section of the strip in the center, thus dividing the entire piece into 8 sections and put it aside.
The bodice was constructed as per pattern instructions along with my modifications from previous gowns. I tried the gown on to determine where to place the hem tucks, then I made the tucks in the skirt. I did this by making one tuck. Then I measure up one inch from the first tuck's stitching line for the next fold.
I divided the skirt into 8 sections and marked them with pins then I gathered the ruffle, matching the ruffle marks with the pins on the skirt. The seam was offset about a half inch then the ruffled seam allowance was trimmed.
The flat edge of the seam allowance was folded over twice and secured with a running stitch to finish the seam allowance.
Here is the finished bottom of the skirt.
1/2 inch wide silk ribbon was used in the drawstring at the waist seam and thread loops were stitched onto the back of the gown for the ties. Here she is waiting to be pressed.
I haven't had the occasion to do a proper photo shoot but my pics will be updated when I do. In the meantime, here is the gown on my dress form worn over a strapped petticoat.
Overall I'm really pleased with the gown. It can be worn with a simple ribbon sash or with an over gown. I have several saris set aside to make some over gowns so this gown will take on a number of different looks.