Literary Society Dress 18" Doll Clothes Pattern

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The Victorian Era ushered in a new kind of freedom. Until this time, elaborate clothing had been reserved for the noble and the wealthy, but the industrial revolution had made fabrics and trims cheap, the sewing machine made sewing fast, and the development of synthetic dyes made it possible to create just about any color under the sun. All of this suddenly became available to the general public and whole new realm of elaborate dress design flourished and became available to the average woman.

The Literary Society dress is an example of a fashionable dress that would have been popular in the 1870s. This two-piece dress is cut in the fashionable silhouette of the time with a full back, higher waistline, sloped shoulders, and form fitted sleeves. The front of the skirt is finished with a ruched overlay that drapes over a ruffled hemline (the ruching is optional if a plain front is preferred). Five rows of ruffles accentuate the full skirt back. The ruffles and ruching can be edged with lace or left plain. The bodice features a built in underbodice with a high neckline that accentuates the low square-cut overbodice neckline. The square neckline can be finished with a ruffle for formal social events or left plain for casual outings such as a seaside adventure. The underbodice fastens in the back with a single button and loop closure and the overbodice fastens in back with two buttons and a snap at the waistline (hook and loop tape or snaps can be used, if preferred). The bodice waistline is defined by a narrow fabric band that sits just above the natural waistline and a series of drapes and aprons are hung from it to add the quintessential 1870s layering draping details. The sleeves of the bodice are fitted and can be finished with a plain hem or with a lace edge and side slit that creates an elegant flare at the wrist.

This dress can be worn by itself, but for the full effect it is recommended that it is worn over our Primrose Chemise and Lobster Tail Bustle.

This dress is easier to make than it looks, however it is rated as advanced because it requires you to pay close attention to the details in the instructions.

This PDF sewing pattern by Thimbles and Acorns is designed to fit 18-inch dolls such as American Girl®.

Suggested Fabrics: Bodice and Skirt in light to medium weight fabrics such as quilting cotton, cotton shirting, dotted Swiss, poplin, linen, lawn, or silk. Not suitable for knits. Underbodice in lightweight cotton, batiste, voile, lawn, and silk.


Supplies Needed:


  • Bodice and Skirt - 1 1/4 yard 45” wide Fabric
  • Underbodice - 7” x 22” piece of fabric


  • Thread
  • Bodice and Skirt
  • 6” x 10” piece of lightweight fusible interfacing
  • Six yards 1/2” wide lace (optional)
  • Two 3/8” buttons (snaps or hook and loop tape can be used, if preferred)
  • One 1/4” button
  • One decorative button or bow for front neckline
  • Two medium size snaps


  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Hand sewing needle
  • Iron and pressing tools
  • Blunt needle or point turner
  • Tube turner


Skill Level: Advanced


What You Get: One 36 page sewing pattern that you digitally download as a PDF file so you can start your project immediately! The PDF sewing pattern provides full color step-by-step illustrated instructions and full size pattern pieces. A PDF reader is required to view and print the files (example: Adobe Reader or Preview for MAC). The download link is received immediately after the transaction is complete. Print copies are NOT available.

Download, Print, Sew!

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For detailed information and answers to the most common questions, be sure to read the Terms of Use and FAQ's related to the doll clothes patterns sold at Pixie Faire.

Pixie Faire and the designers featured are not affiliated with American Girl®. 

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