Creating a 1750’s Gown…For Me!


There comes a time when all business sewing needs to take a pause, and personal sewing needs to take over.

You see, I don’t often sew for myself.

I think the last time I created a gown just for me was at least a year ago.  Most of the time, whenever I sew it is either for a client or to sell on my shop.  But with a little more free time on my hands (thanks to longer naps by my little one), I wanted to try something new and different. …something for me! 🙂

After thinking about what I wished to create, I decided on an outfit to wear at next year’s French and Indian War Reenactment…in July.  The tricky part about making a gown to wear in the summer while it is still winter is the fear that I am going to sweat like crazy!  More about that later!

So, as always, whenever I begin a brand new decade or project apart from the norm, I begin with an inspiration board.  This is where I gather images of actual gowns, paintings, or pieces of a gown I want to try and incorporate.  The problem with this particular gown is I wanted to include WAAAAY to many aspects and techniques, so I had to really cut down.

Here is the inspiration board of this particular project:

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On My Inspiration Board: Plum Gowns

The color purple is often hailed as the tone that inspires imagination and spirituality.  It is the color of royalty dating back to the Ancient Romans, and has long been the hue of choice for women throughout the past three centuries.

That deep, rich tone of purple, often referred to as plum, is the highlight of the Autumn season and speaks of opulence, elegance, and grace.

My favorite purple gown can be seen in this painting of the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna by Konstantin Makovsky done in 1912.

 Absolutely stunning!


While very few gowns in this lovely tone still exist from before the 1800’s, numerous examples abound from the late 19th century and well into the 20th.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Plum Gowns

I hope you try to find ways to incorporate this flattering tone throughout your sewing, your wardrobe, and your home!


For more examples, please hop over to my Pinterest Page!


1920’s Makeup Routine

“When we were sixteen, we desire prettiness; ten years later; good looks. A refreshing appearance, however is much more essential than either, and if we would present ourselves to the world, as all-around, modern women, we must keep up on all matters of dress and personal grooming; as well as on home arts, children, literature, politics, etc.

A delicate use of cosmetics is desirable; a burlesque-type use is vulgar and detracts a hundred times more than it adds. Too much rouge, too much powder, like chewing gum, is seldom evidence by woman of refinement. Keep folks guessing: don’t tell your secret. Rouge so cleverly that everyone will wonder whether your color is real.

Here are some basic rules to follow:
1. Comb out your hair and brush it lightly. if you have curlers in the night before, the amount of combing and brushing should be measured by the length of hair and the ‘permanency of the wave.’ Next, pin the hair back out of the way and give attention to the face.

2. A little rouge, oh so little, is allowable. A tangerine color, the best beauty folks say, is good for all complexions. If the skin is very white, the chin may also have a little.

3. Now powder the face and neck thoroughly, but don’t “load” the powder on. Dust smoothly just as though you were putting sugar on a jelly roll, and not as though you were icing a cake.

4. Then, if your eyes need it, touch a wee, wet brush to a little pad of mascara and brush the eyelashes lightly.

5. Put your clothes on carefully, stockings straight, corsets well-pulled down with plenty of supporters, and be sure that your shoes are neat and well kept.

6. After breakfast, brush your teeth again, wiping the mouth very clean, and apply a little lip rouge as needed. Always apply it with the tip of our finger, for then you will not be liable to use too much.

7. Finally, brush your clothes and step out into the world, full of assurance that you are a good example of a type of woman worthy of the deference accorded your sex and a credit to your sisters, no matter where or how you meet them.”

– Excerpt taken from The ABC’s of Good Looks by Marilyn Madison, Inspiration, January 1925.

may makeup routine


In the Craft Room: Wrapping Paper Covered Books

Sometimes, I love the slightly worn look of books that I have gleaned from used book or antique stores.  Gently used edges, slightly ruffled bindings, and the faded artwork on the cover, all add to the charm of each book.  Yet, there are also several books with covers that… well let’s just say, have seen better days.  While the content inside may be timeless….many of the covers are not.  For such books in my library, I prefer to cover them in the nicest, prettiest, sturdiest wrapping paper I can find.  Not only does this help protect the cover and binding of these books, it also adds to the ambiance on my bookshelf.  Here is how I do it:

Start by placing your book to be covered on top of the wrapping paper.


