How to Fold A Gown – The 1840’s Way

In our age of t-shirts and jeans, folding clothes is a fairly straight forward process that can be done while watching T.V. or some other form of media.  Yet, the art (because it is an art) of properly folding and packing away gowns of multiple yards of fabric is a skill that we reenactors can benefit from today!  With a few practice runs, any gown, of any decade, can be folded neatly and securely to ensure safe travel from reenactment to reenactment or simply to stay clean and safe on a shelf.  I have created a visual representation of the French method described by Sarah Josepha Buell Hale in her book titled:

“The workwoman’s guide: containing instructions to the inexperienced in cutting out and completing those articles of wearing apparel, &c. which are ususally made at home : also, explanations on upholstery, straw-platting, bonnet-making, knitting, &c.”

Yes, this is the title….No guessing at what the book will be about with a title like this!

First, the text taken from the section of her book titled “Care of the Lady’s Wardrobe

March folding a gown

And now a step by step visual:

1.  Lay the gown out flat, front side down.



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From My Sewing Table: March


Welcome to a new monthly post entitled “From My Sewing Table.”  This written reflection will not only focus on what I am currently working on in my sewing room, but on other unique areas of historical living.  As you may have noticed, I have added several new categories to the header of my blog homepage.   These new categories reflect the new style and content of material to be featured in upcoming posts.  From 1600-1950, I look forward to sharing fun, interesting, and creative topics with you.  To see a brief description of each category, along with the posting schedule, please visit my About Page.

For all my international friends, please pardon me if my weather complaints seem minor, but my, has it been cold!  So cold in fact, that it has made me long for spring with unusual intensity.  Originally from the southern portion of the United States, I was comfortably used to mild winters and long springs.  In fact, March was usually the signal to the start of my favorite season.  Not so in the north!  March usually means “hang on, you’re almost through…almost.”  So I must content myself with store bought tulips and the promise of the warmth to come.

My Inspiration Board has been filled recently with pictures of 1780’s gowns…round gowns to be exact.  Work has already begun on a powered blue, round gown with a large collar.  On the opposite end of the historic timeline, I have also been pining over any 1920’s house wear.  Simple, densely patterned shifts and aprons dripping in rickrack…..heavenly!

With the purchase of Voices of Fashion, which many have encouraged me of it’s fairly easy construction, I am excited to start unlocking the design of the early 1900’s – and possibly recreate several Gibson Girl inspired hairstyles.  We will just have to see!

So let March, wherever you are, be a month of dreaming, planning, and enjoying any little shot of color Mother Nature may share!

Happy Creating,


A Few of the Many Upcoming Posts to Look for This Month:

  • How to Make a Mini Sewing Crate
  • 1920’s House Apron (a one yard wonder)
  • Folding a Gown the 1840’s Way


march inspiration