1790s Striped Open Robe

A finished UFO for our Costumers Getaway last month! (Unfinished object, for those not using that parlance. I find it amusing.)

I had many grand plans for New Things this weekend - started a few, and finished precisely none of the ones I'd originally planned. Sewing motivation this year has been severely lacking. But! The week before the trip I realized I had this open robe, which has been languishing in a UFO bin since a canceled Georgian picnic in 2016 (!).

Readers will be absolutely amazed to learn I can't find any of the few progress pictures I took of the robe when I made most of it in 2016 (!) - it was very close to finished, too. All that was left was to sew down the back half of the sleeves, and attach the CF band to close the bodice. But we had to cancel our picnic due to Bad Weather, and after that, my interest moved away from 1790s, so an event (and therefore a reason to finish this) never presented itself.


And then...this trip. All I had to do was pull it out, see if it fit, and sew a few seams.


You may have noticed my mention of sleeves, and thought, what sleeves? What sleeves, indeed. When I tried the robe on, I noticed that - not to put too fine a point on it - the sleeve fit sucked. There is picture proof that back in 2016 I WAS successfully making gowns with sleeves that fit, so I don't know what happened here, but the fit was decidedly awful. Not awful in a way that I could have just unpicked, refitted, and resewn, either - a case of not enough fabric at the front of the sleeve head, so ill-fitting and pulling the shoulder straps and just generally stupid. I bought a 10-yard length of the striped fabric originally, so it would have been possible to recut the sleeves, but...

Sleeveless robes are also totally acceptable! Also the path of least resistance. Who has time for new sleeves when you can just hack them off and sew up the armscyes and call it Good Enough?


The Met has a couple of examples of striped open robes from the second half of the 1790s, for reference - a sleeved one here, and a sleeveless one here. My striped fabric is a silk-cotton blend that I believe came from ebay - it was an extremely good deal, which is why I ended up getting the aforementioned10 yards of it!


The robe is all hand sewn, from what I remember (which obviously isn't much). It's very basic construction - it gives a fancy effect over a round gown, but it doesn't have any interesting pleating or trim. All the visual interest comes from the stripes. I lined the bottom 12" or so of the train with plain cotton, for dragging-on-the-ground purposes; I'm not usually a person to add unnecessarily long trains on things, but I'm glad I did in this case! Looks very swanky.


I twisted up a small kerchief of swiss dot to wrap around my head, stuck some peacock feathers in it, and wore my "Madeira topaz" Dames a la Mode parure, since we were being fancy for dinner.

*makes airplane noises*

And a few more pictures, because I enjoy them, and I think we were a very pretty group that evening!



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