Embers – 1876 Visiting Gown


This particular frock has long been on my ‘to do ‘list. One of the ‘love at the first sight’ thingd – the moment I opened Harper’s Bazar on that page, I fell in love in the elegant lines of the frock, beautifully accentuated by the trim. I simply had to do it…

 The original fashion plate and the description:


  Getting the colours and trims right was always going to be tricky – and indeed, the gown was finished much later than I had planned as I couldn’t get the trims to play with the fabric. I wanted to keep the original colouring of the gown – grey, black and crimson/red, and if possible to get the trim patterned as well.

 The fabric was easy – looking through my James Hare swatches I stumbled upon the booklet with Connaught silk ( wool and silk  blend) and their graphite was just perfect.

 Trims – well, that was tricky indeed!

 Well, after buying  a few lots online, i realized that it didn’t  work – the trims that looked perfect on the screen turned out to be too gold, or too orange or too brown. In the end I went with a ‘back up’ plan – I had 4m or silk velvet in almost the right colour ( with a bit more raspberry sheen than i would wish, but the best match so far), and just needed a secondary trim – and since Lucas was in London one day, he was sent on a trim finding mission in the caverns of Lawson and Barnett Trimmings. Armed with fabric swatches, hubby was able to hunt down a few possibilities and after reaching approval additional trim was finally bought.


 altogether the following materials were used:

 Silk – 6m,

lining ( cotton, black and red – 6m),  red silk for the sleeves – 1m

 silk velvet -3m

trim – 37m ( yes, 37!!!!)

 black cord – 16m

 black chenille cord – 15m

 metal buttons for baleyeuse – 20

cotton broderie anglaise lace for baleyeuse – 12m

 silk and cotton thread, black lacing, bones for boning the bodice etc

velvet covered buttons – 40

tassels – 4 pairs from Gina B  ( need to get one more pair)

 Now I had the components I could at last start work….

 The garments per se were not too tricky – the skirt was simple ( similar in shape to the skirt for my 1877 polonaise), and the overskirt was  pretty basic too – though the draping wasn’t!

 Bodice – I drew the pieces up first in spare cotton fabrics, made a mock up and only after making sure it worked well, I cut the proper fabric.

 Here skirt and bodice half way through – awaiting trimming… looking very demure, but already liking the shape



 then it was cutting the velvet bias bands to go over the skirt… with the usual helper of course…



 In the hindsight, I should have cut the bands in exactly the shape i needed them – that would take up a bit more fabric, but would make the trim lie flatter…


skirt is bound in black cotton, chenille cord applied, and now the fancy trim is being sewn on


pinning up the velvet strips


stitching the thing… hate sewing velvet…..


and the other side being done…


most of the trim on!

Then the overskirt received the trim treatments and it was time to start draping the thing…


hindsight – should have bought 1 more meter and made the overskirt just a tad more voluminous at the back…

the side was pleated..



bustle part bustled and secured by the inside tapes…


side pleats were set and then the cords were attached – they all come together, secured in a bit of fabric – the cords with tassels will be added here too. that bit simply pins under the bustle once the overskirt is on.


the rosette and tassels were added… the centre of the rosette is decorated with a button – the same silk covered buttons with chenille braid embellishment were then put on the folds, over the braid attachment

 and then I could actually try the thing on…


 Once I was happy, I added closures to the skirts, added  the cords and buttons, and started on the bodice – and I must admit that was one of the most complex thing I have ever done! the shape and construction were easy, it was the closure and the trim placement that was a bit of a logistic nightmare!

 The trim itself was very tricky – here it had to be cut in exactly the shape it needed to appear on the bodice, bias strips did not work well 😦

 The description says the bodice is laced – but you see buttons on the illustration. I originally planned to go just with the buttons – but once I started playing with the trim placement, I realized that buttons, will only work, if they have loops, so that the pieces don’t overlap ( lines of the trim were upset by this). loops may put too much strain on the bodice/button – so maybe the original was right after all…

 In the and  I added lacing strips inside the bodice, so that the bodice laces up, and the buttons and lops secure the very edges providing a neat, flat finish and bot bearing too much strain.


inside lacing, outside buttons and loops

  the sleeves were a handful too – I did each of them separately, so it was completely finished, trim and all, when it was set in.


cuff detail, with the cord and tassels

 The whole thing was first worn on a set of a Sugar Skull photo shoot – I was providing costume for one of the models and we decided to shoot Embers in between the other stuff ( a whole new post on that once the photos go public! very usuasual and magical stuff:-).

 The gown was worn on the usual underpinnings:

  A new lawn and lace chemise ( we now stock a few of them for sale:-), drawers, stockings, basic corset ( again, testing our  stock item here – worked very well!), Tavistock boots ( American Duchess), small bustle pad.


close up


considering the corset was a generic size 12 and not made for me at all – it was surprisingly comfortable!

And the frock itself






 After the shoot, and before the first event, I added a baleyeuse ( dust ruffle) to protect the trained skirts from the dirt.  the Ruffle simply unbuttons and is chucked into the washer when it is dirty – then is pinned up again.

 Here’s the baleyeuse after a whole day of walking around the market – not too bad!


 It also peaks just a bit from the skirts – and the weight of it makes the train lie better and not bunch up when walking:-)


at the market

  Altogether -pretty pleased with it.  yes, should have ordered a tad more fabric, and still need to add the collar, but  so far I am rather pleased how it turned out, even despite all the bad language that occurred while making it….:-)

  Now hopefully we can have some more Victorian booking to wear the thing!

 photography : Pitcheresque Imagery

 frock –  Prior Attire – obviously 🙂


7 thoughts on “Embers – 1876 Visiting Gown

  1. Pingback: Sugar Skull Photoshoot | A Damsel in This Dress

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