Portfolio: 1860s “Greek Key” Afternoon Dress

The 1860s Greek Key afternoon dress thedreamstress.com


The Idea and Inspiration:

The Meander, Greek key, Greek fret — whatever you call the design, I love it.   The enormous fan pleated skirts of Janet Arnold’s 1861 Tea Dress seemed the perfect frame for this striking pattern.   A gorgeous $1 a metre sale fabric in my stash and hundreds of metres of black lace from Nana sealed the deal.

Janet Arnold’s pattern:

and this dress:

Fabric and Materials:

Mid-weight Egyptian cotton with a faint lace print in pink on white, trimmed with black nylon lace.   Jacket lined in black and white striped cotton canvas, and trimmed with recycled black kimono silk.

Research and references:

Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion 1660-1860


The nougat and paisley corset

The hoopskirt

The hoopskirt in action

The Dress Diary:

Greek Keys in fashion

Figuring out the Greek key design

A history of the Greek Key

How to make Greek Keys, a tutorial

Trimming the skirt with Greek Keys

Finishing the Greek keys on the skirt

Felicity helps with the Greek Tea dress

Drafting, draping and fitting the jacket

Trimming the jacket

Details of the finished dress

The Greek Key dress at Pompeii to Paris

The Greek Key Dress at the Massey Memorial

The Greek Key Dress in the Park

Engageantes to go with the dress

The Greek Key Dress at the Massey Memorial 2

A Let there be Light photoshoot


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