The elaborate fashions that define 18th century style are certainly a sight to behold, but far from practical for daily life. Fabric was expensive and the complicated styles of fashionable gowns had to be made by trained seamstresses, making them far too expensive for the average woman to own. That was just as well, since the average woman would have found it rather difficult to raise her large family, tend her small farm, and help her husband with his trade while wearing a fancy gown.
The mid-18th century saw the emergence of what we now refer to as the shortgown, a casual jacket-like garment that seems to have developed from the longer bedgown worn earlier in the century. It was generally cut out of one piece of fabric and then fitted to the body with pleats, drawstrings, or a combination of the two. They required minimal sewing skills, for contrary to popular thought, not every woman from this time period was an adept seamstress. Shortgowns were usually fastened in the front with pins or drawstrings, not buttons, and an apron tied on over it helped to keep it shut. Designed for comfort and economy, shortgowns were usually made from fabrics such as wool, linen, or linsey woolsy, which was a combination of the two fibers. More well-to-do women used hand printed cotton, an expensive luxury fabric at the time, and dressed up their shortgowns with extra pleats, cuffs, and trims to make them more elegant. Loose, comfortable, and economical, shortgowns were the denim shirts of the day - workhorses with a touch of class.
This pattern is perfect for beginning seamstresses as it requires only very basic sewing experience. It includes instructions for two styles of shortgowns, a petticoat, an apron, a neckerchief, and a cap. Each item is made from one pattern piece so it goes together quickly and easily. Even better, the design is a miniature history lesson as it is based on original 18th century designs. Once downloaded, it can be printed on standard 8-1/2" x 11" paper.
This pattern is available in four sizes that can be purchased individually for $8.99 or you can opt to purchase the complete bundle for $10.99.
Suggested Fabrics: Shortgown, Petticoat, and Apron in lightweight cotton, linen, silk, or wool. Plain or striped fabrics were most common. Choose soft muted tones because there were no chemical dyes in the 18th century bright colors were unavailable. Choose period prints with images no larger than 1-inch. Not suitable for knits. Cap and Neckerchief in lightweight cotton batiste, Swiss dot, voile, or handkerchief linen. Not suitable for knits.
View A & B Shortgown ~ 1/2 yard (1/2 m),
View A & B Shortgown Lining ~ 1/2 yard (1/2 m).
Petticoat ~ 1/3 yard (1/3 m).
Apron ~ 12-inch (30 cm) square piece.
Neckerchief ~ 15-inch (28 cm) square piece.
Cap ~ 12 x 8-inch (30 x 20 cm) piece.
Note: Fabric amounts are generous; most items can be cut from leftover pieces of fabric.
Notions: Thread. View A Shortgown ~ 2 yards 1/8-inch (3 mm) wide twill tape or ribbon. View B Shortgown ~ 2 small snaps. Petticoat ~ 1 yard 1/8-inch (3 mm) twill tape or ribbon. Apron ~ 2/3 yard (2/3 m) 1/8-inch (3 mm) twill tape or ribbon.
Skill Level: Beginner
What You Get: One 26 page sewing pattern that you digitally download as a PDF file so you can start your project immediately! The PDF sewing pattern provides digitally drawn 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!
*Creating a customer account will ensure that you have the ability to access your purchased (and free) files at any time.
Pixie Faire and the designers featured are not affiliated with American Girl®.
I am an experienced seamstress, but this pattern is suitable for beginners. I very quickly made a mix and match 18th century wardrobe for my daughter's AG Truly Me doll for "playdates" with Kaya (1764). I kept making pieces because they were so quick, easy and satisfying. I found the historical pattern notes incredibly interesting and I learned quite a bit. Thank you for creating this pattern! Well done.