The dress options in this pattern were inspired by the beautiful portraits of the 1780s, like the ones shown in the slide show, and by extant garments in the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Museum of London (thank you, Hillary!). I have long loved the beautiful, pastoral portraits of the late Georgian Era. Family groupings set in fields and beneath trees painted by artists like Thomas Gainsborough marked a departure from the stiffer, more formal portraits of a generation before. Children in these paintings gradually made an amazing transition from miniature adults to playful, happy youngsters in relaxed poses. Some of my favorite paintings are by George Romney and Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun. Inspired by these lovely, classic portraits, I decided to create this pattern for my own girls, who adore the full skirts and wide sashes of the time.
This pattern includes options for a smooth-bodice dress that fastens up the back and a gathered bodice dress that slips over the head. It also offers elbow-length sleeves with optional ruffles and fitted long sleeves. Appendices give directions for using sheer fabrics, making tucks, and more.
- Sizes 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 & 14 all included in one envelope.
- Illustrated instructions make construction easy!
- Options for long sleeves, and elbow-length sleeves with optional ruffles.
- Click to download the Girls’ 1780s Portrait Dress Pattern yardage chart.
- ePattern also available for instant download.
- Photo instructions now available in PDF format!
A wide sash or ribbon around the waist gives these dresses a darling “Kate Greenaway” look (sash instructions included). The pattern is rated “intermediate” because of the lining and understitching, but it is really not difficult to put together. I think a beginner would have little trouble, and I am always available through the Contact Form if you have questions!
Notes: If you purchased the early versions of this pattern (pre-6/11), please click here for corrections to your pattern.
Several customers have asked about the size of the chest on the girls’ 1780s pattern, which they say is too large in proportion to the waist. Actually, this is simply the wide neckline of the era, which is meant to perch on the edge of the shoulders. If you have a little girl with very narrow shoulders or a smaller chest measurement, you will want to tweak this area so that the dress doesn’t slip off the shoulders or gape at the center front. Another point to remember is that the dresses of this time period had a drawstring through the neckline to make a perfect fit. It is illegal to use drawstrings in garments for children under age 12, so I cannot recommend that method; however, using elastic in the fitted as well as the gathered bodice will help keep those shoulders in place.