Portfolio: Pamela’s 1905-07 Greek Key afternoon dress

The Idea and Inspiration:

This dress is a combination of my work, and friends work for a costume that was made 20+ years ago for a production of The Importance of Being Earnest.  The  dress was originally patterned up  by the wonderful Lynne (who frequently comments on my blog, and who gave me the fabulous fir sleeve for the Fur & Scales muff), and sewn by her equally wonderful friend Pamela.

Being Lynne, she did a beautifully researched garment that was equally beautifully made – far more so than any theatre could hope for!  The gown is a perfectly patterned version of the 1905-7 Afternoon Dress in Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion.  It was definitely the best costumed regional performance of IoBE ever staged.  The few big concessions to theatre-wear were price (no budget) and washability.  The dress is cotton and the sleeves and collar/yoke were done in synthetic lace, and the meander motifs at the hem were simply ironed on.

While perfect for stage costume, the sleeves and yoke were a bit worse for the wear from a few performances.  The body of the dress, however, was in perfect condition.  My contribution to the dress was to removed the sleeves and yoke and re-make them in period appropriate white cotton and cotton lace, to re-do all the back hooks which had become loose, and to sew down all the Greek Key motifs properly, plus general mending and refurbishment.

Fabric and Materials:

  • Black and white striped cotton
  • White  cotton voile with pintucks and lace
  • White cotton lace
  • Cotton thread to sew

The Undergarments:

  • 1900s corset and petticoat, both made by Pamela from Lynne’s pattern

The Dress Diary:

Research and helpful links:

  • Arnold, Janet.  Patterns of Fashion: The Cut and Construction of Clothes for Men and Women, 1660-1860.

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