1800s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

Way Retro – Victorian Dresses – Past Patterns #702 and #801

November 20, 2012
Past Pattern 702 pagoda by Kelina Lobo
Past Pattern 801 blue stripe dress by Kelina Lobo
Past Patterns #801, fan front bodice, 1844 – 1850s. – The skirt is big and fun, made with nine yards of cloth.

Retro way back to 1840 – 1860! A while back I made these two historically accurate reproductions of Victorian dresses. I used Saundra Ros Altman’s Past Patterns #702 and #801. Past Patterns’ tagline is “The Historical Pattern Company Dedicated to Accuracy” and it is true – Past Patterns always has excellent patterns with very informative and detailed construction notes and historic notes. I did not encounter any fitting issues with these two. None of these photos show these dresses with the correct accessories, so I really should go out and take some new photos.


You can find more information about Past Patterns below:

Past Patterns #801 – fan front bodice, 1844 – 1850s.   – According to Saundra Ros Altman’s Past Patterns, “This fan-front bodice and single skirt were fashionable between 1841 – 1847. It may also be worn as an 1850s gown because daguerreotypes abound of women wearing the fan-front bodice in the 1850s.”

Past Patterns #702 – 1850s – 1863 dart fitted bodice with full pagoda sleeves – According to Saundra Ros Altman’s Past Patterns, “…full pagoda sleeves [were] fashionable from the late 1850′s to 1863 …modified pagoda sleeves were popular from the late 1850′s though 1863.”

I have more sewing projects on my blog, WesternSpinster.

Past Pattern 801 dress sewn by Kelina Lobo
Past Patterns #801, fan front bodice, 1844 – 1850s. – Why did I have to hold my arms over the fan front? The fan front turned out well, but unfortunately you can’t see it in this photo. I know, I know, the hairstyle is not historically accurate 1844 – 1850s, and only vaguely late 1860s in silhouette.
Past Pattern 702 pagoda by Kelina Lobo
Past Patterns #702, 1850s – 1863 dart fitted bodice with full pagoda sleeves – This bodice is nicely and accurately fitted, showing off a lovely hourglass figure, especially when viewed from behind, and it has the characteristic dropped shoulder seams.
  1. I love Past Patterns! I’m partway through the 803 Round Dress right now, and my mother and I made the 806 Lowell Mill Girl dress eight or ten years ago. Neither of us had any experience with antique sewing methods–both dresses involve fitting a bodice lining and then basically appliqueing the fashion fabric to the lining–but we didn’t have any trouble at all. It was easily one of the best-drafted patterns either of us has ever used. The construction is pretty ingenious: You can make all your fitting errors on the lining where they won’t show, so you don’t mess up your good dress fabric.

    1. LBC, cool, thanks! Yes, I love Past Patterns too! They are so informative, detailed, and easy to follow that they are great even for beginners. I learned to sew with vintage 50s/60s patterns and Past Patterns! I have the Lowell Mill Girl dress pattern and have wanted to make it for a long time – cool to see it made up. You should post those photos on WeSewRetro so everyone can see them! Or here: http://www.gbacg.org/great-pattern-review/index.html They are in the process of totally overhauling the web site with a bunch of new features, and we should be able to post to the updated site soon. They don’t currently have a photo of the Lowell Mill Girl dress, and I bet others would like to see it too.

      Yes, the fan-front bodice, #801, had a very nicely fitting lining in the 1840s to early 1850s shape. It is actually quite a bit more flattering than the fan front, which can blouse up if I bend over too much. If I was going to make the dress again, I would just use the “lining” pattern as the bodice pattern and flat line it for a smoothly fitting bodice.

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