Emma’s Portrait Dress

Homeschooling friends of ours love American history. They love it so much that every year, sometimes even twice a year, they put on a week-long Adventures in Learning day camp for homeschooled children in the area to dress, play, learn, reenact, and create based on a specific event or time period.   They’ve been doing this for years. Our oldest two children were able to participate when we lived in Maine the first time. Our middle children have been participating since we returned. And now one of our Littles is finally old enough to go along.

IMG_3699Emma was looking forward to this for weeks. The sweet families that run Adventures in Learning has costumes for all the participants to wear, but when the program first began years ago, part of the week was spent creating costumes, so it’s a family tradition now for our children to wear their own instead of borrowing.

This fall, Adventures in Learning focused on the French and Indian War. We prepared Zach and Maddie a little bit by having them watch a PBS program on the war so that they’d understand more about what was happening and why. And then we got to the fun of costuming.

Maddie was able to wear a dress that Cate made when she attended the program. It needed a little bit of repair and altering, and the time period for it wasn’t quite right (I think Cate made it during a Civil War program.)  It was funny to think that Cate was sewing this when Maddie was only a baby, and now Maddie is wearing it.

Zach wanted to wear the Native American outfit I made him earlier this year for the Native American program. We had to add a bit to the length of the shirt, and we added a little bit more to the decorations. But that was all he needed.

IMG_3701Emma needed a new dress.  I chose the Sensibility Portrait Dress pattern and used some cotton fabric that was in my stash.  It’s a pretty French blue print with very small gold squares. Quite appropriate for a French and Indian War dress, yes?  Since I made this pattern before (was it really almost 3 years ago?), it was a whole lot easier to put together this time.   I stitched up the gathered bodice option for Emma. The fit seems to be a little more flexible than the smooth bodice and I’m hoping she can wear this for a while.

IMG_3697I wasn’t going to make a petticoat for her, but at the last minute I decided to whip a simple one up. (There are directions in the pattern for a petticoat. It’s really just the skirt portion of the dress stitched to a waistband.) I took a very quick measurement of Emma’s waist the night before the start of the French and Indian War and sent her to bed. It turns out that my measurement was taken just a little too quickly. The snap that I sewed on for fastening wouldn’t stay fastened because the waist was a little too snug. So a simple safety-pin came to the rescue, although it does make the petticoat hang a little crooked – the hemlines are all straight, but the petticoat shows more in the front than in the back.

IMG_3696Emma is pretty happy with her new dress. I’m hoping that it will become part of her regular wardrobe. Little girls in long dresses are a favorite thing, even if the dress isn’t white with a blue satin sash.

I’m linking up with Katy at No Big Dill‘s Sew all 26 weeks alphabet project. This dress is perfect for week F I think – for the French and Indian War Dress.


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