Saundra Ros Altman's: Past Patterns

How to order #031: Circa 1796-1806 Lewis & Clark Era: Empire Gown

#031: Circa 1796-1806 Lewis & Clark Era Front Closing Gown $28.00 (US dollars)

The #031 pattern was pulled, with permission, from the extant garment in the Wayne County Historical Museum in Richmond, Indiana. The gown has no history. It is a day dress. The threads are hand spun and the fabric is hand woven of linen warp and cotton weft. The background is white, interrupted every 7/8 inch by alternate threads of madder red and indigo blue. Unlike today's fabric, the stripes are at a right angle to the salvage.

Illustrated instructions for sewing the garment by hand are included, however, this is an easy garment to sew by machine.

The bodice conservatively cut yet it has the fashionable small back of the period. As a result of the small back the sleeves form the shoulders, creating a very comfortable fit. Drawstrings fasten the center front closed at the neck and waist. The bodice is lined. The front lining is loose from the armholes to center front. It crosses over and fastens at center front with straight pins. This front lining does not support the bust. It is to help hold the front closed. A corset is worn with this garment. Past Patterns' will be marketing a 1790's-1809 boned stay in 2003.

The pleated skirt is fullest in the back and flat in the front. A 1-1/2 inch crescent-shaped tuck at center front raises the skirt over the toes.

This pattern is sized 8-14, 16-20, 22-26 in B, C and D cups. Sizes 8 through 14 require 4-1/2 Yds.; sizes 16 through 20 require 5 Yds. and sizes 22 through 26 require 5-1/2 Yds. of 45 inch wide fabric.


Pictured below is the dress fabric. The two lining fabrics also pictured were probably cut from scraps. The thread count is approximately 50 warp and 44 weft.

The mob cap, bonnet, and mitts illustrated are Kannik's Korner patterns. Order them, as well as the chemise, stockings and pockets at

Appropriate printed gown fabrics can be ordered from:

Appropriate late 18th and early 19th century buttons, tapes and laces can be ordered from: Wm. Booth, Draper, 2115 Ramada Dr., Racine, WI 53406. Phone: (262) 886-9133,

A few books which document clothing fabrics from 1790 to 1820 and beyond: Textile in America 1650-1870 by Florence M. Montgomery, ISBN 0-393-01703-6; A Lady of Fashion, Barbara Johnson's Album of Styles and Fabrics edited by Natalie Rothstein, 1987 and Textile Designs, Two Hundred Years of European and American Patterns . . . . by Susan Meller and Joost Elffers, ISBN 0-8109-3853-7.

Acknowledgments: Special thanks to Jan Livingston at the Wayne County Historical Museum, Fritz and Kathleen Kannik, Ericka Mason and the ladies who tested the pattern.

This pattern is copyrighted and is for personal non-commercial use only. Dressmakers and other commercial users contact Past Patterns.

Phone us at (937) 223-3722 or use the Order Form to order by fax or mail.

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