Making an Edwardian Dressing Gown 5: Decorating

Before I actually cut into my gold brocade, it’s important to consider all the details. Once you take a scissors to the cloth there is no going back. And the important thought today is decorating the garment. With buttons.

A period dressing gown fastens with buttons and/or a waist sash or cord. There were no zippers and no Velcro in the 19th century. I have two separate sets of buttons that I could use, and I have to select one. Here they are:


Big black plastic, above, or smaller silver and brass? Notice there are two kinds of metal buttons, which have to alternate down the center front, but this is OK. Whichever I choose, the button will have to be sewn to the center front on the left and an appropriate loop, made out of black fabric or cording, will be inserted into the seam on the right. Can this be done, if I pipe it with green roping down both sides of the front? Perhaps I should switch to a sash after all? Or would I be more prudent to simply omit the green piping? If it were not quite so bulky it would be a lot easier to manage. Dropping the green piping would make a lot of things (like that box pleat at the back) easier.  I could of course go and buy a less assertive piping. Black satin, hmm…

A further refinement is these:


These are pearl appliques, cut off of some grander garment before I was born. I have no idea where they came from — those curlicue things in the middle say China to me. And I sincerely hope those are not real pearls. Because they would be perfect, on the cuffs and possibly adorning the top of that center box pleat in the back.  Surely adding this to green piping would be excessive.

Another consideration is the length of the garment. I am 5’9″, so this garment is about 60 inches long from neck to hem. You will notice that I have 10 large plastic buttons, and nine assorted medal buttons. This is not really enough, for the full length of the center front. But, if I combine the five smaller plastic buttons with the metal ones, I get 14 or 15 buttons, a decent number. This is doable only because all the buttons are roughly the same size and tone. Since I really do need about this number of buttons, I may do this. Unless the spirit revolts and I go to buy a complete set of matching large buttons, somewhere.


Finally, I need to go to a fabric store and buy some lining material. Black, for the underside of the scalloped lapels and cuffs, and enough to line the torso and possibly the sleeves. I’ll look out for some piping while I’m there.





Making an Edwardian Dressing Gown 5: Decorating — 4 Comments

  1. Plastic does not fit the richness of the fabric, nor the period of the banyan. Nor do the plastic buttons look good in combination with the brass and silver ones, to me they really break the tone.
    Most fabric stores have buttons too, so maybe bring along the two metal ones when you go shopping for lining material and see if they have another metal button in the same size to add, instead of the plastic ones?

    Personally, with the lovely gold and black fabrics, I don’t think it really needs green piping to become a striking and beautiful garment.

    • I also think the green piping would be too much, but it might well not have been to a person of the period. However from a practical point of view it will be far easier to do the button loops sans piping so omit it!

      I also agree the plastic buttons are just not up to the job. I rather like the alternating metal ones so it would be wonderful if you could find something to add to them. Actual mother-of-pearl buttons would be good, either as a third for the two metal varieties or as the only kind of button. I have checked my supply of mother-of-pearl buttons (I love them and have acquired maybe a couple of hundred over the years, though of course I’ve used some too) but I don’t think I have enough of any one type of the size you would require, a shame as I love to see them put to suitable use. Good hunting!

  2. The only irrevocable decision is when you cut the fabric. Sewing can be picked out, decor removed or added. Even buttonholes can be discreetly stitched together and hidden. This is why knitting is actually a more forgiving form — you can always tink (tink is knit backwards, a knitterly pun) and reuse the yarn, splicing together the cut yarn as you go. And I have selected a forgiving garment. Robes have leeway. A full-bore gown would be a much more serious proposition.