Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The 18th Century Bedgown

The 18th Century Bedgown

As I prepare my notes for an upcoming speaking engagement, I find myself researching 18th Century Bedgowns. I thought you might be interested in sharing in the information that my research has provided.

Chardin Painting of a Woman working in her Bedgown.

Bedgowns could be worn as undress wear or by the lower to middle class for work and daily activities, as pictured here.

An Original Bedgown in the collection of Colonial Williamsburg

Original Patterning Instructions for an 18th Century Bedgown

The Bedgown is a simple jacket that could be worn as a working woman's everyday garment or by non-working women as an undress garment. Diderot describes bedgowns as a "kind of short clothing which the women wear the bed, and which they keep in the morning in the fashion of undress." This is the description of an upper class woman's bedgown. He also describes them as made of "cotton cloth more or less fine, of plain or embroidered muslin or other similar material." They could also be made of quilted silk or linen. The bedgown is a loose, unfitted garment, with the sleeves cut in one piece with the body of the garment - there is no shoulder seam. The bedgown falls below the hip in length.

Reproducing an 18th Century Bedgown:

Several Patterns are available for the authentic reproduction of 18th century bedgowns.

The Kannik's Korner Bedgown pattern provides historical documentation notes and excellent directions for constructing an authentic bedgown. The lines of this pattern are especially pretty with pleated fullness at the sides and back.

J.P. Ryan also offers an excellent pattern. I have used several of her patterns before and was always very happy with the directions and the quality of the patterns.

Mill Farm Patterns offers this pattern for a European Bedgown. The sides of this bedgown slope out to add fullness rather than having the pleated sections like the Kannik's Korner pattern.
Available from Burnley & Trowbridge or Wm. Booth Draper.

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  1. I like the looks of the Kannik's Korner pattern!

  2. I recently took a class in how to make one of these and they are super simple to do!! I noticed that you link to my blog here on your site and I wanted to let you know that I have moved from blogger to my own website. If you want to update the link, my new one is: ... I am also going to add your website as a link on mine if you don't mind! Thanks for the great reenactor site!!


  3. This is perfect timing for ME, since I'm looking at doing something 18th century soon, but will not have stays, so need to be rather "casual"....I'll be interested to follow what you are learning!!

  4. Thank you for this post. I've been looking for good pictures and information on eighteenth century clothing for a novel I'm researching.