One of my customers purchased this gown at auction a few years ago and sent me detailed photographs so I could study the drawstring closure and short sleeve/undersleeve combination. I didn’t end up making the drawstring bodice in my Elegant Lady’s Closet as gathered as this one, but I absolutely love this look. You’ll note that the bodice front is gathered separately from the skirt, giving the skirt a straight front–but the bodice back is gathered to match the skirt gathers behind. The top of the bodice front is similar to an apron-front (drop-front) gown, only the sides are sewn into the shoulder area rather than being connected with buttons or pins. The “drawstring” runs through the upper edge of the front neckline to pull up those gathers.
The gown closure looks quite “primitive” to our modern eyes with two drawstrings only–one at the neck and the other at the waistline. With a chemise and stays beneath, the lady didn’t have to worry about anything showing, of course. I adore the puffed sleeves. The undersleeves were basted into them and could be easily removed to make the gown change from day dress to evening/supper party dress. Note all the glorious details of tucks, drawn threadwork, and French knots. Stunning! This is simply an amazing piece of handiwork. Many thanks to my customer for sharing her beautiful gown!