Round gown inspiration

One of my most concrete plans for 2018 is to make an 18th century round gown. As this is my first round gown, and simultaneously my first 18th century dress, I’ve been doing some visual research (aka: spend too much time on pinterest).

One of my favorite round gowns, and one of the inspirations to use damask for my own project. (Mine will be silver, as that’s what I have. This green is stunning though!)

Round gown, American, ca. 1775. Metropolitan Museum of Art Popular around the 1770s through late 18th century, the round gown was similar to the robe a l'anglaise. It is not an open robe but rather the skirt and petticoat are as one. The gown has a front-closing bodice with no stomacher.


First, a brief definition. (I’m not a terminology expert, nor an 18th century expert, but this is what I believe ’round gown’ is mostly used for.) Quite simply put: a round gown is a dress with a full (’round’) skirt, of which the front is not attached to the bodice. You might say: don’t all dresses have a full skirt? But in the 18th century, most dresses were actually open in front, and had a (sometimes matching, sometimes not) petticoat underneath which shows in the front. The round gown is an exception to this ‘rule’. A round gown is different from most ‘later’ styles of dresses, in that he bodice is attached only to the back of the skirt, while the front of the skirt has ties and is attached underneath the front bodice with ties. The sides of the skirts have slits to allow for getting into the skirt. I’m using the term as applied to 1770’s and 1780’s gowns mostly, as the changing fashions in the 1790’s also seem to broaden the definition of the term.

Because pictures are clearer than words sometimes. This is a round gown:

Brown Cotton Round Gown from the Blog, Slightly Obsessed.

A bit difficult to see, but there’s no separate petticoat. This image shows how the front of the skirt is not attached to the bodice, while the back is.

Around and about ROCOCO 1780 Closed dress, cotton. Private collection.


I’ve seen examples of round gowns both with a pleated back (pleats stitched down), or with the (later) seamed back style. For my own dress, I’ll probably go with the seamed back, as that’s quite a bit easier to do.

Time for some more inspiration! Most round-gowns are relatively simple trim-wise, and there’s quite a number of chintz examples.

Gown, blue floral pattern on cream ground. Copperplate printed linen. Worn by Deborah Sampson, possibly as her wedding dress. Date: 1760-1790

Textiles (Clothing) - Dress, 1785-1795


One of my all-time favorite dresses is this red-ground chintz one.

Japon. Het japonlijf heeft een vierkante hals. Twee platte plooien lopen over de schouder langs de voorpanden en verdwijnen in de rok. Het lijfje heeft vestpanden die gesloten worden met haken en ogen met overdwars een split even in de taille. Vanaf de hals middenachter een brede aangehechte platte plooi die puntig toeloopt en in één stuk is geknipt met de rok. De mouwen zijn glad en uit één stuk tot op de elleboog en hebben een geplooid elleboogstukje...1780 - 1785


There’s also patterned silks. This is another fancy silk example.

eMuseum - View Media


And a ‘plain’ silk one. I love the styling with the belt on this one, and I’m thinking of adding one to my dress as well!

Levite or round gown, The Netherlands, 1780-1800. Sky blue silk taffeta with a light blue silk sash.

8 thoughts on “Round gown inspiration

  1. These are all so pretty. I’d like one for myself. Are there any patterns available or does one have to create one’s own? You have recreated many patterns, but I have only sewn from purchased patterns and I haven’t even done that in a long time, but these dresses are calling to me.

    • To be honest, I haven’t really looked into commercial patterns so I’m not sure if there is one for a round gown. I’m planning to scale up from one of my books. Most of those patterns are actually for ‘regular’ robe a l’anglaise’s (/italian gowns), but the only change to make it into a round gown would be to add a skirt piece in front, so not that difficult. I do know there are some commercial patterns for such gowns as well, those would be adaptable into a round gown too!

  2. We went to a local Colonial Fair for several years and I acquired a pocket and short gown and then made a skirt, all so I could dress while cooking for Thanksgiving in our 200 yr old house. But I was never sure where or how to tie my drawstring at the waist and couldn’t find any info on it. Your posting today was like a giant light bulb turning on — hurrah! it all makes sense now. Thank you — I look forward to you sewing this lovely dress.

  3. Exceptional gowns. Do you have an idea where could I buy similar fabrics? I am searching from several months ago and I didn’t found the color I want. It is for this gown of my country and I need it i green color

    • Thank you. Honestly, it can be quite difficult to find. I got my own fabric as coupon from an outlet store, and I haven’t seen anything similar since. It’s also not quite as ‘deep’ as the historical fabrics, and the pattern is a bit more baroque than flowery, as the 18th century ones are. I don’t think I’ve ever seen dark green floral silk damask in European stores. I think sometimes have something similar, so you could keep an eye on that if you don’t mind the shipping/import from the US.
      Good luck!

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