19th Century

The Raspberry Swirl at tea

I loved the chance to get the Raspberry Swirl out for the Afternoon Tea talk at Premier House.  It’s had so few proper outings, and I still can’t decide if the evening bodice is actually ‘finished’ or not.

Does it need a bertha?  I’m beginning to think not.  As a cotton dress, an evening bodice is never going to be properly historical, and there are examples of plain evening bodices, sans berthas and much in the way of trimming, in the 1850s.

So then all I really need to do is actually make the day bodice that was always meant to go with this skirt!

Some of you may be wondering what a paisley evening gown has to do with afternoon tea.  It gave me a chance to talk about the continued links between England and India, and the cultural cross-pollination that characterised Victorian England.

It also gave me a chance to talk about the re-thinking of manners and mores in the mid-19th century.  In the 1850s Queen Victoria attended official day events in evening wear.  Why?  It was a carry over from standards of court dress set out by Louis XIV in 17th century France.  Talk about outdated!

Throughout the 19th century Victoria and Albert, and then Edward and Alexandra, with varying degrees of forethought, intent, and success, re-wrote the standards of behavior and dress at the British court and in British society.  British society was the society of the 19th century, so what they did, the rest of the world emulated.  In a convoluted and straightforward way this led to garments like the tea gown, that presented a sense of ease, but within strict societal restraints.

Anyway, I digress!  Here are some pretty, pretty pictures of the ever so sweet and appealing Raspberry Swirl.

And a final photo that really encapsulates how lovely and sweet and mid-Victorian this dress is:



  1. Lynne says

    It is a sweetie. I kept thinking, ‘Janet Arnold’, googled about, and found your blog for the making of this dress. Bingo! Did you ever think about making the wider sleeves? Possibly as well as these? 🙂

  2. Hayley says

    Yay my fave dress! I don’t think it needs a bertha – but it does need a hat and gloves to finish it off 🙂

  3. Sineuve says

    So pretty! I’ve always been a fan of this dress.
    Because it has no bertha, among others.

  4. Laura says

    Why would a cotton evening bodice not be historical? I’ve seen (pictures of) many (listed as) cotton evening bodices/ensembles from the period, though I think many of them are American.

    I’m not the hugest fan of berthas, though they occasionally are quite lovely, and since there are some non-bertha evening bodices from the era, I say do without. The loud print doesn’t need more to busy it up.

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