Cut out a rectangle that is 3 ” longer on the top and bottom (6″ total) and 4-5″ wider on the sides with the book open (9-10″ total.)  Crease the top and bottom of the wrapping paper against the book.  Remove the book and press these creases firmly.


Starting on one side of the book, fold over the excess paper.  Crease the fold.



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Accessories: 1930’s Sheer Capelet Tutorial

A few weeks ago, I watched one of my favorite Ginger Rogers’ movie Bachelor Mother and could not stop drooling over her wardrobe.  One article of clothing struck me in particular, which led to several late nights in my sewing studio trying to perfect the pattern.  What was this piece that threw me into a tizzy?  A small, collared capelet which adds such an air of grace and femininity to even the simplest of frocks.  Although I made mine of a very sheer fabric, the fabric choice is really up to you.  The key is to drape the capelet over your dress form when you pin the shoulder darts.


  • 1 yard of choice fabric
  • Thread

The Pattern

Use the following guide to cut out your pattern pieces.  Adjust for your personal body size as needed.

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From My Sewing Table – May

Surrounding yourself with beauty, in many ways, is a choice.  Beautiful friendships, beautiful experiences, beautiful choices, and beautiful things.  The last, ideally, should not be determined by price tag, but by it’s personal value and importance.

I can hear a past teacher of mine quickly point out that things can not make you happy….and on the whole I would agree with her.  Yet I would like to add that making a conscious decision to bring more beauty into your life will do more to boost your overall mood than simply filling your house with things.  The carefully chosen ornament, a special gift from a friend, or a throw in your favorite color all add their own beauty to your world.

This is a sentiment repeatedly echoed by authors and homemakers dating as far back as the 1700’s.  Think of it like this: “If you bring beauty in, you are more likely to send beauty out.”

The more I understand the sole power I have to personal happiness, the more I value gracing the parts of my life with uplifting beautiful things.  Spilling over into my creative world, I have practically given myself away to silk, sheer fabrics, frilly ribbons, and accessories that, whether through the cut or the material, can instantly boost one’s beauty quota.

With the weather continuing to improve, and my overall mood with it, I have decided, and rightfully so, to dedicate this month of May to beauty in all it’s form.

While beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, beauty is also a lifestyle and a choice.  For me, I will always choose beauty.

~ Aimee

A few upcoming posts to look for this month:

  • 1930’s Sheer Capelet Tutorial
  • The Art of 19th Century Letter Writing
  • The Proper Way to Apply Makeup – 1920’s Style

may sewing table 1

HSM: War and Peace

With a theme like War and Peace it wasn’t hard to decide exactly what I wanted to make for this month’s Historical Sew Monthly Challenge…especially since it tied in perfectly with this month’s theme.  Enter my 1940’s House Dress.  Very simple, very sweet, and very satisfying.   After last month’s ordeal, I was very happy to find something less stressful.  For the past four weeks, I can’t stop my obsession with house dresses.  Any kind, from any era, I am head over heels in love.  While it did take me a while to settle myself on a style and look, I wasted no time in picking out the most cheery calico I could find!  Add this dress with my 1940’s Hair Turban and the look is complete!

I drafted this pattern out of two pieces then cut out the neckline facing and the lined sleeves.  The belt was made from the left over scraps.  I also added a little rick rack to the neckline and the edge of the pockets…that’s right, it has pockets!  While the first few stages remind me of a hospital gown, the outcome is just as simple and clean as I was hoping!

Challenge: War and Peace

Fabric: 3 yards of calico

Pattern: Self-drafted based off of other house dress of the time….although I did create a slimmer skirt.

Year: Mid 1940’s

Notions: 1 1/2 yard rickrack

How Historically Accurate is it?: Although the skirt could be made fuller, the overall look is very accurate.

Hours to Complete: 3 hours

Total Cost: $15

And now for the pictures….




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Tidying Up Your Sewing Space

I am in the last push of spring cleaning.  It hasn’t been easy but it has been quite successful. The only remaining space that I have left to tackle is my sewing studio.  I spent the weekend putting up new lights around my light box as well as some new lights above my cutting table.  While I am still in the process of putting the organized chaos back together I thought I would share several pictures that I have used as either guidelines or inspiration to further organize and personalize my creative space.

1.  Create a pegboard to hold all rulers, tools, and scissors.  I want to put one next to my cutting table .


2. Create a caddy from tin cans to hold notions on sewing table.



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