ALHFAM dress

For the 2013 Association for Living History, Farm, and Agricultural Museums’ International conference in Akron, Ohio I decided to make a gown inspired by the c. 1847 cotton gown in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection. Seen here:



Here is my version (sans petticoats):



I cut and stitched this dress just 24 hours before I was set to board the plane for the conference! To my luck, it went together swimmingly and I only had to make a few quick and dirty alterations to the bodice before I packed it into the suitcase.

I chose to make this a front closing gown because I needed it to be easy to get in and out of as I would be dressing myself. The bodice front closes with hook and eye at the yoke and waist only. The center of the bodice is free. The dress is longer in the back to accommodate a small bum pad often worn during this period. Other dress details include a wide hem band in contrasting fabric.

For the conference, I wore it over a heavily starched corded petticoat and one tucked petticoat. I also wore my corset and chemise. I had the bum pad on but took it off last minute. I felt I had enough “oomph” at the back for my liking. (I’m not much of a bustle person I suppose.) All in all, it was super comfortable and really easy to wear. I think I am going to experiment with this design more in the future.

Here’s a few pics of me wearing it at the historical fashion show:

alhfamdress2 alhfamdress3 alhfamdress4Showing off hem protector and petticoats


(Image snapped by Eileen Hook)

About Susan

Hi! My name is Susan and I am a historian, seamstress, teacher, mother, and wife. My passion for history has manifested itself in the art of recreating clothing from different periods of time. Growing up in the American South, I am heavily schooled in the art of recreating clothing from the 19th century. After nearly a decade of immersing myself primarily in the Victorian period, I found the need to branch out and explore other periods of time. However, it is my connection with the American South and the clothing of rural America that continues to be the driving force behind my designs.

2 thoughts on “ALHFAM dress

  1. I absolutely LOVE watching you as your dream has unfolded into your life. I remember looking at your clothing sketches back when we were in jr.high and how much I could tell that you absolutely loved this. You are so talented and the world is benefiting from it.

  2. Very nice work.

    I noticed you referenced Oscar Wilde in connection with the dress reform movement. You may be interested a new book that examines that connection: Oscar Wilde On Dress. I think if you Google that you should find it. So far only the Limited Edition is available.

    John Cooper
    oscar wilde in america

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