1860s Calico Dress

November 2008 – November 2009

An 1860s cotton calico day dress. It’s the Laughing Moon 1860s pattern #111, with coat sleeves. The three piece ensemble consists of bodice, skirt, and belt. The cuffs and collar, just a little wider than the pattern, are in fine linen.
This calico was labeled on the selvage as 1830s reproduction fabric. But I try to keep an open mind with my stash. The color, and simple repetitive motifs of the print struck me as quite suitable for an 1860s costume. So it was used for a new Dicken’s Fair dress.
The bodice is backed with cotton sateen and piped at the neckline and armscye. Matching fabric buttons close the center front. It’s lined in a baby blue shot cotton. The skirt is lined with the same blue. (None of this lining was entirely necessary, but it looked pretty with the calico.) The skirt is sewn to the skirt lining at the waist, so all the raw edges are enclosed. It’s then attached with tiny cartridge pleats to a finished waist band. For a softer drape, only the tops of the pleats are sewn.

Full lining

Originally, I fitted the bodice with darts, thinking gathers would be a little frumpy. But after shelving the project for a year, I had a change of heart. I had to have a gathered front. Of course, I’d already trimmed the darts’ seam allowances. So I did something pretty wonky (sewing-wise) and left 1/8″ dart legs, while gathering the remaining excess. My gathered front, therefore, is a little less full than you’d expect. The lining protects the tiny dart seam allowances. And with the calico print camouflage, it’s hardly noticeable from the outside either.
Underneath the dress: corset and undies, a bell-shaped hoop, a petticoat, and a bum pad. The brooch is a machine-embroidered fabric circle of flowers, framed in gold tin.