Wednesday, September 9, 2020

1850s Plaid Taffeta Day Dress

Many moons ago, I made a dress for a Civil War dance. When I made it, I had juuuuuust enough fabric to squeeze out the ballgown bodice, but I had to do some creative piecing to finish the bodice, and the sleeves had to be a different fabric entirely. I used every inch of yardage that I had.

For years, I've been trying to find a way to make a daytime bodice to get more wear out of the skirt, because the skirt is pretty fabulous. My original plan was to make a garibaldi blouse and a black swiss waist, but I was never fully in love with the idea, so I never really got around to doing it.

Then, a fabric miracle happened! On a whim, I searched for "black plaid taffeta" on Etsy, and 5 yards of almost perfect fabric appeared! It wasn't exactly the same, but I could live with the minor differences. I bought the entire bit of yardage, since I didn't quite know what I was going to make, and I wanted enough fabric that if it didn't actually match in person, then I could still make something else with it.

When it arrived it was a great match! Since I had enough fabric to do something truly over the top, I decided to take the entire ensemble back a decade to the 1850s. The skirt was already pretty 1850s anyway, so it made sense.

I have a video up on my YouTube channel if you want to check out the making-of.

The bodice did not want to cooperate, and I ended up doing mockup after mockup trying to get the thing to fit right. Unfortunately, I didn't take any in-progress photos of the making of the bodice because I was preoccupied with filming and with the bodice being a total pain. But, I do have some great new photos of the finished dress!


  1. The new plaid blends in very well with the original one.

  2. That's really amazing that it appeared. And that you got it online and it matched so we'll.