My First Bib-Front Gown

Somehow, I'd never made a bib-front gown before. But when I was given a length of cotton by a new friend at the 2018 regional CSA symposium, I knew it was going to be for something from Regency Women's Dress - and as that was the place where I realized that the awkwardly-fitting stays I'd made years before were actually transitional, I wanted to sew a transitional gown as well to wear over them.

The one I eventually made is based on both bib-front patterns in RWD: the bodice is from the one with long sleeves (at the Fenimore Art Museum, p. 42), and the skirt from the other (at Old Sturbridge Village, p. 46). Scaling and sizing it up was not too problematic - I think the trickiest part was figuring out the appropriate size for the bib. The sleeves I didn't even touch, as the sleeve head is very large and my forearms are slim, but the fit was ... very close. They're also long, cut to scrunch up on the arm, which I love

Me and Katie Lovely! Both of us in pre-Regency styles
It works very well with the transitional stays - the flimsy linen bodice flaps would never work as a support on their own, but with the tight shift and the bib of the dress, I was comfortable all day

Some construction information:

The back and sides of the bodice are lined in linen. The curved side-back seams are sewn with the still-unnamed but very helpful stitch that lets you sew lining and outer fabric in the same seam while hiding the raw edges (as the original was - the other pattern has the lining made up first and the cotton topstitched over it), but I sewed the shoulder seams separately in both layers.

The back of the skirt is deeply box pleated, like the Fenimore gown, rather than pleated and gauged like the one from Sturbridge. I also made thread loops (like Fenimore's) rather than using self-fabric (like Sturbridge's). It could really do with a little pad in the top of the skirt, and perhaps a fuller petticoat.

The top of the sleeve is very simply gathered and then sewn to both layers of the bodice. What's interesting about the sleeve - to me, anyway - is that it's cut with the front side of the seam on the straight and the back on the bias, so when it hangs empty on the dress form it actually ends up curving forward as though it were made to accommodate a bent elbow.


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