Silk Taffeta Van Dyke Gown

This gown is entirely hand-sewn, every last stitch! I made this gown out of silk taffeta. While my mock-up was closer to the original gown, I wanted this one to appear slimmer from the front and to have a more fitted bodice.

The original is in the Greene Collection at the Genesee Country Village & Museum. Known information is that the skirt has three panels with slight gathering on the front and pleating in the back. The sleeves and bodice top each have two tucks. The wonderful pointed cap sleeves have what would have been white silk ribbon bows. The sleeves are long enough that they would have to be pushed up on the arms to use the hands. I’m not sure what’s going on on the bottom, if that’s trim or discoloration, but I made tucks, and closed this gown with buttons. Buttons weren’t common, but I used them anyway.

The VanDyke points around the neckline have been used a lot on old quilts. It’s the same technique, and it’s lovely. I’ve matched these details in this replica. This gown has the same tucks on the sleeves and neck, the same number of Van Dyke points across the front, and four tucks on the bottom. The long under-sleeves are detachable so this can be worn as a ball gown!

More photos are in this Facebook album.

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