1780’s Italian Gown

So as promised several months ago, here is a post about my Italian Gown that was made in less than 48 hours. On Thursday, I decided I wanted a new dress to wear to the fashion show Saturday morning. My grandma helped me turn the fabric for the trim right side out, and my mom and I stayed up until 1 or 2 hemming the thing….I was really a team effort.

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I used a pattern and The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dress making to help create this dress. In the book I went to chapter 4, The Italian Gown 1770’s-1790’s. The gown has two to four pieces in the back and the skirt is separate and then attached at the waist. This dress appears to have made its debut around 1776. “From the number of Italian gowns that survive today it appears that the Italian gown completely overtook the English gown in popularity…The Italian gown eventually replaces the sacque gown for full dress in the 1780s.” (pg. 127

So, let’s start with what I’m wearing under the dress! Underpinnings are so important because they are really the bones of the dress; you cannot get the right “look” without them. I am wearing a shift. You can see the ruffle on the sleeve poking out from the sleeve of the gown.

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I am wearing stays. They are very important because of how the dress is fastened. For some reason in the 1700’s it was decided that you should pin your dress closed, and safety pins were not invented yet, so you had to use straight pins. Everyone has a little different technique that they use for pinning their gown closed, but I generally pin my dress to my stays to help the dress stay put.

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To support the dress, I am wearing a false split rump, and I LOVE the silhouette it creates! The false split rump is basically two pillows strapped to your waist over your own rump, but you have to make sure that they are proportioned right for your body. American Duchess has a great way to figure out how big your split rump should be in their book. The split rump is great for the Italian gown, because it allows the long back to lay flat.
I chose to make my petticoat out of this beautiful pink fabric you see. This petticoat goes over the false rump, so you have to cut the back longer to make sure it actually all hangs evenly.

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For the gown, I chose this green and white floral that I had sitting around in my basement. I’m not completely sure on how accurate it is, but I figured for my first venture into the 1770’s day dress arena, it worked out pretty well.

Of course, I’m wearing my cap under my straw hat that has matching green ribbons, which I did not plan. I’ve had the hat longer then I’ve had the dress. But you can tell that this is a 1700’s hat because of the shallow crown and flat top. I then added a belt and the cheri shoes from Fugawee.

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I really love this gown and I’m very happy with how it turned out, especially because I decided to sew it 48 hours before the fashion show that I presented it at.

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