Extant Regency Drawstring Gown

By Jennie Chancey

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!

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10 Comments on Extant Regency Drawstring Gown

  1. Heather H :) :) :)
    May 28, 2010 at 12:54 am (4 years ago)

    Beautiful dress. I loved seeing all the detail. I would wear something like this :)

    Reply
  2. Aylwen
    May 28, 2010 at 1:17 am (4 years ago)

    Hi Jennie, I have an extant gown that has long sleeves sewn in and bound, but short puff sleeves whip-stitched in over the top afterwards!

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      May 28, 2010 at 10:52 am (4 years ago)

      Now that is unusual, Aylwen! I’d love to see pictures (hint, hint!). :D

      Reply
  3. Eliza
    May 28, 2010 at 10:03 am (4 years ago)

    OHHH WOW! That was is stunning. Absolutely Stunning I was drooling.

    Reply
  4. Amanda
    May 28, 2010 at 11:23 am (4 years ago)

    Beeeauuuteeefulll!!! Seriously make you wanna get your thread and needle out!! Curse pregnancy induced achy joints and clumsy fingers :(

    Reply
  5. Julia
    May 28, 2010 at 8:16 pm (4 years ago)

    I can’t see it, the picture isn’t loading :(

    Reply
  6. Shari
    May 29, 2010 at 10:39 am (4 years ago)

    That is so beautiful! I can’t believe it has survived so beautifully. Aren’t we lucky to see it?

    Reply
  7. Gail
    May 29, 2010 at 10:43 pm (4 years ago)

    Those sleeves are so beautiful.

    Reply
  8. Natalie (aka ZipZip)
    June 2, 2010 at 9:15 am (4 years ago)

    Dear Jennie,

    Thanks to you and your customer for these photos…such a pretty dress, and I bet we can tweak the ELC pattern to get this alternative look. The French knots are such a handsome touch.

    Very best,
    Natalie in Kentucky

    Reply
  9. Sheri Kuller
    January 7, 2012 at 5:00 pm (2 years ago)

    what’s often forgotten and stunning to believe is that a gown like this was sewn all by hand, literally. No machines during Regency (1780 – 1830) until late 1800′s.
    btw, love your site. You may also like:
    http://www.vintagetextile.com/early.htm
    beautiful detailed inside and outside large pics of authentic vintage clothing.

    Reply

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