Charlotte Corday 1790s Gown Recreation – Part 2


So about a week ago, I posted a very long and involved post about my planning for my next project: a recreation of the dress in Paul Jacques Aime Baudry’s painting Charlotte Corday. (If you missed that post, I highly suggest you read it.)

charlotte corday

Just to recap what I talked about there, the dress is a blend of time periods because, though it depicts a scene from 1793, it was painted in 1860. The resulting mash of 1780s, 1790s, and random elements led me to issue a desperate plea for advice on whether to make a historically accurate gown that Charlotte Corday would have actually worn or the gown pictured in the painting.

Prompted by Amanda and Lady Constance, I went back to google and searched for useful 1790s examples. In the end, this turned out to be this project’s saving grace, because it helped me get my priorities straight. It also made a great turning point in the AP English Lang class essay I wrote about my planning of this project (honestly, don’t even get me started on the joke that is my English class and how pissed I am about it).

Looking through fashion plates from the time period, I gauged my reaction from “ew, no, no way” to “yeah, that’s close enough the painting, I like that” and realized which elements I absolutely have to keep from the painting, and which elements I’m okay with changing for historical accuracy. So, here are my final picks for inspiration:

1790s Examples I Like

These aren’t in any particular order, just FYI. This first one is Portrait of a Lady from 1790 by Marie-Victoire Lemoine. I like …

  • the long sleeves with frills similar to the painting
  • the presence of a collar-like thing, similar to the painting, though much larger
  • that it’s from the right time period

portrait of a woman, 1790

Here’s a fashion plate from the Jounal des Luxus, this time from 1788, is this fashion plate. I like basically everything about this one, specifically

  • the buttons down the front into a V-shaped bodice hem – very accurate to the painting
  • the collar thing (too big but still there)
  • the long sleeves

redingnote 1788

I also like this 1792 portrait by Antoine Vestier of Mademoiselle Roullié.

  • it’s from the right time period
  • the use of stripes is fairly similar, as is the fabric itself
  • the neckline shape is similar to the painting as well

portrait 1792

So those are my main three inspiration pictures! I have a lot more piled away on my Pinterest board for this project (currently secret so all my friends don’t get mad at me for pinning tons of very similar pics), but these are the ones that I think most encapsulate the blend of painting and history that I’m going for.

The Actual Plan

Yes, there is now an actual plan. It’s exciting.

Just to preface this, I’m really broke right now. All my summer sewing basically wiped me out, so a lot of my planning is influenced by me trying to make this project absolutely as cheap as possible. It makes me a little sad, because I feel like I’m not quite doing it justice, but I also think that I’m going to look back on this project as “not doing it justice” just because it’s my first time sewing with any regard for historical accuracy. So I’m okay with it.

Also, I don’t really have a choice.

The Stays

I’m using Butterick 4254, view A (back-lacing 1870s ish stays, based off of the example in Corsets and Crinolines as far as I can tell).


I have some problems with this pattern, mainly the long rows of horizontal boning along the top edge. Looking at extant garments, I don’t see it replicated that often, and I don’t really have enough cleavage for me to need that much horizontal squishing.

I’ll post more about it soon, but basically I altered the boning channels on the front panel a lot and on the sides and back a little, for ease of sewing and to fit my taste. I don’t know enough about how these stays work to predict how my changes are going to affect the fit, but I’m hoping for the best.

The Skirt Support

After reading Demonde Couture’s amazing post on late 18th century skirt supports, I decided to try to recreate her version of the 7th reproduction in the post, an extant 1780-1800 rump from the Manchester Galleries.

the idealized 1790s silhouette
the idealized 1790s silhouette

I’m hoping to recreate the fullness, especially in the rear, of 1790s dresses. I’m also planning on making an underskirt or two to go between the bum pad and the actual skirt/dress to help keep the shape.

The Shift

This is the dress that gets worn as the very first layer of the ensemble. I have a couple things pinned for how to make it, but I honestly haven’t given it much thought because it’s pretty simple and boring. It will exist though.

The Actual Dress

I haven’t decided what pattern/if any I’m going to use, mostly because I’m just so far away from the actual dress right now. I have to get all the undergarments done before I can move on, and school is back, so my schedule is pretty full.

I’ll probably end up using JP Ryan’s Robe A L’Anglaise pattern as a base and then modify it to suit my needs and the 1790s.

(JP Ryan's image, not mine, link in paragraph)
(JP Ryan’s image, not mine, link in paragraph)

I made a final sketch for the dress though, and I’m actually remarkably proud of it. So I hope you like it too 🙂

Charlotte Corday final sketch

Just a note, the underskirt is going to be out of matching fabric, I just wanted to distinguish between the dress and the skirt and was getting kinda tired of drawing all those lines.

And that’s basically all the planning for this project. I feel so much more confident about this after doing (so much) more research and spending a lot of time just mulling it over in my head.

I promise my next posts will actually be about sewing.

The 18th century is really stuck in my head, but I don’t want to get it out. I love this obsessing about my sewing projects. It’s what pushed me to really do everything I wanted to in my red steampunk fairy costume and what keeps reminding me how much I love to sew. It’s the only thing I obsess about without stress.

I’d love to hear what you think of my planning and if you have any recommendations for things to change or more resources 🙂 

Thanks for reading, as always. You guys are all the best

Samantha 🙂

10 thoughts on “Charlotte Corday 1790s Gown Recreation – Part 2

    1. Thank you! I’m so glad you’re looking forward to the dress 🙂 and thanks for liking my sketching — I’ve been working on it for a while and I’m finally feeling more confident about it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Hi!

    This looks like it’s going to be a interesting project! I’m making a zone front 18th century dress myself at the moment. I’m also using the J. P. Ryan’s pattern for my dress. I’ve made one dress using that pattern already and it worked quite nicely. I only recommend you to fix the sleeves. They are oddly shaped and too narrow for comfort. I also recommend to use the sleeve A as that is much easier to modify. I made over 10 mockups for the sleeve B before it fit. I also made the bodice longer even though I usually don’t need to do that. I’d say the pattern is shorter than usual.

    I’d love to make a striped dress myself! Can’t wait to see the result and the stays too!


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